Members of the Electoral College, which include the 41 members of the House of Representatives and the 31 members of the Senate, began arriving at the Red House from as early as 9 am.
Among the early arrivals were Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday. House Speaker Barry Sinanan, who is the Presiding Officer of the College under Section 28 of the Constitution, arrived at 10 am and convened the meeting at 10.04 am.
“In accordance with Section 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I have convened this meeting of the Electoral Col-lege for the purpose of holding an election of President. In accordance with Section 2 of the Presidential Elections Pres-cribed Matters 1976, the date of the election was published in the Gazette on Thursday, January 17, 2008,” Sinanan stated.
Sinanan continued that under Section 30 of the Constitution, 15 members of the Lower House nominated Richards.
Section 30 states that this nomination paper must be signed by 12 or more members of the Lower House and is delivered to the Speaker at least seven days before the election.
The 15 MPs who nominated Richards were Manning and MPs Paula Gopee-Scoon, Christine Kangaloo, Joseph Ross, Gary Hunt, Dr Amery Browne, Esther Le Gendre, Peter Taylor, Neil Parsanlal, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, Alicia Hospedales, Karen Nunez-Tesheira, Kennedy Swaratsingh and Colm Imbert.
Sinanan informed the College that Richards, 75, signed the declaration on January 28, giving his consent to being nominated as President.
The Speaker said Richards was the only person nominated for the post and, “therefore in accordance with Section 31 of the Constitution, Prof George Maxwell Richards is hereby declared President of the Republic.”
After Sinanan said he would sign Richards’ instruments of appointment, Imbert asked that the College be adjourned. The 20 Opposition parliamentarians (14 MPs, six senators), who had sat silently throughout the meeting, raised no objections and Sinanan adjourned the College at 10.07 am. Oropouche West MP Mikela Panday missed yesterday’s meeting.
Richards’ only official duty yesterday was the swearing in of two judges at President’s House at 9 am. Richards’ current five-year term ends on March 17 and it is expected that he will be sworn in by Chief Justice Ivor Archie at President’s House on that day.