Open main menu

The Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar PBS SC MP (born 22 April 1952[4]) is a Trinidadian lawyer and politician who was the seventh Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 26 May 2010 to 9 September 2015. She was the country's first female Prime Minister, Attorney General, and Leader of the Opposition.[5][6] She is also the first woman of Indian origin to be a prime minister of a country outside of India and South Asia.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Kamla Persad-Bissesar 2013.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
9 September 2015
PresidentAnthony Carmona
Paula-Mae Weekes
Prime MinisterKeith Rowley
Preceded byKeith Rowley
In office
25 February 2010 – 25 May 2010
PresidentGeorge Maxwell Richards
Prime MinisterPatrick Manning
Preceded byBasdeo Panday
Succeeded byKeith Rowley
In office
26 April 2006 – 8 November 2007
PresidentGeorge Maxwell Richards
Prime MinisterPatrick Manning
Preceded byBasdeo Panday
Succeeded byBasdeo Panday
Political Leader of the
United National Congress and the People's Partnership
Assumed office
24 January 2010
Preceded byBasdeo Panday
7th Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
In office
26 May 2010 – 9 September 2015
PresidentGeorge Maxwell Richards
Anthony Carmona
Preceded byPatrick Manning
Succeeded byKeith Rowley
7th Chair of the Commonwealth of Nations
In office
26 May 2010 – 28 October 2011
Preceded byPatrick Manning
Succeeded byJulia Gillard
Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago
In office
5 October 2001 – 24 December 2001
Prime MinisterBasdeo Panday
Preceded byRamesh Maharaj
Succeeded byGlenda Morean
In office
27 November 1995 – 2 February 1996
Prime MinisterBasdeo Panday
Preceded byKeith Sobion
Succeeded byRamesh Maharaj
Minister of Education
In office
22 October 1999 – 4 October 2001
Prime MinisterBasdeo Panday
Preceded byAdesh Nanan
Succeeded byGanga Singh
Member of Parliament
for Siparia
Assumed office
6 November 1995
Preceded bySahid Hosein
Majority10,141 (51.6%)
Personal details
Kamla Persad

(1952-04-22) 22 April 1952 (age 67)
Siparia, Trinidad and Tobago[1]
CitizenshipTrinidadian and Tobagonian
NationalityTrinidadian and Tobagonian
Political partyUnited National Congress
Other political
People's Partnership (2010–present)
Spouse(s)Dr. Gregory Bissessar
MotherRita Persad
FatherRaj Persad
ResidencePhilippine, Penal–Debe, Trinidad and Tobago[2][3]
Alma materUniversity of the West Indies
Hugh Wooding Law School
Norwood Technical College

Persad-Bissessar is the political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) and is the current leader of the opposition of the People's Partnership coalition in the eleventh parliament, a coalition of three parties, which was formed to contest the general election of 24 May 2010. She became political leader of the UNC in 2010.[7] In 2011, Persad-Bissessar was named the thirteenth most influential female leader around the world by Time magazine.[8]


Early life and ancestryEdit

Kamla Persad-Bissessar was born in Siparia[1] in southern Trinidad to Raj and Rita Persad, both of Indian descent.[9][10] Her paternal grandparents were Soomintra Gopaulsingh and Choranji Persad, and her maternal grandparents were Rookmin and Ramprit.[11] She has two sisters: Vidwatie and Sally.[12][13] She was born into a Hindu Brahmin family.[9] Her ancestors emigrated from India to Trinidad under the Indian indenture system. Her maternal great-grandparents (her maternal grandmother’s parents) were Sumaria and Seepersad who were from India. Sumaria had left India from the Madras Port.[11] Her paternal great-grandparents (her paternal grandfather’s parents) were Pundit Ram Lakhan Mishra and Ganga Mishra who were from India. Pundit Ram Lakhan Mishra was from Bhelupur, Bihar, India. After indentureship, Pundit Ram Lakhan and Ganga Mishra had settled in Boodhoo Trace in Penal in southern Trinidad. In 2012, Persad-Bissessar visited her paternal great-grandfather's village on a state visit to India.[14] When Persad-Bissessar was sixteen she wanted to go to the United Kingdom to study, but her traditional father and uncles insisted she stayed in Trinidad and Tobago, however, her mother eventually convinced them to send her.[9] Persad-Bissessar attended the University of the West Indies, Norwood Technical College (England), and the Hugh Wooding Law School. She was awarded a B.A. (Hons.), a Diploma in Education, a B.A. of Laws (Hons.) and a Legal Education Certificate. In 2006 she obtained an Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Trinidad.[15]

Political careerEdit

Persad-Bissessar has served as Member of Parliament for the Siparia constituency since 1995. She served as Attorney General in 1995 until Ramesh Maharaj was able to disassociate himself from ongoing cases and again in 2001 after Maharaj left the party. When the UNC formed Government on 22 December 2000, she was sworn in as the Minister of Education.

