T&T PM Sacks Attorney General, Minister Of National Security by R. Wilson
Rowley says government on the verge of collapse As Trinidad and Tobago approaches a September general election, Prime Minister Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar has once again reshuffled her Cabinet after firing her Minister of National Security and Attorney General. Since being sworn in as Prime Minister in 2010, the leader of the political coalition People’s Partnership has been heavily criticized for firing numerous ministers and top government officials. On Monday (Feb 2) she announced via national address that she had asked for and received resignations from her Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, and National Security Minister, Gary Griffith. “Over the past four years, as I ensured that the public interest was paramount, sometimes changes in government were required to protect the public interest. “…There have been allegations being made by the current Director of the [ Police Complaints Authority] PCA, regarding the Attorney General. The Director of the PCA has signed a statement in which he claims that the Attorney General had asked the Director of the PCA to withdraw his witness statement in a defamation matter against the Opposition Leader,” she said. Persad-Bissessar said Ramlogan had denied the allegation, however the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is investigating the matter. Griffith is accused of getting involved, allegedly telephoning the Director of the PCA, upon the AG’s request, to query whether he had withdrawn a statement. The Prime Minister said Griffith admitted to making the call and that he did so without consulting or informing her. She said she requested and received statements from the Minister, the AG and the PCS Director and discerned that the material facts in the documents “are in conflict with each other”. Persad-Bissessar said while she is not in a position to determine guilt nor innocence in the matter, it was serious enough to warrant immediate action. “I cannot and will not sit idly by while the Office of the Attorney General and that of the Minister of National Security and the head of the Police Complaints Authority are being compromised and brought into disrepute by such allegations that have warranted a police enquiry. “Those office holders preside over the administration of justice, law and order and so cannot remain in those positions while these investigations into allegations are made. I cast no aspersions on the capacity or performance of those that hold these positions but cannot have these offices be so embroiled in conflict and controversy eroding public confidence in the institutions which they lead,” she stated. The Director of the PCA, David West, has also been compromised, the PM said, and thus he should immediately resign and/ or his appointment be revoked. “The PCA is an independent institution and public confidence must remain strong if that body is to carry out its duties without fear or favour and be perceived by all to so do. Justice must only be done seen to be done. It would be impossible, given the present issue that the current head can continue to hold this position without the very institution he leads also being called into question.” The role of Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in the matter raises additional questions, the PM said. “Did the Opposition Leader not have a moral if not legal obligation to inform me as Prime Minister and His Excellency the President about the personal involvement of a witness in a defamatory statement involving himself, the Leader of the Opposition…Had there been a disclosure by the Opposition Leader of the personal interest in a legal matter involving himself and the Director of the PCA at the point of his nomination to be head of the PCA, the conflict of interest would have been declared.” Persad-Bissessar advised the President to revoke and make several appointments. Carlton Alfred Alfonso has been appointed as Minister of National Security and Garvin Nicholas, as Attorney General. Dr. Rowley called the PM’s dismissals and accusations a “distraction” and accused her of being “guilty of dereliction of duty, of obfuscation, and she stands accused of consistently hiding and defending wrong doing in her government”. He told Trinidad Express that the government is in meltdown towards total collapse and its citizens should demand elections now.