By Anna Ramdass
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad – Jack Warner refused to travel on Government business and had too many controversies hanging over his head to be selected as the UNC’s candidate to contest the Chaguanas West by-election, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said last night.
Persad-Bissessar, speaking at the party’s Monday Night Forum at the Vishnu Boys’ Hindu School, Caroni for the first time explained to the people why Warner could not be supported by her and her Government.
His imbroglio with FIFA and the “Flying Squad” were two of the issues which she named that haunted Warner.
“While he sat in the Cabinet as a Minister of National Security, he refused to travel on Government business on several occasions,” she said.
“These included matters where the Minister of National Security would have been required to attend whether it be in Washington, Toronto, New York and even Haiti,” she added.
Warner, she noted, resigned on his own volition following matters related to FIFA and which to date he has not provided evidence to refute.
“You cannot separate those matters from his position as a Minister since it has the potential to do irreparable damage to the government and the image of our country,” she said.
“No one asked him to resign. Recognising the magnitude of what was revealed in the Ethics Committee report from Panama, he offered his resignation as Minister of National Security and, I accepted, as is my right,” she said.
Warner, she said, is the subject of a police investigation into the establishment of an alleged Flying Squad at the Ministry of National Security.
Warner, she said, admitted that both he and his family are the subject of an enquiry by the Government of the US into a range of corporate white collar criminal offences under federal jurisdiction in the US.
“I have said that should he clear his name, he will be re-instated,” she said.
“Serious statements have been made about this matter by those close to it and which statements are also in the public domain,” she added.
“I am not prepared to burden you with a candidate with all these issues unresolved and in a situation where he had no reason to resign as a Member of Parliament,” said Persad-Bissessar.
“The matters involving him are clearly not limited to Chaguanas West – they involve the nation,” she added.
The UNC, she said, cannot support Warner under the current circumstances.
“Further legal challenges can embarrass the country, the government and you, the people of Chaguanas West,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said Warner never consulted any institutions of the UNC before his resignations.
“Unilaterally, he returned one of the safest UNC seats that had been given to him on a platter by the UNC and now, he asks you to vote him back. I consider this to be disrespect for the party and for you and, who is to say whether such behaviour would not be repeated in the future,” she said.
Noting that Warner will be holding a public meeting in Felicity on Friday to announce his move, Persad-Bissessar said why did he not go to the people before.
“Where is the loyalty to the party that gave birth to his political career and more so, loyalty to you, members of the UNC and the Partnership,” she said. “He claims that he is seeking validation.”
The Prime Minister stressed that she stands on the side of public integrity, accountability, credibility and transparency.
“The former MP abandoned you and abandoned the party,” she said.
A stoe’s throw away, Warner held a cottage meeting at the Caroni Community Centre where he declared he will be contesting the by-election and come July 29 there will be change.
“Anyone who stands against the UNC stands against every single one of you and every single one of us! United we stand divided we fall,’ said Persad-Bissessar.
(Reproduced from the Jul 1, 2013 issue of the Trinidad Express newspaper)