PORT-OF-SPAIN: Former international football executive Austin “Jack” Warner launched his bid for re-election to the Trinidad & Tobago parliament last Sunday and accused some of his former government colleagues of being ungrateful.
Warner, the former national security minister, who resigned his ministerial post as well as chairman of the United National Congress (UNC), told supporters in the Chaguanas West constituency that he was responsible for every one of the ministers being in office.
Warner, 70, resigned in the wake of a report by the Confederation of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) that was released in Panama last month.
The report by the CONCACAF Integrity Committee, headed by former Barbados Chief Justice, Sir David Simmons, slammed the conduct of Warner and and American Church Blazer as “fraudulent in their management” of the soccer confederation’s affairs.
Neither Warner nor Blazer cooperated with the investigation.
Warner has described the report as “baseless and malicious” and told supporters on Sunday that he had met with his lawyers to discuss the report.
“Let not your hearts be troubled,” he said. “Yesterday I met with lawyers who reviewed the CONCACAF report. When you are told (the outcome of the review) by these lawyers and a few locals, you will hold your head and bawl.”
Although the former vice-president of the world governing body, FIFA, had submitted his resignation letter to House Speaker Wade Mark last month, a formal announcement is expected on Friday when Parliament meets, paving the way for a by-election within 90 days.
Warner, who claimed he is seeking to re-validate his position with the Chaguanas West constituents, has not yet been screened by the UNC, the largest partner within the four-party coalition People’s Partnership government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Warner said he is prepared if the UNC does not support his re-election campaign and was considering running as an independent if he does not receive approval. He warned supporters to be prepared for “all manner of negative tricks to be played” against him.
“Expect negative phone calls purporting to be from Jack Warner and his friends,” he said. “Those of you who support me, expect the threat of termination letters over your heads, especially if you are employed in the URP (Unemployment Relief Program).
“Expect our radio talk show hosts who were my friends yesterday to become my enemies today for a mere 30 pieces of silver. Expect all manner of columnists with anti-Jack Warner advice. Expect anti-Jack Warner criticisms of all kinds from both legal luminaries and bloggers.”
Warner also accused Local Government, Works and Transport Minister, Suruj Rambachan, to be leading the attack against his nomination.
Warner said government ministers had become preoccupied with their concerns than that of the people and urged Persad-Bissessar to “read them the riot act”.
“There is also a disconnect between the government and the people,” said Warner. “I will come back into office based on the collective support of all of you. All of you who are here today are part of the making of history in Trinidad & Tobago.”