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Dhanayshar tenders resignation to Pres
Co-ordinator of the Senate's independent bench Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir recently tendered his resignation to President Paula-Mae Weekes to allow her to exercise her constitutional power to choose independent senators.
“I did it as I want to free Her Excellency's hand to discharge her functions under the Constitution,” Mahabir told the T&T Guardian.
Section 40 (2/c) states the President can appoint the Senate's nine independent senators “in his discretion from outstanding persons from economic, or social or community or organisations and other major fields of endeavour.”
After tendering the resignation on March 20—the President's first working day after inauguration—Mahabir said last week, “We frequently hear of misbehaviour in public office. I think it's about time we set the stage for proper behaviour in public office. As co-ordinator of the independent bench, change starts with me. Let me be the change I want to see.
“When I assumed office in August in 2013, President Anthony Carmona who appointed me was villified for replacing four senators who were appointed by his incumbent. I don't wish Her Excellency to face the same situation.”
Mahabir has sought to make the resignation effective from September when the current third Parliamentary session of the five-year term ends and Parliament prorogues for the fourth session to begin.
“This is because there's a lot of ongoing work in hand including with Parliamentary committees. It's left to Her Excellency whether she will accept the resignation as of that date or whether she would want to bring it up,” he said.
Mahabir currently chairs Parliament's Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Social Services and Public Administration and is a member of other committees including on autonomy for Tobago.
In his tenure in the Senate, Mahabir also served on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and JSCs on Foreign Affairs, Privileges Committee, and on other teams examining proposed legislation on the insurance sector, judges' salaries and allowances. He also served as a temporary independent senator over the period 1995-2000.
Mahabir said it would be injurious to the Parliament for any senator to leave immediately. He felt it better to “clear his plate” of current work at Senate and committee levels and allow his replacement to start afresh on issues.
His resignation has been officially acknowledged by President's House staff and was also acknowledged when senators had tea with the President on the Thursday before last.
Mahabir said “resignation from the independent bench isn't something that's normally done in T&T—I think this is a first.”
He is willing to assist new senators if called upon to do so and has also offered to contribute to T&T's development in any way the President sees fit “even on contentious issues…”
Mahabir said he has informed Parliament staff, his independent colleagues and PNM Senate leader Franklin Khan of his resignation. But his independent colleagues are under “no pressure” to follow suit, he stressed. At least one other independent senator confirmed also tendering resignation, but declined comment.
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