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Pressure from US or pre-empting Jack?
What is behind Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s unprecedented walkout of the Parliament last Friday, she having petitioned MP Jack Warner to forgo his right to due process against extradition and leave immediately for the United States?
She said to the effect, that her former acting prime minister and national security minister, chairman of her UNC party, should place himself at the disposal of the Department of Justice and the FBI and spill his guts on corruption in Fifa and his role in it.
Was she operating under pressure from Washington to deliver Warner without delay? Or is it fear of Warner making good on his promise to associate her and the United National Congress with the alleged bribe money he received in his role as vice president of Fifa and president of Concacaf?
The PM said her plea was based on patriotic zeal for her country: “Do not take down this country to whatever place you might be going to,” pleaded the Prime Minister. She laid full and singular responsibility for what she said was the negative image of this country being painted with one man alone, Warner.
Walking out of Parliament is an indication of frustration in powerlessness and is usually reserved for the opposition party in the House. Opposition members usually take the action when they can do nothing else and use it as a strategy to signal to the electorate what it believes to be government wrongdoing.
When Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar walked out after one of her most lively and engaging speeches in the House in a long time, she revealed quite a measure of anxiety instigated by powerless frustration of a kind different with an opposition MP.
Here is Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, who under the constitutional arrangements has almost total power at her disposal but unable to prevent Warner from raising suspicions about her and the dealings of her government. This notwithstanding, this omnipotent PM who has had her way to do as she chooses in the Parliament, finds herself unable to shut-up the man she sang, danced and celebrated with on that night of May 24, 2010 for his role in having her become prime minister.
As another possible explanation for the PM’s emotional outburst and her very anti-democratic demands on Warner’s right to due process, maybe the T&T government is being hustled by the US authorities who cannot wait a possible three years for Warner to contest his extradition.
The reality is if the USA and the United Kingdom are to be the new hosts of the World Cup games in 2018 and 2022, the US justice system must first prove that the games were awarded to Russia and Qatar through corrupt Fifa dealings.
Secondly, as another possible reason for this new track embarked upon by PM Persad-Bissessar and echoed by the COP leader Prakash Ramadhar and other ministers, the election campaign is upon the country and the outside date for holding the poll is mid September. Therefore, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar and her colleagues would feel far safer with Warner locked-away in a cell in some US prison rather than out on the hustings seeking to include them all in the indictment against him for racketeering and bribery.
Surely it is acceptable if Warner and his attorneys determine for themselves that entering into some form of plea bargaining with the US authorities is their best option. But it cannot be acceptable that Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar (SC), head of government, is seeking to deny Warner his rights to contest against being extradited. She and others engaged in no such persuasion when former UNC financiers, Galbaransingh and Ferguson were being sought by the US authorities. Why this hustling of Warner even before he has seen the charges against him?
Now it is acceptable for the Prime Minister to feel embarrassed if she thinks the country is receiving negative international press. But what of that period when Warner, then senior cabinet minister, refused to go to the hearings of Fifa’s Ethics Committee, the Court for Arbitration of Sports and the Sir David Simmons Tribunal to clear his name?
Instead of feeling embarrassed then, the PM said to the effect that she and the government knew little about the procedures of Fifa and so could not conclude on Warner. Indeed, even when the allegations broke out about Warner and Mohammed bin Hamman supposedly collaborating to pass large quantities of US dollars through this country without customs inspection and to distribute the cash to officials of the Caribbean Football Union as bribes, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar did not report any embarrassment. Why now?
So passionate was PM Persad-Bissessar last Friday about Warner’s damage to the reputation of the country she even slipped into the popular culture quoting Lord Melody’s Shame and Scandal in the Family. She, however, forgot that the story line of the calypso finds not only “Papa, but Mama too, confessing to bringing shame and scandal in the family.
“The moral of my song is what you do will finally catch up with you.”—Lord Melody 1962, Shame and Scandal in the Family.
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