- Dame Sandra Mason, the current governor-general, was elected first-ever President of Barbados.
- Calls for Barbados’ full sovereignty and homegrown leadership have risen in recent years.
- Mason will be sworn in on November 30, the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from the UK.
In a decisive step towards shedding the Caribbean island’s colonial past, the former British colony of Barbados will replace Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms, with newly elected President as its head of state, and become a republic.
Dame Sandra Mason, the current governor-general, was elected late on Wednesday by a two-thirds vote of a joint session of the country’s House of Assembly and Senate, a milestone, the government said in a statement, on its “road to republic”.
A former British colony that gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, the nation of just less than 300,000 had long maintained ties with the British monarchy. But calls for full sovereignty and homegrown leadership have risen in recent years.
Mason, 72, will be sworn in on November 30, the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom. A former jurist who has been governor-general of the island since 2018, she was also the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley called the election of a president “a seminal moment” in the country’s journey.
Mottley said the country’s decision to become a republic was not a condemnation of its British past.
The election could benefit Barbados both at home and abroad.
The move makes Barbados, a small developing country, a more legitimate player in global politics, but could also serve as a “unifying and nationalistic move” that may benefit its current leadership at home.
Barbados was claimed by the British in 1625. It has sometimes been called “Little England” for its loyalty to British customs.
It is a popular tourist destination; prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a million tourists visited its idyllic beaches and crystal-clear waters each year.