Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 8th 2015 Contents SHALIZA HASSANALI
Independent Liberal Party (ILP)
Leader Jack Warner says Govern-
ment will not bring the runoff pro-
vision before the House of Repre-
sentatives but will revert to the
first-past-the-post system for the
upcoming general election.
Warner said government s decision
to blank the runoff hinges on a poll
the UNC had done, which showed
that the controversial runoff provi-
sion, if proclaimed, could work in
favour of the People s National
Movement and not the People s
Partnership Government at the polls,
which will be held, at latest, by Sep-
Having filed a lawsuit last year
against the Attorney General to get
the runoff provision in the Consti-
tution (Amendment) Bill 2014
revoked, Warner said this was anoth-
er issue that was preventing the Gov-
ernment from bringing the matter
before the House.
The ILP challenged that the bill
was an infringement of citizens fun-
damental rights listed in Sections 4
and 5 of the Constitution.
In last week s Sunday Guardian,
PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley said if
the general election should be called
today, the Election and Boundaries
Commission (EBC) would be caught
off-guard as it would not know what
system of voting should be used.
On Thursday, Warner said it was
passing strange that six months after
the bill was passed in both the Upper
and Lower Houses, it had not come
back on the parliamentary agenda
"They (Government) thought the
runoff would have helped them win
the upcoming election. But right
now nothing will help this Govern-
"I don t take anything Moonilal
says anymore. Anything Moonilal
tells you, he does the opposite. I
don t think they will bring it back
in the House.
It was a whole facade."
Warner said if they brought back
the bill, it would be far too late for
the EBC to put its house in order.
"They would need a lot more time
to put their house in order.
"The EBC hardly has enough time
to handle the first-past-the-post of
voting far less for the new system
But Leader of Government Business
Dr Roodal Moonilal dismissed Warn-
er s statements, insisting that the
amendments to the bill would be con-
sidered in due course.
Moonilal, in dismissing Warner s
claim, said he was seeking to distract
attention from his "collapsing ILP
"Mr Warner complains that the
Government tries to rush legislation.
Now he joins Dr Rowley in
saying we are giving the Parliament
too much time to study critical
Moonilal also trained his guns on
Rowley, who he said was trying to
deflect public attention from his
party s internal conflict.
"He (Rowley) has problems in
San Fernando East, Arima and
with Louis Lee Sing."
When in Opposition, Moonilal
said, the PNM strategy was to tar-
get and attack independent insti-
tutions such as the EBC.
"How Rowley knows about the
business of the EBC? "What con-
nection he has to the EBC to make
statements about the readiness of
Moonilal said Rowley was unfit
to be the Opposition Leader.
February 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Jack: PP to blank runoff
...amendments to bill will be considered in due course---Moonilal
Former attorney general Ramesh
Lawrence Maharaj, SC, says Pres-
ident Anthony Carmona does not
have the power to revoke the
appointment of Police Complaints
Authority (PCA) Director David
West under the PCA Act as indi-
cated by the Prime Minister.
Maharaj, in an open letter to Car-
mona on Friday on the controversial
matter, told the President that he
would be making an error in law if
he were to heed the Prime Minister s
call to remove West on the grounds
that she gave in her address to the
nation on Monday.
"It would therefore be erroneous
in law for Your Excellency to revoke
the appointment of the director
without the conditions of the act
being satisfied for the removal of
the director from office. Your Excel-
lency does not have the power and
the jurisdiction under the act to
revoke his appointment," Maharaj
contended in his six-page letter.
Persad-Bissessar had called on
Carmona to revoke West s appoint-
ment because he failed to disclose
that he was a witness in the defama-
tion lawsuit involving former attor-
ney general Anand Ramlogan and
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
She also contended that West did
not disclose the allegations that
Ramlogan had approached him to
withdraw his statement in that mat-
ter in exchange for the PCA post
when he was selected for it.
That allegation is currently the
subject of a police investigation.
Maharaj, in his letter, informed
Carmona that Section 12 of the PCA
Act sets out the specific grounds by
which the appointment of the PCA
director can be revoked.
According to the act the President,
acting in his discretion, may revoke
the appointment of the director or
deputy director where he is satisfied
that the person--- a) has, without
reasonable excuse, failed to carry
out his prescribed duties for a con-
tinuous period of three months; (b)
is unable to discharge the functions
of his office, whether arising from
infirmity of mind or body or any
other cause, or for misbehaviour; or
(c) has become a person who would
be disqualified for appointment pur-
suant to Section 8.
Maharaj said Persad-Bissessar, in
her address to the nation, did not
cite any law or Code of Ethics which
required West to disclose the matter
to the President or the Prime Min-
ister, and it would be an error if Car-
mona were to revoke West s appoint-
"The Prime Minister has not iden-
tified in what way the functions and
duties of the PCA would be com-
promised by the director in the failure
by him to inform Your Excellency
(Carmona) or the Prime Minister
about this matter," Maharaj wrote.
Maharaj advised that the matters
stated by the Prime Minister did not
fall within the scope of Section 12
of the act.
The former AG advised the Pres-
ident that Persad-Bissessar was ask-
ing him (Carmona) to "act without
jurisdiction and to act ultra vires to
the act" and "this would be contrary
to the rule of law."
He said West had shown "courage,
integrity, strength of character and
a strong and passionate determina-
tion to uphold the highest standards
of conduct in public life" and that
would appear to any reasonable
person as a vindication of his
(Carmona s) appointment of
Maharaj also took issue with Per-
sad-Bissessar s call for Carmona to
conduct a separate independent
probe, especially when a police probe
had already been launched. Acting
Deputy Commissioner of Police
(Operations) Harold Phillip is leading
The former AG said any such
probe "could have the effect of frus-
trating the police investigations and
would cause unnecessary delay in
the completion of those investiga-
He questioned why the Prime
Minister would make such a call.
Maharaj contended that "the
appointment of a separate probe to
compete with the police investiga-
tions can undermine and subvert
the police investigations being con-
ducted in respect of the allegations
against the former AG (Ramlogan)."
Ramesh to Carmona: You have no power to remove West
Chairman of the EBC, Dr Norbert Masson, in a Newsday article last
December called on Government to clarify if and when proposed
legislation introducing a runoff mechanism would be made law.
Contacted on Wednesday, Masson said there was nothing new on
the matter since his raising the issue in the print media.
"The status quo persists. There is nothing further that I could say or
add," Masson said, refusing to comment further.
Last August, legislation proposing a runoff procedure was passed in
the Senate and House of Representatives, but it now requires one final
procedural motion before it can be sent by Cabinet to President
Anthony Carmona for proclamation.
The runoff legislation also contains provisions for term limits for
prime ministers and a right of recall of MPs.
In relation to the runoff, only people who obtain more than 50 per
cent of votes cast will take a seat in the House of Representatives.
Failing this, a "supplementary poll" or runoff is to take place between
the top two candidates and possibly a third candidate if that third
candidate comes within five points of second place.
Days before voting on the bill, protesters for and against the bill
clashed outside Parliament with the police.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar challenged the electorate to
vote out the PP Government if they did not want the bill.
Sport Minister Brent Sancho and his wife Jana carry their daughter
Yliana Rose with her band Fusion Kidstt across the stage during the
T&T Red Cross Society Children Carnival at the Queen's Park Savannah
yesterday. • See Page A13 PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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