Jamaica to become a republic

Sept. 23, 2003 at 3:47 PM

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Jamaica's prime minister has announced plans to make his country a republic, which would remove Britain's queen as Jamaica's head of state.

"I love the Queen dearly ... but the time has come when we must have a head of state chosen by us, representative of us and immediately accountable to us," Prime Minister Percival James Patterson told his supporters at the People's National Party's annual conference.

Patterson said he wants to enact the change before the 2007 general elections when he plans to step down as prime minister.

Such a move would require amending Jamaica's constitution.

The Scotsman newspaper reports Patterson's party favors an executive president directly elected by the people.

"The majority of people in Jamaica are ready to consign to history the last vestiges of colonialism," Paterson was quoted as saying.

Jamaica declared independence from Britain in 1962 but remains within the British Commonwealth. It is one of 12 Caribbean countries that retain the Queen as head of state.

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