Warner says he’s not going anywhere
Trinidad and Tobago’s Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner dismisses calls for his resignation from the Cabinet amid a FIFA investigation.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday June 3, 2011 – “I maintain I did no wrong!” That was the declaration of Works and Transport Minister Austin ‘Jack’ Warner last night as he made it clear he had no intention of heeding calls to resign amid an investigation into bribery claims by world football governing body, FIFA.
Speaking at a press conference after arriving from Zurich, Switzerland where he attended a FIFA Ethics Committee hearing that led to his suspension as a Vice President in the association and as head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) pending the probe, Warner said he was thankful for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s support.
However, he said he was disappointed in others from the Congress of the People (COP) –one of the five parties in the People’s Partnership coalition government – who urged him to step down.
“I understand my critics. I would have preferred that their criticism was not motivated by blood lust or malice. They are smelling blood and I say I understand this but I do not accept this,” he said.
He made direct reference to the call by Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, who is among the COP candidates vying for leadership of the party.
“As a lawyer he should know better and he and I were good friends until now,” Warner said. “How can you be a political leader? This for me is nonsense…I’m totally disappointed in Prakash Ramadhar.”
Members of the COP are among several people who think Warner should step aside in the interest of transparency.
He was suspended pending a full investigation into allegations that he and another FIFA executive member and president of the Asian Football Confederation, Mohamed Bin Hammam, offered bribes at a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) in Trinidad last month.
It is alleged that payments of up to US$40,000 were made to secure votes for Bin Hammam in his campaign to challenge Sepp Blatter for the presidency in Wednesday’s elections. Bin Hammam subsequently withdrew his candidacy and Blatter was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term after going to the polls unopposed.
Two CFU officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, were also suspended in connection with the alleged bribery.
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