PORT-OF-SPAIN: Former High Court judge, Anthony Carmona, was sworn in as Trinidad & Tobago’s fifth president on Monday at a public ceremony held at Hasley Crawford Stadium, on the outskirts of the capital.
President Carmona, a graduate of the University of the West Indies and the Hugh Wooding Law School, succeeds educator, George Maxwell Richards, who ended a 10-year term in the ceremonial post last Sunday.
“Your Excellency can take great satisfaction from the fact that you have served our beloved nation for a decade with honour and distinction,” said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in a letter to the outgoing head of state. “You will be leaving an indelible mark with the dignity, wisdom and perspicacity you always displayed during you two terms of office.”
Carmona, 60, a former judge on the International Criminal Court and a former United Nations prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, accepted his oath before Chief Justice, Ivor Archie, his wife and two children as well as hundreds of school children, government ministers and other local dignitaries.
Carmona said he was humbled by the abundance of goodwill towards him that “could dissipate if expectations are not realized or realized quickly”. He said he was aware of the expectations many people have in his office and said he was not an executive president.
However, Carmona said there were parameters under which he would function.
“Powers you think I have, I do not, and powers you think I do not have I do,” he said.
Carmona said the Office of the President “does have constitutional clout”, referring to the power that allows him to hold regular meetings with the head of government.
“It is a dialogue mechanism that will be involved affirmatively,” he said. “This I shall do without compromise or reservation, holding fast to integrity, transparency…accountability and reference to God Almighty.”
Carmona said over the years Trinidad & Tobago had become “a highly undisciplined society” and that all stakeholders had a role to play in ensuring the future socio-economic development of the country.
He warned that people cannot demand responsibility and accountability as well as transparency from those in high offices without themselves showing the same traits in their daily lives.
Carmona also said there was need for the entire country to be engaged in a fair days work for a fair days pay, while improving productivity.