Monday, February 4, 2013

Feature: PP government following constitution in presidential election

The official standard of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago 
Much has been written in recent days about the government's responsibility in selecting the person who will be the next Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Trinidad and Tobago.

Some of the comments have suggested that the government may not be moving quickly enough to name the person. And others have cautioned that the person must be apolitical. 

The PNM, apparently unable to fulfill the constitutional requirement to name its candidate, has proposed the name of one person whom it describes as a "consensus" candidate. At the same time it has called the whole exercise a sham.

This is the first time since 1976 that the issue is generating such intense scrutiny and is in line with spotlight that has been on the present government since taking office. 

The Prime Minister assured citizens that the person selected as the government's nominee would from among nationals who are "quite capable of filling the post of President and carrying out the associated functions with dignity, humility and competence".

And she has also stated that the nominee will be selected after wide consultations. "This is a decision that must be carefully thought out especially in a society that is as complex as ours...

"The President also has the power to make appointments in his own right and can also stands as a voice of reason and moderation in our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society.

"The right person has to be chosen. The choice is one which will also bind us as a nation for the next five years," she stated.

With such assurances we need to give the government the benefit of the doubt and wait and see whose name will be announced on Monday. 

The government has broken no rules and has gone further than others in finding the right candidate. Still there can only be ONE president and in a society such as ours, even if God becomes the president there will be many who would still object.

For the reference of all, JYOTI has published below the relevant section of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago as it relates to the presidency, including the qualifications and the electoral process.



Establishment of
office and election of President. 

22. There shall be a President of Trinidad and Tobago elected in
accordance with the provisions of this Chapter who shall be the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. 

Qualifications and disqualifications for
office of President. 

23. (1) A person is qualified to be nominated for election as President if,
and is not so qualified unless, he is a citizen of Trinidad of and Tobago of the age of thirty-five years or upwards who at the date of his nomination has been ordinarily resident in Trinidad and Tobago for ten years immediately preceding his nomination. 

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) a person shall be deemed to
reside in Trinidad and Tobago if he holds an office in the service of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and lives outside Trinidad and Tobago because he is required to do so for the proper discharge of his functions. 

(3) A person is not qualified to be nominated for election as
President who is disqualified for election as a member of the House of Representatives by virtue of section 48(1) or any law made under section 48(2)24. 

(1) Where a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives is elected as President, his seat in the Senate or the House of Representatives, respectively, shall thereupon become vacant.

(2) Except in the case of a person acting as, or performing the
functions of President under section 27, but subject to sections 44(2) and 56(8), the President shall not hold any other office of emolument or profit whether in the public service or otherwise. 

(3) The salary and allowances of a President and his other terms of LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
service shall not be altered to his disadvantage after he has assumed office...

Electoral College.

28. (1) There shall be an Electoral College for the purposes of this
Chapter which shall be a unicameral body consisting of all the members of the Senate and all the members of the House of Representatives assembled

(2) The Electoral College shall be convened by the Speaker.

(3) The Speaker shall preside as Chairman over the proceedings of
the Electoral College and shall have an original vote. 

(4) Subject to this Chapter, the Electoral College may regulate its
own procedure and may make provision for the postponement or 
adjournment of its meetings and such other provisions as may be necessary to deal with difficulties that may arise in the carrying out of elections under this Chapter.

(5) Ten Senators, the Speaker and twelve other members of the House of Representatives shall constitute a quorum of the Electoral College.

Mode of elections.

29. The President shall be elected by the Electoral College voting by
secret ballot.
30. A person shall not be a candidate for election as President unless he is nominated for election by a nomination paper which: (a) is signed by him and by twelve or more members of the House of Representatives; and (b) is delivered to the Speaker at least seven days before the election.

Procedure for balloting.

31. (1) The candidate who is unopposed or who obtains the greatest
number of the votes cast shall be declared elected.

(2) Where the votes cast for two or more candidate 
are equally divided the Speaker shall have and exercise a casting vote. 

Determination of questions as to election.

32. (1) Subject to subsection (2), an instrument which: (a) in the case of an uncontested election for the office of President is signed and sealed by the Speaker and states that a person named in the instrument was the only person
nominated for the election and was in consequence declared elected; or
(b) in the case of a contested election is signed and sealed by the Speaker and states that a person named in the instrument was declared elected at that meeting in consequence of the ballot, shall be conclusive evidence that the person so named was so elected, and no question as to the validity of the election of the person so named shall be inquired into in any court. 

(2) The Court of Appeal shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to the validity of an election of a President in so far as that question depends upon the qualification of any person for election or the interpretation of this Chapter and the decision of that Court under this subsection shall be final.

Please also read: 

Commentary: Independent Senators and Good Governance

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai