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Govt yet to decide on candidate to replace Max (with CNC3 video)
The Government still has to make a final decision on who will be elected President on February 15, mere weeks before the second term of incumbent head of state George Maxwell Richards expires on March 17. “It’s an ongoing process...The matter is not formally before Cabinet,” Information Minister Jamal Mohammed told the T&T Guardian yesterday.
Mohammed gave the response when asked whether the Government was still open to suggestions for the new president, or had already made up its mind. “We are still going to entertain recommendations and nominations,” Mohammed said. He said 12 MPs have to sign in agreement for the nomination of someone for the position.
Asked if the Government was going to consult the PNM on the election of a new president, Moonilal said: “The PNM is free to make recommendations and suggestions. They have 12 MPs.” In an earlier interview, PNM MP Colm Imbert said the Opposition could choose a president and he saw no reason why it should not. He said the decision was for the leadership of the party to make.
Mohammed also responded to concerns that the existing way to choose a president, through voting by the electoral college (comprising all senators and MPs) was, at the core, a pretence, since the Government will always have the majority. “It’s an essential process that must be pursued...It’s the only way for an MP to have a voice,” he said.
“An MP represents an average of 25,000 people in his constituency. When he makes a nomination, it is on that basis. He is representing 25,000 people.” Told that a MP, especially a non-government one, did not really have a voice in the electoral college, Mohammed replied: “I don’t understand.” He then added, “You must have the MPs’ voice. This is what we have in existence. It’s the process we have to go through.”
Asked to comment on the recommendation by former Public Service Commission chairman and possible presidential nominee Kenneth Lalla, SC, that the people should choose a president and that constitutional reform was needed, Mohammed said: “If the president is to be elected by the people, he must have more constitutional power in order to make decisions on behalf of the people. There should be some constitutional reform in this area.”
Some of the reported top candidates for the post are Speaker Wade Mark, former head of British Petroleum (BPTT) Robert Riley and political analyst Dr Hamid Ghany. Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Lalla are also reportedly being considered.
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