In a unifying, optimistic and determined inaugural address to the nation, Jamaica’s history-making leader Portia Simpson Miller said although she affectionately embraces HRH Queen Elizabeth II, the time had come for an end to the sovereign rule over the island.
“I love the Queen. She is a beautiful lady,” the seventh elected and first female leader said, “and apart from being a beautiful lady, a wise lady and a wonderful lady, but I think time come.”
She made the bold statement at King’s House, a landmark location purchased by the British in 1872 to house Britain’s governor general to Jamaica.
“This 50th anniversary year will be a time for reflection on the lessons of the past; and as we celebrate our achievements as an independent nation, we now need to complete the circle of Independence,” the 66-year-old prime minister said.
“In this regard, we will therefore initiate the process of our detachment from the monarch to become a republic with our own indigenous president as head of state,” she added.
Segments of the crowd of approximately 10,000 invited guests cheered the controversial proposal if executed by referendum could elevate the island’s first female prime minister and only leader to take the oath twice in five years to the position of president.
“In our political history, it is a rare opportunity to be given a second chance to lead. It is also a sobering experience. But, I have been strengthened by the experience of going through the first phase of the journey,” Simpson-Miller added.
Present at the swearing-in ceremony were former Prime Ministers P.J. Patterson, Edward Seaga and Andrew Holness, the latter seated prominently on the same elevated stage to her right.
Conspicuously absent from the ceremony was the only former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, former leader of the Jamaica Labour Party and rival politician who defeated Simpson Miller in 2007.
Allegedly, Golding expressed similar sentiments almost one year ago suggesting Jamaica should replace the queen as head of state before Aug. 6, 2012, the 50th anniversary of independence.
“I have long believed that if I am to have a queen, it must be a Jamaican queen,” Golding said. “I would not wish to see us celebrate 50 years of Independence without completing that part of our ‘sovereignization’, for want of a better word,” he told legislators.
“We must fully repatriate our sovereignty,” Simpson Miller said, while urging the opposition to join with the government in abandoning the Privy Council and to embrace the approval of a Caribbean Court of Justice.
Also present at the inauguration were representatives of Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, Suriname, the USA and McKeeva Bush, Premiere and Minister of Finance of the Cayman Islands.
Esteban Lazo Hernandez, the Vice President of Cuba led a delegation which also comprised the Vice Minister of Foreign affairs Rogelio Sierra.
Rasta In The House
According to results of the recent elections in Jamaica, when the new parliament meets there for the first time a Rastafarian will be present in the House – Gordon House, home of the House of Representatives.
Damion Crawford, a dreadlock-wearing, member of the People’s National Party handily won a coveted place to the seat of government on Dec. 29.
He challenged the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party’s candidate Joan Gordon-Webley to represent East Rural St. Andrew. He not only beat Gordon-Webley but whipped by a huge margin, an independent candidate who ironically shared his name. When the final votes were tallied, the PNP’s Crawford claimed 9,622 votes; Gordon-Webley, 9,408 and the independent Damion Crawford mustered 58 votes.
“It’s about time,” representatives of the Rastafari community said.
But others questioned Crawford’s credibility citing “Rastas don’t get involved in politics.”
Crawford, 31 attended Kingston College and the University of the West Indies.
He also lectured there and reportedly distinguished himself as chairman of Taylor Hall. He also presided over the UWI Mona Guild.
He was also a president of the PNPYO, the youth division of his political party.
Catch You On The Inside!