AG calls on UNC to withdraw 'attack' on President

Faris Al-Rawi
Faris Al-Rawi

ATTORNEY GENERAL Faris Al-Rawi on Monday called on Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, to withdraw her “attack” against the President as she seeks to have her removed from office over the handling of the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Last Friday Persad-Bissessar during a media conference, said she will be taking a historical step to file a motion in Parliament seeking to have the House of Representatives investigate and potentially remove President Paula Mae Weekes from office.

The motion was filed in Parliament and will be debated on Thursday. In the motion, Persad-Bissessar relied on Sections 35 and 36 of the constitution to support her claim.

Section 36 (1) (a) states that the President can be removed if the office holder: “wilfully violates any provision of the Constitution; and/or (b) behaves in such a way as to bring her office into hatred, ridicule or contempt and/or (c) behaves in a way that endangers the security of the State.”

The motion, which will be debated at 10.30 am, alleges that there was interference in the selection processes by the PSC and that a completed merit list for nominees for the post of Police Commissioner was submitted and she refused to notify the House of Representatives as is mandated in law.

Persad-Bissessar was one of three senior counsels who called on the President to speak out on the issue.

On Sunday the President did, saying she was waiting until the court matters brought in relation to the acting appointment of former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith was settled.

The President said she received the Order of Merit List on August 11 and later that day the PSC rescinded the list and as a result she had nothing to forward to Parliament. She added that she was informed that the process was incomplete.

The PSC collapsed after the four-member commission resigned with days of each other.

At a virtual media conference on Monday, Al-Rawi, who emphasised that, by the nature of his office, he was the attorney for the President, called on Persad-Bisserar to withdraw her motion.

“This unjustified attack on the Office of the President is an overreach,” Al-Rawi said adding that it was not sustainable.

He added that while it is open for Persad-Bissessar to bring the motion as she is entitled to, she was “not on the right track.”

The court case that delayed the President’s response was a request for an interpretation of the Constitution regarding the acting appointment of Griffith using Legal Notice 183 of 2021. The request was brought by social activist Ravi Balgobin.

In her judgement last Thursday Justice Nadia Kangaloo voided Griffith’s acting appointment as top cop saying that paragraph 4 of the 2021 Order was superfluous.

Kangaloo also invalidated a 2009 order which allowed for the PSC to appoint a deputy commissioner to act as top cop without approval of the House of Representatives in Parliament.

To rectify this, Al-Rawi said the language of the 2009 order will be reformulated and when that is done, with Cabinet approval, it will be brought back to Senate to become law.

Al-Rawi said while there is a clear ground to appeal Kangaloo’s ruling regarding paragraph 4 of the 2021 Order, it will not be appealed. He said the only way that the law could be changed was if it was unconstitutional and Kangaloo’s judgement did not address that.

Al-Rawi said the next step would be for the five nominees for a new PSC to be submitted for debate in Parliament, who will then have to work on selecting a police commissioner, while the 2009 order is amended.

“The 2009 Order is already being looked at. We already have a draft. That order is for publication after Cabinet approval. What interrupts these steps is the Opposition Leader’s attack against the President. All of that can be done in days all things being equal.”

Al-Rawi added that matters of constitutionality took precedence over other matters.

Asked about the Prime Minister writing to the PSC about not having confidence in Griffith last year, Al-Rawi said that was a matter for Dr Rowley to speak on which he did last Saturday. Al-Rawi said he did not want to add to it.


"AG calls on UNC to withdraw 'attack' on President"

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