Constitution and Legal Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte says Jamaica will not part ways with the British Monarchy before celebrating its 60th year of independence in August, owning to required constitutional amendments which will take time.
Malahoo Forte made the disclosure during this morning’s post-cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House in St Andrew.
The minister said while Prime Minister Andrew Holness intends to keep his promise of removing Queen Elizabeth II as the country’s head of state, the constitution sets out a process for amendment which legislators cannot deviate from.
“Unfortunately, the procedures set out in the constitution will not permit that timing to be met,” Malahoo Forte said.
“I know many of you have looked on Barbados and are wondering whether it can be done as simply and as easily as it was done there. They have different constitutional provisions.”
She said unlike Jamaica, Barbados, which cut ties with the British Monarch in November last year, did not require a referendum to make the change.
Malahoo Forte explained that several sections within the “deeply entrenched provisions” of Jamaica’s Constitutions require amendments.
She said areas of importance and concern are the make-up of the Jamaican Parliament which comprises The Queen, House of Representatives and the Senate, the qualification for election to the House and qualifications to serve in the Parliament.
The minister also made reference to section 68 (1) of the constitution, which speaks to the executive powers of The Queen.
She said these provisions require a two-thirds majority from members of both houses of Parliament as well as a referendum.
“Before a Bill which seeks to amend the ordinarily or deeply entrenched provisions can go through, there is a requirement of a three-month period between the date when the Bill is tabled on the House and the commencement of the debate,” she said.
The minister said after the debate is concluded another three-month period is required before the Bill can be passed in the House.
She said that were the Bill to be tabled at the next sitting of Parliament, the ensuing process would not conclude before August 6.
“So, if you take away nothing else, it’s to understand that we have to go through a constitutional process to achieve the goal of moving Jamaica from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. And in Jamaica, we have constitutional supremacy. Whatever we do must be in accordance with the Constitution,” Malahoo Forte said.