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Crisis petition to the President

National Association for the Empowerment of African People

14th December 2001

His Excellency, Mr. Arthur N R Robinson
President, Trinidad and Tobago
President's House,
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Dear Excellency,

The Concerned Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago wish to thank you for receiving us once again at this very torturous moment in our nation's history. We are aware that anything you do is likely to become a precedent to be followed by future generations. We are also aware that whatever you do, must conduce to the well being of all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. At this moment of crisis, we hope our contribution can assist in concluding these matters successfully. After careful consideration, the members of the Concerned Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, believe that

(1) The Honorable Patrick Manning, Leader of the People's National Movement, should be appointed Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to lead us through these perilous times;

(2) The Honourable Basdeo Panday, Leader of the United National Congress, should not be appointed Prime Minister because he requested that the House be dissolved and called an election to seek a new mandate which was not given;

(3) When no single Party commands a majority, political judgment and assessments of character are as important as Constitutional doctrine and should play a determinative role in selecting a Prime Minister.

(4) As we understand the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution, the discretion of the President differs little from that of the Queen of England. The Constitution states that in selecting a Prime Minister, " the President shall act in accordance with his own deliberate judgment." (Section 83 A). In this context, we believe the President should use his own deliberative judgment to choose a Prime Minister who appears likely to command a majority in the House of Representatives.

Although there is no direct analogy to the current situation that exists in Trinidad and Tobago, the situation of February 1974 in England may be useful in our present context.

In 1974 the Conservative Party won more votes than the Labour Party (37.8% to 37.1%) but won four (4) more seats. However, no party commanded a majority. In the circumstances, the outgoing Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, expected a call from the Queen and various people lobbied for each Party. Mr. Heath spent a few days trying to pull the Liberals into a coalition without success. However, the Queen never asked Mr. Heath to try to form a government, but turned to Labour. This was done in part because the Conservatives had not won when they called the election and had all the advantages of incumbency.

The same logic might well hold for Trinidad and Tobago. Since the selection of the Prime Minister is the personal prerogative of the President and falls within his sole, deliberate judgment, we believe that it is well within your right to exercise your discretionary powers to appoint Mr. Patrick Manning as Prime Minister.

We are also concerned about the role of the Elections and Boundaries Commission in the outcome of the last two(2) elections. As you would recall, in January 2001, we called upon you to revoke the appointments of the Commissioners of the Elections and Boundaries Commission because of the inadequate job they did. In view of the continued inadequacies of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, especially with respect to the conduct of the December 2001 election, we again call for the revocation of the appointment of the said Commissioners and the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the Elections and Boundaries Commission. There can be no more important business in the society today than to re-establish the credibility of the EBC and the sanctity of the electoral process.

Once more, we wish to express our continued confidence in your good judgment especially in this time of national challenges. We hope that God grants you the strength to stand firmly and resolutely in your convictions. We continue to believe that you will always be guided by what is best for the country.

On behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, please allow us to remain,

Dr. Selwyn R Cudjoe .
Mr. Arthur Sanderson .
Mrs. Jennifer Johnson .
Miss Avian Joyeau .
Mr. Brian Moore .
Rev. David Muhammad .

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