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PM: Carmona ‘best candidate’ for next President

Thursday, February 7 2013

The selection of Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona has been described by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as Government’s ‘‘best candidate’’ for the country’s next President.

Speaking to reporters following the launch of Children’s Carnival at Bhupsingh Park, Penal, yesterday, Persad-Bissessar also dismissed concerns that Carmona may not have qualified due to Section 23 of the Constitution which stated that a person had to be an ‘‘ordinarily resident’’ in Trinidad and Tobago for ten years, prior to his nomination as President.

“Early o’ clock in our selections of a nominee, for Government’s nominee, we sought legal advice, we received legal advice from three eminent, independent, international counsels, Queens Counsel Beloff, Queen’s Counsel Pannick, and Senior Counsel Sir Fenton Ramsahoye, each one, independently, gave the same unanimous declaration that the honourable Justice Carmona does meet the requirements as required by Section 23 of the Constitution,” Persad-Bissessar said. She said the Constitution required nominees be “35 years of age and above, he must be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and he must have been ordinarily resident for ten years immediately preceding the nomination.”

“The operative words are ‘ordinarily resident’ so where there is in law, there is no difference, based on the advice we have received, Government is satisfied based on the advice we have received of these eminently qualified jurists that he does meet the requirements of the Section 23,’ she said. “I do believe that in the process we were able to select the best candidate for our nominee as President of the Republic,’ Persad-Bissessar added.

Asked whether the selection process could have been described as ‘‘tedious,” she smilingly disagreed, and instead described the process as ‘‘interesting.”

“It was very interesting, I wouldn’t call it tedious, it was a very challenging and interesting process because so many names were put forward, persons who were all very distinguished persons, and so in that sense it was challenging, but most interesting to see the amount of persons who could have served, and also to see the great interest among the citizens in the choice of a President,’ she said.

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