Calls for Queen to step down as head of state in Jamaica and slavery payments

A top Jamaican politician is calling for the Queen to be removed as the country’s head of state.

Mark Golding, who leads the opposition People’s National Party [PNP], wants to debate the matter in Parliament.

Jamaica gained independence from the UK in 1962 but kept the Queen as head of state.

The country is also seeking slavery reparations from the UK, Culture Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange earlier announced.

Mr Golding told The Independent: “I think the matters of removing the Queen as our head of state and reparations for slavery are very significant; they’re fundamental to our identity and our nationhood.

“I don’t think that one could argue that we are fully independent when our head of state is somebody who lives on the other side of the Atlantic ocean and isn’t a Jamaican.

“From my perspective, and that of the People’s National Party, this is something that we have been committed to for a long time and we continue to be committed to it.”

Any attempt to remove the Queen as head of state would require a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, along with public support in a referendum.

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Mr Golding added: “There is, as I understand it, bi-partisan support on the matter of removing the Queen as our Head of State in Jamaica, to having a Jamaican person as our Head of State through a non-executive presidency within the Commonwealth; similar to what Trinidad did some decades ago.

“That has been something that both parties have committed themselves to.”

Many Jamaicans are descendants of slaves who suffered under the oppressive regime, with traders making a fortune from their labour.

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Addressing the issues of reparations, the Caribbean country’s Culture Minister previously said Jamaica's National Council of Reparation had fully backed the petition.

Grange said: “We are especially pleased to announce that we have made further steps in our strides towards seeking reparatory justice for the victims and descendants of the transatlantic slave trade.

"The petition is to be presented to the Queen of the UK and or the government of the UK."

However, she added that “the Attorney General's chambers would need to weigh up the merits of the petition in the eventuality of the government of Jamaica's involvement in the petition”.

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