Black Immigrant Daily News
President Paula-Mae Weekes – File Photo
APART from a meeting of the Electoral College on January 20, to elect a successor to outgoing President Paula-Mae Weekes, no other parliamentary sittings or meetings of any kind are scheduled to take place at this time.
In a notice in the Gazette dated December 23, 2022, Speaker and chairman of the Electoral College, Bridgid Annisette-George said the college will convene on January 20 to elect a new President.
Weekes, a retired Justice of Appeal, took office on 19 March, 2018, after being elected on January 19, that year. As she was the sole candidate nominated, she was deemed elected without the need for a vote and made history by becoming the country’s first female Head of State.
She is the sixth President after Sir Ellis Clarke (September 24, 1976 – March 19, 1987), Noor Hassanali (March 20, 1987 – March 17, 1997), ANR Robinson (March 18, 1997 – March 16, 2003), George Maxwell Richards (March 17, 2003 – March 18, 2013) and Anthony Carmona (March 19, 2013 – March 18, 2018).
Carmona and Robinson (deceased) served one term, while Clarke, Hassanali and Richards – all deceased – served two terms.
Checks on the Parliament’s website showed there are no sittings of either the House of Representatives or the Senate scheduled to take place in January.
The House and Senate last sat on December 14 and 16, 2022, respectively.
The Electoral College comprises all members of the House and Senate.
Newsday was reliably informed that while there are no scheduled sittings of the House and Senate, members of both parliamentary chambers can sit at a moment’s notice, if any urgent matter arises.
There are also no parliamentary joint select committee (JSC) meetings scheduled for this month. so far.
The JSCs’ membership comprises govt and opposition senators and MPs and independent senators.
The composition of these committees could change after January 20 with respect to the independent senators.
Under the Constitution, independent senators are selected solely by the President.
The independent senators are Paul Richards, Amrita Deonarine, Vieira, Dr Varma Deyalsingh, Charisse Seepersad, Deoroop Teemul, Hazel Thompson-Ahye, Dr Maria Dillon-Remy and Evans Welch.
All of them were chosen by Weekes
On Jaunary 1, Vieira said, neither he nor any of the other independents have considered whether they would be willing to serve if asked to do so by Weekes’ successor.
“As far as I am aware there hasn’t been such a conversation amongst current members of the independent bench.” Vieira said, “We knew that when we signed on that we serve at the pleasure of the President.”
He added, “Our focus is on doing the best we can while we can.”
Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh shared a similar view.
“I believe in service to our nation and if asked to serve again would be willing to do so .I have not discussed with other senators on their willingness to serve.”
In the college, the Government holds the majority of the votes with its 37 members (22 MPs, 15 senators)
The Opposition has a total of 25 votes (19 MPs, six senators)
The nine independents have one vote each. The independent senators are not guided by a party whip and do not caucus on any matter.