Barbados has elected its first president to replace Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as head of state in a decisive step towards shedding the Caribbean island’s colonial past.
Sandra Mason was elected late on Wednesday by a two-thirds vote of a joint session of the country’s House of Assembly and Senate. The government described it as a milestone on its “road to republic”.
A former British colony that gained independence in 1966, the nation of just under 300,000 had long maintained ties with the British monarchy. But calls for full sovereignty and homegrown leadership have become louder in recent years.
Ms Mason, 72, will be sworn in on the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from Britain. A former jurist who has been governor general of the island since 2018, she was also the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley called the election of a president “a seminal moment” in the country’s journey.
“We have just elected from among us a woman who is uniquely and passionately Barbadian, does not pretend to be anything else [and] reflects the values of who we are,” Ms Mottley said.