Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica

Office of President of Dominica 1978 - 1995

Paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 2 to the Constitution provides that until such time as a person has assumed the office of President, having been elected as such in accordance with Section 19 of the Constitution, the person who immediately before the commencement of the Constitution held the office of Governor shall discharge the functions of the office of President.

Sir Louis Cools-Lartigue, the former governor (since 1967) therefore assumed office as Interim President and took the Oath of Office on 3rd November, 1978. He held office until 18th January, 1979.

Paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 2 to the Constitution provides that the first President of Dominica be elected within ninety days of the commencement of the Constitution on 3rd November, 1978, i.e. not later than 1st February, 1979. On 21st December, 1978 the House of Assembly elected Mr. Fred Degazon, former Speaker of the House, as President. Mr. Degazon took the oath of office as President in Dominica before Justice N.A. Berridge on 19th January, 1979. (There is a copy of a letter on file from Mr. Degazon which indicated that he was "sworn in as president" in London. Mr. Arden Shillingford, then High Commissioner in London has informed me that he administered an Oath to Mr. Degazon).

Mr. Degazon left the State on 11th June, 1979 without making an acting appointment (no instrument is on record but CANA Reports published in the Barbados Advocate on Saturday, 16th June and Wednesday, 20th June, 1979 give the departure date as 11th June).

Sir Louis Cools-Lartigue took the Oath of Office as Acting President on 15th June, 1979 before Justice Berridge. (No letter of authorization front the Chief Justice is on record.) No copy of a letter or instrument of appointment has been seen but a (CANA Report published in the Barbados Advocate of 16th June, 1979 stated that the Prime Minister disclosed the text of a brief letter from President Degazon (no date is given) in which he stated as follows:

"Under Section B.28 of the Constitution and after consulting the Prime Minister I designate Sir Louis Cools-Lartigue to act as President during my absence from the State.

I have been unable to reach the Leader of the Opposition about this but would be glad if you would endeavour to consult him in the event of my unexpected absence.

I feel assured that Sir Louis will consent to act.

Yours truly
Degazon"

There is a comment in the news report from the Leader of the Opposition Miss M.E. Charles who disagreed with the choice.

There are also news reports published in the Barbados Advocate and in the Barbados Sunday Sun dated 17th June, 1979 which state that Sir Louis resigned his appointment on 16th June 1979. As a matter of interest, Sir Louis is also reported as stating that two proclamations which he issued on Friday, 15th June, 1979 one of which prorogued the House from 15th June and the other ordering the dissolution on 1st September, 1979 have been cancelled because they were in fact never sealed.

On 21st June, 1979, the House of Assembly elected Mr. Jenner B. Armour, with his consent, as Acting President "pursuant to Section 19 (2) of the Constitution" on a joint nomination by the Prime Minister, Mr. P. R. John and Leader of the Opposition, Miss M.E. Charles. (The appropriate Section of the Constitution should have been 28(1)(b) dealing with the appointment of an Acting President and not 19(2) which deals with the appointment of a President!)

(There is also on record a copy of a letter sent by telex by President Degazon to the Speaker on 21st June, 1979 from London appointing Mr. Armour as Acting president "under the provisions of Section 28 of the Constitution").

Mr. Armour took the Oath of office before Justice N.A. Berridge on 21st June, 1979. Mr. Armour in a letter dated 1st February, 1980 resigned his appointment with effect from 15th February, 1980. The Speaker made the announcement in the House on 1st February, 1980.

On Wednesday, 30th January, 1980, the Speaker announced in the House that he had received a telegram from the High Commissioner in London stating that President Degazon had resigned as President with effect from 29th January, 1980.

Mr. Degazon's letter of resignation "with immediate effect" dated 27th ‘January, 1980 was received by the Speaker on 29th January - hence the date of resignation - 29th January, 1980.

As a consequence of Mr. Degazon's resignation with effect from 29th January, 1980 and that of Acting President Armour with effect from 15th February, 1980, there was no Head of State or acting Head of State in office during the period 16th February to 25th February, 1980.

On 25th February, 1980, the House of Assembly elected Mr. Aurelius B. Marie as President. Mr. Marie took the Oath of Office before Justice Cecil Hewlett on 26th February, 1980. (Although this was never stated, the appointment was for the period of the un-expired term of office of Mr. Degazon i.e. up to 20th December, 1983).

On 19th December, 1983, the House of Assembly elected Mr. C. A. Seignoret for a term commencing 21st December 1983. Sir Clarence took the Oath of Office before Justice Satrohan Singh on 19th December, 1983. (Mr. Seignoret had been acting President since 23rd May, 1983 because of Mr. Marie's illness.)

On 24th October, 1988 the House of Assembly elected Sir Clarence Seignoret for a further term of office. Sir Clarence took the Oath before Justice Monica Joseph on 20th December, 1988.

On 4th October, 1993, the House of Assembly elected Mr. Crispin A. Sorhaindo, former Speaker, to the office of President. Mr. Sorhaindo took the Oath of Office on 25th October, 1993 before Chief Justice Sir Vincent Floissac.

Crispin Anselm Sorhaindo
President

30th October, 1995


Chief Ministers, Premiers, Prime Ministers
1960 to 1995
NAME ROLE DATE OATHS TAKEN
Mr. Frank A. Baron Chief Minister 1/1/60
Mr. Edward O. Leblanc *Chief Minister 21/1/61
Premier 01/03/67
Mr. Patrick R. John Premier 26/07/74
Premier 27/03/75
Prime Minister 03/11/78
Mr. Oliver Seraphin Prime Minister (Interim) 21/06/79
Miss M. Eugenia Charles Prime Minister 23/07/80
Mr. Edison James Prime Minister 14/06/95

*But oath taken was that of Executive Councillor

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