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Error in President’s letter causes faux pas

Friday, January 26, 2018

A letter from the Office of the President that went out in error to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley regarding the appointment of Dr Noel Kalicharan as chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), which the PM strongly objected to, is now being corrected.

Confirmation about the faux pas came from President Anthony Carmona’s communications adviser Theron Boodhan.

Last night, Boodhan said the Office of the President took responsibility for the error.

The incident stems from a letter sent from the Office to President to the PM, indicating that the term of Kalicharan, a member of the EBC board, came to an end on January 24.

The letter further stated, in the circumstances, Carmona informed Rowley he proposed to reappoint Kalicharan as a member for another five-year term.

“What was instead communicated was the intention to appoint Kalicharan as EBC chairman,” Boodhan said.

The EBC’s current chairman is Mark Ramkerrysingh, whose term ends in 2021.

Boodhan said the wrong information was “copied, pasted and it slipped through” in the letter to Rowley and as such a new consultation letter was being prepared to send to Rowley with the correct details.

Boodhan said it was never any intention of removing Ramkerrysingh as EBC chairman.

In response to Kalicharan being named as the new chairman, Rowley in a letter dated January 25, which Guardian Media Ltd obtained, strongly objected to the appointment.

On the eve of demitting office, Camona came under fire from Rowley for Kalicharan’s appointment.

Rowley suggested to Carmona that Ramkerrysingh “be left in the post, as to do so will go a long way in ensuring a continuation of peace, stability and good order of T&T. I hereby advise that I have strong objection to the appointment of Dr Kalicharan as chairman of the EBC,” Rowley wrote.

Rowley informed Carmona that as far as he was aware there was no immediate issue with the quorum of the EBC (as per section 71(2) of the Constitution of T&T.

Rowley further informed Carmona that “you may wish to give serious consideration to allowing the incoming President-Elect (referring to Paula Mae Weekes) the opportunity to engage in wider consultation and consideration, leading to an appointment to the position of chairman of the EBC an office which plays such an essential role in the political peace and stability” of the country”

Rowley further informed Carmona that the EBC’s Commission was arguably within the political landscape as opposed to that of Government, as its mandate was to regulate elections of political parties in office.


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