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Carmona: I will serve with fairness
Hinting at the tone of his upcoming tenure, President-elect Anthony Carmona has started off what he also describes as “a new process,” by paying tribute to incumbent President George Maxwell Richards. He was speaking at the Parliament yesterday after receiving his instruments of election from Speaker Wade Mark, after the electoral college’s ratification of his election last Friday.
Thanking the media for kind sentiments, Carmona said he would not take any questions since he felt, in the circumstances, he needed to invoke standards of comity and civility, given the fact that T&T still had an incumbent President. He added: “I feel, for example, sometimes, you know, we have a terrible habit of discarding the old and glorifying the new and I want to be no part of that. “I want to say how gracious a man he (Richards) has been over the years to me personally and I wish him all the best in his retirement and, in fact, I want to thank him on behalf of the wider community for the sterling role he has played during his ten-year stewardship.”
Carmona also told reporters: “So as much as I know you all want to ask questions, we are engaging in new process—a fresh breeze, you may call it. “It started here this morning with the honourable Speaker of the House doing something very innovative and in my view something very commendable, to bring a sense of governance to all and sundry. “That governance must not be a cloistered reality. It is for all and by this simple ceremony, a signal has been sent for all-inclusiveness in the conduct of the affairs in this country.”
Carmona was accompanied by his wife, Reema, and other family members. Parliament, in a statement yesterday, said the event was to present Carmona with instruments confirming his election to the office of President, rather than his instruments of appointment. Mark, making the presentation, declared Carmona President-elect. “Warmest congratulations, Mr President-elect,” Mark added.
In Carmona’s address, his first official one since being elected, he said: “It would be remiss of me if I did not thank honourable senator Mark, chairman of the electoral college, and the electoral college for the responsibility they have placed on my shoulders. “I feel compelled to indicate to all and sundry, I am prepared to serve this nation with the same kind of clarity, objectivity, fairness and due process that I have always invoked in my capacity as deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and acting DPP, as a former appeals counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and as a judge of the High Court, and I feel honoured to be so bestowed with this responsibility.”
Carmona also thanked the Prime Minister, who is in Haiti. He added: “I have to thank the Opposition Leader Mr Keith Rowley for his kind sentiments that he has expressed publicly, in fact the various members of Parliament, who, in my view, have kindly expressed their support for my stewardship as President of this beloved republic of T&T. “There is no denying that it is indeed an onerous responsibility but it is one I feel in the circumstances that by the grace of God I am prepared to do and to execute. I have to thank almighty God.”
He also thanked his wife, his uncle Desmond Dickie, his brother-in law Dr Nandi Harrysingh and his sisters, attorney Faye (Felicita) Gregoire and Cheryll Foster. Carmona said: “I have to thank my parents, who have kept me in good stead to be where I am today; my community. “It is indeed fitting for me to make a comment to the effect that it takes a village to raise a child as I have lived in many villages down in deep South and everyone there, they have played a major role and part in my stewardship as a young man growing up and as a professional. They have given me unstinting support.”
Before receiving the instruments of election, Carmona commended Mark for the function, saying in the past the process had been dealt with differently. In previous times, he said, it might hardly have even been known that the process was being carried out. He quipped that the Marshal of the Parliament might, in those days, have taken the instruments in a hired car and “passed it to someone over a fence.” Carmona said he felt in the context of the need for open governance, Mark’s function yesterday was a good initiative and the idea was well executed and boded quite well.
Carmona, 59, is expected to be administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Ivor Archie on March 18 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Richards, 82, will retire on March 17 when his term ends.
While the spotlight of yesterday’s Parliament function was on President-elect Anthony TA Carmona, his wife Reema Harrysingh-Carmona was also the focus of much attention. Harrysingh-Carmona, 43, is an economist from a business family from Thick Village, Siparia, where the family’s Sunco Engineering Services Co has been based for years. The couple has two children, Christian, 12, and ten. They were not at yesterday’s function. Accompanying the couple were Carmona’s uncle, Desmond Dickie, and his sisters Felicita Gregoire and Cheryll Foster. Also present was Carmona’s brother-in-law Dr Nandi Harrysingh, his wife’s brother.
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