PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday April 26, 2013 – Austin “Jack” Warner, the former national security minister who is expected to announced his resignation as a legislator in Trinidad and Tobago later on Friday, is warning the ruling United National Congress (UNC) that it needs to change its policies if it wants to continue governing the country.
Speaking at a public meeting in his Chaguanas West constituency that was carried live by radio and television stations here on Thursday night, Warner sought to defend the litany of charges laid out against him by CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in Central and North America and the Caribbean.
Warner, 70, also sought to distance himself from allegations made against him while he served as vice president of the international football federation, FIFA.
But as he zeroed in on the reasons behind his decision to resign both as a cabinet minister and legislator, Warner warned his colleagues in the UNC, the biggest partner in the coalition People’s Partnership government that “we cannot win… If we in our party continue to be consumed by hatred for each other as we have practiced in the past”.
He also warned that the party would fail if it is threatening to change government departments “because of its ethnic composition.
“Friends, it is easy to fight external enemies like the PNM (Peoples National Movement) and (Dr. Keith) Rowley (PNM leader) but the hardest fight is to strike a blow against internal enemies and I have had to fight against my internal enemies for too long.”
Warner, an Afro-Trinidadian national, resigned as chairman of the Indo-dominated UNC, and told supporters that when he met with Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar over the last weekend to discuss his resignation in the wake of the damning CONCACF report “I saw three MPs lurking outside the room and I knew then that everything I said to the PM would have been in vain”.
He said he was later called out of a religious ceremony by his security detail and asked to call Prime Minister Persad Bissessar “who then advised me that she had reconsidered and that she would prefer to accept resignation now”.
Warner said he was “not bitter” at the situation but warned “we cannot win as a party if a Cabinet member bears so much malice as to deprive me from telling my side of the story by instructing CNMG (the state-owned media house) to cancel the coverage of tonight’s meeting.
“We cannot win my people if as a Government people’s jobs are lost because of their closeness to Jack Warner,” he said, pointing an accusing finger at newly appointed Works and Transport Minister Suruj Rambachan, although he did not specifically call him by name.
He said the situations “begin to happen…because some of us are misinterpreting the responsibilities given to us and when large portfolios like two mega Ministries are placed under one man’s control.” Rambachan is also Minister of Local Government and Warner said “it sends the wrong message not only to the person in charge but also to the national community especially when one’s race or ethnicity can be punished because of the historical patterns of some of us.
“I cannot live with that kind of belligerence nor should any member of the People’s Partnership Government. This hurts our party. And it hurts our Government.
Warner said that he would continue to be a member of the UNC and that “in spite of the trials, tribulations and disappointments that I have incurred; in spite of the character assassination, the slander, the ridicule of my family and the abandonment of long-time friends,” he held no hatred, animosity or ill will for Prime Minister Persad Bissessar.