Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said she was never consulted about the appointment of Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Fern Narcis-Scope who is allegedly related to a government minister. Persad-Bissesar made the comment in a statement issued by the Opposition United National Congress (UNC). In the statement, the UNC accused Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of misleading the public about the appointment.
Referring to statements which Rowley made at a People’s National Movement public meeting in San Fernando last Friday, Persad-Bissessar said, “There is no provision in law for the President to consult anyone on this appointment.
The appointment of the CEO is not done by the President but by the Public Service Commission (PSC).”
She explained that as Opposition Leader she “was not consulted on the appointment of the CEO because, under the Constitution of TT, neither the President nor the PSC is required to consult me regarding the appointment.”
Persad-Bissessar noted the PSC said the election of the CEO is subject to Section 121(2) of the Constitution.
“It is clear under those sections of the Constitution that the Leader of the Opposition has no role to play with regard to appointing the Chief Elections Officer.”
Section 121 (2) states, “The PSC shall not remove, or inflict any punishment on, a public officer on the grounds of any act done or omitted to be done by that officer in the exercise of a judicial function conferred upon him unless the Judicial and Legal Services Commission concurs therein.” Section 121 (3) states that before it makes any appointment pertaining this subsection, the PSC shall consult the Prime Minister. Section 121 (4) adds that no individual shall be appointed to an office pertaining to Section 121 (3), if the Prime Minister signifies his objection to the PSC.
“Had I been given the opportunity to review said proposal I would have carefully scrutinised the recommendation,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Reiterating that she is constitutionally not afforded that opportunity, she said she was very surprised that Rowley was unaware of the allegation that Narcis-Scope is related to a minister and she is deeply concerned that he “did no due diligence checks.”
Saying this matter only arose because of questions raised by Opposition Senator Wade Mark in the Senate, Persad-Bissessar said Rowley should have been aware.
She called on Rowley to clarify what action would be taken regarding the appointment. The party said, “This matter must be resolved, in order for the people of this country to have confidence in the EBC.”
She said because the EBC safeguards citizens’ right to vote,”it is imperative that the person performing the functions of the CEO be free from any hint of political influence or taint.”
Persad-Bissessar said this has not happened here and the matter must be resolved, “for the people of this country to have confidence in the EBC.”