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New G-G today

ALICIA DUNKLEY, Observer staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 26, 2009    

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SHORTLY before sundown today, former president of the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Dr Patrick Allen, will take over the reins as the sixth governor-general of independent Jamaica.

Allen, who also demitted office as chairman of the Manchester-based Northern Caribbean University (NCU), succeeds former Governor-General Professor Sir Kenneth Hall who in January indicated his desire to demit office, citing health reasons.

Allen's appointment sparked vigorous debate because of his high office as an Adventist leader, but he moved to reassure Jamaicans that he would not seek to impose his beliefs on the nation, saying "I will be everybody's governor-general".

At a ceremony marked by the traditional pomp and pageantry, Dr Allen, 58, will take the oaths/solemn declarations and affirmations of allegiance and office before being presented with the Royal Commission by the retiring head of state at King's House in Kingston, the official residence of governors-general.

Some 2,000 guests, including dignitaries, have been invited to attend.

Following the lowering of the outgoing governor-general's standard and the raising of the new, Dr Allen will be invested with the Insignia of the Order of the Nation, the nation's second highest honour reserved for governors-general and prime ministers, by Chief Justice Zaila McCalla.

On the eve of the swearing-in, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) yesterday became the first to welcome Allen as the new head of state.

"The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce joins in welcoming the distinguished gentleman to his new post and wishes to assure him and Mrs Allen of our support as they take on their new duties," said a statement from President Milton Samuda.

"We are certain that Dr Allen will serve as a balanced and unifying force in our country at a time when, more than ever, actions must reflect the best interest of the nation as a whole," the statement said.

The JCC, at the same time, thanked the outgoing governor-general for serving as a "voice of reason and unity amidst our still tribal politics" during the short period he was in office.

Sir Kenneth, 67, who received the Order of Jamaica (OJ) in 2004, has accepted an offer from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona to serve as an honorary distinguished research fellow. He had taken up the office as head of state in February 2006, fresh from the world of academia, where he had served as pro-vice chancellor and principal of the Mona campus of the UWI from 1996.

Three regional heads of state to attend swearing-in

AT least three heads of state from sister Caribbean islands will be attending today's swearing-in of Dr Patrick Allen as Jamaica's new governor-general at King's House, starting at 5:30 pm.

Expected to attend are:

. Governor-General of St Kitts and Nevis, Sir Cuthbert Sebastian.

. President of Dominica, Dr Nicholas Liverpool, and Mrs Liverpool.

. President of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor George Maxwell

Richards, and Mrs Jean Ramjohn-Richards.

They will join a list of other dignitaries, officials, and guests, headed by Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who will attend the ceremony.

The governor-general represents the Jamaican monarch and head of state who holds the title of King or Queen of Jamaica (now Queen Elizabeth II), on ceremonial occasions such as the opening of Parliament, the presentation of honours and military parades.

Under the Jamaican Constitution, he is given authority to act in some matters, for example, in appointing and disciplining officers of the civil service, and proroguing Parliament. His assent is necessary for laws to come into effect.

Only in a few cases is he empowered to act entirely on his own discretion.

Heads of State of Independent Jamaica

. Sir Kenneth Blackburne - Aug 1962 to Nov 1962

. Sir Clifford Campbell - Dec 1962 to March 1973

(Jamaica's first native G-G)

. Sir Florizel Glasspole - June 1973 to March 1991

. Sir Howard Cooke - Aug 1991 to Feb 2006

. Sir Kenneth Hall - Feb 2006 to Feb 2009

. Dr Patrick Allen - February 26, 2009 -

Acting G-Gs over the same period

. Sir Herbert Duffus - March 1973 to June 1973

. Justice Edward Zacca - March 1991 to Aug 1991

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