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Is now the time to start talking about a republic?

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King Charles III has become the head of state across 14 Commonwealth realms following his mother’s death

In the depths of the Caribbean lies an archipelago, which was born in 1981 after it received autonomy from Britain.

Since then, the nation known for its beaches and rainforests has become the home to nearly 100,000 people.

But the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has announced his country will soon take its independence one step further, as it casts a vote on whether to become a republic within the next three years.

Gaston Browne made the announcement following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last week.

“This is not an act of hostility, or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy,” he said.

Instead, Mr Browne added it is “a final step to complete the circle of independence to become a truly sovereign nation”.

Queen Elizabeth II meets the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams.

During her reign, Queen Elizabeth II visited the three islands, which make up Antigua and Barbuda on three separate occasions in 1966, 1977 and 1985.

The Queen’s state visits were guided by a group of nations known as the Commonwealth.

The political association, which groups 56 member states, are mainly former territories of the British Empire. It spans from Cyprus in Europe, to Tuvalu in the depths of the Pacific.

How many countries did the Queen rule?

During her reign, Queen Elizabeth II visited at least 117 countries.

In 14 of these, the late monarch remained as their head of state. This includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Solomon Islands.

But her death is stirring the motion towards independence, or a republic for some of these states.

In Australia, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his country will not vote on a republic in this current term of government, which expires in 2025.

“Now is the time for commemorating and recognising the life and service of Queen Elizabeth and also for welcoming our new head of state in King Charles III.”

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA

The Prime Minister believes constitutional change is “very difficult to occur in this country”, and has instead focussed his attention towards an Indigenous voice to Parliament.

Australia voted on whether to part ways with the monarchy in 1999, when nearly 61 per cent chose to not alter the constitution.

Jacinda Ardern is the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who said her country will become a republic at some stage in her lifetime.

But she has stopped short of putting forward a timeline for this to take place.

This is also the case in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the late monarch as one of his “favourite people in the world”.

“She was our Queen for almost half of Canada’s existence. And she had an obvious deep and abiding love and affection for Canadians.”

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

Queen Elizabeth II spent 70 years on the throne, where she met a dozen Canadian, 15 British, and 16 Australian prime ministers.

Where is the republican movement strong?

Like Antigua and Barbuda, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign was prominent across the Caribbean; including The Bahamas, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Belize, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.

Another country in which Queen Elizabeth II remained head of state—also known as a Commonwealth realm—is Jamaica, which has paved its way for a shift towards a republic.

In fact, questions around the republican movement were raised earlier this year.

In March, the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Jamaica. However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the Royal couple the country was “moving on” with its vision to become “independent”.

Queen Elizabeth II on one of her six visits to Jamaica.

Similar to other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II was represented by Governor-General, who is appointed on the advice of Jamaica’s Prime Minister.

The Governor-General represents the monarch and gives formal approval to any laws passed before those they come into effect.

Many Caribbean states tend to associate the British Empire’s colonial legacies with exploitation and slavery.

On his visit to Jamaica, Prince William said acts of slavery “should never have happened” and “forever stains our history”.

“While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude.”

William, Prince of Wales

In the Pacific, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea are all part of the Commonwealth realms. But the shift towards a republic is less prominent.

In recent days, these three states have proclaimed King Charles III as their new sovereign.

When was the last time a country ditched the monarchy?

Barbados is the most recent country to separate from the British Empire by removing Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state.

However, it still remains part of the Commonwealth like other former British colonies including India, Singapore, and Kenya.

In a visit last year, then-Prince Charles acknowledged the country’s history of slavery, which he described as an “appalling atrocity”.

Barbados’ Presidential Inauguration Ceremony marks the birth of a new republic.

The Caribbean island has a stained history of slavery in which captured Africans were used in plantation fields.

It was first declared part of the United Kingdom in 1625 and became part of the transatlantic slave trade.

Under the current arrangement, Barbados’ Parliament chooses a president. The then-Governor-General of Barbados Sandra Mason, became the country’s inaugural president last year.

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”

sandra mason, president of barbados

Barbados became the first country to remove the British monarch as its head of state in nearly three decades.

It follows Mauritius choosing to part ways with its colonial past in 1992.

Sierra Leone, Malawi, Guyana, Uganda and Nigeria are also part of a suite of African countries to leave the monarchy from the 1960s onwards.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Iran launches retaliatory attack on Israel with hundreds of drones

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Iran launched a swarm of explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first ever direct attack on Israeli territory, risking a major escalation as the United States pledged “ironclad” backing for Israel.

