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Jamaica: referendum to be held
In an interview with the Associated Press, Jamaica's Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has confirmed that a referendum will be held to create the Jamaican republic. This is great news:
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Simpson Miller suggested a referendum on the idea could take place sooner rather than later, possibly even this year as Jamaica prepares to celebrate its 50th year of independence from Britain.
"I think the fact that August coming will be 50 years since we have gained our independence that it's time for us to sever the ties," Simpson Miller said during a break in a conference on attracting more foreign investment to Jamaica. "I really feel it is time now for Jamaica to have its own leadership fully, to take charge."
While professing strong admiration for the queen, the prime minister described the political change she wants as a memorial for Jamaica's national heroes and the unheralded victims of slavery. Historians say plantation slavery in Jamaica was particularly brutal.
"It is important to us because it is part of a journey, a journey that started when our ancestors were dragged, sold into slavery and brought here and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Their struggles were so that we can be free men and women today," Simpson Miller said.
Now more than ever, Jamaica needs a republican movement to carry the republic debate forward. August is just five months away so there really isn't any time to lose. As we saw with the defeated republic referendum in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, when it's left up to politicians constitutional change is often defeated (in fact that criticism could equally apply to the Australian referendum in 1999, given their reliance on "big name" politicians such as Bob Hawke, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser).