THE EDITOR: Many commentators have been arguing that the 18-18 tie gives the President no discretion under 76(1)(b), and foremost amongst these are Mr Panday and Mr Anand Ramlogan.
Sunday's full page UNC ad highlights this argument, founded solely on arithmetic, that 18 UNC is equal to 18 PNM and there cannot be any majority. I take a different view, and point to the relevant words, which form the basis for my argument. Section 76 states that the President shall appoint as Prime Minister..."the member...who, in his judgement, is most likely to command the support of the majority of members of that house."
When the President asked Panday and Manning for assurance of support of their respective MPs, and this was duly committed to writing, this procedure was purely indicative, and not truly conclusive.
Thousands of affidavits are sworn daily, and witnessed by Public Notaries, yet many are clearly lying through both sides of their mouth.
It is unrealistic to accord any greater integrity to politicians, and no better example of this duplicity was the solemn 10-point accord, signed and witnessed by the whole world on TV with hugs and smiles, yet callously discarded by one signatory, as soon as the other was appointed by Robinson.
It is my contention therefore, that while starting with the professed equality of seats, Robinson was entitled to consider, (and even to speculate) 1) Whether Rowley's support of Manning was unconditional, 2) Whether any UNC or PNM MPs were subject to inducements from the opposite side, as Gypsy and Fuad Khan intimated, and as previously occurred with Lasse and Griffith. 3) Whether either side had women of such metal, that would allow them to break rank and support the other side on matters of principle. 4) Panday's "who wants to resign, resign," in response to Ralph Maraj's early threat to quit Panday's government on the voter-padding accusation. 5) Sudama's unhappiness with his "Baggi and Peas" portfolio, and subsequent dissension on corruption. 6) And Ramesh's Deputy-Political Leadership skirmish, and corruption accusations.
Had section 76 asked for "evidence in writing of majority support," simple arithmetic would have applied; but it relied instead on the President's judgement on how politicians were likely to behave. These words, in my judgement gave Robinson plenty room for discretion.
MICHAEL J WILLIAMS
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