Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday described Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as “disrespectful and desperate” after she mistakenly criticised President Paula-Mae Weekes for nominating Ernest Koylass to the Police Service Commission (PSC).
The President actually nominated retired Justice of Appeal Judith Jones and Maxine Attong but Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar slammed the President for naming Koylass.
Persad-Bissessar later explained that Koylass’ name was proposed alongside Jones and Attong on the October 7 letter to both her and Rowley.
Yesterday the PM said that there was “no need for that kind of behaviour”.
“The way she loves the accolade of being the “first woman Prime Minister” one would think that she would behave properly and show a modicum of respect for the first female President, her superior,” Dr Rowley said.
“She genuinely believes that bacchanal, janjhat and disrespectful confusion is a sign of good and necessary leadership,” Rowley said.
“So you are consulted, as the process requires, you do not agree, you say so and, at least, wait to see what happens,” he advised.
“Not so with this unpleasant officeholder who seizes every opportunity as one to create scandal and denigration of even innocent people,” Rowley said.
“This is the kind of behaviour that drives many decent people far away from getting involved in public service,” he said.
President Paula-Mae Weekes announced yesterday that she had appointed the two new commissioners.
The President’s Office said it consulted with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar on October 7 about the nominations.
However, Persad-Bissessar issued a statement shortly after calling for the President to resign over her nomination of attorney Ernest Koylass.
Persad-Bissessar said Koylass’ name was submitted alongside Jones and Attong and he received high praise from the President.
“Given the controversial manner in which the Police Service Commission (PolSC) collapsed, one would have hoped that Her Excellency, President Paula-Mae Weekes would have exercised better judgment in attempting to repair the serious constitutional crisis that has arisen,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.
“However, based on Her Excellency’s nomination of Attorney-at-law Mr Ernest Koylass, it is abundantly clear that Her Excellency has no intention of maintaining the critical independence of the PolSC,” she said.
“A quick Google search revealed significant ties to high-ranking members of the ruling People’s National Movement,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Persad-Bissessar listed three separate connections between Koylass and high-ranking members of the PNM.
“Mr Koylass has a right to choose his political associations, but by no stretch of the imagination can he be considered free of political conflicts of interest,” she said.
“It is noteworthy that Her Excellency has yet to respond to the serious question of whether Prime Minister Keith Rowley met with her to interfere in the PolSC merit list for the position of Acting Police Commissioner,” she said.
“Her Excellency is either wilfully seeking to obstruct the functioning of an independent PolSC through blatant political partisan appointments, or she is now taking instructions directly from the Rowley Government,” she said.
In another media statement yesterday evening, Persad-Bissessar said it appeared that the president was trying to rush the appointment of new commissioners.
She said she was only given two working days (Friday 8th October and Monday 11th October) to do research and enquiries into the names submitted by the President on October 7th.
“These enquiries cannot be done in two days. The President appears to be rushing through these nominations in order to prevent proper scrutiny and investigation of her nominees. Further, I am not a “rubber stamp” for these nominations, and careful consideration and examination must be made. Alarmingly today, the Office of the President has issued a release indicating that the nominations of two Commissioners on the PolSC were sent to Parliament. This process was completed without the views of the Leader of the Opposition,” she said.
She added: “It is my respectful view that until President Paula-Mae Weekes tells the nation all the details about the now-infamous interference meeting, she has no moral or ethical authority to make new PSC appointments.
“The President, by not addressing these issues publicly, is bringing the Office of the President into disrepute.
“She is doing irreparable damage to the democracy of our country. If she cannot come clean, she must resign,” she said.