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No pushover Prez
Even if PNM MP Colm Imbert sought to ensure some measure of “fire” at yesterday’s House of Representatives session when he took several verbal stabs at Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh, more crucial national issues in the spotlight were being deliberated well away from the Parliament chamber.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s office was the location for meetings with the respective representatives on two issues which have sorely challenged the PP administration and which form the basis of Government’s focus for the rest of its term: crime (on which the PP is failing) and the Tobago House of Assembly (on which the PP glaringly failed).
For 2013, the increasing PNM political challenge to the PP administration has been rivalled, in terms of severity, only by a correspondingly stiff increase in the crime problem which has stopped short of putting National Security Minister Jack Warner under the gun, (figuratively) although T&T may feel like it is (literally).
Perhaps the swift action by police in nabbing suspects in Wednesday’s murder of police officer Hayden Manwaring would allay some fears. But it also ensures the bar of expectation has been raised to a level that T&T’s public would expect similarly swift action in any event affecting them, lest the society continue its spiral, by no means recently formed, into the apathy and superficiality characterising so many environments globally.
It is into this shifting landscape that the leadership of President-elect Anthony TA Carmona will be thrust following next month’s inauguration. And it is one that Carmona is firmly in touch with, particularly the crime aspect, considering his pronouncements from the bench up to recently when he lamented T&T “is producing cold-blooded killers” because of the proliferation of guns.
He’d also said T&T was in crisis and expressed amazement by the “almost kind of muted response” by people in and out of authority on, for instance, the Beetham drive-by shooting when eight were shot. Not only because of Carmona’s background and relative youth, and despite the belief that the role of the President is “largely ceremonial,” it may not be business as usual where this fifth President is concerned.
Carmona, born March 7, 1953, turns 60 several days before the projected March 18 inauguration, after incumbent George Maxwell Richards’ term ends March 17. Deceased President Ellis Clarke therefore retains his title as the youngest person appointed as President, having been 59 when he was appointed in September 1976. Clarke was born December 28, 1917.
Carmona has repeatedly, including post-nomination, acknowledged former President Arthur NR Robinson with whom he worked closely on the International Criminal Tribunal aspect of his career and who may have been something of a mentor. Carmona’s 2011 curriculum vitae to the ICC for a judicial post stated he was nominated by Government.
Officials planning the swearing-in ceremony confirmed Robinson is on the guest list since all past presidents are invited to the swearing-in of an incoming Head of State. Former COP deputy leader Robert Mayers, remembering Carmona, fondly recalls, “He dethroned me in 1975 as UWI’s calypso king; he was the Prophet of Sisyphus and I was the Mighty Lord Sexy. He was always down to earth.”
That quality may well play a certain part in informing Carmona in the conduct of his duties over the next five years having regard to the twin-island State that he will serve.
In initial post-election, pre-inauguration words, Carmona has already signalled the tone of his upcoming tenure: “a fresh breeze…a new process.” He’s also demonstrated this with moves toward an all-inclusive thrust. Indeed, in expressing thanks for the sentiments he’s received, Carmona included all members of Parliament, including Opposition Leader Keith Rowley, despite PNM’s reported insistence he was no “consensus” nominee.
Elected to office this year, Carmona’s five-year term, ending 2018, will take him past the 2015 general elections. It remains to unfold how he walks the new road before him and how he brings the rich background of his local and international experience to bear in initiating the much-needed “new process” that T&T must urgently have.
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