Black Immigrant Daily News
President Paula-Mae Weekes. – File Photo
THE National Transformation Alliance (NTA) said the tenure of President Paula-Mae Weekes will be remembered by the events which led to the collapse of the Police Service Commission (PSC) in September and the failure to send a merit list of candidates for commissioner of police (CoP) to the House of Representatives for consideration. .
In a notice in the TT Gazette dated December 23, Speaker of the House of Representatives and chairman of the Electoral College, Bridgid Annisette-George said the college will convene on January 20, when a new President of TT will be elected.
Weekes, a retired Justice of Appeal in TT and The Turks and Caicos Islands, took office on March, 19, 2018 after being elected on January 19 of that year. As she was the only candidate nominated, she was deemed elected without the need for a vote and made history by becoming the first female President of TT.
She is the country’s sixth President after Ellis Emmanuel Innocent Clarke (September 24, 1976 – March 19, 1987), Noor Mohamed Hassanali (March 20, 1987 – March 17, 1997), Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson (March 18, 1997 – March 16, 2003), George Maxwell Richards (March 17, 2003 – March 18, 2013) and Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona (March 19, 2013 – March 18, 2018).
Carmona and Robinson (deceased) served one term as President while Clarke (deceased), Hassanali (deceased) and Richards served two.
In a statement on Thursday, the NTA claimed that Weekes attracted negative comments from members of the public for “her perceived pontificating, criticising, and scolding of citizens in almost every address that she made.”
The party said citizens could be forgiven now for breathing a sigh of relief that Weekes will not continue for another term in office.
The NTA claimed Weekes and President’s House were the centre of the debacle, with regards to the merit list for the appointment of a new CoP.
The party is led by former CoP Gary Griffith.
The NTA wondered if any alleged actions or inactions with respect to this matter could have resulted in the Prime Minister and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds not having “to face so many questions with regards to the runaway crime that our country is presently facing.”
With the Government holding the majority of the votes within the Electoral College, by virtue of its 22 MPs and 15 senators, the NTA said this signals “the inherent danger in having one person, the Prime Minister, pick who should be president.”
The college comprises all elected and nominated parliamentarians and his chaired by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The opposition has a combined vote of 25 (19 MPs, six senators). The independent senators, who are picked only by the President under the Constitution, have one vote each.
The voting for presidential nominees is done by secret ballot.
On October 21, the Parliament rejected a motion filed by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to remove Weekes from office in relation to the collapse of the PSC and the failure to send a CoP merit list to the House.