It would be inexcusable for President Paula-Mae Weekes to reconstitute the Police Service Commission (PolSC) around the chairmanship of Bliss Seepersad.
It is already a matter of national disquiet that the President is allowing Ms Seepersad to continue clinging to office despite the mass exodus of all three commissioners amid their expressed loss of confidence in her. That should be more than enough reason for the president to evaluate Seepersad’s performance against Section 122A (1) (d), (f) and (g) which states that the President shall, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, terminate the appointment of a member of the Police Service Commission if that member fails to perform their duties in a responsible or timely manner, demonstrates a lack of competence to perform his duties, or misbehaves in office.
If the President proceeds with reconstituting the PolSC around the chairmanship of Bliss Seepersad, she will be communicating her complete confidence in Seepersad in the face of the commissioners’ complaints about her unilateral decision-making, lack of transparency, her failure to lead the PolSC towards the timely recruitment a new Commissioner of Police; and actions which have made the PolSC an object of public ridicule, damaged public confidence in the institution and contributed to embarrassing the Office of the President.
After the fiasco over Gary Griffith’s appointment as acting Commissioner of Police, we cannot imagine where the President will find four respected citizens willing to serve under the tarnished chairmanship of Bliss Seepersad. There can be no excuse to defend her retention in a matter that is serious enough to be prioritised for urgent action by the President, no matter how busy her current schedule.
The damage already inflicted on the PolSC demands that the President start over with a clean slate of candidates with no hangover from its disgraced past.
She must move swiftly to initiate the constitutionally required consultations with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Thereafter, she should nominate five persons to the PolSC who, by law, are qualified and experienced in the disciplines of law, finance, sociology or management. She should then issue the required notification for each nominee for the consideration of the House of Representatives. Then, assuming the House approves, she should proceed to appoint them and bring the now defunct commission back to life.
None of this, however, will satisfy the need for President Weekes to respond to the allegations of interference in the work of the Police Service Commission which, until addressed, will continue to throw a heavy cloud of suspicion over the PolSC. As far as the public interest is concerned, if the Seepersad commission could have fallen victim to secret interference, then no commission is safe.
The fact that the allegations involve a clandestine meeting at the Office of the President is damaging to the highest office in the land, and makes it susceptible to infection from the stench of the rot emanating from the PolSC.
If President Weekes chooses to ignore the public’s questions and concerns on this issue, she would be doing so at the expense of public confidence in her stewardship.