All hail and welcome, President Carmona
With a remarkable equanimity of spirit, Trinidad and Tobago welcomed its fifth President with as much positive anticipation as it said goodbye to its fourth with fond regard and memories. As the Port of Spain sun set on his decade-long tenure, the T&T Regiment band serenaded President Max Richards and his wife, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards, with a memorable selection from 2013 soca.
In its send-off to the former president and commander-in-chief, the Defence Force thus recalled his active participation in the national festival of Carnival, with the chorus, "Ready for the Road". The one-time UWI professor and principal, raised to head of state, has imparted an unforgettable style to the discharge of his exalted office. President Richards was not himself exempted from the experience of outrageous fortune that afflicted T&T over his period.
He kept his cool, and took the trouble, on appropriate occasion, to admonish the country and its leaders with homely homilies of guidance and wisdom, covering a wide range of public affairs. With lingering gratitude, the republic will remember its former president as one who sought, after his own lights, to make a difference.
It's with a comparable surge of generosity, marked by heightened expectation, that T&T salutes the arrival to the presidency of Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona. At 60, President Carmona brings to the position a promise of relative youth, and the capacities developed and tempered in a distinguished legal and judicial career.
The new President is also, conspicuously, a churchgoing family man, a community person, well regarded by his peers and lifelong comperes, and hailed as a humble man with a common touch. If his predecessor was known as a lover of T&T music and song, President Carmona brings to the position the actual experience of an exponent of calypso.
Middle-named after the legendary theological thinker of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, the President has stirred hope for the application of a measure of erudition and intellect to the responsibilities he assumed yesterday. Along with the rest of the Republican Constitution, the presidency is also up for review. The just-inaugurated head of state, like the one just departed from the position, must be assumed to have reflections to contribute to the national deliberations over new constitutional arrangements.
These will pointedly include the mission and the structure of the Integrity Commission, the membership of which will be the urgent first claim on President Carmona's attention. Amid current troubled and contentious times, Anthony TA Carmona's uncontested nomination and elevation to the presidency inevitably heighten expectations for his performance of a role not of his making. T&T hopes and prays that President Carmona will rise to the level of performance demanded by the occasion, while assuring him of support to the end of making, or remaking, the presidency into what the country needs.