Trinidad's president to reconsider rejected Cabinet picks
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) -- Trinidad's President A.N.R. Robinson will
consider swearing in some of the Cabinet nominees he passed over last week,
following a meeting with Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, the government said in
Robinson met with Panday on Wednesday, nearly a week after the president
swore in 15 of the prime minister's 23 present Cabinet picks before abruptly
leaving the room.
Six who were rejected were losing parliamentary candidates and two won
December 11 elections, but their victories are being appealed in court by the
opposition. Two of Panday's 25 choices were not present for the ceremony, but
they are winning parliament candidates.
Under the former British colony's political system, the leader of the party
the most seats in parliament becomes prime minister. By tradition, the Cabinet
has been limited to members of parliament.
The opposition People's National Movement last week filed a court challenge
victories by governing party candidates Winston Peters and William Chaitan,
saying that they violated the constitution by failing to report they had dual
citizenship when they registered as candidates. Peters has U.S. citizenship;
"The president agreed to consider further, until Monday, the advice of
Minister on the appointment of ministers including Mr. Peters and Mr. Chaitan,"
said a Wednesday statement from President House. "This period will allow the
President to engage in further consultations."
Panday's United National Congress won 19 of 36 seats in the election, and
People's National Movement of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning won 16.
A third party won one seat.
If the opposition wins the court challenge, it could gain those two seats
swinging power into its favor. The judge also could order a by-election for those
Two supporters of Panday's party have filed a counter claim accusing two
opposition candidates, including Manning, of falsely claiming to be members of
parliament on their candidate registration forms days after the parliament was
dissolved for new elections. Manning has been a parliamentarian for 30 years.
Panday became the country's first Indo-Trinidadian prime minister in 1995.
Trinidadians of East Indian and African descent each make up 40 percent of the
population, and people have tended to vote along racial lines. Manning's
opposition party has its support base in Afro-Trinidadians.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.