FORMER government minister Devant Maharaj today accused Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of trying to hide former sports minister Darryl Smith by reassigning him to the Housing Ministry.
Maharaj made the allegation hours after the Office of the Prime Minister indicated that Smith's reassignment was part of a major Cabinet reshuffle, in which Rowley was appointed Housing Minister.
In a statement, Maharaj recalled that Rowley expressed confidence in his Cabinet ministers at last Thursday's post-Cabinet news conference. "Where did the confidence go in less than a week Mr. Prime Minister?" Maharaj asked.
He said this was an "This act of musical chairs is nothing but a slap in the face of an already outraged nation." Maharaj said Smith should have been removed as a government minister pending an investigation of the allegations against him. Maharaj claimed putting Smith in the Housing Ministry where he could influence the distribution of housing is, "a reckless and irresponsible move." He claimed that under the former Kamla Persad-Bissessar government, any of his former colleagues would have been removed by Persad-Bissessar "in a heartbeat."
Former temporary independent senator Nikoli Edwards said Rowley must tell the population why he has so much faith in Smith to reassign him to another ministry. Edwards described Smith's reassignment as disappointing. He welcomed new Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe and felt she would do well in this post.
Princes Town MP Barry Padarath slammed Rowley's initial response to his call for the dismissal of Smith and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. Padarath said Rowley should focus on the issues and not his grammar.