PORT OF SPAIN — 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. (Express)