Former chief secretary and One Tobago Voice member Hochoy Charles said THA Presiding Officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas’ administering of the oath of office on May 6 to new Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis was legal.
He said there was no need for President Paula-Mae Weekes to re-administer the procedure on Tuesday at President’s House, St Ann’s.
“What was done by the Presiding Officer last week Wednesday on the sixth (of May) was properly and legally done,” Charles told Newsday.
“He (Dennis) was legally installed into office since last week Wednesday and then the law, Section 36 (3) says once Ancil Dennis, the Chief Secretary, is legally sworn into office, all the other secretaries automatically vacate the office. They don’t have to resign. They vacate it.
“So, it means anything they did between last week Wednesday, when Dennis was properly sworn in, and now is illegal. That is the story.”
The office of the President issued a statement on Wednesday seeking to clarify the circumstances under which Dennis was elected.
It did so in response to complaints by the Minority bench.
The office said the Chief Secretary is elected by members of the Assembly in accordance with the process laid out in Sections 8 and 11 of the Act.
It said once the Chief Secretary is elected, he is then administered the oath of office by the President after the President has been satisfied that he is duly elected.
“The President was so satisfied in this instance by notification from the Presiding Officer, indicating compliance with Sections 8 and 11 of the Act.
The office said the President “does not, in any case, appoint the Chief Secretary, as there is no provision in law so to do.”
Charles, who served as Chief Secretary from 1996 to 2001, said the office of the President was correct in saying she cannot appoint a Chief Secretary.
“He (Dennis) was properly elected but then the Presiding Officer notified her (President) and thinking she (President) is the one that should administer the oath of office. Where is the authority for that?” he asked.
He said the THA Act, which has existed for the past 24 years, states once a vacancy exists in the executive council, it also exists in the assembly and once you fill it under Section 21, it is the Presiding Officer should have administered the oath.
“That is where the error is. The President was wrongly advised. The authority that she relied on was that the vacancy was in the executive council and not in the assembly.”