Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Keep politickingout of presidency


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Following the clear-cut identification of Justice Anthony Carmona as successor to outgoing President Max Richards, the spotlight perhaps inevitably falls on the nine independent senators appointed in the exercise of the exclusive prerogative of the sitting head of state.

The Constitution does not provide that the independent seats in the Senate become vacant upon the election of a new President. But the choices made by the predecessor to Justice Carmona cannot necessarily be assumed to be consistent with the preferences of the new incumbent.

It is accordingly for the independent senators each to evaluate his or her own position in light of new realities, and to determine their willingness to continue serving under the new auspices, as well as to decide whether the newly appointed President should be offered unmitigated freedom to select an independent team. Certainly, it is unseemly to put the senators under any public pressure to resign.

So it seems out of order for Jack Warner, in the capacity of Government minister or of UNC chairman, to call for the independents to drop everything and submit their resignations. Since no question of law arises, but only a question of public policy, Mr Warner's putting his mouth in the business of the independent senators is not only hardly helpful but also deserving of the rebuke by Senior Counsel and former independent senator Martin Daly.

It would be surprising if independent senators hadn't already made their own individual decisions to do the right thing after the swearing-in of a new President. After all, these senators are by definition persons of high calibre and non-partisan positions who are assumed to hold the interest of the republic above all. Their individual reputations have been built on quality expertise and on service to country. They do not need Minister Warner to rush in and bully them into action.

We would like to suggest to Mr Warner that he re-examine his modus operandi in dealing with public officials, offices and institutions. If he took the time to do so, he might discover that his intemperate and authoritarian methods are not in sync with the public's burning aspiration to build a culture of process and civility in public affairs.

No doubt he believes it has got him very far in life, but he might also want to think about how much trouble it has also got him into-- and those around him .

Once again, we are left to wonder about the Prime Minister's failure to rein in Minister Warner. Her own effort at lifting the discussion surrounding the presidency above the quagmire of partisan politics threatens to be undone by her minister's recklessness.

Repeatedly, in her statement announcing Justice Carmona's nomination, the Prime Minister had used the word "sacred".

The Prime Minister yesterday said Minister Warner's statements were his personal views and not those of the Government.

Perhaps, she might now advise her minister that there are some processes too sacred for cheap politicking.