Sunday, January 21, 2018

Possible misuse, abuse of power, says Ramesh

PM's 'last-minute' naming of candidate

Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, has warned about possible misuse and abuse of prime ministerial power in the election process for the fifth President of the country.

Maharaj has taken issue with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's decision to name a candidate for President on the eve of the closing date for nominations, describing it as a "serious and unforgivable contempt of the Parliament and the rights of the citizens".

According to Maharaj, the election for President by the Electoral College on February 15, in accordance with Section 30 of the Constitution, stipulates that a person cannot be a candidate unless he is nominated and his nomination papers are signed by him and 12 or more members of the House of Representatives.

It then must be delivered to the Speaker of the House at least seven days before the election.

He said the Prime Minister was deliberately giving citizens very little time to scrutinise and assess the choice by Government and to propose alternative candidates through their MPs.

"This is not open and transparent governance. This is not the change the partnership promised the citizens. This is undemocratic governance," he said.

He said the Prime Minister's announcement at Thursday's post-Cabinet press briefing "reflects the dictatorial behaviour of this Government" and amounts to actions calculated by the Prime Minister to impose the Government's choice of President on the population".

According to Maharaj, such action shows the Prime Minister is prepared to use the majority which she has in the Parliament to serve the political agenda of the her party instead of the best interest of the country.

"This issue is of great constitutional importance, as it has bearing on the misuse and abuse of public power given to the Prime Minister under the Constitution of our nation," he warned.

Meanwhile, Reginald Vidale of the Dr Eric Williams TC Memorial Committee has nominated Anna Mahase for the post of President, citing her outstanding achievements in the field of education.

Mahase is a former principal of St Augustine Girls' High School.