Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's Statement on the Nomination of President
...His Excellency President George Maxwell Richards has served us with honour and dignity.
As you know, the term of the sitting President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency, Professor George Maxwell Richards, comes to an end on March 17th 2013.
The responsibility and duty therefore falls upon the government which I am privileged to lead to consider nominations for the post of President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Before I announce the name of the citizen chosen to be the government's nominee, I wish to take this opportunity on behalf of the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago to extend the nation's deepest gratitude to our sitting President, His Excellency Professor George Maxwell Richards, for the distinguished service he has given to us all in the past decade.
As an academic and former principal of the University of the West Indies, he brought excellence to this esteemed Office scholastic expertise and he is best remembered as the person who redefined the role into a more people-friendly one.
His Excellency President George Maxwell Richards has served us with honour and dignity, and he will hold, like all presidents past, a sacred and special place in our nation’s history.
This is the seventh time in our nation’s great history of Independence and Republicanism that we the people have engaged in this privileged action of nominating and choosing the person to hold the Highest Office in our land.
It is a right and duty as sacred as every other democratic responsibility, and we must therefore never take it for granted.
Indeed, when the first President, the late Sir Ellis Clarke, placed his hand upon the Holy Book on August 1, 1976, the year our country attained the status of Republic, and swore to uphold our Constitution in good faith and with bias to none, it was a day when we declared once and for all that though we were a young nation, of mixed peoples, religions and beliefs, small in numbers, we were capable of governing ourselves in peace, harmony and progress.
Today, 36 years later, we have proven this many times over. We have impressed the world with our literary, cultural, scientific, business and technological advancements and developments, but more so, in the age of civil wars and terrorism we stand as a global beacon of hope and example of how one small group of people so diverse in religions, ethnicities and cultures, can unite as one people under the banner of progress, discipline, tolerance, production and most importantly, peace.
That is the significance of the Office of President to us as a people and in our ever changing world, where the evolution of human rights have now, justly, gained precedence, we must remember that the role of President of Trinidad and Tobago has thus become, more than ever, an important one Constitutionally and it is much needed to effect proper governance and the democratic tenets which bind us.
Far from being a mere ceremonial post, as has often been said in the past, the Office and Role of the President of our Republic is in fact the measure of democracy in our nation, the guidepost of our humanity, wisdom, civility, rationality, compassion, intelligence and progress as we uphold and respect our democratic principles of equality for all.
In the assessment of who best can fulfil this distinguished role the government is thereof reposed with a huge responsibility to select from its citizens an individual who possesses a range of qualities and qualifications befitting of these crucial characteristics.
I am proud to say that from the bosom of our citizenry there were many sound candidates recommended each in his or her own right eminently qualified for the post.
And as I have done throughout my entire political career and especially since assuming the Office of Prime Ministerabout three years ago, I took into consideration these suggestions from the entire population.
In fact, I was very heartened when I saw how keenly interested the citizens of our land, of all ages, were and remain in their choice of President.This truly reflects the fact that our country remains on a path of democratic advancement.
In the past decade we have witnessed an amazing international thrust towards democratic government.
Human freedom is on the march, as it should be, for freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit.
People, worldwide, hunger for the right of self-determination, for those inalienable rights that make for human dignity and progress.
In such a global reality, I say Trinidad and Tobago proudly continues its great tradition of ensuring that democracy and harmony remain our greatest allies.
That tradition has never failed us, and today, when it falls to us to nominate the person who epitomizes this credo, we must do so confident in the knowledge that there are no limits to growth and human progress when men, women and children are free to follow their dreams in security, equality and liberty.
In this context, there was much deliberation and prayerful consideration of all the recommendations advanced.
As is the tradition, I met with the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley today and had the opportunity to consider his party's choice and to brief him on the procedure we adopted to arrive at the best candidate while preserving the dignity and respect of all the citizens recommended.
Subsequently, I shared with all members of my Government and the leaders of the Partnership the names and views expressed by everyone with whom I had consulted.
In this process, each member was given the opportunity to state his or her view on the preferred choice of nominee for President.
At the end of this collaboration the individual chosen as the nominee for the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago emerged.
Fellow citizens, I have the honour and immense pride, to have advised His Excellency, Professor George Maxwell Richards that the government of Trinidad and Tobago formally proposes the name of Mr. Justice, Judge Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona S.C. as the nominee for the post of President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Justice Anthony T. Carmona S.C. is an internationally respected member of the Judiciary and has been recently elected as a judge of the ICC in the Hague.
He has had a distinguished career in the criminal justice system over the past thirty years serving under several administrations. Mr Justice, Anthony T. Carmona held the positions of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and Acting Director of Public Prosecutions.
He was also a United Nations prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
This esteemed son of our soil has also been elected by the assembly of State parties United Nations and appointedas a Judge to the International Criminal Court ICC, a court which is internationally recognised as having been formed out of a proposal by former President His Excellency,A.N.R.Robinson.
He has also been a senior tutor in the department of government and a lecturer in Language and Linguistics at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.
Mr Justice, Anthony T. Carmona, in the opinion of those giving consideration, has demonstrated the qualities of human character, experience and distinguished qualifications worthy enough to be the nominee for President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and to best serve our citizens their enshrined and sacred democratic rights and interests with compassion, humanity, fairness and love towards all.
So, we go forward today with this great historic process as a people always powerful in its purpose, and we look to a future rich in possibilities, all because we continue to work and strive together, not as members of political parties but as Trinidadians and Tobagonians
May God continue to guide this process forward and may God continue to bless our beloved nation.
Fellow citizens, I thank you all.