Jack hits the road
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night announced that her embattled National Security Minister Austin 'Jack' Warner has resigned less than 72 hours after the publication of a report by the CONCACAF Integrity Committee that had been very critical of the former international football boss.
"I have today accepted the resignation of the minister of national security, Mr Jack Warner, from the Cabinet of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
"I wish to thank Mr Warner for his service to the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago," she said.
In a brief statement following an emergency Cabinet meeting at her private home at Palmiste, south of Port-of-Spain, Persad-Bissessar said she had advised President Anthony Carmona "to revoke the appointment of Mr Warner" and appoint Works and Infrastructure Minister Emmanuel George as the new national security minister.
She said Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan will take over George's portfolio.
Warner's removal from the Cabinet followed widespread calls for Persad-Bissessar to act immediately on the contents of the report of the CONCACAF Integrity Committee that was released in Panama on Friday.
The Congress of the People (COP), the second-biggest partner in the four-party coalition People's Partnership government, said that Warner, who served as CONCACAF president for nearly two decades, should either step down or be removed.
COP leader and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar said his party had taken note of the final report of the CONCACAF Integrity Committee after a year-long investigation into allegations against Warner and former General Secretary Chuck Blazer.
Former Barbados Chief Justice Sir David Simmons, who headed CONCACAF's Integrity Committee, presented the CONCACAF's congress in Panama with a detailed report into allegations of financial mismanagement by Warner and Blazer, based on documents and interviews with 38 people.
Neither Warner nor Blazer cooperated with the investigation.
"I have recounted a sad and sorry tale in the life of CONCACAF, a tale of abuse of position and power, by persons who assisted in bringing the organisation to profitability, but who enriched themselves at the expense of their very own organisations," said Sir David.
In a statement, Warner, 70, said while he has not had the chance to "fully read the report of CONCACAF today where allegations have been made against me, I left CONCACAF and turned my back on football two years ago. Since then, I have had no interest in any football-related matter".
He said the CONCACAF's report "is of no concern to me and as far as I am aware, it is baseless and malicious".