PORT OF SPAIN — While Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar mulls over the personal implications of Monday’s devastating loss in the Chaguanas West by-election, views in her administration vary on whether to bring victorious Independent Liberal Party leader Jack Warner back into the Government.
UNC MP Winston Peters, Tobago Organisation of the People leader Ashworth Jack and the PM’s national security adviser Gary Griffith yesterday favoured Warner’s re-entry into the partnership.
But the Congress of the People has maintained a hardline position against him, and other UNC MPs have deferred discussion to today’s cabinet session and a UNC national executive meeting. The cabinet session will focus on the by-election results and where the PP goes from here, a spokesman said yesterday.
This follows several hours of intense debate until 1 a.m. yesterday after Monday’s by-election results, in which Warner copped 12,642 votes to UNC candidate Khadijah Ameen’s 5,129.
The partnership is seeking answers ahead of Friday’s opening of the Fourth Session of the Tenth Parliament, when Warner takes his new oath as an MP and his place in parliament again. Warner’s ILP begins planning future developments this afternoon.
After the results, UNC officials said, the prime minister and her team met for several hours. Talks focused on whether the outcome was a personal indictment against the government, the PM or their governance in general, and whether people voted for Warner or simply against the government.
Sources said the prime minister was examining whether the outcome is an indictment on her personally, since she spearheaded Ameen’s campaign.
It was agreed partnership leaders must meet for “serious discussions”, as called for by the COP immediately after Monday’s results. Among the issues discussed on Monday were alternatives and options now open to the partnership.
Some officials believe one of these is to bring Warner back into the government, which he had said he wanted if he had won the seat. During the campaign, however, the prime minister had refused to consider doing so.
UNC deputy leaders, Drs. Suruj Rambachan and Roodal Moonilal, didn’t answer calls yesterday. Nor did Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said he couldn’t comment. Dr. Rupert Griffith said it would be premature to make a statement before partnership officials had discussed it.
UNC MP Winston Gypsy Peters, who consistently supported Warner during his campaign against the PP, when asked about bringing Warner into the Government, said: “I’m all for unifying the whole thing.” (Guardian)