PORT OF SPAIN — The very things that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was warned about and came up with sterling defences for, with respect to former minister Jack Warner, are the same things she is now seeing “as terrible” and citing as reasons for not selecting him to carry the party’s banner in the Chaguanas West by-election.
So said Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in an interview with the Express yesterday.
The prime minister, speaking at the United National Congress Monday Night Forum at Vishnu Boys’ Hindu School, said Warner refused to travel on government business and had too many controversies hanging over his head to be chosen as the UNC candidate.
His imbroglio with FIFA and the “Flying Squad” were two of the issues which she said haunted the former national security minister.
She said Warner admitted that both he and his family were the subject of an enquiry by the government of the United States into a range of corporate white collar criminal offences under federal jurisdiction in the US.
“While he sat in the cabinet as the national security minister he refused to travel on government business on several occasions. 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,” the Prime Minister noted.
“I am not prepared to burden you with a candidate with all these issues unresolved,” she added.
Rowley responded: “Nothing she (the prime minister) is saying to us is news about Jack Warner. It is confirmation to us about her irresponsible conduct as prime minister.”
Rowley said all the things which he raised about Warner, and which the prime minister did not see as a problem before, she was now pointing to potential embarrassment to the Government and people of this country.
“The prime minister is not fooling anybody in this country. Every finger she points at Jack Warner now on any of those issues, she as prime minister is personally responsible for having burdened the country with the stress of Jack Warner during this period because she was his biggest defender. She was the only person who could have appointed him to the Cabinet and she did not only appoint him to the Cabinet but, in the face of objections, she promoted him to National Security Minister.
“All these things she is raising about Jack Warner now, that she was vigorously defending (before), had Sir David Simmons (head of Concacaf’s integrity committee) not done FIFA’s work we would still have had Jack Warner because remember, she is telling her supporters ‘I didn’t fire him, he voluntarily left’.”
Rowley said if Warner didn’t leave voluntarily the prime minister would still happily have him in her cabinet.
On the issue of Warner’s travel, Rowley recalled that he raised the issue of Warner being unable to travel at a public meeting in St. James last year.
He said Warner said yes, he could travel and that he had gone to New York for a lime. Rowley said his office had contacted the president’s office to find out if Warner had left the country and the president’s office replied that it had no information about him leaving the country and there was no record of anyone being put to act for him. (Express)