On 25 April 2006 she received the support of the majority of Opposition MPs for the post of Leader of the Opposition.[16] The position of Leader of the Opposition was declared vacant by President George Maxwell Richards[17] after Basdeo Panday was convicted of failing to make an accurate declaration to the Integrity Commission concerning a bank account held in London.[18] Persad-Bissessar was subsequently appointed Leader of the Opposition on 26 April 2006.[citation needed]

Political leaderEdit

On 24 January 2010, Kamla Persad-Bissessar was elected political leader of the UNC, emerging victorious over the party's founder, Basdeo Panday. She was formally appointed opposition leader on 25 February 2010, having gained the support of a majority of UNC MPs.[citation needed]

Prime MinisterEdit

Persad-Bissessar took office as Prime Minister after the victory of the People's Partnership in the general election of 24 May 2010, defeating the previous government of the People's National Movement, which had called an early election. She was the first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago and is also the first female Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office. She was succeeded as Chairperson-in-Office by Julia Gillard with the opening of the 2011 CHOGM on 28 October 2011.

Leader of the OppositionEdit

On September 21, 2015, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar was appointed leader of the opposition by president Anthony Carmona after her party was defeated at the polls, following the September 7, 2015 general elections. The People's National Movement led by Dr. Keith Rowley secured 23 out of 41 seats to form the government, while the People's Partnership coalition led by Persad-Bissessar secured 18 out of the 41 seats in the House of Representatives to form the opposition.

Personal lifeEdit

Persad-Bissessar is married to Dr. Gregory Bissessar and has one son named Kris Bissessar.[19] She says, "I am baptised in the Baptist faith. I have no specific church as such. I am of both the Hindu and the Baptist faiths."[20] She had raised her brother’s children after he died in a car accident.[21]


  1. ^ a b "Kamla Persad-Bissessar". Columbia University World Leaders Forum. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 August 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Sookraj, Radhica (26 May 2010). "Kamla came from humble beginnings". Trinidad and Tobago Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) PNM lose to Peoples Partnership in Trinidad elections 2010]. 24 May 2010.
  6. ^ Skard, Torild (2014) "Kamla Persad-Bissessar" in Women of power – half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0, pp. 271–3
  7. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Top Female Leaders Around the World - TIME". Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b c author, Nation News. "Meet T and T PM, Kamla". Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Penal businessmen to work with Kamla". Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Kamla Persad Bissessar". Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Kamla's sister paid $868,258". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday Archives. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  13. ^ "PM returns home after visiting her ailing sister in New York - Trinidad and Tobago Government News". Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Trinidad's 'daughter PM' returns to village in Bihar for an emotional reunion". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Trinidad and Tobago Parliament". Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  16. ^ Lord, Richard. 2006. "Leader Kamla: President's move forces UNC crisis decision" Archived 28 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Trinidad Express, 26 April 2006.
  17. ^ "Lawyers criticise Max for declaring vacancy" Archived 28 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Trinidad Express, 26 April 2006.
  18. ^ Cummings, Stephen (16 January 2006). "Trinidad's opposition leader set to go on trial". Caribbean Net News. Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
  19. ^ House of Representatives: Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved on 2012-04-26.
  20. ^ Meet T and T PM, Kamla Archived 8 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine NationNews Barbados, June 2010.
  21. ^ Adams, William Lee (16 September 2011). "Top Female Leaders Around the World". Retrieved 25 March 2019.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Basdeo Panday
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Basdeo Panday
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Keith Rowley
Preceded by
Patrick Manning
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
Preceded by
Keith Rowley
Leader of the Opposition
Party political offices
Preceded by
Basdeo Panday
Leader of the United National Congress (UNC)
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Patrick Manning
Chair of the Commonwealth of Nations
Succeeded by
Julia Gillard