PORT OF SPAIN — Former government minister Jack Warner claimed yesterday Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar has trained her guns on him, which signalled he will definitely not be selected as the United National Cong- ress candidate to contest the Chaguanas West by-election.
The UNC is expected to publicly announce and present its candidate tomorrow at 7 p.m., at Pepper Sauce Junction, Endeavour Road, Chaguanas.
Chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation Khadijah Ameen, who is also the UNC acting chairman, is tipped to be the party’s choice.
Warner, speaking to the Express by phone, said he will consult with his team on Sunday and decide the way forward. He reiterated he will keep his options open.
Warner and Ameen were among those screened by the party’s screening committee on Tuesday.
Yesterday, he said despite what decision is made, his focus remains on the Chaguanas West constituency, which he represented since 2010 until his resignation in April this year.
Warner has been campaigning with walkabouts and cottage meetings in the constituency.
At the same time, the UNC has also placed focus on the seat by holding its Monday night forum meetings in the area — at Cacandee Grounds in Felicity and at the Munroe Road Hindu School. Warner was present as a member of the audience at both meetings.
He claimed the prime minister’s address at the Munroe Road Hindu School this week sent the message that a battle has been launched against him and he will not be selected by the UNC to contest the by-election.
“Having listened to her speech on Monday at Munroe Road Hindu School, it was a direct attack on me and my performance in Chaguanas West… It was aimed directly at me and she was trying to belittle me,” said Warner.
“My performance is unparalleled and cannot be easily replicated. I want to say to her (Persad-Bissessar) that she is not my opponent, and if I am hers then that is her choice; she is not mine,” said Warner.
He said the prime minister’s words signalled he was out of the race, with respect to being selected by the screening committee.
On Monday, the prime minister urged supporters to vote for party and not person.
She also said the works done in the Chaguanas West constituency was not as a result of one person but because of the efforts of the People’s Partnership Government as a whole. Without calling Warner’s name, Persad-Bissessar also rebutted his statement that she had lost touch with the people.
There was speculation around the UNC camp yesterday that Warner would back down from the Chaguanas West by-election once Ameen was selected as he has his eyes set on the UNC leadership election due early next year.
Questioned about this yesterday, Warner said this was untrue and a form of distraction.
Warner also claimed that “at the 11th hour”, UNC members were trying to get candidates to be screened for the by-election.
He said economist Indera Sagewan-Alli was approached and, also, Ameen.
Efforts to contact both Sagewan-Alli and Ameen proved futile as calls to their cellphones went unanswered.
Warner said it was ironic that two members of the screening committee in 2010 were against Persad-Bissessar and him and in favour of former UNC political leader and prime minster Basdeo Panday.
He was referring to Dr Roodal Moonilal and Chandresh Sharma who sit on the committee, together with Marlene Coudray, Don Sylvester and Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh.
Warner also criticised statements made by the Prime Minister on Monday, in that people should vote for party and not person. (Express)