Former United National Congress (UNC) MP Jack Warner last Friday night announced the formation of a new political party – The Independent Liberal Party (IPL).
And hours later Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told supporters at meeting in the Chaguanas West constituency that the former MP was expelled from the UNC party.
Warner addressing a massive crowd in Felicity, Central Trinidad, (in the constituency of Chaguanas West) said he wants to deal with what he saw as the betrayal of the UNC cabal not only to himself but to the ordinary grassroot members of the party.
He slammed his former colleagues in the People’s Partnership coalition government, whom, he said, changed since getting in office.
“Before 2010, they used to walk the streets among you… they used to give you their phone numbers… and waved to you and your children. Today, they move around in chauffeur-driven high-priced luxury cars- some bought and some leased, their faced are no longer friendly, their humility is gone. Their children are no longer going to the same school as yours, and you cannot communicate with them,” he said.”
“That is not the change you voted for,” he told cheering supporters.
He promised a new dawn in the politics of Trinidad and Tobago.
The government was now attacking him, the police, the director of Public Prosecution (DPP), and the media.
Warner said he was the prime minister’s staunchest supporter and her defender when she came under attack from the Opposition.
He said when he was minister, he traveled to Jamaica in 2011 at no cost to the taxpayer; to the U.S. twice – on May 27, 2012 and returned on May 28; and again on Nov. 24, 2012 and returned on Nov. 26.
He was responding to claims made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who raised questions why he had refused to travel with her to trips in Canada, Haiti and the USA.
The former Minister of National Security said out of the 31 party groups in Chaguanas, all nominated him. Of his opponent, Khadijah Ameen (the UNC candidate) he asked; “Which party groups nominated her and at which meeting?”
Persad-Bissessar told supports a few days earlier Warner remained a member of the UNC.
Warner resigned his post as national security minister, chairman of the UNC and later MP for Chaguanas West.
He was seeking to contest the seat in the by-election but was blanked by the UNC screening committee in favor of Ameen.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar has lashed out at Warner’s new IPL party saying he is trying to bring down the PP Government.
She said Warner could have contested the election as an independent candidate but he chose to form a party.
She pointed out that former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj did the same in 2001 with Team Unity.
Persad-Bissessar pointed out she defended Warner, and when issues were raised with respect to his dual portfolios of FIFA vice-president and government minister – legal opinions were sought which showed there was no conflict of interest and he remained in the Cabinet.
The prime minister said she stood by Warner’s side even when the partners in the coalition were against him.
Warner, she said, had always reassured her that the allegations against him had no basis and she gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Persad-Bissessar explained that she accepted Warner’s resignation because he was under police investigation about an alleged new “Flying Squad” (when he was Minister of National Security, the damning report by CONCACAF Ethics Committee about financial mismanagement and that he and his children were subject to an investigation about money laundering.
Warner has denied all the allegations saying that it was a cabal in the party, which has put pressure on Persad-Bissessar to accept his resignation.