Changes expected to Senate independent bench

A view of the Senate chamber from the public and media gallery. - JEFF K MAYERS
A view of the Senate chamber from the public and media gallery. - JEFF K MAYERS

THERE are expected to be changes to the independent bench in the Senate when the new parliamentary session begins today with a ceremonial opening.

Newsday understands there could be at least three new independent senators who will take the oath of office on Monday when the Senate sits at the Red House from 1.30 pm.

Dr Paul Richards, Anthony Vieira, SC, Dr Varma Deyalsingh, Amrita Deonarine, Charrise Seepersad, Deoroop Teemal, Hazel Thompson-Ahye, Dr Maria Dillon-Remy and Evans Welch are the current Independent Senators. All of them served while President Christine Kangaloo was Senate President. They were appointed by her predecessor Paula-Mae Weekes.

Senator Evans Welch, in a phone conversation with Newsday, confirmed that as of Monday he would no longer be an independent senator.

“The president has the prerogative to choose her independent senators or retain senators, and she has exercised that prerogative,” Welch said. Sources said Deyalsingh, Deonarine and Seepersad were also not expected to return.

The House and the Senate will sit simultaneously, when  Kangaloo will address the joint sitting.

This will be Kangaloo's first address on this occasion since she was elected President by the Parliament's Electoral College on January 20.

Under the Constitution, the President has sole discretion in appointing the nine independent senators.

Government and opposition senators are appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader respectively.

After Kangaloo was elected President in January, there were rumours that changes to the independent bench could be imminent. In January, Vieira, Deyalsingh and Dillon-Remy said independent senators served at the pleasure of the President, indicating their willingness to continue to serve as independent senators.

Vieira said, "Our focus is on doing the best we can, while we can."

Contacted on Sunday, Seepersad said she was not speaking to anyone.

Richards said he could not comment, but said he had confidence that the Office of the President would make an announcement on Monday.

There has been no official statement from the Office of the President up to press time.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said Cabinet will start a working retreat after the ceremonial opening of Parliament.

In a brief release. the OPM said the retreat will be held at Crews Inn, Chaguaramas, and will begin on Monday evening and end at midday on September 13.


"Changes expected to Senate independent bench"

More in this section