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PM to reveal name of candidate on Monday

Govt ready to pick President

By Renuka Singh renuka.singh@trinidadexpress.com

The Government's presidential nominee will be announced on Monday.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar indicated this yesterday during a brief visit to the post-Cabinet press briefing at her St Clair office where she also announced there would be only one nomination from the coalition Government.

"Every care must be taken when choosing the right person. The choice is one which will bind us as a nation for the next five years," Persad-Bissessar said.

"I want to assure the public that the process for the nomination of our president is well advanced and we will make an announcement as to who is the Government's nominee on Monday, February 4, 2013," she said.

"The Government will nominate only one person. I know there was speculation that with the Partnership there may have been several nominations. That is not the case. Government will nominate one person that will be put before the Electoral College," she said.

Persad-Bissessar said over the past several months there had been "intense" discussions on the issue.

"It has been very heartening to many of us in the Government to witness the interest in this matter. This demonstrates to us the importance of the role of the President," she said.

She said the public discussions regarding the next president have been "duly noted", but chose to preserve the privacy of those who were among the Government's short-list.

"I do not agree with the view that the names of all those being considered should be made public and why do I say that? I believe that persons under consideration should be afforded the highest level of confidentiality, unless they themselves choose to make it known otherwise," she said.

"We have been actively engaged in discussions and consultations with both members of the Cabinet and with citizens and organisations," she said, adding that she listened to opinions and suggestions from those quarters.

"Election of a president, as you know, is not one in which all our citizens have the right to vote as happens in a general election. Indeed it is the members of the Cabinet through the Electoral College which has that responsibility. Therefore it places on us in the Parliament a greater duty and responsibility to ensure the person chosen is accepted nationally," she said.

She said there has been speculation that the Government was taking too long to make its nomination or conversely that they did not have a nominee.

"I beg to disagree with those views. This is a decision that must be carefully thought out, especially in a society as diverse and complex as ours," she said.

In the past several months speculation has named Speaker of the House Wade Mark, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, former chairman of the Public Service Commission and Police Service Commission Kenneth Lalla, among the nominees.

Office of the president The Trinidad and Tobago Republican Constitution provides for a President who is the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as well as holder of all Executive Authority. As Head of State, the President makes numerous appointments, while some are entirely in discretion, the majority are either (1) in accordance with the advice of another authority such as the Prime Minister or the relevant Cabinet minister; or (2) after consultation with other authorities such as the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The President administers the oath of office or presents letters of appointment to holders of offices including the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, the Attorney General, ministers of government, senators, parliamentary secretaries and Commissions of Enquiry. To qualify for nomination for election as President a person must be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, age 35 years or upwards and; at the date of his nomination as President, has been ordinarily resident in Trinidad and Tobago for ten years immediately preceding his nomination. The Constitution provides for an Electoral College consisting of all the members of the Senate and all the members of the House of Representatives assembled together and convened and presided over by the Speaker of the House. The President is elected by the Electoral College voting by secret ballot. Ten senators, the Speaker and 12 other members of the House of Representatives constitute a quorum of the Electoral College. The President so elected shall normally hold office for a term of five years. All Bills passed in both Houses of Parliament must be assented to by the President before they become law. The President also appoints members of Commissions and other senior officials. He is also responsible for appointing Senators—16 on the advice of the Prime Minister, six on the advice of the Opposition Leader and nine on his own discretion. The current President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is Prof George Maxwell Richards.

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