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Independents may step down

By ANDRE BAGOO Tuesday, February 5 2013

click on pic to zoom in
James Armstrong...
James Armstrong...

THE APPOINTMENT of the new President could have a ripple-effect on the line-up of the Independent Senators.

Sources yesterday said some Independent Senators will offer their resignation in order to give the incoming President a free hand in terms of appointment.

Under the Constitution the President has sole discretion in the appointment of Independent Senators and members of some bodies, such as the Integrity Commission.

Some Independent Senators contacted by Newsday yesterday did not rule out handing in resignations.

One Independent Senator said they would definitely hand in their resignations but preferred not to go on record out of deference for the Office of the President.

Another Independent Senator, James Armstrong, did not rule out the possibility, saying he would consult with his fellow senators.

“I really do not know,” he said. “I will have to consult with my fellow senators.”

A third also did not rule out resigning as a formality, simply saying, “I am in a meeting right now.”

The nine Independent Senators are given five-year terms but those terms come to an end at every prorogation of the Parliament, around general election time. Normally, because there have been Presidents who have served two successive terms, the issue has not arisen.

For instance, President George Maxwell Richards served two terms, lasting a total of ten years, during which time there were two general elections which brought Senate-appointments to an end automatically. A changing of the guard did not appear to take place in 1997, when ANR Robinson replaced Noor Hassanali. However under Robinson’s tenure there were several elections and at one stage the Senate could not function due to the 18-18 tie. Hassanali’s term also straddled an election, meaning the issue of voluntary resignation did not arise.

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