President Eliud Williams (left) being administered the oath of office by Justice Brian Cottle, Resident Judge. Photo by GIS

Eliud Williams has been sworn in as the seventh President of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

He is replacing Dr. Nicholas Liverpool who is demiting office, reportedly due to ill health.

He was elected president on Monday morning in the House of Assembly.

Williams is being sworn in under a cloud of controversy after the opposition United Workers Party deemed the process leading to his nomination as unconstitutional.

The UWP staged a protest near the parliament building in Roseau on Monday morning to register its disagreement with the process.

Addressing the swearing-in ceremony Williams said he was elected president in keeping with Chapter Two of the Constitution to serve the remaining term of Dr. Nicholas Liverpool. “Although some have casually suggested that there should be a delay in appointing a successor the constitution does not provide that the state could be left headless for any such period,” he said.

He gave a description of the president’s role in Dominica. “Let us be clear that under our system of government there are things the president can do and things the president cannot do,” Williams pointed out.

“There are many things the president must do only under the advice of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and there are things the president may do on his own authority,” he said. “Any important government positions can be filled upon the appointment of the president. These include the director of public prosecutions, director of audit, permanent secretaries, members of the boundaries commission and electoral commissions.”

He said that the most notable duties of the president are to call parliament into session, to pause the session temporarily and dissolve parliament entirely resulting in an election.

“The president must also appoint the prime minister and the power to appoint is not just important when forming a new government after an election, sadly during times of crisis or sorrow including the untimely deaths of two of our nation’s leaders my predecessors had to exercise their duty to appoint a new president and ensure our nation had continuity of leadership through difficult times,” Williams noted.

He added, “Like a lot of Dominicans I believe in the continuity of governance is why a prompt and orderly succession of the presidency is the right decision for our country.”

Williams said he is taking on the job because of his loyalty to Dominica and his constant desire to act in the best interest of the people of Dominica and “to continue my journey of service to our country and to encourage each one, everyone to look within yourselves and embark, and those who have already embarked on that journey, to continue this journey of service.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit described Williams as a man of impeccable character and scholastic and professional achievements.

“I wish to publicly associate with the expressions of admiration, for the accomplishments of Mr. Williams for like most of us in Dominica he hailed from humble beginnings and has amassed an enviable record of success through commitment, perseverance and hard work,” he noted.

Skerrit said Presidents Williams and Liverpool are outstanding Dominican citizens, each having excelled in a chosen field of endeavor and brought much pride and positive acknowledgement to Dominica.

“President Liverpool distinguished himself as a legal luminary and brought this impeccable record of leadership in Caribbean and hemispheric jurisprudence to the office of President. He served this country with distinction and left a very positive image of Dominica wherever he visited,” he said.

The Prime minister added, “I wish to suggest this evening  that were we to look around Dominica today, there are no greater manifestations of excellence than are to be found in the lives of our out-going and in-coming presidents.”

The oath of office was administered by Justice Brian Cottle, Resident Judge, designated by the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Ag.), Justice Janice Pereira.

Williams, who was 64 in August this year, comes to the office of President after a long and distinguished career in the Public Service of Dominica and in service to the region, culminating in his appointment as Permanent Secretary from 1987 to 2004.

From 2004 to 2008, he was Managing Director of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL). Prior to his appointment as Permanent Secretary, Mr. Williams served as Commissioner of Cooperatives from 1985 to 1987.

He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree (with distinction) from the University of the West Indies and membership in many professional bodies, including the Chartered Management Institute, the Institute of Financial Accountants (UK) and the International Management Associates Network (Can.).

Williams is married and has two sons. His wife, Cornelia has been Managing Consultant at WHITCO, Inc. a business consulting firm.