Accessibility links

Breaking News

Antigua and Barbuda Mulls "Crexit"

FILE: Map of Antigua and Barbuda islands in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean island Commonwealth nation of Antigua and Barbuda its considering making a "crown exit" - "crexit" - and becoming a Republic with its own head of state instead of the British throne.

Days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Antigua and Barbuda became the first of the 14 remaining realms now ruled over by her son, Charles, to openly float the idea of replacing the British monarch as its head of state.

Settlers began growing sugar on the islands -- but with Indigenous Caribbean people dying by the thousands across the region, they imported African slaves to tend the profitable crop.

Emancipation finally came in 1833, and many of Antigua and Barbuda's 97,000 people today are the descendants of slaves. Antigua and Barbuda together became a single independent Commonwealth state in 1981.

Deciding to remove Britain's monarch as the head of state would not be "an act of hostility" but "the final step to complete the circle of independence," Prime Minister Gaston Browne told British broadcaster ITV news, saying that he hopes to hold a referendum on the matter within the next three years.

Browne's hoped-for referendum would come nearly 400 years after Britain first colonized Antigua in 1632, followed by neighboring Barbuda in 1678.

Whether his people want to take that step is an open question, admitted Browne's chief of staff Lionel Hurst during an interview at the prime minister's office overlooking the port capital of St John's in the country's main island, Antigua.

"We're not sure yet," he said Friday.

"I think we should stay with the crown. This country cannot manage on its own," 53-year-old Leonie Barker told AFP.

But another resident said "The monarchy is in England, we don't deceive ourselves," adding "It's kind of less than independence when your head of state is determined not by you, but by a tradition that lies 6,000 miles away."

Generation Z's biggest concern is not the nation's psyche but development, 19-year-old student Kemani Sinclair told AFP, gesturing at the colorful buildings around the center of St John's -- some of which have fallen into disrepair.

The process of holding a referendum on removing the British monarchy would be a costly waste of money that could be spent elsewhere, he argued.