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Referendum on Republic to be bundled with election
Monday, 26 November 2007
Barbadians will not only choose a new government at the next general election; they will vote on whether the country should become a republic.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, made the disclosure during a panel discussion on sovereignty on local radio.

In January 2005, the Prime Minister, Owen Arthur, promised Barbadians a referendum on whether to retain or remove the British monarch as Head of State.

Ms Mottley said the government will use the next general elections - due with the next nine months - to include the issue on the ballot.

She told Voice of Barbados: "The same time as you go to vote for your Member of Parliament … you will exercise the decision (on republic status)".

Ms. Mottley said a draft Republic of Barbados Constitution was completed two years ago, and a switch to republic status, if agreed by the electorate, could happen soon after the vote.

She said combining the two polls 'under the same institutional mechanism" is in keeping with practice in other democracies, and would result in a cost saving for the government.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister, the draft constitution has not been circulated because the Government felt it "presumptuous to so do in the absence of a determination on the Republic".

She said the decision to put the issue on the general election ballot was not discussed with the opposition Democratic Labour Party.

"These are decisions made by the executive," Ms. Mottley said.

Replacing the Queen with a Barbadian as head of state is a long-standing manifesto promise of the ruling Barbados Labour Party.

But there have been deep concerns in some quarters about the precise powers which would be ascribed to the President of a Republic of Barbados.

The move toward constitutional change follows the 1996 recommendations of a commission urging the change to a non-executive president chosen by a parliamentary electoral college.

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