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Unholy Trinity

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Those given the privilege of holding the country’s most important roles— President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice—must be fully aware of their behaviours, actions and commitment to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Petty personal dislikes and politics should be left outside their respective offices.

This morning the nation wakes up uncertain to what is happening and what will be happening to the effective standoff between President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley over the request for a sabbatical by a weakened Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

We shouldn’t have reached this constitutional mess and, quite bluntly, we deserve better from those supposedly capable of holding high offices.

Time to grow up

When things go bad in the world of politics, a nation’s last resort for sanity is the justice system. Through naivety or incompetence, our current—and perhaps soon to be on a sabbatical—Chief Justice Ivor Archie has been collecting an unprecedented number of criticisms and allegations. Instead of transparency to avoid bringing his office into disrepute, Archie decided to choose silence and, now, a convenient study break, instead of dealing head on with the issues. Hardly inspiring actions by the person expected to represent the very best of our Judiciary.

Then we have the not-so-subtle split between the President and the Prime Minister, behaving like two sulking schoolboys after an argument in the street. The problem is, instead of fighting over a toy, their squabbles have far more damaging consequences to us all.

The clear lack of dialogue between the Head of State and the Head of Government is unacceptable. And, if what is widely said is true—that the Prime Minister deliberately avoided dealing with the CJ’s situation in the expectation that he would have an easier ride after President Carmona’s term—, he has been playing lowball politics with one of the pillars of our constitutional structure.

The President does not come out of this with clean hands either. He would have known all too well that, by agreeing to Archie’s sabbatical at the dying days of his term in office, he would be doing this to provoke and taunt Rowley.

Accidentally or not, President Carmona also throws a googly to his successor, Justice Paula-Mae Weeks, by giving her the thorny task of finding a common ground between her office and the Prime Minister’s.

He would have known that she reportedly clashed with Ivor Archie when her own application for sabbatical was turned down by him.

It beggars belief that, at such a difficult time for the country, with the economy hardly recovering from one of its deepest recessions, crime and lawlessness growing and no plans for the future, our three most senior leaders have decided to play such an irresponsible game.

Whichever way this ends, none of the three will come out of this covered in glory. And rightly so. What they have done and continue to do is beneath their offices and tragic for the country. Time to stop acting like school boys and grow up Messrs President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice.


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