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PM Gonsalves jolts memory of Opposition Leader

PM Gonsalves jolts memory of Opposition Leader
FROM LEFT: DR RALPH GONSALVES Prime Minister, DR GODWIN FRIDAY Opposition Leader and MIA MOTTLEY Prime Minister of Barbados

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PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves felt that it was “passing strange” that opposition leader, Dr Godwin Friday was issuing congratulations to Barbados’s Prime Minister, Mia Mottley on her country’s transition to Republican status.

Gonsalves used the opportunity to remind his parliamentary colleague of the opposition’s history concerning this country’s attempts at consitutional reform.

During the congratulatory session in the House of Parliament on Monday, December 13 the leader of the New Democratic Party(NDP) extended his congratulations to Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, “and the entire Government and people of Barbados”, on the attainment of Republic status on their 55th anniversary of Independence on November 30, 2021.

“…Yet another milestone in the country’s development, and its people’s yearning to shape their own destiny and to create their national identity in their own image,” he said.

Friday further stated that our closeness with our neighbour extends beyond “geographic proximity, it is firmly anchored in strong historic connections, bonds between our people” and the mutual sharing of some of our “brightest and best” sons and daughters.

Friday said he was certain that he spoke for the vast majority of Vincentians at home and abroad “…when I say that Prime Minister Mottley and the Barbadian people made us all proud by the exquisite execution of the formalities associated with constitutional transition, and the pride and industry of the Barbadian people were very much on display.”

“I wish them continued prosperity as they, like us, seek to forge a future in what is an increasingly difficult world. May God continue to bless them,” Friday concluded.

Following this, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves stood to reiterate congratulations that he had already issued “to the Government and People of Barbados, and Prime Minister Mottley’s own role in the thrust towards the achievement of a Parliamentary Republic and to move away from a monarchical system to have a non-Executive home-grown President.”

He referenced the letter he penned on the occasion (https:// searchlight.vc/press-release/ 2021/11/29/ letter-to-mia-fromralph- on-the-occasion-ofbarbados- becoming-a-republic/).

Gonsalves said that Mottley was fortunate in that the Constitution of Barbados requires only a special majority in Parliament to effect such a change, but this was not the case in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) or any of the other Windward or Leeward islands.

In these islands any alteration of any fundamentally entrenched sections of the Constitution must be supported by a two thirds majority in the Parliament, and two thirds of the electorate in a popular referendum.

In 2009, “The record must show in this Parliament that the Unity Labour Party Government took a constitutional reform matter to the people after seven years of discussion, and central to that reform was the issue of the removal of Her Majesty the Queen as our ceremonial Head of State, to be replaced by a homegrown President, properly selected through a process, which in fact is even more exhaustive than the one provided currently in Barbados,” the Prime Minister said.

Another intention was to remove the Privy Council as the final appellate court and replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice(CCJ).

“Those two vital provisions to repatriate our Constitution, to make this constitutional document home-grown” amongst other “uplifting” provisions received no support from the opposition, Gonsalves reminded.

“Politics prompted the opposition NDP to mislead people and vote this reform down,” he stressed.

In his letter to Mottley, Gonsalves had described November 25, 2009 the day that the electorate rejected the constitutional reform proposals as “one of the saddest days of my political life.”

“So it is now passing strange that the honourable Leader of the Opposition would congratulate Barbados on the Republic status when he in fact led the opposition, among others, to roll back, to defeat the constitutional reform. Those are the facts,” the Prime Minister ended.

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