As told to Rashad Smith of The Tribune
4 December 2021
MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Public Service Fred Mitchell. Photo: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff photographer
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell says he is still committed to seeing The Bahamas become a republic.
“As many of you may know, I too am committed to a republic, in making The Bahamas a republic,” he said yesterday, as Barbados made the transition to a republic this week, parting with the Queen of England as its head of state.
“It is my life’s work toward deepening our democracy, but try as I might over my lifetime I have been unable to fire up the succeeding generations on this issue. Perhaps they have more important things to do.”
Mr Mitchell told The Tribune he believes The Bahamas will eventually become a republic.
“I suspect that there will be a cascading effect since Barbados – arguably the most conservative of CARICOM societies – has done so,” he said. “The whole question of whether or not a republic is impatient of debate, but the political reality is that unless the younger generation buys into it, it will go nowhere.”
Mr Mitchell said he congratulated St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves “for an excellent letter on the subject to (Barbados Prime Minister) Mia Mottley”.
Among other things, Mr Gonsalves wrote that one of the saddest days of his political life was when residents of his country rejected constitutional reforms that would have replaced the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final appellate court and removed the British monarch as the Head of State, replacing her with a “home-grown, non-executive president”.
Mr Mitchell said: “The referendum which it requires for us as it did for him will often fall victim to opportunistic politics…just to stick the incumbent government in the eye, just as the last one on gender equality failed on the altar of dishonest political opportunism. So, I was heartened this morning when one of our younger PLP politicians said he would take up the battle. I will support him from the back to build consensus on this matter.
“(Transitioning to a republic) is not the official policy of the government, but in a democracy we must always seek to build a consensus for change and where I am now positioned both in time and space, I do not have the luxury of dithering.”