Friday, December 15, 2017

Anand: PM, President will resolve 'impasse'

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has said he believes President George Maxwell Richards and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will "amicably resolve" their impasse over his Excellency's request of her for all information pertinent to the proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice Indictable Proceedings Bill.

Ramlogan also said "respect for the rule of law requires everyone to simply leave this matter and let the courts do their job".

He made the comments while speaking to reporters yesterday after the commissioning of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital at the Chancery Lane Complex.

Persad-Bissessar, however, made no mention of the President's request of her to provide all information on the events that led to the proclamation of Section 34 by him on the night of August 21.

The Government has maintained its position that the Prime Minister provided Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith with the information he had requested of her on Section 34 while he was the acting president.

TV6 News yesterday asked Ramlogan what could be done to what could become a potential stand-off between two of the nation's highest office-holders over the matter.

"I am very confident that this matter will be amicably resolved because the constitutional boundaries have been demarcated over time. So that I think that the Office of the President, the constitutional powers and jurisdiction of the Office of the President, they've been well defined," Ramlogan said.

On November 23, Ramlogan stated in a press release "it would be a misuse and flagrant abuse of Section 81 of the Constitution for his Excellency to institute a political probe or enquiry into the actions of the Government". 

The Opposition is threatening a lawsuit if the Prime Minister does not provide the information requested of her by the President, but Ramlogan expressed no concerns about a potential legal battle over that matter.

"I don't therefore see that this is a matter that will reach anywhere, in terms of going further, because it is a matter that has been fully ventilated in the public. It is a matter that has been fully ventilated in the Parliament, and I think going into the new year, I think we would've started the new year with different things in mind; we are about the hospital as I stand before you now," Ramlogan said.

He then made reference to the legal challenge mounted against the repeal of Section 34 by several persons, including businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who are both fighting fraud matters before the courts.

"Section 34 has been repealed; it is no longer part of the law of Trinidad and Tobago; there is a matter before the court and I think the respect for the independence of the judiciary and the respect for the rule of law require everyone to simply leave this matter and let the courts do their job," Ramlogan said.

He also elaborated on the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday that the Tobago Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Tobago House of Assembly Amendment Bill will be laid in Parliament early in the new year.

"We will see, also, perhaps a revision of perhaps even the financial arrangements between Trinidad and Tobago," Ramlogan said.

He also said it would be left to be seen whether the Opposition would support the legislation, which requires a special majority vote of Parliament.