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By Newsday Staff Tuesday, July 2 2013

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IN A clear parting of ways, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night described her former UNC colleague and one-time trusted lieutenant Jack Warner as being disrespectful and disloyal to the Government, party and people of Chaguanas West.

Warner was disloyal and disrespectful, she said, when he took a decision by himself — without consulting anyone in the party and anyone in Chaguanas West — to resign as a Cabinet member, as chairman of the UNC and as MP for Chaguanas West.

Speaking before a noisy and energised crowd at the party’s Monday Night Forum at the Vishnu Boys Hindu College, Caroni, Persad-Bissessar did not hold back any political punches as she called on supporters not to split votes but rather to remain united behind the party’s candidate for the July 29 Chaguanas West bye-election, Khadijah Ameen.

“The question has been asked, why did I accept the resignation of the former Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West.

“Let me tonight indicate that whenever it becomes necessary for me as your Prime Minister to act, so as to protect the integrity of Government or take action to ensure the principles and values which you supported in 2010 remain intact, I have acted fearlessly in the national interest,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She told the gathering that it was Warner who by his own personal choice, resigned as a member of Cabinet over allegations of financial impropriety when he was a member of world football governing body FIFA.

“His decision to resign from his seat and as chairman of the UNC was taken unilaterally. No institutions of the party, of which he was chairman, were consulted. No one asked him to resign,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“He returned one of the safest UNC seats that was given to him on a platter by the UNC and now, he asks you to vote him back! I consider this to be disrespect for the party and for you the constituents of Chaguanas West,” she declared.

“He now says that he wants to consult you on Friday, as to the direction he should take. I ask the question, why did he not consult you before he did what he did? Where is the loyalty to the party that gave birth to his political career and more so, loyalty to you, members of the UNC and the Partnership?” (See page 5)

Jack under

police probe

Persad-Bissessar said Warner is the subject of a police investigation into the establishment of an alleged Flying Squad at the Ministry of National Security. “Serious statements have been made about this matter by those close to it and which statements are also in the public domain,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said Warner had “admitted” that both he and his family are subject of an inquiry by the US Government into allegations of white collar crime. “I have said that should he clear his name, he will be reinstated. The party cannot support a candidate under the current circumstances. Further legal challenges can embarrass the country, the Government and you, the people of Chaguanas West,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar revealed that while Warner sat in Cabinet as Minister of National Security, he refused to travel overseas on Government business on several occasions. These included, she said, matters where the Minister of National Security would have been required to attend whether it be in Washington, Toronto, New York and even Haiti.

“Why didn’t he seek your validation to resign? An action which has put us in this predicament.

Here we are tonight, putting energies into a campaign rather than putting more energies into building a country. I stand on the side of public integrity, accountability, credibility and transparency,” she said.

“None of this has been easy for me to tell you tonight but you have asked for answers and I am, as I always strive to do, share the reasons behind my decision. The former MP abandoned you and abandoned the party!”

She then deviated from her prepared speech to reveal publicly for the first time that in the UNC internal elections of 2010, Ameen was on Persad-Bissessar’s Star Slate for the position of party chairman.

“But we decided to take a different tact. I felt we had to do something else to bring more people into the party’s executive. I met Khadijah and she signed a document withdrawing her name from the slate for the position of party chairman,” she disclosed.

“I share this with you because I want to show you what a totally dedicated and loyal and hard working person Khadijah is. She never spoke about this in public. She never cried out, ‘oh gosh why they do me this for?’, she never picked up her marbles and dollies and walked away.

“She never went and formed her own party or ran as an independent. She trusted our party and she remained loyal. And this is the kind of candidate who is now asking for your vote,” Persad-Bissessar said, as Ameen smiled and looked at Persad-Bissessar while she spoke.

The Prime Minister described Ameen’s elevation as acting chairman as “poetic justice”.

“And today she is the candidate for Chaguanas West and will be the next MP for this constituency!”

She hit the Opposition PNM for being hypocritical by describing the People’s Partnership as anti-worker but when it was in power, kept the minimum wage at $9 an hour from 2003 to 2010. The minimum wage is today $12.50 an hour.

She said the PNM, when in power, suppressed the trade union movement but as it is now out of government, is teaming up with the Joint Trade Union Movement to march to Port-of-Spain on July 5. She accused the joint trade union movement of, “carrying on with a clearly political agenda to try and destabilise your democratically elected government!”

She described this Friday’s march by the trade union movement as being tainted. “That march is not a labour march for the rights of workers. That march is an attack on your government. It is designed to overthrow your constitutionally elected government and threaten all of the foreign leaders who will be here for the annual Caricom Heads of Government meeting. Shame on them!” she thundered.

She called on all “right thinking” and “patriotic citizens” to not march on Friday with the PNM and joint trade union movement. Persad-Bissessar urged the crowd to reject the politics of divisiveness and come July 29, be united as one to vote for Ameen.

Cops want all

my emails, texts

Persad-Bissessar warned the gathering to not be surprised, “if the agents of the PNM”, conspire to take out warrants to search her home or the homes of other Government officials, under the guise of investigating email allegations which were raised by Opposition and PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley in Parliament.

She reiterated that everyone in Government including herself is fully committed to cooperating with the police in the probe, but questioned why is it, the police are insisting on cloning every bit of information contained in her cellular phone and laptop, when the scope of the investigation is only for September of last year.

“You talk of emails in September, so why do you want my entire life story? Why do you want to see my life story? Of everybody who sent me texts or emails. That will invade not just the privacy of the Prime Minister but the privacy of every single citizen who sent messages to the Prime Minister including foreign dignitaries and heads of governments.”

“They want to copy every single thing. Why? I cannot as a responsible Prime Minister and leader breach the invasion of privacy of everyone who sent me a text or email. I want you to understand that I have nothing to hide. Which one of you here will allow somebody to clone your phone?

“Why do you want to see my husband’s text message, ‘Kamla you working too hard, come home and take a rest’. Or a text from my grandson, ‘Gramma, why you have to work every day?’

“Why do the police want to see everything in the AG’s devices which may have information on investigations involving even the police?

“I am warning you. I remain committed to cooperating with the police. I remain committed but they cannot go on a witch hunt and a wild goose chase. I have nothing to hide!”

She then had some pointed questions for the police. “When someone planted cocaine in the water tank of (former UNC Government minister) Sadiq Baksh. Where is that investigation? Who did this? Have they held anyone?

“What about Calder Hart and Sunway? The Church in the Heights of Guanapo. Nothing! Where are the investigations into these matters?”

As she closed, the Prime Minister told the crowd, “Let us rise together and say with one voice, ‘behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

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