ABCRE, Antiguans and Barbudans for Constitutional Reform and Education, announced its first civic exercise to amend the Oath of Allegiance, replacing the allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs, and successors, to the Constitution, nation, and People of Antigua and Barbuda. Labeled #FixTheOath, this action follows the completion of their three-year educational exercise on their Monday night weekly radio program, Constitution Corner, heard on Observer radio,
“Now that most of us understand how the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda affects the way we live, we now have an opportunity to shape the document to reflect our history and experience,” said Ralph Bowen, President of ABCRE. “The passing of Queen Elizabeth II creates the opportunity for us to move closer to controlling our sovereignty. Unfortunately, it will not happen without the people petitioning their representatives to make the change.”
The Oath of Allegiance is contained in Schedule 3 of our Constitution, and must be administered to the Governour-General, Members of Parliament, The Prime Minister, each Minister, The Ombudsman, Parliamentary Secretaries, and members of the Public Service Commission, before they take office. It is also administered to every individual who is granted citizenship under Sec. 114 of the Constitution. The oath states:
“I, __________, do swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will faithfully bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to the law, So help me God (to be omitted in affirmation).”
According to Mr. Bowen, “the people’s representatives in parliament, public officers, and newly naturalised citizens do not pledge allegiance to Antigua and Barbuda, its Constitution and its People, but rather to the British monarchy. Certainly, as an independent country, we have the power to change this, and we must.”
The Oath of Allegiance is a non-entrenched provision of the Constitution and only requires a two-thirds vote of Members of Parliament to effectuate the change.
“This means it can be changed at the next sitting of Parliament if our representatives have the political will,” remarked Beverly Benjamin-George, another ABCRE board member.
ABCRE is encouraging citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda to join them in this civic exercise. Join our hashtag campaign on Facebook and Instagram; sign the petition if it comes your way, but most importantly, contact your parliamentary representative and demand that he or she #FixTheOath before the next dissolution of Parliament.