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PM: Presidential nominee to remain (with CNC3 video)
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Justice Anthony Carmona will remain T&T’s presidential nominee even as questions over the validity of his nomination engage public debate. Persad-Bissessar, addressing reporters yesterday afternoon at Kiddies Carnival celebrations at Bhupsingh Park, Penal, said Carmona’s nomination was not constitutionally barred.
“Government is satisfied, based on the advice that we have received that he is eminently qualified and does meet the requirements of Section 23 (of the Constitution),” she added. Hours before the deadline for nominations expired at midnight on Tuesday, questions were raised about Carmona’s eligibility.
Section 23 of the Constitution stipulates that a presidential nominee must have been ordinarily resident in this country for ten years preceding the date of his nomination. The Prime Minister assured that concern was “flagged early o’clock in our consultations, when we were making our selections of a nominee for President.”
She said out of an abundance of caution, Government sought legal advice from three independent international counsel — Queen’s Counsel Michael Beloff, Lord David Pannick and Senior Counsel Sir Fenton Ramsahoye — all of whom “gave the same unanimous declaration that Carmona met the requirements of Section 23.
The Prime Minister told reporters she did not expect any hiccups in the electoral process when the electoral college meets on February 15 to elect Carmona, who is unopposed. She said Government had responded to the Opposition’s concerns about Carmona’s eligibility.
The Prime Minister said she was pleased by the national response to his nomination.
She said he was “clearly a distinguished son of our soil in every sense of the word, a family person, grounded in religious and spiritual values and of course he comes from the South — that may be an advantage or a disadvantage — but in every respect, in my respectful view, he has distinguished himself and he could represent any one of us in T&T.”
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