‘It’s for Carmona to say if Senators stay’
By Andre Bagoo Wednesday, February 20 2013
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Subhas says: Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan addresses in the Senate yesterday the question of if Independents should offer their resignations ...
INDEPENDENT Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan yesterday said the question of whether the Independent Senators should step down in light of the start of the tenure of a new President will be “within the sole discretion” of Justice Anthony Carmona when he assumes office.
Unlike some other Independent Senators, Ramkhelawan did not rule out the possibility. He noted that the question has arisen even though, in his view, the terms of Independent Senators run alongside the life of the Parliament.
“Questions have been asked should Independent Senators terms be conterminous with that of the President,” he said in the Senate yesterday speaking during debate of legislation to allow electronic transfers by State agencies. “The question has arisen even though it was envisioned in our Constitution that the term of senators would be conterminous with that of Parliament.”
The Independent Senator continued, “I think the matter that was raised is that of custom and practice. It has been the practice that Senators will serve their full term except in a situation where those who have appointed them wish to remove them from office under the Constitution. But that is within the sole discretion of the President when he comes into office and I will deal with that another day.”
“I consider it a healthy debate but I expect that very shortly I shall be speaking to those in the media with regards to my own position on this particular matter of the status of Independent Senators,” Ramkhelawan said. He joined other Senators who yesterday congratulated Carmona on being declared President at a meeting of the Electoral College last week.
“I would like to join my colleagues in extending congratulations to Justice Anthony Carmona as President-elect and to wish him every success in his imminent posting to the highest office of the land and also to wish him success in service to the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Ramkhelawan said.
Also sending congratulations was PNM Senator Faris Al Rawi, who missed last week’s meeting of the Electoral College. Al Rawi said he was out of the country and could not attend.
“I wish to offer congratulations to Mr Justice Anthony Carmona - as he still is - on his expected assumption to the office of President of this Republic,” Al Rawi said. No excuses were offered on Al Rawi’s behalf at last week’s sitting of the Electoral College, which saw Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley decline to speak.
Senate Vice-President Lyndira Oudit also paid tribute to Carmona at the start of the sitting.
“This being the first sitting following the meeting of the Electoral College last Friday, I wish to extend congratulations to Justice Anthony Carmona on his ascension as President-elect, soon to be fifth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” Oudit said. She noted that under Section 39 of the Constitution the Parliament shall consist of a President, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
she said, “Mr Carmona has spent his life, thus far, in exemplary service to his country and I am certain as we all are that he will continue to excel in his new office as Head of State.” To outgoing President George Maxwell Richards, Oudit said, “I also take the opportunity on your behalf to thank his Excellency Professor George Maxwell Richards for the dedicated service he has given.”