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LEGAL LUMINARIES TIPPED FOR PRESIDENT

By NALINEE SEELAL Sunday, February 3 2013

click on pic to zoom in

Senior High Court Justice Anthony Carmona, who is due to take up an appointment in the Hague as an International Criminal Court judge on March 1, and former Puisne Judge Amrika Tiwary-Reddy, are the two front runners for the position of this country’s new President.

If elected, Tiwary-Reddy will be the first female President of Trinidad and Tobago.

Former President of the Senate, Linda Baboolal has acted as President previously.

However, sources said yesterday Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is yet to decide between Carmona and Tiwary-Reddy, and a meeting is expected to be held today to decide on who will be the sole nominee to be presented to the country tomorrow.

Carmona, who was born in Fyzabad, is 57 years old, and was up until last week hearing bail applications at the San Fernando High Court from 20 persons who were refused bail in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court.

Yesterday, well-placed sources told Sunday Newsday Carmona was the person most favoured by Government because of his legal background and the fact that he has no political affiliations. Others believe that Tiwary-Reddy should be chosen because of her background both in law and her contributions to society.

Government is hoping to convince the Opposition to agree with the nomination of Carmona or Tiwary-Reddy on grounds that they both come from legal backgrounds and do not have any political affiliations. The Opposition has said that it will not support a nominee for President who has political affiliations.

Sunday Newsday was reliably informed that Carmona has already been approached by Government to consider taking up the position as Head of State, but it remained unclear yesterday what was his decision.

Sunday Newsday also understands that former retired High Court Judge Mustapha Ibrahim has also been suggested as a candidate for the presidency, Other persons whose names are being talked about as possible candidates include House Speaker Wade Mark and former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma, as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran and former UNC leader Basdeo Panday, as well as political analyst Dr Selwyn Ryan.Sources have said, though, that the Prime Minister as well as most of her Cabinet colleagues, have already agreed that the best candidates to be nominated for the position of President should be either Justice Anthony Carmona or Tiwary-Reddy.

Persad-Bissessar said on Thursday at the post-Cabinet news briefing that she will make public Government’s nominee tomorrow. Nominations for the post of President close on Tuesday.

The Electoral College will vote for the new President on February 15.

Carmona was born on March 7, 1953. He attended the University of the West Indies and the Hugh Wooding Law School between 1973 and 1983. In 1989, he became a Senior State Attorney. From 1994 to 1999, he was first Assistant then Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. From 2001 to 2004 he was an Appeals Counsel at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha. In 2004, he was appointed a High Court Judge at the Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago.

On December 12, 2011, he was elected as a judge of the International Criminal Court. He won the office in the first ballot in the Assembly of States Parties with 72 of 104 votes with 70 votes needed.

The other strong contender for the post, former Puisne Judge Amrika Tiwary-Reddy was appointed a Puisne Judge on May 1, 1999 and is also the most senior female Judge on the High Court bench. Justice Tiwary-Reddy served as Senator and acted as Attorney General on several occasions between 1989-1991, becoming the first woman to act as Attorney General. Among her other notable achievements is her tenure from 1982-1986 as a member of the Cabinet appointed Public Service Review Task Force and of the Council of the Bar Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

On Friday PNM sources disclosed that Caribbean Court of Appeal Judge Rolston Nelson was the PNM’s choice for the post of President, however, the Opposition has been stumped in their bid to have Justice Nelson named as the nominee because San Fernando East MP Patrick Manning has reportedly refused to get involved in the nomination process.

Section 30 of the Constitution states that a candidate for President must be nominated by at least 12 members of Parliament, making Manning’s vote critical for the Opposition.

Section 30 also states that the nomination papers must be delivered to the Speaker of the House at least seven days before the election.

Sunday Newsday understands the Opposition is yet to get the San Fernando East MP to sign the nomination paper.

House Speaker Wade Mark was previously tipped as Government’s choice for the position as President, but Sunday Newsday understands that some Cabinet members were of the view that because he has a political background it would have been unwise to name him as the nominee.

The second term of George Maxwell Richards, 82, the fourth President, ends on March 17.

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