PORT-OF-SPAIN: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she accepted the resignation of embattled national security minister Austin “Jack” Warner because he had become a major distraction to the work of her coalition People’s Partnership government.
“Warner’s resignation from the Cabinet comes with a degree of regret as he was a highly industrious and productive member of the government, having served with distinction in the Ministries of Works and National Security,” Persad-Bissessar said at a public meeting in her Siparia constituency on Monday. “His outstanding contribution to country and government and service to people and community shall remain a legacy of his tenure as a cabinet minister and MP.
“Warner’s resignation would allow for the government of Trinidad and Tobago to continue apace with its developmental objectives without distraction and would further permit him time and space to adequately treat with the matters raised.”
On Sunday, Persad-Bissessar said she accepted Warner’s resignation following the publication of a report by the Integrity Committee of CONCACAF, which represents soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The report slammed Warner and former secretary general, Chuck Blazer, as “fraudulent in their management” of the soccer confederation’s affairs.
Warner, 70, later submitted a letter of resignation as chairman of the United National Congress, the biggest partner in the four-party coalition government.
“This is the first country in the world where a minister has resigned because of internal pressures for an external issue,” said Warner. “I have never seen such a concerted effort to get rid of one man. I decided to resign because I knew I had become objectionable. My resignations will enable me to say much more outside of the Cabinet than I can say inside of the Cabinet.”
In her address to party supporters, Persad-Bissessar said that when she took up the leadership of the government, she promised “change and not exchange with respect to transparency and honesty in governance”.
She thanked Warner for his years of service to country and emphasized that his resignation was not forced, but a voluntary one in the best interest of the country.