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T&T's National Security Minister Jack Warner resigns in wake of CONCACAF report

- Jack hits the road
TAKING HIS LEAVE: Jack Warner leaves yesterday’s Cabinet meeting at the private residence of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in Phillipine, before she announced that Warner had resigned as Minister of National Security. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON
By Trinidad Express

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night announced she had “accepted the offer of resignation” of embattled Minister of National Security Jack Warner.

Persad-Bissessar named Emmanuel George as the new National Security Minister.

George’s Works and Infrastructure portfolio was assigned to Suruj Rambachan, in addition to his (Rambachan’s) duties as Minister of Local Government.

The Prime Minister spoke to the media at her private residence in Phillipine, San Fernando, around 8 p.m. and by that time she had not yet received Warner’s resignation.

Warner had left her residence some three hours before her announcement.

“I have accepted the offer of resig­nation from Jack Warner as Minister of National Security,” Persad-Bissessar said.

Asked if the resignation was of immediate effect, the Prime Minister replied: “I am awaiting the docu­ment for signature, but I have already informed His Excellency (President Anthony Carmona) by telephone. So it would take effect once my signature is attached to that document.”

Warner’s resignation followed numerous calls for him to step down as a Government minister, or for Persad-Bissessar to take action.

Warner, whose name has been at the centre of allegations of financial mismanagement while president of Concacaf and vice-­president of FIFA, did not speak to reporters on his way out.

Warner had resigned from all football posts in 2011 in the wake of a cash-for-votes bribery scandal involving fellow FIFA official Mohamed bin Hammam and members of the Caribbean Football Union, of which Warner was also president.

On Friday in Panama, chairman of the Concacaf Integrity Committee Sir David Simmons revealed a detailed report into allegations of million-dollar financial mismanagement by Warner and former Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer.

A delegate at the Concacaf Congress in Panama described Warner and Blazer as “white-collar thieves”.

The Prime Minister spoke to the media at her residence yesterday several hours after Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament were seen entering and exiting her gates from early afternoon, after word of an emergency meeting at her home.

Most of the Cabinet Ministers and MPs remained tight-tipped when questioned at the Prime Minister’s gates about what had been discussed.

Speculation that the meeting was to discuss Warner being fired, or handing in his resignation, was confirmed when Ramona Ramdial, Minister in the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, told the media when asked about the meeting: “I think you all already know what it is about.”

Minister of Community Develop­ment Winston “Gypsy” Peters confirmed to the media that Warner was discussed at the meeting.

Minister of Legal Affairs and political leader of the Congress of the People (COP) Prakash Ramadhar arrived at the residence around 2.30 p.m. and left the Prime Minister’s house 45 minutes later, together with COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Lincoln Douglas.

Ramadhar, Seepersad-Bachan and Douglas spent several minutes speaking in the car park of the residence, before leaving in separate vehicles.

On Saturday, Ramadhar issued a statement calling for Warner to step down or for him to be removed from Government.

The previous day, Seepersad-Bachan distanced the party from a statement by Minister of Communications Jamal Mohammed that Warner had the full support of his Cabinet colleagues.

Yesterday, Warner arrived at Persad-Bissessar’s home around 3 p.m. and left some two and a half hours later.

During that time he was seen in the porch area of the house holding papers in his hands, sitting and speaking with fellow ministers and entering and exiting the house.

Around 4.20 p.m., he entered the house and remained for an hour, before he exited and went into his vehicle and left the premises with two members of his security detail “riding shotgun”.

His vehicle did not stop for him to speak to reporters although the media signalled their interest to speak with him.

The Prime Minister was asked if Warner would remain as chairman of the United National Congress, of which she is political leader, and she replied: “That is not a post that I can take away. That is up to Mr Warner.”

Warner is also MP for Chaguanas West.

She said she would continue with her trip to Canada on Tuesday for a state visit, since it was planned three months ago and “we would have to honour our commitment there”.

Asked about her decision to name George as National Security Minister, she replied: “He has experience as a minister. He has experience and long years of public service.”

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