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Welcoming President Carmona
Words of celebration and welcome to newly appointed President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona will only gild the lily of Monday’s celebration of the new head of state, who was enthusiastically ushered into his new role by a stadium full of cheering crowds. In the weeks leading up to his inauguration, the former judge had been the recipient of commendations and salutations from everyone, from his primary school to justices of the peace.
This is clearly a man who has made a uniformly positive impression wherever he has studied, worked or been involved. The new President did not rest on those lush laurels on Monday. In his maiden speech on the occasion of his elevation, he sent a passionate but clear message to those who might wish to banish him to a world of ceremonial duties, that after swearing to uphold the Constitution, he felt a responsibility to act on that promise.
With a statement that must have raised a few political eyebrows, President Carmona said: “The powers you think I have, I do not. The powers you do not think I have, I do.” There are those who might wish for a president who hewed more closely to the ceremonial duties of the office, but in President Carmona, they are more likely to find leadership in every realm in which he holds sway. This was a man who, after being declared the candidate for the role of president, chose to put in an active day of work on his final day as a judge.
Declaring that it would have been a “dereliction of my responsibilities as a judge to simply walk away from these matters,” Justice Carmona turned up on February 8 and proceeded to complete the cases he had presided over. This is not likely to be a man who will succumb to the attractions and comforts of the presidency.
The cheers that punctuated his 20-minute inaugural address were affirmations that the new president’s concerns about crime, personal responsibility and civic pride are matters that were very much shared by the public. Those lusty cheers came from citizens keen to have a voice willing to speak truth to those who were elected to take responsibility for the state of the nation. It is nevertheless a fact that the President cannot force the political directorate to do very much in its day-to-day running of the country.
But President Carmona’s willingness to be a voice for equanimity, common sense and the public good is a potent harbinger of the potential for his office to exercise moral suasion on politicians who are far too often caught up in jousting for perceived advantage to act selflessly on behalf of the citizens who put them in office. He may not have executive power, but the holder of the office of President has huge influence.
Clearly, President Carmona intends to be proactive in his new job, and the legacy he has left behind in all the roles he’s fulfilled so far speaks compellingly of the possibilities he brings to his newest challenge.
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