|JUSTICE ANTHONY CARMONA|
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is the designated presiding officer in the election, had invited both the PM and Opposition Leader, Keith Rowley, to speak.
However, according to the strict rules outlined in the 1976 Republican Constitution each had to submit the texts of their remarks 24 hours in advance. While Persad-Bissessar complied, Rowley refused to present an advance copy of his speech.
Speaker Wade Mark explained that the requirement for his office to check the speech in advance is to ensure that the election of the President conducted with the decorum and dignity befitting the office.
"Remember, the President is above partisan politics, so you don't want anyone to come and make a statement that can bring the office and the whole process in public ridicule and disrepute. That is what the framers of the regulations intended," Mark told the Express newspaper.
"If I am to allow anyone to speak, their statement must be submitted for the approval of the Speaker," he added.Rowley told the paper he did not need the permission "or favour" of the Speaker to speak in the Parliament. "I am not submitting anything to the Parliament for vetting by Wade Mark," he said.
Mark has notified all members of the Parliament of the meeting and sent to all members an agenda and the following documents:
- a specimen of the instrument for an uncontested election for President
- a signed nomination paper duly stamped by the Parliament with the names of the persons who nominated the president-designate
- a curriculum vitae of Justice Anthony Carmona
The Speaker expects the process to be brief, lasting not more than 20 minutes since there is only one nominee. The official documents of the election would show no record of the views of the opposition because of Rowley's objections to submitting his speech ahead of time.