Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night called President Anthony Carmona’s inaugural speech “brilliant and balanced,” and said she did not see any conflict in the governance of the country.
Carmona, a former judge, was sworn in as the country’s fifth Head of State in a ceremony at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday afternoon. He succeeds George Maxwell Richards, whose second term ended on Sunday.
Early in his stirring and impassioned speech, President Carmona said he hoped to use Section 81 of the Constitution, which provides the President to be kept informed by the PM on matters of governance.
Asked if she felt there could be possible conflict between the President and her Cabinet because of his statement, Persad-Bissessar said she did not get that impression. “No, no, no, I do not envisage that. He is a brilliant lawyer and he did say that he will act within the law at all times,” she said.
The PM said she did not “envisage any conflict whatsoever. I think it would be wrong to read into his words that there may be a possibility of conflict.” She said Carmona clearly stated he was not an executive President. “He acknowledged that he was constrained by the law and I expect no adverse consequence from him. I look forward to a harmonious working relationship with His Excellency,” the PM said in an interview immediately after the ceremony.
She noted that such discussions already took place. “He is totally correct on that and it happens at this time. We consult with the President from time-to-time and the President is always given all our Cabinet minutes and notes,” she said, adding that there are also face-to-face meeting with the President to inform him of matters relating to governance.
She said the President’s speech would be well received by the population at this point in time, adding that he signalled the need for constitutional reform, the fight against crime and thinking out of the box.
She said the selection of Carmona was the right choice and his speech “points to a new era in the functioning of the Office of the President.” At the end of the President’s address, sections of the crowd shouted: “TC! TC! TC!”