(Trinidad Guardian) In a surprise move yesterday evening, former banker Robert Le Hunte was sworn in as a Senator and Minister of Public Utilities for the second time in the space of a week.
He took the oath of office at around 7.30 pm in a ceremony at the Office of the President in St Ann’s just days after his original appointment was revoked because of his dual citizenship.
Notice of the second swearing in ceremony was issued at around 4.30 pm yesterday, just hours before the ceremony.
It stated: “His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago will today (Independence Day—Thursday 31st August, 2017 ) appoint Mr Robert Le Hunte a Senator and swear him in as a government minister on the advice of the Honourable Prime Minister.
“Mr Hunte will be sworn-in as the Minister of Public Utilities. The ceremony will take place at the Office of the President, Circular Road, St Ann’s at 7.30 pm.”
Le Hunte took the oath of office as minister one week ago, but four days later Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated that the appointment was in breach of section 42(1) of the Constitution and advised the President that Le Hunte could not serve as a Senator because information had come to him that he had Ghanaian citizenship.
Section 42 (1) of the Constitution states that “a person shall be qualified to be appointed as a Senator if, and shall not be qualified to be so appointed unless, he is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago of the age of 25 or over.”
On Tuesday, Rowley blamed a communication glitch for the mix up but did not explain why the information about Le Hunte’s citizenship status only came to him after he took the oath of office.
Le Hunte returned to Ghana to revoke his Ghanaian citizenship and Dr Rowley he would be re-appointed a senator and minister once that was done.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has been managing the post of Public Utilities Minister since the revocation of the appointment of former Housing Minister Marlene McDonald and held the position from July 1 to August 23 until Le Hunte’s appointment on August 24.
He again took on the portfolio briefly this week until Le Hunte was sworn in for the second time. McDonald spent two days as minister before her appointment was revoked after she was accompanied to her swearing-in ceremony by Cedric “Burkie” Burke who was in 2011 arrested and charged under the anti-gang law.
In the Rowley administration the Public Utilities portfolio was first held by retired Brigadier Ancil Antoine who was appointed on September 11, 2015 until he was relieved of ministerial responsibilities on October 30, 2016.
He was followed by Fitzgerald Hinds who held the portfolio from October 31, 2016, to June 29, 2017.