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Ramesh calls on PM: Give citizens more time to nominate candidates
Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj has accused Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of giving citizens little time for them to propose alternative candidates for the presidency. Maharaj said so in a statement yesterday after the Prime Minister said a candidate would be named on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s Nomination Day deadline.
The electoral college meets on February 15 to elect a President. Incumbent George Maxwell Richards’ term ends in March. Communication Minister Jamal Mohammed was unavailable to comment on the Government’s latest position on the issue. Maharaj said the Prime Minister was “deliberately waiting until the eve” of the closing date for nomination to name the candidate.
“This isn’t open, transparent governance or the change the Partnership promises, this is undemocratic...It isn’t participatory democracy by the people in the choice of President,” he added. Maharaj claimed it was “dictatorial behaviour” and an imposition of the Government’s choice on the population.
“It shows the Prime Minister is prepared to use the majority which she has in Parliament to serve the political agenda of her party, instead of the best interests of T&T.” PNM PRO Faris Al Rawi said there had been no discussion with the Government on the issue of a presidential nominee. He spoke very briefly yesterday when asked the PNM’s response to the Government’s announcements on the issue and if the PNM has a nominee.
PNM leader Keith Rowley failed to answer calls. PNM whip Marlene McDonald, who an Opposition clerk said was on a conference call, subsequently left the office. The official said, “The media would be contacted when the PNM had any statement.” PNM general secretary Ashton Ford said McDonald had been designated to deal with the issue.
Other PNM sources said the PNM at a recent caucus after the THA election was mulling over possibly not nominating anyone. Some PNMites felt the Government had the majority and its choice would prevail anyway. Several other PNM officials said PNMites were preparing for PNM’s Carnival fete at Balisier House next Tuesday—the same day as the presidential nomination process.
Balisier House officials said the fete was changed from the Monday before Carnival when it had traditionally been held for years. Ford said the fete was moved from the Monday to Tuesday since it was more economical to have it on the Tuesday as there were many activities on the Monday before Carnival.
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