PORT OF SPAIN – History was made today in the Parliament on Friday, as the Electoral College named retired Justice Paula Mae Weekes the country’s first female president.
The Electoral College met at 1.30 p.m. to duly elect the country’s next President.
Weekes stood unopposed as the nominee named by government and endorsed by the opposition.
Thirteen minutes into the sitting, chairman of the College Brigid Annisette George declared Weekes the country’s president-elect.
“Section 31:1 of the Constitution provides that a candidate who is unopposed or gets the greatest number of the votes cast, shall be declared elected.
Regulation 9(1)(b) of the Electoral College regulations provides that where only one person stands nominated for election as president such nominated person shall, at the meeting of the Electoral College, be declared by the speaker to be elected.”
“Accordingly, I hereby declare Miss Paula Mae Weekes elected president of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Delivering remarks, opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar noted that the election was historic, particularly as the nation this week celebrated the life of the country’s fourth president, Professor George Maxwell Richards.
“It cannot go unnoticed that we usher in a president-elect in the very week our grateful nation paid tribute to a former Head of State, our fourth president, Professor George Maxwell Richards. This moment in time sees us elevating to history, our sixth president, while celebrating the life of our fourth president.
It is our hope that Madame Justice Paula Mae Weekes will be inspired by the dedicated service and commitment to fairness and impartiality of the late Professor Richards and his predecessors.”
In welcoming the president-elect, Persad-Bissessar expressed confidence that Weekes would discharge her duties as Head of State impartially and with compassion.
Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley said he was especially pleased to be part of the history-making election, noting that it is the perfect opportunity for the young people of our nation to sit up and take notice.
“This is a fitting time, as good a time as any, for our young people and indeed each and every citizen, to recommit to being the best that we can be. Justice Weekes’ story serves as a living example that nothing is beyond our reach.”
He added that Weekes is well suited to discharge the duties of the office and “bring calm and confidence to our national governance and to demonstrate that necessary ingredient of good judgement which is the unscripted recipe for a successful undertaking of this solemn assignment.”
Incumbent president Anthony Carmona, whose term comes to an end in March, was thanked for his service to the people of the country.
Annisette-George said he will leave his mark on the office of president in the form of his passion for youth and elevating to service to the country, encouraging their involvement in national affairs.
“I wish to extend on behalf of the Electoral College, and on my own behalf, our gratitude to His Excellency for giving of himself in service.”
She also thanked his family for their tolerance, patience and self-denial, even while under constant public scrutiny.