PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Speaker of the Trinidad and Tobago parliament, Wade Mark, Friday declared the Chaguanas West seat vacant, more than a week after former national security minister Austin ‘Jack’ Warner tendered his resignation as a legislator.
In his April 26 letter, Warner, 70, gave no indication as to why he had tendered his resignation, except to say “I enjoyed my stint in the Parliament” under the guidance of the Speaker, whom he said “at all times demonstrated fairness and impartiality in your judgment thereby maintaining the hallow sanctity of the House”.
Mark said that under the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution, where a vacancy occurs in the House of Representatives within the first four years of the life of the parliament a by-election “shall be held to fill such vacancy not later than 90 days from the date of the announcement by the Speaker of the vacancy.
“In view of the foregoing, I thereby declare the seat of Chaguanas West vacant,” Mark added.
Warner, the former international football executive, has already launched his bid for re-election even as the ruling United National Congress (UNC), the largest partner within the four-party coalition People’s Partnership government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, has indicated he is not an automatic choice to be the party’s candidate in its virtual stronghold.
Warner resigned as chairman of the UNC in the wake of a damning 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 as "fraudulent in their management” the conduct of the soccer confederation's affairs by Warner, who headed the body for 20 years, and American Chuck Blazer, who served as general secretary.
Neither Warner nor Blazer cooperated with the investigation.
Warner has described the report as “baseless and malicious” and told supporters on Sunday that he met with his English-based lawyers to discuss the report.
Warner said his decision to seek re-election is to re-validate his position with the Chaguanas West constituents, but media reports said that Warner is not expected to get the nod of the party and that trade minister Vasant Bharath is being tipped to represent the party.
Warner told supporters that he would present himself for screening by the UNC and would leave his options open if he is not selected.
Persad Bissessar has already hinted that should Warner decide to contest the by-election as an independent, he would most likely be expelled from the party he said he has been a member for the past 15 years.
In his campaign to date, Warner has been critical of some of his former ministerial colleagues, especially Local Government, Works and Transport Minister Suruj Rambachan, “who now boasts that he’s the Prime Minister’s leading speech writer and who, even up to today, has never apologised for including the concept of ‘rogue media’ in the PM’s last speech”.
Rambachan he said is part of the UNC screening committee and Warner described him as “the most vindictive man ever”.