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Barbados elects a woman as its first president as it moves toward becoming a republic

Dame Sandra Mason is seen here after she was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2018 in London. Before her election as the first president of Barbados, she served as the governor general. She will serve both roles.
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Dame Sandra Mason is seen here after she was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2018 in London. Before her election as the first president of Barbados, she served as the governor general. She will serve both roles.

The island of Barbados is in the midst of great change. As the country continues to transition into a republic, the nation has elected a woman as its very first president.

Dame Sandra Mason was elected after securing two-thirds of the votes in the country's two houses of Parliament, the government announced.

Barbados announced in September 2020 that it would become a republic, a process that involves removing Queen Elizabeth as the island nation's head of state.

"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," Mason said in a speech delivered that month on behalf of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, according to Reuters. She added, "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."

Officials said last year that their goal was to complete the process of becoming a republic ahead of the 55th anniversary of that important date, making good on a goal that's been decades in the making.

Prime Minister Mottley described Mason's election on Wednesday as a "seminal moment" on the road toward becoming a republic, according to the Government Information Service statement.

"The time has come for us to express the full confidence in ourselves as a people, and to believe that it is possible for one born of this nation to sign off finally and completely," she said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: October 22, 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly called President-elect Dame Sandra Mason the then-governor general of Barbados. She will serve both roles.
Sharon Pruitt-Young

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