Sunday, July 7, 2013

Guest Commenatry: Cutting ties or messy divorce? - by Dr Hamid Ghany

As the by-election campaign for Chaguanas West took a virulent turn last week, it was apparent that the stage was being set for Jack Warner to cut his ties to the UNC. After his visit to the offices of the Elections and Boundaries Commission to explore his options, there have been rumours that he is getting ready to launch a new political party with a symbol that is awaiting approval by the commission. 

Up to the ofwriting, the only signal that had been sent by him was his declaration of a colour shift from yellow to green. Last Monday, CNC3 announced breaking news during its evening broadcast to say that Warner had told a cottage meeting that he would be contesting the by-election as a candidate. 

About an hour and a half later, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was responding to that breaking news with a vocabulary that she had not used before in relation to Warner. He announced that he was challenging the party and she responded by revealing matters that she had not previously raised with her audiences about him.

In this political break-up, Warner is adopting the approach that the Prime Minister is being held prisoner by a cabal that is misdirecting her and she is saying that Warner never consulted anyone about resigning and just left. He is saying that her comments are not true about his family being investigated by the FBI and she is saying that all allegations against him have not been cleared up.

For all of the internal difficulties that this coalition government has endured, this situation now represents the first major crisis that it has had to face. The Opposition PNM has failed to cause any fears for this Government, but Jack Warner is a different story. 

The PNM is standing by and hoping that a fracture in the UNC will provide it with a pathway back to power that it has been hoping for. As a hapless bystander in Chaguanas West, the PNM can only hope that a political party led by Jack Warner will do serious damage to the UNC. 

The problem is that whichever way the result goes in Chaguanas West, the PNM may also have its own problems to face in other parts of the country if they welcome Warner’s current actions out of political convenience. 

The reason why Warner has become a different force in the political arena at this time is based on the fact that he has identified a cabal that he is fighting in the UNC, which will appeal to many PNM-leaning voters, while at the same time he has built a reputation for himself as a supporter of Indian causes against a dominant Afro-creole state apparatus. Whether this political strategy can work for him is left to be seen. 

The UNC is reminding its supporters of the actions of three former ministers in 2001, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Ralph Maraj and Trevor Sudama, who broke with Basdeo Panday and supported Patrick Manning and the PNM. The key to this analogy is to observe whether Warner will seek to form any alliance with the PNM or whether he will remain hostile to them. 

The PNM has demonstrated a trend of late whereby they are prepared to accommodate those who were previously hostile to them. In recent times, they have shared a platform with Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, David Abdulah, Vincent Cabrera and others. 

More recently, they have shifted from their condemnation of Herbert Volney last year during the Section 34 controversy to validating his comments against Anand Ramlogan, the Attorney General, during the recent no-confidence motion debate. Will they adopt a similar conciliatory approach towards Warner, given their earlier condemnation of him?

Warner was previously able to bring Basdeo Panday to his knees in 2009 and then he separated from Ramesh Maharaj, right after Panday named a date for the internal elections in the UNC that were held in January 2010. The UNC elected a new leader who would become Prime Minister in a matter of months.
In 2011, Warner also made an effort to change the world of Fifa, when he tried to remove Sepp Blatter by supporting Mohammed Bin Hammam against him. That effort led to his resignation from Fifa with a trail of question marks left behind. 

Warner is now embarking on his latest move to “change the politics of this country.” Will his efforts bring the kind of success that he enjoyed in 2010 when he was elected chairman of the UNC, or will he face a Bin Hammam-type failure? 

The voters of Chaguanas West will make that determination on July 29. The fact that Warner is cutting his ties with the UNC and is prepared to face off with the party in a direct contest really makes this a showdown between the Prime Minister and himself. 

Despite this, he is still adopting the view that his problem is not with her but with those whom he alleges are holding her prisoner. Will this lead to an amicable separation or a messy divorce?

Editor's note: On Friday, Warner launched a new party, the Independent Liberal Party, and declared that he wants no alliance with the PNM. In addition he announced that he wants to seek membership for his party in the People's Partnership.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai