The removal of Health Minister Nickolas Steele as the Caretaker of the ruling New National Party (NNP) in the St. George South constituency is the main demand being made by embattled executive member, Terry Forrester to heal a rift with the party that he has been a member for the past 33 years.
According to well-placed sources, Forrester is also raising concerns over the manner in which he was sacked as Chairman of two state-controlled boards within the past two weeks.
A source who did not wish to be identified said that Forrester conveyed his position to “surrogates” of the ruling party who engaged him in the past week on “backing off from the confrontation with the Prime Minister”.
Forrester has been doing political work in the constituency despite the decision taken by the Mitchell-controlled National Executive to send Minister Steele as the Caretaker.
The woes of the senior NNP member started when he used a meeting of the National Executive last month to launch a bitter attack on party leader and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Sources told this newspaper that Forrester accused the Prime Minister of being “very ungrateful” and was only using people to advance his political cause.
Weeks earlier, Prime Minister Mitchell had rejected a bid made by Forrester to be considered as a possible candidate in the South constituency that was won for the party in the 2013 general election by former Tourism Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel.
Dr. Mitchell reportedly told Forrester that this was the time for the “young people” within the party to come forward and run as candidates as “we the older ones already had our time”.
The NNP has overlooked Otway-Noel for the upcoming national poll and decided to replace her as Caretaker by Minister Steele who is the current Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George.
The switch is apparently being made to find a place on the NNP slate in the upcoming election for former MP in the town, attorney-at-law Peter David, the renegade Congress member who was expelled from the party along with nine others in September 2012.
NNP insiders told THE NEW TODAY that Forrester delivered a sterling address at a national executive meeting in which he accused Prime Minister Mitchell of blocking his efforts in the past to run for the NNP as a candidate.
“Forrester was brutal in that address. He said among other things that he had never asked the party for anything personal despite his many years of service and loyalty to the Prime Minister.
“He said that the party needed to use the democratic way in arriving at a Caretaker for the South instead of the handpicking that was done to send Steele in the south.
According to one source, Forrester also used the address to launch a blistering attack on Prime Minister Mitchell by accusing him of being “very ungrateful in light of all that he (Forrester) had done for him over the years.
He spoke of Dr. Mitchell responding by telling Forrester that he had done nothing for him personally and that whatever he did in the past was done for the party.
A party insider told this newspaper that Forrester was not happy with the comment since he was in the forefront of the NNP response to defend PM Mitchell when he was accused of accepting a US$500, 000.00 bribe in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 2000 from convicted fraudster, Eric Resteiner in exchange for a diplomatic position.
“Forrester wasn’t happy with the response as he was out in public sticking his neck out for the man when all the others including ministers went into hiding on the Switzerland briefcase issue.
“Forrester is saying that it is only he and the Jamaican Hugh Wildman (the former special Prosecutor) who came out in defense of the man (PM Mitchell) when everyone else was running from him.
The aide said that since the fall-out, Forrester has also been dismissed by controversial Chinese businessman, Charles Liu from the much-talked about US$2 billion Mt. Hartman tourism and health project.
He spoke of Liu calling Forrester on the telephone a few days ago and instructing him to relinquish his position from the local company that is promoting the project.
“Terry is no fool, he knows that Mr. Liu is being pressured politically to fire him”, the aide said.
THE NEW TODAY understands that Forrester has agreed to end his association with the Chinese businessman on condition that he was paid in full all monies due to him including compensation for dismissal in-keeping with local laws.
Liu is facing fraud charges in California in the United States for diverting funds to his personal use that were given by investors for a cancer treatment facility that he was promoting.
Speculation is mounting that Forrester is in an advanced stage of discussions with some persons to launch a new political party to challenge the NNP for state power.
The NNP Executive member is said to be planning a press conference on Monday in which he will most likely give details about the new party and the events leading up to the fall-out with Prime Minister Mitchell.
Appearing on a local radio station on Monday night, the NNP Public Relations Officer, Sen. Simon Stiell denied that Forrester was sacked from two state-owned boards.
According to Sen. Stiell, the current Minister of State for Education, the government was currently engaged in reshuffling of personnel serving on state-owned boards.