Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar is the first woman chair in office of the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith said yesterday. Speaking with Newsday at the Hilton Resort and Spa in Rose Hall, Jamaica yesterday, Smith said while other women heads of state have chaired the Commonwealth in the past, the concept of the chair in office was first established in 1999 and Persad-Bissessar is the first woman to hold that post in the Commonwealth’s history. Stating that Trinidad and Tobago (TT) was an excellent host of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2009 in all respects, Smith said the fact that Persad-Bissessar succeeded Patrick Manning as Prime Minister following the May 24 general election has not changed the exceptional leadership which this country has provided as the Commonwealth chair. TT will hold the chairmanship of the Commonwealth until the next CHOGM in Perth, Australia in October 2011.
Smith said his attendance at the Caricom meeting was not unusual because the Commonwealth regards the Caribbean as one of its most important constituents. He explained that his purpose at the meeting would be to update Caricom leaders about the progress made on initiatives that were agreed upon at last year’s CHOGM in Port-of-Spain.
The news item originally appeared in Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday at http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,123532.html