Barbados has elected its first president, replacing Queen Elizabeth as the nation’s head of state as it prepares to become a republic.
Dame Sandra Mason, 72, will be sworn in on November 30, the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom.
Dame Mason has been governor-general of Barbados since 2018. She was the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.
Last year, the government stated its intention to become a republic.
The government had planned to move to a republic status last year, It said “the time [had] come” for Barbados to “fully leave our colonial past behind”. The change had already been recommended by a constitutional review in 1998.
After a joint session of the House of Assembly and the Senate on Wednesday, the historic election took place. The vote, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, was a “seminal moment” for the country.
Barbados is one of the most populous and rich Caribbean islands, with a population of around 285,000 people. Its economy, which was once primarily reliant on sugar exports, has since diversified into tourism and banking.
Barbados will not be the Caribbean’s first former British colony to become a republic. Guyana made this step in 1970, only four years after winning independence from the United Kingdom. In 1976, Trinidad and Tobago followed suit, and Dominica did so in 1978.