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Longtime jurist Paula-Mae Weekes will serve as Trinidad and Tobago’s sixth president and the first woman to hold the position.
She was declared President-elect last Friday when Parliament’s Electoral College met to choose a successor for Anthony Carmona, who demits office in March, and she was the sole nominee.
Weekes became a High Court judge in T&T in September 1996, before being elevated to Court of Appeal judge in 2005. She served in that position until she retired in the twin-island republic in 2016. She was sworn in as a judge of the Turks and Caicos Islands Court of Appeal in February 2017, for a three-year term.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said Weekes has all the qualities that are necessary to become the country’s next Head of State.
“Madam Justice Paula Mae Weekes is eminently suited to carry out these duties, to 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,” he said.
Rowley added that her ascension to the highest office of the land is the perfect opportunity for citizens 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. The simple truth is that with hard work, dedication, discipline and good character, in this land of Trinidad and Tobago, no accomplishment, no accolade, nor position is beyond reach.
“Good woman that she is, today she is selected and celebrated only because she was deemed to be the best person for the job, measured by a variety of very exacting yardsticks,” the Prime Minister said.
And Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar – who was the country’s first female Attorney General, Opposition Leader and Prime Minister – said Weekes was a good example for women and girls in Trinidad and Tobago.
“I am certain that [Friday’s] election of our country’s first female President will serve to inspire our girls and women. Today, our girls can find examples of women at the highest levels of our nation’s political sphere, and that is something of which we can immensely proud,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar added that her United National Congress supported Weekes’ nomination because her experience and qualifications demonstrated she was most suitable and deserving of the office.
“As she takes up her new position, we trust that President-elect Paula-Mae Weekes will seek to protect the democratic rights and interests of the citizens of our beloved nation. Most importantly, we expect that the President will ensure that any potential excesses and abuses by the executive are curbed,” Persad-Bissessar said.