While Trinidad and Tobago celebrates Republic Day on September 24 each year, this was not the date that the country actually became a Republic.
Trinidad and Tobago became a Republic on August 1, 1976.
However, the event is celebrated as a public holiday on September 24 because this is the date when the first Parliament met under the new Republican Constitution.
To bring about the Republican status, the conversion of the former Constitution from its character as an Order in Council of the Queen into that of an indigenous instrument of government fashioned by citizens of Trinidad and Tobago was effected by the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago enacting the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Act, 1976.
It meant that T&T no longer recognised the Queen as the Head of State.
At the time, Sir Ellis Clarke was the Governor General of T&T, having succeeded Sir Solomon Hochoy in 1972.
The Constitution provided for a President who, in the exercise of his functions under the Constitution or any other law, acts in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or a minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet where provision is made by the constitution.
Clarke was unanimously elected the country's first President by the electoral college, which comprised the elected members of both Houses of Parliament.
The Constitution also provided for the Prime Minister to keep the President fully informed concerning the general conduct of the government of Trinidad and Tobago and to furnish him with such information as he may request on any matter relating to the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
A principal feature of the Constitution is the inclusion of a comprehensive set of fundamental human rights and freedoms whereby all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and minorities are provided with effective safeguards against arbitrary government and acts of the executive or other bodies or authorities which may be inconsistent with the concept of the Rule of Law.
These fundamental human rights and freedoms have been entrenched in the Constitution and any alteration of any of them can only be effected by the consent of effective majorities of both houses of Parliament.
In general, the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago creates, fosters and encourages a truly democratic representative government.
The date for the Republic Day holiday was removed from the official calendar of holidays from 1999 to 2001 to make way for the Spiritual Baptist (Shouter) Liberation Day which is celebrated on March 30.
The Republic Day holiday was reinstated in 2002.
- Source: Nalis