Thursday, January 18, 2018

...Kamla, Rowley ready to meet

Claims by the Attorney General yesterday that the Opposition had failed to inform or secure the permission of Justice Rolston Nelson to proffer his name for consideration for President will not stop today's meeting between the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader to determine whether Justice Nelson will be the agreed candidate for President of the country.

Yesterday Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said Ramlogan was "mixing up consideration for candidacy," and that he was "misrepresenting the situation".

"If the AG says something you know the opposite is the truth," he said.

Justice Nelson was identified last Friday by the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) as its choice for consideration as a consensus candidate and his name was submitted to the Prime Minister as one which the PNM was prepared to support for President.

According to Rowley, this is separate and distinct from a "nominee or a candidate".

He said despite the fact the AG had referred to Justice Nelson as a candidate, and had even gone to the president of the Caribbean Court of Justice to complain about the issue, Justice Nelson has not signed any nomination form.

He also took issue with media reports about a lack of consensus from within his own party on Justice Nelson as the party's choice to go forward.

Rowley dismissed claims of lack of co-operation from former prime minister Patrick Manning, explaining that a consensus candidate simply means the name taken to the Electoral College of the Parliament would have already been agreed to by both sides.

Getting Manning to sign the nomination document was "not a consideration," he said, since there was no need to have the mandatory 12 MPs endorse the nomination as is required by the Constitution because the PNM was not proposing a minority candidate.

Manning has been absent from the Parliament for several months due to illness and will not be voting on February 15 to elect a new President

It is unclear whether the Prime minister will disclose the name of the government's candidate to the Opposition when they meet at 11.30 this morning or whether they will be informed with the rest of the country today.

The Express made several futile attempts to contact Justice Nelson at his home yesterday as to whether he will consider the post of President.

However, Ramlogan was questioned as to whether in his discussions with Justice Nelson he indicated that the Government would like to consider him (Justice Nelson) for the position.

After a brief hesitation, he said he did not want to disclose the content of their discussion before the interview ended abruptly. Several text messages and attempts to reconvene the interview also proved futile.

Trinidad and Tobago will from February 15, 2013 have a new President-elect, after the term of office of President George Maxwell Richards, 82, ends on March 17. There has been much speculation as to who will be elected to the highest office in the country.

Over the past weeks, several names have surfaced, including House Speaker, Wade Mark, three former Justices of the High Court, Mustapha Ibrahim, Zainool Hosein, and Amrika Tiwary-Reddy; former chief justice Sat Sharma, former head of the Public Service, Reginald Dumas, and late entrant Justice Anthony Carmona as potential candidates of the People's Partnership government.

Since identifying Justice Nelson for government's consideration, Rowley has come under criticism not only by AG Ramlogan but also by the Government's Information Minister for publicly naming the Opposition's choice of person for consideration..

In a media statement dated February 3, Information Minister Jamal Mohammed said he was "deeply disappointed that the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) would release the name of its nominee for the post of President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago."