... as CJ Sharma row escalates
THE latest clash between Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma has exposed a deepening rift between the PM and President George Maxwell Richards.
According to well-placed sources, Richards has bluntly refused Manning’s recommendations to establish a new tribunal to impeach the embattled CJ, forcing Manning into surpassing a constitutional approach and instead adopting a more direct line of attack, using Director of Public Prosecutions, Geoffrey Henderson, and the police to lay a criminal charge of attempting to pervert the course of public justice against Sharma.
The PM held a lengthy meeting with Richards on Wednesday to discuss the "crisis" but the President has been taking a markedly reserved approach to the new accusations by Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls that the CJ attempted to influence the outcome of the Basdeo Panday trial for failing to declare a London bank account, and counter accusations by Sharma that there is a conspiracy by the Executive to hound him out of office.
"The relationship between the Prime Minister and the President has soured in recent months," the informant revealed.
"They have to work with each other because of the status of their offices but there is no love lost between the two.
"The President refused to implement the final phase of the impeachment process during the first round of allegations against the Chief Justice last year, and he is taking a careful stance on this new impasse.
"It’s no secret; the President has been openly castigating the Prime Minister at official functions.
"You would note that Manning only recently began touting the notion of Trinidad having an Executive President, and I believe his thinking is that he will be that Executive President.
"Why do you think he has so indiscreetly moved to have a silver Coat of Arms replace the official number plates on his official vehicles?
"I suppose in his mind, he is already the Executive President."
The source then concluded: "No one knows why the relationship between President Richards and the PM deteriorated to this extent, but it is clear that no independent thinker can have a lasting relationship with this Prime Minister.
"Manning just has a penchant for rubbing people the wrong way."
Richards held a meeting with Sharma on Monday, May 8, in which Sharma indicated to the President "in the clearest possible terms" that any such report from the Chief Magistrate could only be false.
Although the PM has no authority under the Constitution to remove the CJ summarily, Manning, nevertheless, held a face-to-face meeting with Sharma on Tuesday at his Whitehall office, in which, according to Sharma’s Press release on Wednesday, the Prime Minister told him that on this occasion, he would not make the same mistake twice, of proceeding under the Constitution to effect his removal from office.
According to Sharma, the PM also threatened him by informing the CJ that if he refused to resign, he (the Prime Minister) would hand the Chief Magistrate’s report over to the police and he would face criminal prosecution.
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