Jack Warner back in TT
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The suspended vice president of the football’s world governing body, FIFA, Austin Jack Warner returned home last night insisting that he has no plans to step down as a government minister, while blasting critics, including ministerial colleagues, over his ongoing battle to clear his name over allegations of bribery.
FIFA on Sunday suspended Warner while its Ethics Committee conducts an investigation in allegations that he and former presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam and two Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials were involved in offering US$40,000 to national associations of the Caribbean Football union (CFU) at a meeting on May 10 and 11 here, in return for their votes in the FIFA presidential election last Wednesday.
But Warner, who is also the Minister of Works and Transport in the Trinidad and Tobago, and has received a public endorsement of support from Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, told reporters that he has no intention of stepping down as a government minister and that the allegations made against him “was much bigger than Jack Warner” but against the entire Caribbean football federation.
“I will give everything I have to uphold the Caribbean,” Warner said.
“I truly am thankful for the support of the Prime Minister. Within 24 hours I got a letter of support from the Prime Minister indicating her support. I want to formally thank her,” Warner said adding that he understood his critics call.
“I understand my critics. I would have preferred that if their criticism was not motivated by blood lust or malice. They are smelling blood and I say I understand this but I do not accept this,” he said.
Warner expressed disappointment that Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, who is also seeking the leadership of the Congress of the People (COP) party, had publicly called on him to step down pending the outcome of the probe.
The COP is the second biggest partner in the five-member People’s Partnership coalition government here.
“My disappointment was Prakash Ramadhar, as a lawyer he should know better and he and I were good friends until now,” Warner said, adding that he would not be used for “political mileage”.
“How can you be a political leader? This for me is nonsense. I am heartened by the stand that Anil (Sports Minister and COP member) took, I’m totally disappointed in Prakash Ramadhar… But if he believes this will help him, I wish him well,” Warner said.
He said if he had to step down, he would of his own accord and he did not need to be prompted to do so.
Warner stressed that people should not cast judgments too early.
“I know people want blood, they want Jack Warner but let us not be too hasty,” he said.
Warner was greeted by several government ministers and supporters, some armed with placards reading “We support Jack Warner”.
“I must maintain I did no wrong,” he told supporters. (CMC)