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Abandoning the realm: Republic of Belize?

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Posted: Monday, July 5, 2021. 3:26 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister John Briceño on Friday strongly hinted that the time had come for a discussion on the very nature of the Belizean state.

In his closing remarks on the debate on the Governor-General (Conditions of Service) (Amendment) Bill, after briefly discussing the history of the position and its occupiers, he stated, “And who knows what is going to happen in the future, because I think it is high time for us to start to look at the type of government, the system we have. And that is probably one of the things we will be talking about in the near future: whether we want to stay with the parliamentary system; or do we want to go to a republican system; or find a hybrid between a parliamentary system and a republican system?”

“We need to find what fits Belize best,” he further stated.

The Governor-General’s term of office has been amended to a single non-renewable term of seven years, allowing a future government options to replace him or her with their own suitable candidate, but also allowing the holder to serve with honour during their time in the post.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ referendum on dropping the monarch, Elizabeth II, as head of state was defeated a decade ago, but Jamaica and more recently Barbados have made noises about ending the Queen’s tenure in their jurisdictions. Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Guyana have previously done so.

At 95, Her Majesty has vowed to serve until she passes and son and likely successor Charles, Prince of Wales, has spoken of trimming the royal family of the United Kingdom in the wake of son Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife opting to leave and live on their own.

In Belize the Belize Progressive Party (BPP) has spoken openly about a “Republic of Belize” without the monarch as head of state; there has been no public position from the United Democratic Party (UDP) or the Belize People’s Front (BPF), the other major parties.

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