RETIRED JUDGE: Amrika Tiwary-Reddy

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PM to name nominee for next President today

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

AS the race for the presidential election heats up, a new contender is being considered—Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan. 

However, Justice Anthony Carmona is tipped to be leading the lot which includes Justice Amrika Tiwary-Reddy and House Speaker Wade Mark.

The Express understands that Carmona is considered the best choice by most Government members and has majority support.

The People's National Movement (PNM), led by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, has proposed Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) judge Rolston Nelson as its pick for President.

Today at 11.30 a.m. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her team will meet with Dr Rowley and his team—Opposition chief whip Marlene McDonald, Senator Faris Al-Rawi and MP Colm Imbert—to discuss the issue at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's.

Several meetings are expected to be held at the Diplomatic Centre as the Finance and General Purposes Meeting (FNGP) starts at 9 a.m. followed by a special Cabinet meeting, then the meeting with the Opposition members and finally a meeting with all Government parliamentarians and ministers.

Last Thursday, Persad-Bissessar disclosed that the Government's nominee for President will be made public today.

Sources told the Express that over the weekend a number of names were being considered with Ramkhelawan being the latest to join the lot.

Contacted by phone yesterday, Ramkhelawan refused comment, saying it would be premature.

"I believe that matter is entirely in the hands of parliamentarians, in particular Government parliamentarians, so I don't want to comment on that at all...I think it would be very premature of me to make any comment on this matter," said Ramkhelawan.

According to the Parliament's website www.ttparliament.org, Ramkhelawan first entered Parliament in December of 2007 when he was appointed by President George Maxwell Richards as an Independent Senator in the Ninth Parliament. He returned in the same capacity in the Tenth Republican Parliament on June 18, 2010.

Ramkhelawan, with effect from September 1, 2012, became co-ordinator and most senior sitting senator on the Independent Bench.

He is also the founder and managing director of Bourse Securities Ltd, the largest independent stockbroking firm in Trinidad and Tobago and one of only six recognised mutual fund providers in the country.

Speaking to the Express by phone, Al-Rawi said the Opposition, in its meeting with the Prime Minister today, would agree to a consensus candidate and nothing else.

"The PNM's position with respect to the election of the President is that we are willing to discuss with the Government, a nominee by consensus and nothing else. In other words if the Government is not willing to agree upon someone whom we can both agree upon, we will not have a nominee," said Al-Rawi.

He added that the PNM's proposed Nelson has indicated that he would not serve unless there is consensus between Government and Opposition.

"Dr Rowley, having spoken with him as to whether he would be interested or whether he would be willing to have his name put up as a candidate for consensus, Mr Justice Nelson's position was only if both parties agree would he be interested in pursuing the matter. He specifically stating that he will be representative of no particular party and having sat as a judge both at the court of appeal and a sitting judge of the CCJ, he was very careful to say that he will not accept any nomination other than by way of consensus," said Al-Rawi.

The election of a new President by the electoral college to replace Richards will take place on February 15.

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