Jack Warner, 71, says he decided to relinquish leadership of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) because he’s not getting any younger and he wants to ensure there was proper succession planning in place before he bows out of politics.
He said next year will be his final feat at electoral politics as he will contest a constituency seat and serve another term.
Warner has endorsed ILP deputy leader Lyndira Oudit to lead the party and he will assume the position of chairman. The party’s election takes place on June 29 but Jack’s slate is unchallenged.
Speaking to the Express yesterday by phone, when asked what was the driving force for him to give up the leadership of a party he created in July 2013, Warner responded: “The first case is I have to prepare for what I call succession planning, I am not getting younger and the next party election is four years from now. If I don’t prepare then there will be nobody to take the mantle after I pass on.”
Warner said history will show that no political leader in this country has considered leadership succession, from former prime ministers Basdeo Panday, Eric Williams, Patrick Manning or even current Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
He said ILP chairman Simeon Mahabir advised him that his (Mahabir’s) inexperience as chairman was affecting his university studies and his work as an ILP councillor in the Chaguanas Borough Corporation.
Warner pointed out that he served as chairman of the United National Congress (UNC) both under Panday and Persad-Bissessar and has a wealth of experience that can be instrumental in strengthening the arms of the ILP.
He said further that Persad-Bissessar became UNC political leader and also Prime Minister when he was chairman of the party.
Asked why Oudit was selected as the best choice as ILP leader, Warner responded, “I thought that Ms Oudit had the political strength, the political experience, she served as Vice-President of the Senate, all these were pluses I looked at when determining who should take the helm at this point in time.”
Questioned on whether ILP supporters would embrace Oudit as leader and whether her leadership would cause a fallout, Warner said he does not think so.
“Next year election shall be the most brutal, the most racial. We in the ILP (executive) we have five Indian, five African, one Chinese and another of Spanish origin,” said Warner.
“Nobody can look at Ms Oudit and accuse her of anything negative in terms of race or integrity,” he added.
“It is unfortunate they would judge her based on the role of the first female Prime Minister in the country. You cannot paint everybody with a wide brush, she must prove to the people that not all female political leaders are ineffective,” said Warner.
Warner said he consulted with key people in the ILP and 95 per cent were in favour of Oudit as leader, that was why there was no opposing slate.
The ILP, said Warner, was today better off position than any other political party, except the PNM, which has been around for over 50 years.
He said all institutions in the ILP were functioning and the party has programmes on three radio stations weekly to educate the people on its platform for change.
Questioned on whether the ILP will join forces with other parties to contest the general election, Warner said: “Coalition politics is here to stay...any party whose ideals are the same as ours, we will be willing to work with them.”
Warner said further that everything the ILP has done in the last three months has been geared towards the 2015 general election and the party will continue to put its election machinery in place to contest the election polls.
- The ILP was formed in July 2013 after Jack Warner resigned as National Security Minister, UNC chairman and Chaguanas West MP following a report from Concacaf Integrity Committee headed by Sir David Simmons, which accused Warner of financial mismanagement.
- In July 2013 Warner successfully contested the Chaguanas West by-election as an ILP candidate.
- In October 2013, the ILP contested the local government elections and received nearly 100,000 votes but was unable to win any of the 14 corporations.
- In November 2013, ILP candidate Om Lalla competed against the UNC’s Ian Alleyne and PNM’s Terrence Deyalsingh for the St Joseph by-election.
- Deyalsingh won the seat formerly held by Herbert Volney.