PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday January 10, 2018 – On the same day both the Opposition and Government in Trinidad and Tobago agreed on the country having its first female president, a former head of state passed away after suffering cardiac arrest.
Professor George Maxwell Richards, the twin-island republic’s fourth president, died on Monday around 7:45 p.m., at the age of 86.
He served as President from 2003 to 2013.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said Trinidad and Tobago had lost a much-loved son of the soil.
“One would be hard-pressed to ever be part of or overhear a conversation where the name ‘Max Richards’ is mentioned and not hear the admiration that people had for his love of culture and his down to earth nature,” he said.
The late president will be given a state funeral.
Earlier in the day, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had announced that her party would support the Government’s nominee of Paula-Mae Weekes to replace current president, Anthony Carmona, when he demits office in March.
Persad-Bissessar, along with the Prime Minister and other members of the Government and the Opposition signed the nomination papers.
Weekes, who currently serves as a Court of Appeal judge in the Turks and Caicos Islands, is the only nominee for the position, and is expected to be officially named as Carmona’s successor when the Electoral College meets on January 19 to elect the new President.
Persad-Bissessar said Weekes was deserving of the appointment.
“For myself I have had the honour and the privilege to be appointed the first female Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, the first female leader of the Opposition and the first female Prime Minister of our beloved country. It really is a testament to our great country that women and girls can aspire to any position, nationally and internationally, and therefore it personally gives me great pleasure to share in this very historic occasion in collaborating and co-signing the nomination for the first female President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” she said,
“I trust that Madam Justice Weekes will understand the faith that the country has placed in her by the collaborative support given for her election and that she will, in the discharge of her duties and responsibilities, fulfill the expectations of all the people of this land, by virtue of her unwavering, uncompromising and impartial execution of those duties and responsibilities.”
The Constitution provides for an Electoral College consisting of all the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives assembled together and convened and presided over by the Speaker of the House to elect a President by secret ballot. Ten Senators, the Speaker and twelve other Members of the House of Representatives constitute a quorum of the Electoral College.
Weekes became a High Court judge in T&T in September 1996, before being elevated to a 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.