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
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
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 N.R. Robinson(now deceased) 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 Richards (now deceased), the country’s fourth President who served second term as President. He was the first Head of State in the Anglophone Caribbean of Amerindian ancestry.
Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona
March 19, 2013 – March 18, 2018
Mr. Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC, the country’s fifth President succeeded Professor George Maxwell Richards and served in office from 2013-2018.
On March 18, 2013, Mr. Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, ORTT, SC, took the oath as the Fifth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, at an Inaugural Ceremony, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The nation’s highest award, the Order of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago (ORTT) was conferred upon President Carmona on July 24th 2013.
In that same year, he was also appointed Chancellor of the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) on October 25th, and on October 23rd 2014, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of the West Indies (UWI).
March 19, 2018 – March 19, 2023
Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes O.R.T.T. made history when she became the first female President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 2018, succeeding Mr. Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona O.R.T.T., SC.
Ms Weekes is a retired Justice of Appeal of the judiciaries of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and The Turks and Caicos Islands and a qualified judicial educator. She was conferred with the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the nation’s highest award in September 2018, and was recognised as a Pioneering Caribbean Woman Jurist by the CCJ Academy for Law in 2021.
A former Chancellor of the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago, President Weekes is an avid cultivator of orchids and enjoys exploring foreign lands.
- The New Trinidad & Tobago (Little Folks’ Trinidad) 1966;
- Historical Dictionary of Trinidad & Tobago by Michael Anthony;
- Government Information Service Library Documents.