PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes announced on Tuesday that she has sent, to the House of Representatives, the names of two nominees for appointment to the Police Service Commission (PSC).
They are retired justice of appeal Judith Jones and leadership consultant and management accountant Maxine Attong.
Weekes said this was done after she wrote to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on October 7.
But the naming of attorney Ernest Koylass SC as a proposed third nominee in the correspondence sent to Dr Rowley and Persad-Bissessar has resulted in the Opposition Leader calling on Weekes to resign as she (Persad-Bissessar) alleged that there is evidence that Koylass has publicly supported the PNM in the past.
A new PSC is needed as DCP McDonald Jacob’s appointment as acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) ends on Saturday, and Justice Nadia Kangaloo is expected to rule on Thursday whether Gary Griffith’s appointment to act as CoP was valid.
The PSC crashed with members resigned after accusing its chairman Bliss Seepersad of not consulting with them before suspending Griffith arising out of a probe into the issuing of firearm user licences.
At a UNC virtual meeting on Monday, Persad-Bissessar criticised Koylass’ nomination and again asked if the Prime Minister had visited President’s House to influence the nomination of a new CoP.
“Why is he (Koylass) being nominated to this independent body given his very strong PNM ties? Is he going to be Bliss 2.0?”
In calling for Weekes’ resignation, Persad-Bissessar said she expected the President to show better judgement, after the PSC’s collapse, to repair the current constitutional crisis.
“It is abundantly clear that Her Excellency has no intention of maintaining the critical independence of the PSC.”
She alleged a Google search showed Koylass had significant ties to top members of the PNM.
Persad-Bissessar said Rowley, in 2012, had “warmly welcomed” Koylass to join the “PNM family” at a cottage meeting in Moruga. Koylass in 2017, she said, represented the then Minister of Housing in a legal matter, and in 2020 hosted the Cocktails with Faris event.
“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.
“The fact that the PSC collapsed due to the dark spectre of political interference hanging over it makes the selection of Mr Koylass extremely alarming.”
Persad-Bissessar said Weekes was yet to say if Rowley met with her to “interfere” in the PSC merit list for the position of acting CoP.
“Her Excellency is either wilfully seeking to obstruct the functioning of an independent PSC through blatant political partisan appointments, or she is now taking instructions directly from the Rowley government.
“This entire episode paints an extremely grim picture of our democracy under this Rowley Government. In order to protect the dignity of her esteemed office, Her Excellency must accept the part she has played in the sorry episode and immediately resign.”
In a subsequent statement, Persad-Bissessar said, “It is my respectful view, 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.”
Saying she was no rubber stamp, she complained Weekes had given her just two working days to research the nominees.
“Alarmingly today, the Office of the President has issued a release indicating that the nominations of two commissioners on the PSC were sent to Parliament. This process was completed without the views of the Leader of the Opposition.
“Why is Her Excellency attempting to rush through names to the Parliament without the input and views of the Leader of the Opposition?”