Republic not possible by Independence Day this year – Malahoo-Forte | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Jamaica will not complete the processes and procedures that are required for the country to transition from a constitutional monarchy to a republic by the time the country celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence on August 6.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Marlene Malahoo Forte, made the announcement on Wednesday while addressing the post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

Malahoo-Forte explained that with the constitution being given primacy, the steps that are outlined in the document for removing deeply entrenched provisions must be followed without even a hint of deviation.

“The constitution sets out its own process for amendment and we cannot deviate from it. The commitment of the prime minister to transition Jamaica away from a constitutional monarchy is one that will be kept, but I know persons are wondering whether we will have it done in time for the celebration of Jamaica 60. Unfortunately, the procedures set out in the constitution will not permit that timing to be met,” stated Malahoo-Forte.

She explained that deeply entrenched provisions of the constitution require a two-thirds vote of the members of both houses of Parliament, as well as a referendum that allows the people to decide on the matter.

“Additionally, before a bill seeking to amend an entrenched provision even comes up for debate, there is the requirement of a three-month period between the date when the bill is tabled in the House, and the commencement of debate,” she explained further.

“Even if the bill were to be tabled (today), you would have May, June, July before any debate could commence because that is what the constitution says. After the debate is concluded, you also need another three months before the bill can be passed in the House.

“If you take away nothing else, it’s to understand that we have to go through a constitutional process to achieve the goal of moving Jamaica from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, and in Jamaica we have constitutional primacy; whatever we do must be in accordance with the constitution,” the minister said.

Malahoo-Forte was tasked by Proime Minister Andrew Holness with leading the overhaul of the country’s independence constitution when she was appointed to the new Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs in January.

She explained that there are three types of provisions in the constitution. Apart from the deeply entrenched parts, there are ordinary provisions and ordinarily entrenched provisions.

In order to be amended, ordinary provisions require a majority of all members of both houses of Parliament, which is different from all members being present and voting. This is called a simple majority. These are the non-entrenched provisions.

Ordinarily entrenched provisions include the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom, parliamentary privilege of freedom of speech, delimitation of constituencies and the establishment of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Malahoo-Forte noted that constitutional scholars view these the hose provisions that are concerned with the safeguarding of individual liberties, the rule of law and the protection of the executive from domination and political pressure of persons having special responsibilities.

Deeply entrenched provisions are outlined in Section 49 of the constitution, which sets out what has to be done in order for amendments to take place.

Section 33 relates to Parliament and states that Parliament consists of Her Majesty the Queen, the Senate and the House (of Representatives).

Section 35 speaks to the appointment of eight senators by the Opposition and 13 by the Government, while section 68 [1] speaks to the executive powers being vested in the Queen.

Malahoo-Forte said she will have more to say on constitutional reform when she addresses the nation in the Sectoral Debate in May.