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‘Too much hypocrisy’
Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner is putting together another political bombshell—one that further intrudes into the private life of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. On Friday night, speaking at an ILP forum in Arima, Warner pledged to “do anything” to get Persad-Bissessar out of office. He mentioned then that he had a big “mark to buss” on her.
The Sunday Guardian has learned that the “mark” will come from the recording of a conversation he had with National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) communications manager, Ingrid Ishmael, in which Ishmael divulges confidential information on Persad-Bissessar’s private life, including past liaisons during her stint as leader of the opposition and while in office.
The Sunday Guardian obtained copies of taped conversations between Warner and Ishmael, which spoke about women said to be connected to the Prime Minister.
The women, according to the audio, allegedly shared a history with Persad-Bissessar and are now working in various ministries.
One of them, who is said to be favoured by Persad-Bissessar, was appointed to a consulate.
According to the audio, Ishmael, who claimed to have worked with Persad-Bissessar for 23 years, is willing to testify in court and swear on the Bible that what she is saying is the truth.
The Sunday Guardian yesterday contacted Ishmael to verify that it was her voice on the recording.
“Yes, I know what you are talking about,” she said.
“I don’t know how you plan to deal with this but what I said in that conversation with Mr Warner is the truth,” Ishmael added.
Ishmael said she worked closely with Persad-Bissessar when she was the then opposition leader and was privy to several aspects of Persad-Bissessar’s private life.
Ishmael said she worked with Persad-Bissessar as communications specialist at the Ministries of Education, Legal Affairs and Office of the Attorney General, as well as media relations officer at the Office of the Opposition Leader.
Ishmael said she has only now decided to break her silence because of her beliefs.
“I don’t believe a woman who prides herself on being the ‘mother of the nation’ but carries on like this in her private life should be given another chance in office. I cannot stand the hypocrisy of it at all,” she said. Ishmael confirmed that she turned to Warner to vent.
“I was there when they spoke about Mr Warner even when he was in the party and they referred to Mr Warner in the most degrading terms,” she said.
“That hypocrisy was too much,” she said.
“I do not push for fame. I work very hard. I am not doing this for any monetary nothing. I want my country back...”
While there is no date on the audio recording, the two talk about needing the information from the women involved “like yesterday,” as the election was “only four weeks away.”
The timing of Warner’s latest bombshell comes in the last few weeks of the United National Congress’ campaign for re-election. But at least one political analyst is questioning whether revealing information on a politician’s private life would have the desired outcome.
Just a week ago, news broke that former Express investigative journalist Anika Gumbs was “traumatised” by what she claimed were sexual advances by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
Gumbs cited Rowley’s alleged behaviour as the reason behind her surprise resignation from the Express Newspaper.
Several calls and a text to Persad-Bissessar’s mobile phone went unanswered yesterday.
Political Analyst: Negative news could turn off key undecided voters
Analyst Mukesh Basdeo yesterday warned that while negative news about a politician’s private life may not affect loyal voters, it could turn off the key undecided voter.
“The idea of talking about the private lives of politicians is really to tarnish the public image of that politician. It is saying to the voters that this is the person behind that public image and to chip away at that,” Basdeo said.
“And obviously that could have an impact on the person vying for office.”
He said to alleviate this situation, the candidate-screening process must now move past the person’s viability for office and look at the person’s private life.
“It is now at the point where, like the US and the UK, we are holding persons in high office to a higher standard and we expect a certain type of behaviour from them because of the office they hold,” Basdeo said.
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