Barbados elected Sandra Mason to be its first President on Wednesday. The decision comes after a joint session of the country’s House of Assembly and Senate, which elected her by a convincing two-thirds vote.
This move will replace Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as head of state, “in a decisive step toward shedding the Caribbean island’s colonial past,” CNN reports.
“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” the incoming President said in a speech in September 2020.
Mason also announced in that speech that Barbados was taking steps to become a republic. “Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence,” which takes place this November.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley described Mason’s election as a “seminal moment” in that road toward becoming a republic, NPR reports.
Mason has been on quite the journey herself. She began her career as a secondary school teacher and then became the first Bajan woman admitted to the Barbados Bar to practice law in 1975. She now serves as the Governor-General, a position she’ll hold until she’s sworn in to lead the country next month.