The President of Commonwealth of Dominica

Section 116 of the Constitution of Dominica declares it a sovereign democratic republic. Therefore, unlike many of its Caribbean neighbours, the Head of State is a President and not a Governor General who is the representative of the British monarch in an independent country.

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The President of Dominica is elected for a period of five years and his functions are set out by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica. The President of Dominica or anyone designated by him exercises the executive authority of Dominica. The President of Dominica must first agree to any Bill passed by the House, before it can effectively become law.

Dominica Parliament can also confer additional functions upon the President of Dominica with the President’s written consent. Nominations for the post of Dominica President are done after consultation between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. If the two are in agreement then the Speaker will inform the House that the candidate for President of Dominica has been duly elected without the need for a vote. If there be any disagreement, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, or any three members of the House can submit (in writing) nominations of candidates for Dominica president, fourteen days after the House has been informed of the disagreement. The President of Dominica is then elected by secret ballot.

To qualify for nomination for election as President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, a person must be a Dominica citizen for at least forty years of age, resident on island for a minimum of five years and must be at least forty years of age or older. The president elect must not be a paid public servant or otherwise employed. Parliament in Dominica has the authority to waive the residence qualification providing that three quarters of the elected members agree to do so. The President in Dominica can serve no more than two terms in office.

Should the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica violate any provision of the Dominica Constitution, bring his office into disrepute, endanger the security of the nation, or become physically or mentally incapable to perform his duties, the President will be removed from office. During the tenure, the President is protected from civil and criminal proceedings.

Here is a list of all the Dominica Presidents from Independence (1978) to present:

  1. Sir Louis Cools-Lartigue: 3 November 1978 – 16 January 1979
    Knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1975, he served as Governor of Dominica prior to 1978. Upon independence he was made interim President.
  2. Frederick E. Degazon: 16 January 1979 – 25 February 1980
    In 1977, he also served as Speaker of the House of the Assembly. During the May 1979 crisis he was forced to flee to London, England. He officially resigned in February 1980.
  3. Jenner Armour: 21 June 1979 – 25 February 1980
    Elected to act as President until the resignation of Degazon, he later became a member of Cabinet under the late Dame Mary Eugenia Charles.
  4. Aurelius Marie: 25 February 1980 – 19 December 1983
  5. Sir Clarence Seignoret: 19 December 1983 – 25 October 1993
    When Dominica was granted Associated Statehood in 1967 he became the first Cabinet Secretary. He was the first President to serve a full term in office and the only one to serve two terms to date. He was knighted by Her Majesty in 1985.
  6. Crispin Anselm Sorhaindo: 25 October 1993 – 5 October 1998
    A pioneer member of the Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank of Dominica, he was a delegate at the 1966 conference in London that granted Dominica Associated Statehood.
  7. Vernon Lorden Shaw: 6 October 1998 – 1 October 2003
    He was the recipient of two national awards: the Sisserou Award in 1990 and the Dominica Award of Honour in 2001.
  8. Dr. Nicholas J. O. Liverpool: 2 October 2003 –
    An accomplished jurist, he will not seek re-election when his term of office expires later in 2009.