The presidency

HISTORY OF THE PRESIDENCY

Prior to Trinidad and Tobago gaining its independence from Britain, it was a crown colony and the Queen of England was the nation’s Head of State, represented by the Governor.

Upon becoming independent on the 31st August, 1962, the Queen remained titular Head of State but a Governor-General now governed the country’s affairs.

On August 1st 1976, Trinidad and Tobago became a republic within the Commonwealth and the Republican Constitution provided for a President who is the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed forces. He is also the repository of all Executive Authority. His powers are exercisable within certain constitutional limits and most of his constitutional acts must be performed in accordance with the advice of or after consultation with another authority, usually the Cabinet, the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition.

A person is qualified to be nominated for election as President if he is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago of age thirty five years or upwards who, at the date of his nomination as President has been ordinarily resident in Trinidad and Tobago for ten years immediately preceding his nomination.

The Constitution provides for an Electoral College consisting of all the Members of the Senate and all the Members of the House of Representatives assembled together and convened and presided over by the Speaker of the House. The President is elected by the Electoral College voting by secret ballot. Ten Senators, the Speaker and twelve other Members of the House of Representatives constitute a quorum of the Electoral College. The President so elected shall normally hold office for a term of five years.

PRESIDENTS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Ellis Emmanuel Innocent Clarke

September 24, 1976 – March 19, 1987

Sir Ellis Emmanuel Innocent Clarke, first President of Trinidad and Tobago

The second and last Governor-General and the first President of Trinidad and Tobago, Ellis Clarke (now deceased) succeeded Sir Solomon Hochoy as Governor General in 1972.  He was unanimously elected as President when Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic in 1976.

 

Noor Mohamed Hassanali

March 20, 1987 – March 17, 1997

Noor Mohamed Hassanali, second President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

The second President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Noor Hassanali (now deceased) served two terms, between 1987 and 1997.  He was a retired High Court Judge, the first Indo-Trinidadian to hold the office of President and the first Muslim Head of State in the Americas.

 

Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson

March 18, 1997 – March 16, 2003

Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, third President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Arthur N.R. Robinson succeeded Noor Hassanali as President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and served in office from 1997-2003.  He was previously Prime Minister from 1986-1991, during which time he was a member of the National Alliance for Reconstruction.  Mr. Robinson was the first active politician to be elected to the Presidency and was the first presidential candidate who was elected unopposed.

 

George Maxwell Richards

March 17, 2003 – March 18, 2013

Professor George Maxwell Richards, fourth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, currently serving a second term

Professor Richards, the country’s fourth President is currently serving a second term as President.  He is the first Head of State in the Anglophone Caribbean of Amerindian ancestry.

 

 

Sources:

  • The New Trinidad & Tobago (Little Folks’ Trinidad) 1966;
  • Historical Dictionary of Trinidad & Tobago by Michael Anthony;
  • Government Information Service Library Documents.

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