PORT OF SPAIN — In a complete departure from practice, President Anthony Carmona has changed four of his senators in mid-term, a move that is unpre- cedented in Trinidad and Tobago’s post-Republican history.
Traditionally, presidents have changed independent senators at the end of the life of a Parliament, which comes with the calling of a general election.
Yesterday, however, the president’s office announced that Carmona had revoked the appointment of four senators — Corinne Baptiste- McKnight, James Armstrong, Prof Harold Ramkissoon and Dr. Lennox St. Bernard.
The president’s office also named four new senators, who were sworn in today at the opening of the Third Session of the Tenth Parliament. They are the first permanent senatorial appointments of Carmona, who met the appointees of his predecessor, former president George Maxwell Richards.
The new appointments to the senate are Dr. Dhanayshar Mahabir, one of the country’s leading economists; Hugh Russell Ian Roach, an attorney with experience in civil, criminal, public, labour and military law; Anthony Vieira, practising attorney-at-law in civil, industrial, family and criminal law; and energy expert David Small.
There is no contention with the new choices in themselves, who many regard as highly worthy of their appointments, but questions were raised about the way in which the president discharged his
constitutional prerogative. The Constitution states an independent senator holds office until the appointment is revoked by the president or the life of the parliament ends.
Hitherto, incoming presidents have always maintained the independent bench for the life of the parliament. This, notwithstanding the fact that presidential appointments overlapped the parliamentary term.
Presidents have entered into office in the middle of the life of a parliament. But no other president, entering his five-year term in this way, changed the composition of the independent bench. (Express)