New Delhi: The Caribbean nation’s prime minister has said that Antigua and Barbuda aims to decide whether to become a republic within the next three years, which would result in the removal of Britain’s new King Charles III as its head of state.
“This is a matter that has to be taken to a referendum … within the next, probably, three years,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne told ITV News on Saturday shortly after a local ceremony confirmed Charles III as the country’s king following Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
The 100,000-member country gained independence from Britain in 1981, but it is one of the 15 Commonwealth countries that continue to have the United Kingdom’s monarch as their head of state. The Commonwealth is a political association made up primarily of former British colonies.
Brown emphasised that a referendum was “not an act of hostility” and would not result in Commonwealth membership being revoked, but described becoming a republic as “the next step to complete the circle of independence to ensure we are truly a sovereign nation.”
Browne’s promise comes amid a burgeoning republican movement in the Caribbean, where Barbados last year voted to abolish the British monarchy and Jamaica’s ruling party has hinted that it may follow.
However, Browne, who is running for re-election next year, asserted he was not reacting to a widespread call for a vote from Antiguans.
“I think most people haven’t even bothered to think about it,” he told ITV.
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