Barbados makes new push to become republic, leave colonial past behind

·2 min read

BRIDGETOWN (Reuters) - Barbados should become a republic and leave its colonial past behind, a top official said on Wednesday, after the Caribbean island nation said it wants to remove Britain's Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.

A former British colony that gained independence in 1966, the nation of just under 300,000 has maintained a formal link with the British monarchy as have some other countries that were once part of the British empire.

"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country's Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

Mottley won a landslide victory in 2018.

"Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving," Mason said.

"Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence."

That anniversary will come in November 2021.

But on the Caribbean island nation the suggestion has been met with skepticism.

The idea of becoming a republic has been put forward by different governments over the past decades.

More recently, there has been frustration with the government's delay in removing colonial ea statues.

The bronze statue of Admiral Lord Nelson, erected in 1813, still stands on Broad Street in the capital city of Bridgetown.

It was scheduled for removal last month when different countries around the world started removing similar statues from public spaces as protests against racism grew.

Roy R. Morris, press secretary to the prime minister of Barbados, said in response to Reuters questions that there was no particular trigger for the timing of a renewed push to become a republic other than fulfilling a longstanding promise by the island's politicians.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon and Rob Edison Sandiford; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Cynthia Osterman)