Sandra Mason was elected by a two-thirds majority in a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate on Wednesday night. The government, in a statement, described his appointment as an important step on his “path to republic.”
The former British colony, which gained independence in 1966, is a country with a population of just 300,000 and has long been associated with the United Kingdom monarchy.
But many Barbadians have long struggled to regain the status of queen – and with it, the symbolic presence of imperialism in her reign. Many rulers of this century suggested that the country should become a republic.
It will finally take place on November 30, the 55th anniversary of the country’s independence from Great Britain, when Mason takes office.
Mason, a former lawyer who has been the island’s governor general since 2018, is also the first woman to sit on the Barbados Court of Appeals.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley has described a presidential election as a “turning point” in the country’s path.
“We have chosen from ourselves a unique and passionate Barbadian woman who says nothing else (and) reflects our values,” Motley said after the Mason election.
Many countries have left the Queen as head of state in the years since independence, and Mauritius last did so in 1992. This makes Barbados the first country to abdicate in almost three decades.
She is the Queen President of over a dozen countries under British rule, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica.
Waseem Mulla of the Atlantic Council, a think tank, told Reuters that the election would benefit Barbados at home and abroad.
Mola said the move would make Barbados a smaller developing country and the most legitimate player in world politics, but it could also act as a “unifying and nationalist movement” that would benefit the country’s current leaders.
“Other Caribbean leaders and their citizens may appreciate this decision, but I do not expect others to follow suit,” Mola added. “This decision will only be considered if it is in the best interest of each country.”
Modley said becoming the country’s republic was not an accusation of its British past.
“We look forward to a continued relationship with the British monarch,” he said.
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