Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's removal of Anand Ramlogan as attorney general was an act to formalise his public rejection.He was speaking during a news conference at his Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, office yesterday.Ramlogan was among four ministers who were removed from the Cabinet. Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith was also sacked without explanation.
Monday's cabinet reshuffle was the fourth by Persad-Bissessar since assuming office in 2010.Rowley said Persad-Bissessar, in her address to the nation, went out of her way to distract the population from the issue at hand, adding that if she had the authority she would have attempted to remove Police Complaints Authority Director David West from office.
Rowley said since Ramlogan's appointment in 2010, Persad-Bissessar had protected him and given him unwavering support.Rowley said that was done although Ramlogan "continued on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis to embarrass the population, disrespect his office and put the Government and the public interests at risk."
Ramlogan is being investigated by the police in response to a complaint made by West that he offered him the post of PCA director in exchange for his withdrawing a witness statement in a defamation matter Ramlogan filed against Rowley.Gary Griffith was also removed from the Cabinet as the national security minister, for failing to report to the PM that Ramlogan allegedly asked him to get West to withdraw the witness statement.
Rowley said Ramlogan was facing a criminal investigation for which, if charged and found guilty, he could face a 20-year jail term."That was just too much for the population to take," Rowley added."It was the general sentiment in T&T that enough was enough of Anand Ramlogan," Rowley added.Rowley said the PM raised "red herrings to distract" from the stark development of her attorney general being investigated for a criminal offence.
Rowley said the PM made no mention of that calamity in her address.He said it remained unclear as to whether Ramlogan resigned or was fired as the PM did not indicate.He said Persad-Bissessar was the only prime minister who boasted about the number of ministers she had removed after appointing them.
No problem with West
Rowley said it was an absurdity for the PM to raise new issues concerning West.In response to Persad-Bissessar's claim that he, Rowley, should have advised her that West was a witness in a defamation matter between Ramlogan and himself, Rowley said he was not an adviser to the PM and Ramlogan was fully aware of the development. He added Ramlogan, as attorney general, was the official adviser to the Cabinet.
Rowley said he maintained his position that West was the most suitable person to head the PCA."The suitability of David West to be head of the PCA has nothing to do with him being a witness," Rowley added.
What about Vasant
Rowley is also asking why no action was taken against Communication Minister Vasant Bharath, who, he said "is under a similar allegation for the same crime."He questioned whether the nation would have "to wait until a statement is given to the police about the Minister of Communication and others before she then takes them on board."He said the headline was "not David West, not Keith Rowley, the headline is an attorney general who has done until he has over-done."