Swearing-in confusion

PORT OF SPAIN – The new system of local government,

triggered by the introduction of proportional representation, is

creating some confusion.

This is because the deadlines and time-frames for getting

corporations up and running, which were set out in the previous

Municipal Corporations Act, have been removed.

This situation, coupled with the deadlock in Chaguanas, led to

the postponement of the swearing-in ceremony for councillors

for the Chaguanas Borough Corporation, which was originally

scheduled for Friday.

The ceremony has been temporarily called off as the Ministry

of Local Government seeks legal advice on the deadlock

in that corporation.

There is no time frame for the first meeting of the councils

under the new municipal corporation law. The law simply requires

that the business at that first meeting includes the taking of the

oath of office of the councillors.

There is also no time frame under the new law for the

declaration of the aldermen by the Elections and Boundaries

Commission. The law simply says that such persons take the oath

after the declaration is made.

PNM general secretary Ashton Ford told the Express yesterday

that on Monday, the party’s representatives had received

invitations for a Friday swearing-in ceremony. But, he said, the

party was informed yesterday this was to be rescheduled and an

apology given for the postponement.

Previous Chaguanas mayor Orlando Nagessar confirmed that

the CEO of the Chaguanas Corporation had “temporarily” set

aside Friday for the swearing-in of the eight councillors.

“But they are awaiting word from the Ministry of Local

Government. I believe they (the Ministry) have sought legal advice

on how to handle the situation. So they are waiting on that.

Furthermore, they have not yet received results from the EBC (for

the list of aldermen). Up to this afternoon (at 3 p.m.) the CEO told

me that the results from the EBC have not been received.”

He said, hopefully, there would be results today and there

would therefore be some idea of when the councillors would be

sworn in, as well as when the Council could meet to elect a mayor

and a deputy mayor.

The Chaguanas Corporation is spLit between the PNM, UNC

and ILP, with each party having four members on the Corporation

once it is fully constituted.

Legal sources have explained that if no mayor is elected, the

current mayor (Nagessar) stays in office until the deadlock is


Nagessar laughed when told that after saying goodbye to the

Corporation, he may be there for the “long haul”.

“That is in the act.”

He said he hoped there is a solution (to the impasse) so that

the new corporation can continue the work of

the last corporation.

It is understood that the Ministry of Local Government is

seeking advice from senior counsel Dana Seetahal on the options

for dealing with the deadlock in Chaguanas.

Seetahal, when contacted by the Express, said she could not

provide any information.

“It would be for the client to disclose anything. I could not

possibly disclose anything like that,” she said.

Commenting on the matter, Opposition Leader Dr. Keith

Rowley said he did not know what they are doing down

in Chaguanas.

(Trinidad Express)

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