Since gaining independence on November 3rd, 1978 from Britain, seven men have held the prestigious seat of President of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
They are Frederick Degazon, Aurelius Marie, Sir Clarence Seignoret, Crispin Sorhaindo, Vernon Shaw, Dr. Nicholas Liverpool and Eliud Williams.
On December 21, 1978 Frederick Degazon was elected by the House of Assembly as the first president of Dominica. He took up office on January 19, 1979 after being speaker of the House of Assembly from 1977-78. He was born in St. Lucia in 1913 and practiced privately as an attorney. During the disturbances associated with the constitutional crisis in June 1979, he and his wife fled from the island at dawn and secretly escaped to England via Antigua leaving the island without a president. On Wednesday, January 30, 1980, it was announced in parliament that a telegram was recieved from the High Commissioner in London stating that President Degazon had resigned with effect from January 29, 1980.
The House of Assembly then elected Aurelius Marie on February 25, 1980 for the seat of president. Marie took the Oath of Office a day later before Justice Cecil Hewlett. He served as president until 1983
Sir Clarence Seignoret was elected by the House of Assembly on December 19, 1983 for a term commencing December 21, 1983. Sir Clarence had been acting as President since May 23, 1983 because of Marie’s illness and took Oath on December 19, 1983. He was elected for a further term in office by the House of Assembly on October 24, 1988 and took Oath on December 20, 1988 and served as president until 1993. Apart from being the President of Dominica, Sir Clarence was also the first Cabinet Secretary and a civil servant. He was born in Roseau in 1919 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II during her second visit to Dominica. He was awarded the Dominica Award of Honor by the State in 1994, Order of the Liberator granted by Venezuela in 1987 and Knight of Malta in 1992. Sir Clarence passed away on 5th May, 2002.
Vielle Casse native Crispin Anselm Sorhaindo was Sir Clarence’s successor. He was the Speaker of the Dominica House of Assembly from 1989-1993 and then was elected President of Dominica, serving one term, 1993-1998. Sorhaindo was a delegate at the London Conference in 1966 that created Dominica as a self-governing Associated State of Britain, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Vice President and Director of the Caribbean Development Bank, Financial Secretary of Dominica and Clerk of the Executive and Legislative Councils. For his services to the state, Sorhaindo was awarded the Dominica Award of Honour (D.A.H) Dominica’s highest state award, Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the Venezuelan Naval Medal Almirante Luis Brion. In recognition of his significant contribution to the Roman Catholic Church in Dominica in various capacities, Sorhaindo received the Papal Award of Knight Commander of the Order of St. Sylvester in 1993. He died of cancer at 78 on January, 2010.
Fifth President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Vernon Lorden Shaw was sworn in on October 2nd 1998 and served as President until 2003. Shaw received various national awards including the Sisserou Award of Honor conferred in 1990, and the Dominica Award of Honor in 2001. He was one of the first Permanent Secretaries in 1967 when Dominica gained internal self-government as an Associated State of Britain. He initially served in the Ministry of Education and Health and later became Chief Establishment Officer in 1971 in External Affairs. In 1977 he was appointed Secretary to the Cabinet and was reconfirmed in the post on independence of November 3, 1978 as well as being made Ambassador at Large and Inspector of Missions. Between 1991 and 1993 he served as Resident Tutor for the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies in Roseau.
Dr. Nicholas Liverpool was born on September 9, 1934 and is a well respected jurist. He spent 18 years as a law lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Barbados and in 1992 became dean of its law school. He served as a regional judge and then an appeal court judge in several countries in the Caribbean including Belize and Grenada. He served as high court judge in Antigua and Montserrat. He became Dominica’s ambassador to the United States in 1998 and remained in that capacity until 2001. In July 2008 he agreed to serve a second term as President upon the expiration of his first term, following a joint nomination by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and then Opposition Leader Earl Williams.
He was replaced by Eliud Williams who was sworn in as president on September 17, 2012.
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