Trinidad and Tobago’s new head of state sworn into office


The 62-year-old former president of the Senate, Christine Carla Kangaloo, was sworn into office Monday as the seventh President of Trinidad and Tobago, promising to demystify the office as well as encourage intellectual, cultural and artistic debates in the oil-rich twin island republic.

While Kangaloo, the second consecutive woman to be elected to the largely ceremonial post, also promised to be engaged in “relentless advocacy” to achieve her aims, she noted also that it would be done diplomatically without acrimony or bitterness” and that much emphasis will be placed on the development of the youth.

Kangaloo took the oath of office before Chief Justice Ivor Archie at a ceremony held at the Queen’s Park Savanah on the outskirts of the capital and witnessed by her husband, her 95-year-old mother, as well as Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and more than 500 guests.

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Kangaloo, who replaces Paula Mae-Weekes, who did not seek a further five-year term, said she is also aware of the “disquiet” that surrounded her election to the position having been nominated by the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) of which she had been a member some years ago.

The attorney, who is the only person to have served as both Senate president and vice president and the third woman to serve as Acting President of the country while being Senate President, said nonetheless she was reaching out to all of Trinidad and Tobago to make her tenure as successful as it could be.

She said if for one reason or another, some people “might not be fully on board with assisting me in achieving these goals, I know there have been voices from certain quarters that have given the impression that such collaboration might not be as easily forthcoming as one might have hoped.

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“To any and every such voice I repeat (Trinidad calypso singer) Merchant’s invitation in song…to let us forget spite and grudges and concentrate and to come and sit and let us try to relate.

“I assure all who have not yet signed on to the idea of my presidency that in the words of Melanie Hudson (another Trinidadian singer) …I will always be there for you, no matter what you do, whatever joy or pain that you are going through.”

“What all of us have to realize …is whatever grief and sadness we bring into each other’s households in the end we are all and we are still this country’s daughters and sons.”

Christine Carla Kangaloo’s nomination had been opposed by the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) which named prominent criminal attorney Israel Khan as its candidate. However, he was soundly defeated during the secret balloting by the Electoral College that comprised legislators from both houses of Parliament.

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