The Chancellor of the Diocese of Trinidad & Tobago, Justice Paula Mae Weekes, has been elected president of T&T. Apart from the Queen, Justice Weekes will be the only female head of state in the Americas upon the retirement of Chile’s Michelle Bachelet in March.
In Trinidad and Tobago the president is the head of state, while the prime minister is the head of government. Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said he was proud that for the first time a woman is set to hold the highest office in the land starting March 19.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar welcomed the president-elect, expressing her confidence that Weekes would perform her duties as Head of State “impartially” and “with compassion.”
Among her constitutional mandate is to appoint the nation’s senators: 16 according to the prime minister’s advice, six based on the opposition’s advice, and nine at her own discretion.
President Weekes will now be the head of the armed forces, she will be responsible for approving bills before they become law, and for “casting an eye on the operations and behavior of the Government,” according to the prime minister.
Justice Weekes earned an LLB degree at the University of the West Indies and served 11 years with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, entering private practice in 1993. She was appointed judge of the High Court Criminal Division in T&T in 1996 and moved to the Court of Appeals in 2005, until retirement in 2016. Since February has been a Justice of Appeal for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Justice Weekes has been chancellor of the Diocese of Trinidad & Tobago for the last 20 years, the Rt. Rev. Claude Berkely said, noting she had “carried herself with the appropriate dignity, soundness of mind and judgement that has guided us very well.” Justice Weekes has also been an active lay leader and Christian educator and serves as superintendent of her parish Sunday School.