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Monday 14 October 2019
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[UPDATED] PNM AXES MARLENE

One less deputy political leader

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, on Thursday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, on Thursday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

TWO days after firing Port of Spain MP Marlene McDonald as public administration minister, the Prime Minister has fired her again.

This time, he fired her as a PNM deputy leader.

In a post on his Facebook page, Dr Rowley said, "As the political leader of the People's National Movement, I have today revoked the appointment of Ms Marlene McDonald as deputy political leader of the PNM."

McDonald was appointed deputy leader for legislative matters in 2010.

She was previously fired from two ministerial appointments.

McDonald was fired as housing minister in March 2016 after questions were raised about her behaviour as a minister toward her common-law husband Michael Carew. It was alleged that in 2008, as community development minister, McDonald arranged for Carew to be given a HDC house in Fidelis Heights, St Augustine.

Questions were also raised about donations of $375,000 and $200,000 from that ministry to the Calabar Foundation while she was still in charge of the ministry. Carew was said to be a Calabar director at the time.

The Integrity Commission exonerated McDonald in December 2013 on the Calabar Foundation issue, but both concerns were raised again in 2015, when she became housing minister.

On July 2, 2017, Rowley fired McDonald as public utilities minister. Her dismissal was connected to the presence of Sea Lots personality Cedric Burke at the Office of the President in St Ann's for her swearing-in days before, on June 30.

Article 18 (2) of the PNM's constitution says the political leader appoints the party's deputy leaders after consultation with the chairman, vice-chairman and lady vice-chairman.

A deputy leader may also be removed from office by the political leader after consulting with these three people.

Deputy leaders are named at the party's annual convention. When a deputy leader is removed between conventions, the replacement is named at the party's general council. Deputy leaders are not elected by secret ballot like other party officials such as the political leader.

The general council can recommend to the annual convention that any officer can be dismissed and the matter decided upon by a motion passed at this convention or a special convention.

The PNM's remaining deputy political leaders are Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan (policy), former minister Joan Yuille-Williams (party and election matters) and Tobago House of Assembly chief secretary Kelvin Charles.

On Sunday, Rowley advised the President to revoke McDonald's ministerial appointment.

Last week, McDonald and Carew were arrested as part of an ongoing police investigation into allegations of corruption.

She was granted $2 million bail in absentia by Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle in the Eighth Port of Spain Magistrates' Court on Monday.

McDonald fell ill earlier in the day and was taken to the St Clair Medical Centre.

Also granted bail were Carew ($500,000); former National Commission for Self Help head Edgar Zephyrine ($1 million); Victor McEachrane ($400,000) and Wayne Anthony ($100,000). McDonald, Carew, Zephyrine, McEachrane and Anthony are due to appear in court on September 9.

In a statement on Monday, the PNM said while it was saddened by the turn of events, it thanked McDonald for her yeoman service as deputy leader, as an MP for the last 12 years and as opposition chief whip from 2010-2015.

The PNM said it has long stood on the side of the law. Under Rowley's stewardship, it said, it has been vehement in denouncing corruption and wrongdoing, irrespective of the perpetrator's creed, colour, social status, gender or political affiliation.

The party said it joins with McDonald's constituents in praying for her health and continued well-being "as she traverses this difficult part of her life's journey."

This story was originally published with the title "PM fires Marlene a fourth time" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


THE Prime Minister has fired Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald as a PNM deputy leader. In a post on his Facebook page, Dr Rowley announced, "as the political leader of the People's National Movement, I have today revoked the appointment of Ms Marlene McDonald as deputy political leader of the PNM."

McDonald was first appointed a deputy leader with responsibility for legislative matters in 2010. Rowley fired McDonald as public administration minister on Sunday after she and her common-law husband Michael Carew were arrested by police as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption.

Mc Donald is no stranger to controversy. She was axed as housing minister in March 2016 after questions were raised about her behaviour as a minister toward her companion. In June 2017, McDonald was fired as public utilities minister after Sea Lots businessman Cedric “Burkie” Burke attended her swearing in ceremony at the Office of the President in St Ann's.

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