‘It’s for the people of Jamaica to decide’
Commonwealth secretary general says Jamaica must determine route to take in removing QueenTuesday, April 26, 2016
BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter email@example.com
SECRETARY General of the Commonwealth Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal says removing the Queen as head of State is for the people of Jamaica to decide, and that it is up to the country to determine which route it will take in making that decision.
Speaking with the
Jamaica Observer yesterday at her New Kingston hotel suite, Scotland, who arrived in the island yesterday on an official country visit, while maintaining a non-committal stance on the subject, stated that: "There are so many countries in the Commonwealth which decided a long time ago that they didn’t want to continue to have the Queen as head of State. There are other countries who want to keep her, and want to keep her forever. It’s not for us to decide which one is right, which one is wrong. I will look forward with interest to what the people of Jamaica decide. Some countries go to referendum, some countries amend their constitution. Every country has had a different arrangement. What’s great about having a democracy is that it is a democracy."
Scotland had earlier yesterday met with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who in his Administration’s outline of legislative priorities during this parliamentary year, has made clear the Government’s intention to take a constitutional amendment bill to Parliament to have the Queen of England replaced with a non-executive president as head of State.
While this would make Jamaica a republic, a non-executive president’s role would be similar to the governor general’s – symbolic, with no powers to make policy.
Meanwhile, the secretary general said she had selected Jamaica as her first country stop since taking office on April 1, for a number of reasons.
"Jamaica has just gone through an election, so it was good to be able to come to congratulate the Government and explore the opportunities that they see not just for Jamaica, but for the region… I knew that Jamaica is incredibly important in the Caribbean family, not the least of which that so many people think that you’re not part of the Caribbean if you do not come from Jamaica," she told the
Observer. Scotland said she also hopes to meet with Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller.
She has also met with the Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Pearnel Charles to discuss issues such as global warming, housing, education, domestic violence, employment, and women’s empowerment.
The secretary general said the Commonwealth Secretariat wanted to focus on "putting the wealth back into Commonwealth, "by optimising the advantageous edge shared by its 53 members. She noted that research showed that there is a 19 per cent advantage to trading among Commonwealth partners.
"That advantage comes from common language, common structures, common systems, and common law, but what if we could increase that to say 30 per cent? We are not talking about trade preferences; we are just saying I will buy from my partner because my partner gives me a 30 per cent discount," she explained.
Scotland cautioned though that corruption could erode that advantage unless states bonded to stymie the scourge.
"If we can come together and create transparent, easy, quick, clear, clean ways of working which defeat the spectre of corruption, we would really be on to a winner," she said, pointing to the anti-corruption summit which will be hosted in London on Thursday, May 12 by the British Government. The summit seeks to illicit a global response to fight corruption by agreeing on measures to tackle the issue in its many forms. It will bring together world leaders, civil society, the business community and other stakeholders.
A barrister and former attorney general for Wales and England, the new Commonwealth secretary general who is the first woman to hold the position is a native of Dominica.
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