Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night kicked off the People’s Partnership local government campaign urging the people to not forget Jack Warner’s past and warned that his Independent Liberal Party (ILP) will serve only to split the votes and see a People’s National Movement (PNM) victory.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the presentation of the People’s Partnership candidates for the October 21 local government election at Harris Promenade, San Fernando.
Also making an appearance on the platform was Crime Watch host Ian Allyene.
During the Chaguanas West July 29 by-election, the Prime Minister had trained her guns on Warner and the clouds of corruption allegations over his head.
She had also said the ILP and PNM were in cahoots.
Despite this, Warner was able to secure a landslide victory against the UNC.
Last night, the Prime Minister reiterated her arguments, stressing that Warner was yet to clear his name.
“Within days, Mr. Warner went from the villain in the media to a voice of freedom against the People’s Partnership. Suddenly forgotten were all the reports on Mr Warner’s alleged illegal activities,” she said.
She said there was “new-found purpose” to Warner as a tool for embarrassing her Government and ensuring a victory for Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley by splitting the votes.
The Prime Minister said that in the local government elections there will be three choices- the People’s Partnership, the PNM and the ILP.
She said there was no “in-between”, as a vote for the ILP was a vote for the PNM.
“Third parties always help the PNM. It did during the ONR time, it did so during the time when the Team Unity fought the UNC and again when COP and UNC fought separately and, it has the dangerous potential of doing so now,” she said.
The ILP, said Persad-Bissessar, does not exist without Warner and built upon exaggerated promises.
“There is no fundamental vision and philosophy and no other result to come from this except that its very existence helps Rowley’s PNM. Ironically, the people who vote for ILP would never want the PNM, so who is the ILP hurting?” she said.
She said there was an ILP/PNM alliance and this can be seen in the coordination of their campaign activities.
The Prime Minister said the ILP was today the strength of the PNM and the political life support of Rowley, who was facing a leadership battle in his party.
“We must not split the vote. We must stay together. We have said time and again, if and when Warner can clear his name there is a space for him, but principles must trump politics, right must be always better than wrong, good governance must rise above good politics,” said Persad-Bissessar.
Persad-Bissessar reminded supporters that Warner’s “unfavourable activities” at FIFA and Concacaf generated media attention, with many calling for his removal.
This embarrassment, she said, culminated in the Sir David Simmons report into Concacaf, which Warner failed to answer.
“His resignation didn’t come about through any so-called cabal, his resignation wasn’t the result of my desire to see him go. Quite the contrary, I had always supported Jack Warner through thick and thin,” said Persad-Bissessar.
The Prime Minister said Warner’s refusal to answer the charges against him was untenable — and even he knew this.
“For me, it was a painful moment on a personal level. But what was one to do but accept the resignation offered? I didn’t do so as the head of my household, I didn’t do so as the leader of my party, I did so as the leader of this country in the interest of the country,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said she accepted Warner’s resignation because of what was founded in the Simmons report.
She quoted from the Simmons report which stated that Warner and Chuck Blazer had committed acts of fraud and misappropriated funds from Concacaf and also violated rules and code of ethics governing the management of the game.
Persad-Bissessar said the time had come for Warner to resign; she knew it and so did he.
She said she still looks forward to the day when he could clear his name.