Rowley defends his choice to replace Weekes – KANGALOO FOR PRESIDENT

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Senate President Christine Kangaloo, seen in this file photo when she was Acting President on her way to meet Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali on his State visit To TT last year, is Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s nominee to replace Paula-Mae Weekes as the country’s President. –

SENATE President Christine Kangaloo has been nominated by the government to serve as President. The Prime Minister made the announcement on Friday during a media conference at the Diplomatic Residence, St Ann’s, Port of Spain.

Dr Rowley said according to the constitution this has to be done by Tuesday, with the present officeholder going out of office on January 20, and the elected person taking office on January 21.

He said the nomination had been made following communication with members of the Cabinet and members of the national community from all stations to see what should be done, as well as asking the Opposition Whip if the party had any names for consideration, which were not forthcoming.

Rowley said a cordial meeting was held on Friday between members of the Opposition and of the Parliament. He said the Opposition did not have a name at that time, as while they had met, there was no name they wanted to advance as they were treating with requirements and the type of person they wanted to hold the position.

“We had done consultations inside and outside of government and come to the meeting with a name, and we are satisfied that that person is someone who fits the bill, is qualified, and can do the job.

“The name we advanced is the person who is now sitting in the office of the President of the Senate, Senator Christine Kangaloo. We will be supporting the Senator and meeting all requirements of the law going forward.

“My legal team has advised that at the point of nomination, she will have to vacate her office as Senate president. A replacement senator will be appointed.”

The PM said the Opposition indicated they wanted some time to consider the nomination. He said the nomination form needs the names of 12 members of Parliament, and the government would provide seven and give the Opposition the opportunity to provide five names, as it would be better for the country if the nomination went to Parliament with some form of consensus.

If this is not possible, he said, government would fill all 12 spaces.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the press conference on Friday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –

The PM said he understood there would be objections to Kangaloo’s nomination due to her long service as a public officer and her membership with the PNM. He said the party does not think that being part of its membership disqualified anyone from holding the position.

“We expect that a person going into office at any level being identified as having been associated with the PNM represents the best of TT. Senator Kangaloo was appointed at many levels. She started out as an independent Senator, she served as a government Senator, a government minister, MP for Pointe-a-Pierre, and for the last seven years she has served as Senate president and acting President.

“We are satisfied that she served during those seven years and is not disqualified because of her conduct in any way. I don’t disqualify people on the basis of being active politicians. Having been a government minister is part of her pool of experience, she’s also a lawyer, and she has served on both sides of the Parliament floor and both houses.”

Rowley said the Constitution does not disqualify anyone from being President after having been an MP. He said he does not believe that people in public service should be disqualified from further public service, or that they are disqualified because they have served in Parliament. He said he also did not believe that because someone had not served in the public arena, that they were independent.

He said the nomination had to be made by Monday, in light of the fact that current President President Paula-Mae Weekes had indicated that she would only serve one five-year term in office. He thanked Weekes for coming out of retirement to serve as President.

“We thank her for the job she has done on behalf of all of us. We wish her well as she goes forward to continue her retirement, and we wish her good health, happiness, and we are proud that on her CV that she can put without rebuttal that she has been the President of TT, who served her people well.”

Asked about calls for an executive president, he said the president was currently expected to be apolitical, and asked what the population would think of someone who would campaign for the post as they would be associated with a political party and be politically active.