In the middle of rain showers and under gray clouds, Cornelius A. Smith was sworn in as the 11th governor general of The Bahamas during a ceremony in Parliament Square yesterday morning.
Former prime ministers, Cabinet ministers and an array of other dignitaries and guests filled rows of chairs under two large white tents on Bay Street.
The onlookers, many formally dressed in bright summer colors, watched as Smith proceeded down a red carpet accompanied by Prime Minster Dr. Hubert Minnis and Chief Justice Brian Moree.
In his inaugural speech, Smith pledged to discharge his constitutional duties with impartiality.
“I dedicate myself to helping to promote and renew a greater national commitment to community service and volunteerism,” Smith said.
“In keeping with the fine example of my distinguished predecessors, I pledge to promote national unity.”
Smith said as the nation approaches its 50th year of independence, Bahamians should celebrate their accomplishments.
“We should also take stock of the road we must still tread to better promote the values of inclusiveness, civility, fairness and national harmony,” he added.
“Let us also pledge to renew bedrock values such as altruism, empathy and generosity of spirit, which are necessary in fostering one Bahamas.
“These values, which propelled our fore parents to fight against discrimination and for a more equitable and just society, must be renewed through the practice of volunteerism and public and community service.”
He said this spirit should be reflected in all sectors of society.
During his address, Minnis said it was a “happy task” to recommend Smith to the queen for the post because of his record of public service.
“We look forward to your tenure and the role you will play in fostering national unity and a greater commitment to community service,” Minnis said.
“We are confident that your excellency will represent our country with distinction at home and abroad.”
Earlier this month, Smith notified a small group about his recent resignation as ambassador and that he was to become governor general after Queen Elizabeth II appointed him.
The revelation was made public after a video of the event was posted on social media.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis later blasted Smith, calling the video a “violation…of all protocols” and “an insult to Dame Marguerite Pindling”.
However, speaking with reporters after the ceremony, Davis said yesterday that he agreed with Smith’s message of unity, noting that he trusts Smith will fulfill the goals outlined in his speech.
“First of all, he said the right things and we trust…that he holds true to those pronouncements,” Davis said.
“His journey here was a bit of a hiccup because of his premature announcements, but that aside, he’s now in the seat of the governor general and we would expect him to continue the traditions and the execution of office as he would’ve seen done by Dame Marguerite Pindling.”
Smith is a founding member of the Free National Movement and a former member of Parliament and Cabinet minister.
He succeeds Dame Marguerite who demitted office after serving for just under five years.
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