UNC rejects Jack Warner for by-election

(Trinidad Express) Jack Warner will be standing alone in his bid to be re-elected as the Chaguanas West MP.

The by-election in Chaguanas West is set to be a heated one as former government minister and United National Congress (UNC) chairman Warner will not receive party approval to re-contest and will have to go it as an independent candidate.

Party sources told the Express yesterday that Trade Minister Vasant Bharath, who is also an adviser to the UNC executive, is being considered to run for the by-election, following Warner’s resignation as MP on April 26.

Bharath, who is on official business in Guyana, told the Express he was not aware of this and he has not been approached.

However, when asked if he would accept if requested, Bharath said he was certain the best decisions in the interest of the par­ty and the people will be made.

Warner, in a brief interview with the Express, said he preferred to speak tomorrow when he officially launches his re-election campaign.

Warner will kick off his campaign with a motorcade starting at 1 p.m at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, followed by a public meeting in Felicity.

While the Chaguanas West constituency executive and hundreds of constituents came out in full force and support of War­ner last week Thursday at a public meeting in Pierre Road, Fe­­li­city, it remains to be seen whe­ther the show of strength will continue.

Sources told the Express that correspondence and communication went out, informing activists and supporters, as well as constituency executives, MPs and party members, to distance themselves from Warner’s campaign.

On Thursday, the UNC executive, led by Prime Minister and UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, held a meeting at Rienzi Complex, Couva, to discuss the issue.

Sources told the Express that concerns were raised about War­­ner re-contesting the seat on a UNC ticket, given the fact that his name was not yet cleared on matters pertaining to his tenure at football bodies FIFA and Concacaf.

Warner resigned as National Security Minister and UNC party chairman, as well as Chaguanas West MP, following the disclosure of a Concacaf integrity committee report in Panama which found he was fraudulent in his management of Concacaf as the organisation’s president.

Warner, at his public meeting in Felicity last week, had already hinted he was prepared to go it alone should he not get the support of the UNC.

In a clear anticipation of rejection by party authorities to contest the seat for the UNC, War­ner’s advertisement campaign has now excluded the party logo and colours.

The Express understands that disciplinary action can be taken against Warner should he run as an independent candidate.

It would be a breach if the party approves one candidate to contest the seat and another par­ty member challenges that candidate.

The Express was told that War­ner will continue with his campaign and is determined to maintain his representation of the people of Chaguanas West.

In 2010, Warner received an overwhelming 19,000 votes for the Chaguanas West seat in the general election, the highest obtained.

Another bone of contention is the signal by the Congress of the People (COP) that they, too, desire to contest the Chaguanas West seat.

The COP has its party operations centre based in Charlieville.

On Wednesday, former prime minister and ex-UNC leader Basdeo Panday told the Express it would be a contradiction if Persad-Bissessar and the UNC exec­utive allow Warner to contest the Chaguanas West by-election as his resignations as minister and party chairman were accepted by the Prime Minister, following the Concacaf report against him.

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