THE House of Representatives last night defeated a motion to confirm the appointment of Acting Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Deodat Dulalchan as Commissioner of Police (CoP).
The Opposition was absent when the vote was taken on this motion. Hours earlier, the Opposition left the Parliament Chamber before it voted on on a motion to note a Special Select Committee's (SSC) report on the CoP selection process used by the Police Service Commission (PSC).
Before this debate ended, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley made it clear that a CoP was not being selected on the grounds of race or religion as some people alleged. He said Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was wrong to claim the Government was incompetent on this matter.
"Our work is the subject of review and passage by the High Court. We now have an order which is acceptable to the court and to the Parliament," Rowley declared. Rowley said source documents used by the PSC raise serious questions about how some candidates for CoP and DCP were selected over each other.
Under these circumstances, Rowley said Government could not support a questionable selection process which the Opposition had no problem with. "We are sending it back to the PSC to follow the law, follow the order and not follow unseen hands in trying to give us a CoP," Rowley declared.
The Prime Minister promised Government would return to Parliament in the future to ensure a proper selection process for a CoP is put in place. He reminded MPs that Persad-Bissessar presided over the current convoluted process for five years as prime minister and did nothing to change it.
He also recalled the last government signalled it had no plans to appoint a permanent CoP after the departure of Canadian Dwayne Gibbs, with then attorney general Anand Ramlogan advocating an acting CoP would work better.
After Rowley's comments and as Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds wound up the debate, Persad-Bissessar led a walkout of the Opposition MPs who were still in the chamber.
Before the sitting ended around midnight, Rowley ended debate on the motion to confirm Dulalchan's nomination, with Government voting against it. Between the debates on the SSC motion and the CoP motion, Government completed several other matters last night. Among them was the approval of a motion to nominate Susan Elizabeth Craig James as a PSC member.
The House adjourned to a date to be fixed.