Commonwealth Parliamentary Association: Members becoming republics not a threat

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretary Stephen Twigg, speaks at the 11th Commonwealth Youth Parliament, Red House, Port of Spain on Monday November 21. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

SECRETARY-GENERAL of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Stephen Twigg said member countries seeking to become republics is not a threat to the Commonwealth. He urged open discussions on the Commonwealth’s “problematic history.”

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 11th Commonwealth Youth Parliament at the Red House on Monday morning.

Twigg said just before the opening, there was a meet-and-greetevent with the 56 participants at which he was asked about the future and role of the Commonwealth going forward.

He said the question was “very correctly located in the context of some of the controversy of the history of the Commonwealth…

“The colonial legacy, the impact of slavery. “An opportunity to have an open, honest debate about the problematic history of the Commonwealth only serves to strengthen our organisation going forward.”

He acknowledged the presence of representatives from Barbados, noting that the country recently became a republic.

Republics can remain members of the Commonwealth, and Barbados opted for this, as did TT in 1976.

That decision, Twigg said, “prompted a lot of discussion around the future of the Commonwealth.

“(But) actually, the majority of members of the Commonwealth are republics. It is no threat to the Commonwealth.”

He said with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III taking over, there is an opportunity for young people to discuss what the Commonwealth means to them.

“(Discuss) what the Commonwealth means – yes, in terms of its history and its legacy – but the Commonwealth today and perhaps most importantly, the Commonwealth of the future.”