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King Charles's Coronation intensifies Jamaica's desire to become a republic

NewsKing Charles's Coronation intensifies Jamaica's desire to become a republic

Marlene Malahoo Forte, Jamaica’s minister for legal and constitutional affairs, said: “While the United Kingdom is celebrating the coronation of the King, that is for the United Kingdom.

“Jamaica is looking to write a new constitution … which will sever ties with the monarch as our head of state.

“Time has come. Jamaica in Jamaican hands. We have to get it done, especially with the transition in the monarchy. My government is saying we have to do it now. Time to say goodbye!”

Ms Malahoo Forte told Sky News that her timeline is “ambitious” because it requires public consultations and a bill being brought to parliament.

She hopes to be able to introduce the bill this month, after the coronation.

Passing the bill could take up to nine months and then it would need to be agreed by the Jamaican people in a referendum.

Ms Malahoo Forte says the time is right for a referendum because Jamaicans do not identify with the King.

She said: “A lot of Jamaicans had warm affection and identified with Queen Elizabeth II.

“When Jamaica became independent, Queen Elizabeth was already on the throne.

“But they do not identify with King Charles. He is as foreign as it gets to us. Plain and simple.”

And she says that Jamaica’s desire for self-determination has partly been influenced by the royal family’s “own set of issues internally”.

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She added: “Issues which have been playing out in the news. Jamaicans are saying this is a time for Jamaica to sort itself out – and doing so means we want another form of government.”

“[Republicanism] is about us saying goodbye to a form of government that is linked to a painful past of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade.”

The National Library of Jamaica says that during the transatlantic slave trade around 600,000 captive Africans were forcibly sent to Jamaica.

This made Britain one of the largest slave traders in the Atlantic in the 18th century and this is still a major issue in the present.

Prince William acknowledged the issue last year, when he and the Princess of Wales were on a tour of the Caribbean, but he fell short of an apology.

In his speech, he said that “slavery was abhorrent” and that “it should never have happened”.

Ms Malahoo Forte said: “[His words were] A step in the right direction, but not far enough at all. If you acknowledge that it is wrong… I wonder, why not a full apology?

“It is because you may have to give back the wealth of the monarchy, taken from the people? Taken from the places that were colonised? Taken from the places where the people were enslaved?”

She added: “If there is any sincerity in the acknowledgment, it has to go further. Nothing short of a full apology, plus concrete steps to repair the wrong, will suffice.

“[Reparations] are what the people of Jamaica want, and it is something that the government will do.

“I think it is something that the monarchy should think long and hard about as they themselves are grappling with their relevance today. I’ve looked at the polls.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said the King takes the issue of slavery “profoundly seriously”, and that the matter of republicanism, “is purely a matter for each member country to decide”.

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