|4 NAMES BY MONDAY |
By ANDRE BAGOO and AZARD ALI Friday, June 21 2013
PRESIDENT Anthony Carmona will on Monday announce the names of four new members of the Integrity Commission, well-placed sources told Newsday yesterday. Monday’s announcement means the President would have fulfilled his pledge to deliver a new commission within a two-week time frame, he set on June 9, taking into account the fact that June 23 is a Sunday.
However, there was no information on whether current chairman Ken Gordon will continue in that post. Gordon is expected to issue a statement today, after yesterday telling Newsday he is pondering his resignation. The Office of the Integrity Commission cancelled a press conference set for today, at which questions would have been taken and instead announced Gordon would issue a statement today by 2 pm.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday met with Carmona at President’s House, St Ann’s, after she wrote him on the weekend expressing serious concern over last week’s disclosure that Gordon held a secret meeting with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley at Gordon’s private home on May 15. She asked the President to take whatever action he deemed necessary.
She yesterday said the President would write her formally on the composition of a new Commission by today. “His Excellency has indicated he is in the process of putting together that Commission and we should be hearing from him in writing before the end of the week,” Persad-Bissessar said, when questioned by reporters just outside the gates of President’s House.
Asked if Carmona had indicated whether he would take action over her concerns on Gordon, the Prime Minister said she could not disclose what she discussed with the President. “I raised my concerns with His Excellency and I am not at liberty to disclose details of the discussion,” she said. Asked if it was likely Carmona would issue a statement on the issue, she said, “I cannot speak for His Excellency.”
It is understood the President will opt to make the announcement of the new Commission on Monday and not Sunday (when the two-week deadline ends) because Office of the President staff are not normally available on Sundays.
The Integrity in Public Life Act calls for five members to constitute the Commission: a chairman, a deputy chairman and three other ordinary commissioners. The Act stipulates that one member should be an attorney of ten years standing and another, a certified or chartered accountant. Any one of the members may be designated chairman, in the event of a vacancy. Yet, since under the legislation three members constitute a quorum, the Commission may function even if all five posts are not filled.
The term of three commissioners came to an end in March, but Gordon’s term is due to end in 2014. The President’s move to fill the Commission has coincided with an outcry over the chairman’s recent conduct.
Last week Thursday, the Office of the Integrity Commission confirmed to Newsday that chairman Gordon met with Rowley at Gordon’s Newbury Hill, Glencoe home on May 15. The issue was raised hours earlier in Parliament by Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal.
The Commission released an aide memoire, penned by Gordon, of the meeting in which the chairman discloses twice calling Rowley’s mobile number after Rowley requested an “urgent meeting”, before suggesting to Rowley that they meet at Gordon’s home.
At the meeting, according to accounts given by Rowley and Gordon, Rowley raised the question of the status of purported email materials which Rowley said he had reason to believe were referred to the Commission by former President George Maxwell Richards. Gordon confirmed that the matter was not being investigated, since the Commission was not fully constituted. The meeting took place five days before Rowley displayed the purported email materials in Parliament and issue a call to Gordon’s Commission to probe the issue.
Neither men disclosed that a private meeting took place at Gordon’s home in the absence of the Commission’s Registrar Martin Farrell, until last week and only after it was raised by Moonilal in Parliament.
The Prime Minister yesterday revealed she has met regularly with President Carmona since her last publicly known meeting with him on May 8. “We meet regularly and the last time we met was (earlier) in June,” she said.
It is unclear if Rowley has as yet been consulted by the President on the question of appointments to the Commission. Yesterday, Rowley did not return calls by Newsday.