The important role of the Attorney General in the government is underscored by the fact that the Cabinet is not considered properly constituted until that office holder is sworn in. The AG takes the oath of office immediately after the Prime Minister and only then are other ministers sworn in.
Apart from serving as the primary legal advisor to the Government, whoever holds the position of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs is also a guardian of the public’s interests.
That is why the continued deafening silence from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and current AG Reginald Armour, SC, is untenable. It is also why Guardian Media today repeats its call to Mr Armour to properly account to the citizens about the controversy in which he is deeply embroiled.
In a matter of considerable public interest and valid questions have been asked about Mr Armour’s role in the almost two-decade-old Piarco Airport corruption case.
But to date, all the country has heard from Mr Armour on the matter is a statement on June 4 that he had recused himself from the matter and another on June 8 that he would say no more.
If the latter was aimed at quelling the calls from the Opposition and several in the legal fraternity for his resignation, it has had the opposite effect. Instead, efforts by both parties to oust Mr Armour as AG gained momentum this week.
It has now been more than a month since controversy erupted over Mr Armour’s failure to recuse himself and his subsequent disqualification by a Miami court from representing this country in the Piarco Airport case.
This is not a trivial matter. US judge Reemberto Diaz has disqualified Armour because of his prior involvement as a defence attorney for people charged in related criminal proceedings.
The Opposition has now taken the matter further, raising the possibility of ethical breaches of the Legal Profession Act as well as perjury---very serious allegations to which the AG has so far not responded.
This is not a matter that can be swept under the carpet.
There are currently no-confidence motions against Armour pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate. In addition, following the delivery of a petition to the Law Association, there will be a special general meeting to consider a motion of no-confidence against Armour and call for his resignation.
If any of these efforts succeed, they could be used as leverage to oust Armour from office.
For Armour, there is much more at stake than being removed from the office of AG.
There is also the reputational risk he faces in a legal career that has seen him serving in key positions locally and across the Caribbean, including president of the Law Association, chair of the Council of Legal Education, as well as on the Law Reform Commission and the Legal Aid Authority.
For his part, Dr Rowley should consider how potentially destabilising this is to his administration. His AG cannot function effectively under such a dark cloud of controversy.
Both should be fully aware that silence is the worst possible option in response to all the details of this matter that are in the public domain.
It is time to give a proper account to the nation.