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Best candidate selected, says PM

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

THREE independent international legal counsel have unanimously declared Justice Anthony Carmona has met the constitutional requirements to assume the post of President, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.

And she said the People's Partnership Government was pleased with the overwhelming support on its nomination.

Speaking at the launch of Children's Carnival at Boopsingh Park, Penal, Persad-Bissessar said, "We sought legal advice and received legal advice from three eminent independent international counsel, QC (Michael) Beloff, QC (Lord David) Pannick and Fenton Ramsahoye.

"Each one independently gave the same unanimous declaration that the Honourable Justice Carmona does meet the requirements as required by Section 23 of the Constitution."

Persad-Bissessar said the Constitution states that a nominee must be 35 years of age or above, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, and have been an ordinarily resident for ten years immediately preceding a nomination.

Queries were raised over Carmona's appointment as an Appeals Counsel at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminals Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha from 2001 to 2004.

"The operative words are 'ordinarily resident', so there is in law a difference and this is the advice we have received. Government is satisfied based on the advice received that he is eminently qualified and does meet the requirements of Section 23," Persad-Bissessar said.

Persad-Bissessar said she believes the best candidate was selected for the Government's nominee as President.

"I don't think ethnicity is the most important factor in selecting anyone, I don't believe religious persuasion is the most important factor, because we have in our society one of the most diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic. There should not be one factor that should be overriding. All must be considered to come up with the best person, and I do believe that in the process we were able to select the best candidate for our nominee as President," she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the selection of a nominee for President was challenging and interesting, as many names were put forward.

"Persons who were all very distinguished and it was challenging, but most interesting to see the amount of persons who could have served and also to see the great interest among the citizenry in the choice of President," she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the public does have an input in the appointment of a President, through their elected Member of Parliament.

"It always feel good when the people support actions taken by Government. On the note that there have been some wrong appointments, I would like you all to remember that we have made over 1,000 appointments for State boards and various State agencies. Out of those, two or three might have been wrong appointments. It may not be a perfect A, or ten-plus record, but it is not a bad record that we have. Each one where there was a wrong appointment, it has been dealt with fairly swiftly," she said.

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