Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff suggests constitutional reform talks will begin once opposition ‘cools down’

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Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel Hurst (file photo)
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By Robert A. Emmanuel

[email protected]

The Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel Hurst, said the government’s plan to begin any talk of a referendum on a transition to republicanism or setting up a constitutional reform committee will start in 2025.

During last week’s Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Gaston Browne reiterated his stance that country should move towards a republican system of governance.

Those comments followed Browne’s trip to London as part of a national delegation to witness the Coronation of King Charles III.

However, when asked by Observer media as to conversation held by the government on the potential makeup of the Constitutional Review Committee as announced on March 2, Hurst said that that had yet to be discussed.

“As you know, elections were held on the 18th of January and we are about four months away that event. The question is, is this an appropriate time to begin the conversation about constitutional reform — and the Cabinet has essentially decided that they will wait for a cooling-off period,” Hurst said.

He contended that opposition parties were “acting as though it has been cheated out of victory” and hoped that by the time the committee is established that “cooler heads” will be leading the discussion.

“We are hoping for some of that heat to die down before we convene the Constitution Committee because, in that case, that is when the opposition will be invited to participate,” he said.

Movement away from a political system of constitutional monarchy has risen throughout the Caribbean with countries like Jamaica and Belize establishing constitutional reform committees prior to a referendum on the issue of republicanism, and Barbados establishing its own constitutional review committee following its decision to become a Republic.

Thoughts on affected countries attaining republican status have also increased following the death of the late British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.

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