Paula-Mae Weekes, President of Trinidad and Tobago (since Mar 19, 2018)
Paula-Mae Weekes (born December 23, 1958) is the 6th and current president of Trinidad and Tobago. She took office on 19 March 2018 and became the first woman to hold the office of President.
Weekes attended the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree, and the Hugh Wooding Law School, and was called to the Bar in 1982. After graduation she worked in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for 11 years, before going into private practice in 1993. She was appointed to the judiciary in 1996 and to the Court of Appeals in 2005, where she served until her retirement in 2016. She served briefly as acting Chief Justice in 2012 after acting Chief Justice Wendell Kangaloo was injured in a car accident. In September 2016 Weekes was appointed to the appeals court in the Turks and Caicos.
On 5 January 2018, Weekes, then a judge of the Turks and Caicos Islands Court of Appeal, was put forward as a presidential candidate by the People’s National Movement government of Prime Minister Keith Rowley in hopes of reaching a consensus with the United National Congress-led parliamentary opposition of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, which later endorsed her nomination. Her proposal for the post of president was also lauded by political analysts. As Weekes was the only nominated candidate on election day, she was deemed elected without the need for a vote.
Anthony Carmona, Former President of Trinidad and Tobago
Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona is the fifth President of Trinidad and Tobago, in office since 2013. Previously he was High Court Judge at the Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago and served as a Judge of the International Criminal Court.
Carmona was born in Palo Seco, in south Trinidad, eldest of six children of Dennis Stephen Carmona and his wife Barbara. He graduated from Santa Flora Government Primary School and Presentation College, San Fernando. He attended the University of the West Indies and the Hugh Wooding Law School between 1973 and 1983.
After graduating from Hugh Wooding Law School in 1983, Carmona worked as a State Counsel. In 1989, he became a Senior State Attorney. From 1994 to 1999, he was first Assistant then Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. From 2001 to 2004, he was an Appeals Counsel at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha.
In 2004, he was appointed a High Court Judge at the Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago.
On 12 December 2011, he was elected as a judge of the International Criminal Court. He won the office in the first ballot in the Assembly of States Parties with 72 of 104 votes with 70 votes needed and took office on 11 March 2012.
On 3 February 2013, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that the ruling party would nominate Carmona to succeed outgoing President George Maxwell Richards. The following day, Keith Rowley, leader of the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM), indicated that his party supported Carmona’s nomination. However, following this announcement, the PNM questioned Carmona’s eligibility to serve as President, given his work outside of the country between 2001 and 2004. (To be eligible to be elected President, a person must be “ordinarily resident” in the country for the ten years prior to election.) Attorney General Anand Ramlogan responded by saying that the government had consulted with legal experts who expressed the opinion that Carmona met this requirement.
George Maxwell Richards, Former President of Trinidad and Tobago
George Maxwell Richards, T.C., CMT, Ph.D., (b. 1931, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago) is the fourth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. A chemical engineer by training, Richards was Principal of the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad in 1996. He previously worked for Shell Trinidad Ltd. before joining the University of the West Indies in 1965. He was sworn into office on March 17, 2003 for a five-year term. Richards is the first Head of State in the Anglophone Caribbean of Amerindian ancestry. Max Richards, as he is generally known, was born in the town of San Fernando in south Trinidad. He received his primary education there before winning an exhibition (scholarship) to attend Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain. From 1950 to 1951 he worked for the United British Oilfields of Trinidad (precursor to Shell Trinidad Ltd.) at Point Fortin. He received a scholarship from them to study chemical engineering. Richards then attended the University of Manchester (UMIST) where he took a Bachelor’s degree (1955) and a Master’s degree (1957). He then obtained a doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge (Pembroke).
Richards returned to Trinidad and worked for Shell Trinidad Ltd. from 1957-1965 before joining the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of the West Indies, eventually attainting the post of Professor of Chemical Engineering. From 1980-1985 Richards served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Principal of the University. He served as Acting Principal of the St. Augustine Campus from 1984-1985, and was confirmed in the position in 1985. Richards served as Principal through the turbulent period in 1988 then the government slashed the university’s budget by 30% and instituted a cess on university students (effectively raising tuition from TT$120 to $3000 overnight). He managed to keep the university afloat through this difficult period and retired as Principal in 1996 although he continued to teach as Professor Emeritus until he was elected President. Richards has also served on the Boards of many Trinidad and Tobago companies including that of the state-owned oil company, Trintoc (now Petrotrin), the National Gas Company and the Trinidad Publishing Company.
Although the position of President is a primarily ceremonial one, Richards has been outspoken in his criticism of the upsurge of crime in Trinidad and Tobago. He is also well known for his involvement in Carnival.
In 1977, Richards received the Chaconia Medal of the National Order of the Trinity, Class 1 Gold (the Chaconia Medal, Gold) for his contributions to Trinidad and Tobago. He is married to the former Jean Ramjohn, an anaesthetist and cousin of former President Noor Hassanali. They have two children: a son, Mark, who is also a medical doctor, and a daughter, Maxine, who is a businesswoman.
Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar is Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago since May 24, 2010.