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Republic process will take some time, says minister Forte

By Twila Wheelan

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Jamaicans can expect the process of becoming a Republic to take some time in parliament. This is the word from minister of legal and constitutional affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, who says constitutionally, there has to be a delay of three months between the introduction of the Bill and the first and second readings.

“After the debate is concluded, between the second and third readings, there is also a lapse of three months. This will result in six months of dead time, constitutionally, and that’s only in the Lower House,” she said.

Minister Malahoo Forte, who was speaking in a recent interview with SBS TV Australia, said it is her hope that “when we have consensus on the narrow issue of the transition of the Head of State itself, then we could do it in the minimum time”.

“It does take some time, because the provision is deeply entrenched, as it is meant to have the people think long and hard about the change,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, minister Malahoo Forte said while she hopes the referendum will succeed, she knows the views are divided.

“I think the question for many people is ‘how will it change my lot in life?’. Right now, the United Kingdom does not interfere in the local affairs of Jamaica, but I know many take umbrage to the fact that they need a visa to go to England where their Head of State resides. Some, including myself, find it most unfortunate that even the Monarch’s local representative, the Governor General, requires a visa to travel to the UK,” she added.

While registering her understanding of the technicalities and complications of matters relating to getting a visa, she noted that these issues “do not sit nicely with our people”.

“The real question is what does it mean to be part of the Commonwealth Realm where the Monarch is head of state? That is where I think we need to ask and answer some questions,” she said.



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