ILP to decide on People’s Partnership membership – Warner

Peter Richards

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday July 30, 2013 – Interim leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), Austin Jack” Warner Tuesday said it would be “premature” to say whether or not his party would seek membership of the People’s Partnership government following his convincing victory in the Chaguanas West by-election here on Monday night.

Speaking on a television programme, Warner, who trounced the People’s Partnership candidate Khadijah Ameen by a two to one margin, said that his party would be meeting later this week to discuss the issue.

During the campaign for the by-election that had been occasion after Warner himself resigned as parliamentary representative in April in order to seek “re-validation” from the electorate, Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar laid out conditions for her former national security minister to re-enter the four-party coalition.

But Warner had always been dismissive of those conditions telling supporters that the coalition is not Persad Bissessar private property even though her United National Congress (UNC) party is the biggest partner.

Warner told television viewers that the officials of the new party will meet on Friday “and we will take some decisions…as to where we go from there.

“So it is not for me to say whether we in or out (of the coalition) at this point in time. It would be premature. But I will say we have been rejected publicly twice, we have been spurned, spat upon,

“I would that feel it is best to fight from inside, but if they do not want us, okay fine,” he said adding that hr was still awaiting the position of the other partners in the coalition.

“I made two attempts for us to join the partnership, both occasions we were spurned and imagine that is the view of the other parties because nobody said anything differently.

“So therefore if they don’t want us bearing in mind that the basis for the partnership was to form an opposition against the PNM (People’s National Movement),” Warner added.

The five party coalition came together in 2010 to defeat the PNM in the election that then Prime Minister Patrick Manning called two years ahead of the constitutional deadline.

But the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) quit the coalition last year accusing the government of not keeping to its electoral promises and in recent days there have been moves by disgruntled members of the Congress of the People (COP), the second major partner in the coalition, for the party to quit also.

But in a statement issued following Warner’s victory, COP leader and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar said the party said it viewed Warner’s victory as “a most dangerous development in the politics of our country”.

Ramadhar said as a result, he has called for an urgent meeting of the People’s Partnership to rethink the direction of the government. 

“We have witnessed the emergence of a new vulgar concept of the politics of money, based on the personal wealth of an individual versus politics of addressing the issues as in 2010,” Ramadhar said, noting that the COP had called for Warner’s removal from the Cabinet in light of the allegations contained in report by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) that had been critical of Warner’s leadership of the group.

“The outcome of the by-election also signals that the people are not satisfied with the performance of the government after three years,” Ramadhar, calling for the leadership of the coalition to meet as soon as possible “to determine the direction the coalition and government must now take”.

He said the COP had formulated options and proposals with which to engage citizens.

“However, we will first engage our partners on these issues,” he said, noting that the significance of the by-election extended beyond the boundaries of the Chaguanas West constituency into national politics. 

“This is not a failure of coalition politics; rather it is a demand that the People’s Partnership critically and sincerely re-examine its practice in keeping its commitments to the people and delivering good governance.” 

Meanwhile, former justice minister Herbert Volney said Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar needed to abandon her arrogant method of governing if the People’s Partnership government is to survive until 2015.

“They (Chaguanas West voters) do not agree with her quality of governance and have shown they will not be tolerating nepotism, cronyism, cabalism and corruption if they have their way and they have sent a very strong message to her,” Volney said, noting that she had failed to heed the lessons from the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election when the coalition partner, the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) was routed 12-nil.

“Mrs Bissessar’s entry into the political campaign was a repetition of the error of political campaigning that she did in Tobago and the results were inevitable.

“I think that if the People’s Partnership is to survive its five-year term, Mrs  Persad-Bissessar is going to have to come to terms with the indication of the histrionic loss of a UNC constituency and if she does not, and she continues in the same arrogant method and approach to government, many MPs,  for their own survival in 2015, will join with Mr Warner and myself,  if I may say so…and will demand the respect that she has not offered MPs who she has marginalised in the last  two years.” 

Volney was dismissed from the government last year in the wake of the controversial passage of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act that had the effect of allowing people, whose trial has not started after a 10-year period to walk free and a verdict of not guilty entered against their names.

Critics say that the clause was aimed at supporting businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who have been described as financiers of the UNC. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)