St Vincent wants to keep queen

2009-11-26 20:19

Kingstown - The queen of England will still rule - formally at least - over the eastern Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Nearly 56% of voters rejected a referendum that would have replaced the British monarch with a president chosen by Parliament, according to preliminary results released early on Thursday by the elections commission.

Both of the country's parties want to replace the queen with a president as head of state.

But opposition leaders had urged voters to reject the proposed constitution, arguing it did not sufficiently reduce the powers of the prime minister, who would remain as head of government. They also said citizens rather than Parliament should elect the president.

The vote came as Queen Elizabeth II was on a rare visit to the region to attend a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad.

The proposed constitution for the country of 105 000 people would have replaced the charter created when the islands gained independence from Britain in 1979. It also would have established a new court of appeals to replace Britain's Privy Council as the court of last resort.

The referendum fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Other Caribbean nations have approved new constitutions in recent months, including the Dominican Republic and the Cayman Islands.

- AP
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