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Young: Next President should not be a mouthpiece

Published: 
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar before the start of their meeting to discuss presidential nominees at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, yesterday. Also in photo from left are Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, Tabaquite MP and Senator Wade Mark.

Madame Justice Paula-Mae Weekes is likely to become the country’s first female President.

Weekes was named yesterday as the Government’s presidential nominee at a press conference by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young, following a brief meeting with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, to discuss the nominations for the election of a new President.

While Young described the meeting between both sides as “productive” he stated that Persad-Bissessar’s reaction to Weekes being named as their choice was “positive, buoyant and welcomed.”

However, Persad-Bissessar opted not to put forward a choice of nominee, but can do so before Monday’s (January 8) 4 pm submission deadline.

The election is set for January 19 by the Electoral College.

Young said the nomination form which would have 14 “signatures for proposals will be delivered to the Speaker” on Monday at 4 pm.

In fielding questions from the media, Young when asked how Government felt in selecting Weekes who might become the country’s first female President, Young confidently replied “yes, Justice Paula Mae Weekes will be the first female President of the Republic of T&T. The first female President…absolutely! We are hoping it would be a unanimous and unopposed process.”

Based on his response, Young was told that whether the Opposition brings a nominee or not, Weekes will become the country’s next President based on the Government’s majority vote in the Electoral College and if they were looking at Constitutional reform.

“Not at this time and not with respect to this process,” Young replied.

If there is an unopposed nominee, Young said the person is confirmed as the country’s highest office holder.

Young thanked outgoing President Anthony Carmona, whose term ends on March 18 for his services.

He said the country was now “looking to moving forward” when asked if Carmona was considered for a second term.

Young said the PM informed Persad-Bissessar that they will leave some spaces available on the nomination form “for the Opposition elected members, including the Leader of Opposition to sign in a cooperative manner with the Government elected members who will sign it after the Prime Minister signs it.”

The Opposition or any 12 elected members of the House of Representatives can put in their nomination forms.

Then the Electoral College which is made up of all the elected members of Parliament and Senate will meet to take a vote.

Asked if the PNM had looked at other candidates apart from Weekes, Young said she was their sole choice based on her qualifications, availability and competence.

Young shared the view with Persad-Bissessar that the next President should not be a mouthpiece and puppet.

A press release sent by Persad-Bissessar following the meeting, which she described as “cordial and productive” stated that “the Opposition is keen on working with the Government to move this process forward in the interest of the citizens.”

ABOUT PAULA-MAE WEEKES

Paula-Mae Weekes was called to the bar in October 1982 after pursuing her LLB at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, and her Legal Education Certificate at the Hugh Wooding Law School, St Augustine.

Prior to becoming a Judge of the High Court, Weeks, a former Bishop Anstey High School student spent 11 years at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, rising to the rank of senior state attorney before entering private practice.

Justice Weekes was the fifth woman to be appointed a Judge of the High Court in T&T.

She assumed that office in September 1996.

Last February, Weekes was sworn in as a Judge of the Turks and Caicos Islands Court of Appeal.

In 2012, Weekes was appointed to act as Chief Justice during Ivor Archie’s official duties abroad.

 

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