PORT-OF-SPAIN: Former national security minister and international soccer official, Austin “Jack” Warner, has won back a seat in Parliament a few months after he was forced to resign from government because of corruption allegations.
Warner greeted a crowd of cheering supporters late Monday after results of a by-election showed he received more than twice as many votes as ruling party candidate, Khadijah Ameen, to reclaim the seat of Chaguanas West.
“Thank you for this resounding victory,” he said at the headquarters of the Independent Liberal Party, which he founded earlier this year to help keep his political career afloat.
Figures from the elections office shows Warner with 12,631 votes. Ameen, of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s United National Congress, won 5,126 votes, according to the preliminary tally.
Warner resigned as national security minister and parliamentarian for Chaguanas West on April 21 after an ethics panel from the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) accused him of fraudulently managing the body running soccer in the region, an allegation he has denied. Warner is also a former FIFA vice president who was implicated in a bribery scandal while opposing group president Sepp Blatter’s re-election two years ago.
In April, Warner claimed FIFA gifted him $6 million toward an athletics training center in Trinidad to gain Caribbean support for Blatter’s first election as president of the soccer federation in 1998. He claimed it was part of a deal in May 1998 with then-FIFA President Joao Havelange. FIFA has declined to comment in detail on Warner’s allegations.
Warner’s victory was met with a subdued response by Persad-Bissessar. She was once a staunch political ally of Warner but criticized him during the by-election campaign and insisted that he had to answer questions about the corruption allegations in the soccer group’s report.
As of press time, it was not clear whether Persad-Bissessar’s government would try to bring Warner’s party into the ruling coalition.
On Tuesday, opposition leader Keith Rowley painted the by-election result as a “damaging blow” for Persad-Bissessar’s government and called for fresh elections.
Persad-Bissessar’s coalition government still controls 27 of the 41 parliamentary seats in the twin-island republic.