Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday said President Anthony Carmona's inauguration speech vindicated the Government's choice of him as a presidential nominee.
"It vindicates the confidence we reposed in him as someone who would be a strong President, who would be very independent and guided by the right principles and values, to which the Government itself subscribes," he said.
Ramlogan also saw no problem with the President's reference to Section 81 of the Constitution, which mandates the Prime Minister to keep the President informed of the general conduct of the Government and, at the President's request, to submit information with respect to any matter relating thereto.
This section was recently invoked by former president George Maxwell Richards in relation to the Section 34 controversy (Richards, who had invoked the section after receiving a letter from Opposition Leader Keith Rowley, had been criticised for his action).
Also yesterday, Rowley described Carmona's address as "strong and brave".
"It's a new beginning," he said.
Ramlogan said Section 81 prescribes a channel of communication between the President and the Prime Minister.
"That has always been with us. It is a useful section and one that would no doubt be used in the right manner, in the public interest. The sanctity of the discussions that take place between a Prime Minister and a President under that section is observed, understanding the constitutional boundaries that define both offices, then that section works well. It is there to induce meaningful and genuine dialogue between both office holders, understanding that at the end of the day it is the decision of the Executive in any given matter that will prevail.
"But, of course, one would expect that a Prime Minister, in seeking the wisdom and the counsel of the Head of State, would obviously factor what they say into the decision-making process and one would equally expect that the President as the Head of State would respect the decisions of the Government on any given matter... It is a healthy symbiotic relationship... it speaks to collaboration, but on the basis of constitutional boundaries which are clearly defined," the Attorney General said.
Ramlogan said the Westminster system is such that power resides with the elected officials who are voted into office by the people who have the opportunity to judge them every five years.
"That is where the source of all power remains—with the Parliament and with the elected representatives of the people. The Head of State has a guiding role which is circumscribed by the Constitution itself which speaks to where the President has a deliberate judgment and sole discretion. It spells out those instances.
"Once the constitutional boundaries are observed, the Constitution machinery... would produce a sense of harmony and a good working relationship in the public interest for a better Trinidad and Tobago," he said.
Ramlogan did not foresee any tension because he said whatever is said between the Prime Minister and President is to remain between them.
"It is a frank and sacred exchange of view... and not even Cabinet is to know about the discussions."
The Attorney General added that he was confident the personality and experience of Carmona would lead to an "upgrade" in the kind of wisdom and counsel that the Office of the President would provide.
Ramlogan said with the exception of Noor Hassanali, all former presidents also were "in some way" affiliated with the party which nominated them. "We have come now to a President who is truly middle of the road... and not politically compliant, and who would seek the wider public interest."
Asked about the President's constant references to terms like "integrity", "accountability" and "transparency", Ramlogan said those were principles which the Government shared.