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Jamaica announces intent to become a republic as protests against British monarchy continue

Jamaica's prime minister, Andrew Holness has told the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that his country is "moving on" and intends to become a republic. 

Representatives from the British monarchy's arrival in Jamaica on Tuesday coincided with major demonstrations urging them to pay reparations for slavery and calls from senior politicians for the country to become a republic, severing its tie with the United Kingdom. 

During a meeting between the prime minister and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Holness said their visit had given an opportunity for the nation to address "unresolved" issues. 

"There are issues here which are, as you would know, unresolved but your presence gives an opportunity for those issues to be placed in context, put front and centre and to be addressed in as best [a way] as we can.

“Jamaica is as you would see a country that is very proud of our history and very proud of what we have achieved. We are moving on and we intend to attain in short order … our goals and fulfil our true ambitions as an independent, developed, prosperous country.” He stated

Campaigners this week published a document listing 60 reasons why the British government and royals should apologise to the Jamaican people and offer reparations, citing human trafficking and the transatlantic slave trade and the destruction of Jamaica’s natural environment by establishing a plantation system, the Guardian reports. 

An open letter addressed to monarchy representatives, William and Kate, signed by 100 campaigners, which was delivered to the British high commission on Tuesday, noted that the Queen had “done nothing to redress or atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement and colonisation”.

“You, who may one day lead the British monarchy, are direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the royal family over centuries, including that stemming from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans,” the letter said. “We urge you to start with an apology and recognition of the need for atonement and reparations.” the letter added. 

Last year Barbados became a republic, officially removing Elizabeth II as its head of state. There has been growing sentiment for Jamaica to follow suit, political pollster Don Anderson said only around 40% of Jamaicans supported separation from the monarchy in 2011, but in 2020 this had increased to 62%.

Read more at Guardian.

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