Sirens wailed and Reuters journalists in Israel said they heard distant heavy thuds and bangs from what local media called aerial interceptions of explosive drones. Authorities said a 7-year-old girl was critically injured.

Israel’s military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, most of which were intercepted outside Israeli borders. They included more than 10 cruise missiles, he said.

The Iranian salvo amounted to more than 200 drones and missiles so far, Hagari said, and had caused light damage to one Israeli military facility.

Read More – Iran launches drone attack against Israel

The Israeli military said later that it was not advising any residents to prepare to take shelter, revising an earlier alert in what appeared to signal the end of the threat.

Significant response

Israel’s Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack.

Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April crimes”. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the 1 that killed seven Guards officers including two senior commanders and said its strike was a punishment for “Israeli U.S. to “stay away”. However, it also said Iran now “deemed the matter concluded”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Iran’s attack, and said he was “deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation.”
U.S. President Joe Biden, who on Friday had warned Iran against an attack, cut short a visit to his home state of Delaware to meet national security advisers in the White House Situation Room. He pledged to stand with Israel.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” he said on X after the meeting.

British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement that drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group.

Those clashes now threaten to morph into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter the United States, with regional power Egypt urging “utmost restraint”.

While Israel and Iran have been bitter foes for decades, their long feud has mostly unfolded via proxies or by targeting each other’s forces operating in third countries.

U.S. and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Channel 12 reported. Two U.S. officials said the U.S. military had shot down dozens of drone aircraft headed to Israel.

Major escalation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose official jet took off shortly after the attack began, convened the war cabinet at a military headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office said.

Israel and Lebanon said they were closing their airspace on Saturday night. Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defences to intercept any drone or missile that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

Residents in several Jordanian cities said they heard heavy aerial activity.

Syria, an ally of Iran, said it was putting its ground-to-air defence systems around the capital and major bases on high alert, army sources there said.

The European Union, Britain, France, Mexico, Czechia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands all condemned Iran’s attack.

Israel has been bracing for an Iranian response to the Damascus consulate strike since last week, when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel “must be punished and shall be” for an operation he called equivalent to one on Iranian soil.

Biden said on Friday that his only message to Iran was “Don’t”, but added that “we are devoted to the defense of Israel.”

Iran’s main ally in the region, the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah that has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began on Oct. 7, said early on Sunday it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.

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Iran launches drone attack against Israel

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Iran launched dozens of drones at Israel but they will take hours to reach their targets,

Israel’s military said, an attack that may trigger a major escalation between the regional archenemies, with the U.S. pledging to back Israel.

Two security sources in Iraq said dozens of drones had been spotted flying from Iran toward Israel over Iraqi airspace in what Iranian Press TV called “extensive drone strikes” by the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers including two senior commanders. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attack.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who on Friday warned Iran against attacking Israel after saying such a scenario appeared imminent, has pledged to stand with Israel against Iran, the White House said.

Iranian drones

A retired Israeli general, Amos Yadlin, told the country’s Channel 12 news that the Iranian drones were equipped with 20 kg (44 pounds) of explosives each.

Israel’s military said sirens would sound in any threatened areas and that its defences were poised to deal with them.

Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries.

MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed that Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.

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Six dead in Sydney shopping centre stabbing

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Six people have lost their lives in a horrific attack at Westfield in Sydney’s Bondi Junction.

The incident, which unfolded at approximately 3:20 pm on Saturday afternoon, saw a man in an NRL jersey randomly stabbing shoppers, leaving many more injured.

The chaos and panic that ensued as families ran for their lives were captured in the harrowing scenes.

Hero mother

Amidst the terror, a heroic mother, who fought to save her nine-month-old baby’s life, tragically succumbed to her injuries in the hospital.

Witnesses described the assailant as a man in his 30s, wearing an Australian Rugby League team jersey, wielding a 15cm-long knife.

His indiscriminate attacks left a trail of devastation, with five people confirmed dead at the scene.

The sixth victim, the mother of the nine-month-old baby, battled to save her child despite her own injuries, ultimately succumbing to them later.

The situation could have been even more catastrophic if not for the courageous actions of a senior female police officer, who bravely confronted the attacker alone and ultimately brought him down with a single shot to the chest.

Witnesses recounted stories of bravery and resilience, with some throwing tables and chairs at the assailant and others engaging in physical confrontations with improvised weapons like bollards.

As emergency services worked tirelessly to save lives, the scene inside the mall was one of horror and desperation, with blood splattered across multiple stores.

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