|ON HIS OWN: Leader of the new Independent Liberal Party (ILP), |
Jack Warner, arrives last night at the Pierre Road Recreation Ground,
Charlieville, where he held a campaign meeting for the Chaguanas
West by-election . —Photo: Micheal Bruce
A defiant Jack Warner last night launched his counter-attack, announcing a new party as part of his plan to regain the Chaguanas West seat.
The party is called the Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
Warner spent a lot of time in his speech in Pierre Road, Felicity, dealing with what he saw as the betrayal of the (United National Congress) UNC cabal not only to himself but to the ordinary grassroot member of the UNC.
Warner said the symbol of the party was the sugarcane next to an oil rig, enshrined by two circles. “The sugarcane represents our coming together from Africa and India and conjuring up images of the struggle from slavery to indentureship from which we have been emancipated and remains a solid remainder that never again will we be enslaved physically, mentally or politically,” he said.
He said sugarcane and the oil rig represented the struggle and tears of the people of Chaguanas West. “The oil is the bloodline of our economy...and with sugarcane, the message is our history will not be forgotten,” Warner said.
Warner said the party’s colour, green, embodied ideas associated with fertility, life and growth. It was the colour of beginnings, he noted, by associating with the colour green, his supporters were demanding a society with “less crime, less corruption, less immorality and much much more integrity”. Green, he underlined, “symbolises a people who are well balanced, in harmony and are of a sound mind, and represents good judgment and morality”.
Warner said following the July 29 by-election, he plans to formally apply, on behalf of the ILP, to become a full-fledged partner in the People’s Partnership coalition Government.
Nevertheless, Warner slammed his former colleagues in the People’s Partnership coalition Government whom, he said, had changed since getting office.
“Before 2010, they used to walk the streets among you...in those days,they used to give you their phone numbers...and waved to you and your children.... Today, they move around in chauffeur-driven high-priced SUVs and cars— some bought and some leased (a reference to Housing Minister Dr Roodal Roodal)—their faces are no longer friendly, their humility is gone. Their children are no longer going to the same schools as yours, their telephone numbers have changed, and if by chance you get it, the only way you can communicate with them is by text.
“That is not the change you voted for on May 24, 2010,” he said, “but that is the representation they want to offer you now in Chaguanas West.”
“One thing of which I am sure is that neemakharams don’t live here in Chaguanas West, they only visit from time to time,” he declared.
Warner told his audience to ask those who have become arrogant about the contracts they farm out to their friends and family who never supported the UNC while it was in opposition and who were now benefitting more than “you the members and supporters”.
“Ask them about the people they have appointed to high office, many with fraudulent CVs, who did nothing for this party and who never stayed loyal when the chips were down but who now eat from the trough of the State while our own people, our own soldiers, are condemned to the throes of poverty,” Warner said.
Warner suggested that persons loyal to him were being victimised. “When they come to talk about loyalty, ask them of the UNC workers they fired and the others whom they are threatening to fire from URP (Unemployment Relief Programm ) and CEPEP (Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme). Ask them about the member of gangs in URP they have reduced, so plenty of you cannot get any work. Ask them why they are about to fire some CEPEP contractor who support me, under the guise that they have completed their two-year contracts. How vindictive can they be?” he asked.
He said the Government was now attacking him, the police, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the media. Warner, who said he was the Prime Minister’s staunchest defender, added she did not tell the population of the charity he dispen sed such as giving the children of sugarcane workers nine university scholarships or paying the salaries of UNC MPs during the 18/18 tie. Instead, he said, the Prime Minister was telling untruths about his inability to travel.
Warner said during his period as a minister, he travelled to Jamaica in 2011 at no cost to the taxpayer; to the US twice—on May 27, 2012, and returned on May 28; and again on November 24, 2012, and returned on November 26.
“My passport can easily attest to these dates. On both occasions, the PM gave me permission to travel,” he said. He added that on the second occasion, Clifton De Coteau was appointed to act as Minister of National Security. He read the two letters (of approval) from the Prime Minister. “How could the Honourable Prime Minister forget so conveniently and so quickly? Did she also forget that I had acted for her as prime minister on five occasions?” Warner asked.
However, Warner urged the crowd to blame the cabal, not Persad-Bissessar.
Warner said out of the 31 party groups in Chaguanas, all nominated him. Of his opponent, Khadijah Ameen, he asked: “Which party groups nominated her and at which meetings?”
Warner said TT food cards, URP and CEPEP jobs were being widely distributed at Ameen’s office now. He said the party did not learn its lesson from Tobago (elections). “He said the green jersey his supporters were wearing, he paid for with his blood, sweat and tears. “SIS did not buy my jerseys; I bought my own,” he said.
It was only four days ago that Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar said Warner remained a member of the UNC. Warner resigned his position in the Cabinet and his seat in the Parliament in April. He sought to contest the Chaguanas West seat in the by-election, but he was bypassed in favour of Khadijah Ameen.
Warner has been one of the dominant personalities in the UNC and has argued that his support, both political and financial, has been critical to the party’s electoral success. Whether any other MPs would join him in his new party remains to be seen. St Joseph MP Herbert Volney on Friday declared his support for Warner, but that was before Warner announced his new party.