It is official now! Retired Court of Appeal Judge, Paula Mae Weekes, will be the country’s sixth President.
Her nomination was submitted to the Speaker of the House on Monday afternoon after the Opposition agreed to support Weekes for President. The Electoral College will make it official on January 19, and the inauguration takes place on March 19.
With the deadline for nomination a mere hours away, the Opposition agreed to support Weekes.
Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, added, “Today, we have done the deed, we have co-signed the nomination. I feel very happy having done so.”
Persad-Bissessar said that the she and other Opposition members had listened carefully to all the varying and diverse views expressed and took the decision to support Weekes, who will be the country’s first female President.
Persad-Bissessar added, “For myself I have had the honour and the privilege to be appointed the first female Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, the first female leader of the Opposition and the first female Prime Minister of our beloved country. It really is a testament to our great country that women and girls can aspire to any position, nationally and internationally, and therefore it personally gives me great pleasure to share in this very historic occasion in collaborating and co-signing the nomination for the first female President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Persad-Bissessar said that that the Opposition’s support for a Government nominee was not unprecedented, saying that there were circumstances previously in 1992 where the Opposition co-signed with the Government.
Noor Hassanali served as President of Trinidad and Tobago from March 1987 to March 1997.
The Opposition leader said the circumstances were not unprecedented, but exceptional, adding that the interests of the country should be placed above all others.
She continued, “So we feel under the current circumstances in our country, with the unprecedented levels of mistrust and betrayal that some of our citizens have towards the present Government the support for any move by the Government, especially for this high office is not one that is not without its challenges. However, at this time we firmly believe that all of our interests should be placed second to the interests of Trinidad. Many have their reservations about this exceptional action that we have taken at this time in co-signing and not opposing, but going in a proactive manner in co-signing the nomination for the Government’s nominee.”
Persad-Bissessar said that in considering Weekes as the nominee, the Opposition has had two concerns and she communicated those with those with the Government over the weekend.
One of these concerns were whether Weekes was eligible for the position as under the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago one of the requirements was for the nominee to be an ordinary resident for ten years.