The PM must account
A chilling new scenario is emerging with the claim from un-named government sources that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was not aware that the controversial Section 34 had been sent for proclamation.
This new narrative suggests that the Prime Minister should be absolved from wrongdoing because she was duped.
Unless the Prime Minister steps forward to assert this claim herself, the public would be well-advised to dismiss any such suggestion out of hand on the ground that it simply does not stand to reason or common sense.
It would be an egregious dereliction of duty by the Prime Minister and the entire Cabinet if this were, indeed, found to be true. For, what Section 34 represents is nothing less than an amendment to the Constitution which is a matter of such importance that a special parliamentary approval is required for approval.
It is simply not credible to suggest that the decision to pre-empt commitments made to parliament and proceed straight to proclamation of Section 34 could have been made by a line minister, bypassing due oversight at every checkpoint.
These include the Legislative Review Committee of Cabinet, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who has overall responsibility for laws, and the Prime Minister who presides over final decisions as the head of Cabinet.
Any Cabinet member committing an error of such magnitude, whether deliberately or mistakenly, would have been dismissed forthwith by any prime minister. The fact that Justice Minister Herbert Volney is still comfortably within the Cabinet fold would suggest otherwise.
Then, there is the role of the Attorney General as the office holder with the responsibility for sending legislation to President George Maxwell Richards for proclamation.
Again, we ask, in a matter of such high priority as to require an expediting of the President’s signature, is the public really to believe that the Attorney General was not centrally involved?
And finally, there is the Prime Minister, leader of the Cabinet and attorney by profession. Through her ministers, the public is being fed second and third-hand reports about her great concern over this matter, when what is required is a clear and full statement laying out the series of events and decisions that led to the proclamation of Section 34. Nothing less will suffice.
Reports of Minister Volney being in the company of one of the accused persons who have already petitioned the court for acquittal under Section 34, has only heightened public concern over the integrity of the State.
The only way forward now is for the Prime Minister to step forward and account to the people.