Yesterday’s historic session at the Parliament Building in Port-of-Spain was largely ceremonial, as the Government’s nomination of the retired Court of Appeal Judge was supported by the Opposition, so there was no need to cast ballots.
The appointment became official when Speaker of the House of Representatives Brigid Annisette-George, chairman of the Electoral College, declared Weekes elected.to tremendous applause from both sides of the house.
The new head of state will now be inaugurated as soon after the term of incumbent President Anthony Carmona ends on March 18.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley described the fact that a woman is set to hold the highest office in land as “noteworthy and most definitely trail-blazing”
“The tapestry of our nation’s history is woven with life threads of many formidable women who have helped this nation to develop, to thrive, to overcome and to soar,” he said in his address to the Electoral College.
“While many of them may have been well known and their names recorded in history books, countless others would have in the past, and continue each and every day to do yeoman service in helping to build our nation in their homes, on the sporting fields, at their places of work and in their communities.”
Rowley said the President-elect’s story serves as an example that nothing is beyond our reach and with “hard work, dedication, discipline and good character” no accomplishment or 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, indeed, even as we speak right now in this august chamber, future nominees for the position of President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago may very well be looking and listening and that to me, Madam Speaker, is quite sobering because all that we do here is ultimately meant for their benefit, encouragement and even inspiration,” he said.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the United National Congress (UNC) supported the nomination of Weekes because her experience and qualifications demonstrated that 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.