Published On: Mon, Jul 3rd, 2017

Trinidad Minister fired for second time — this time just 48 hours after returning to cabinet

Marlene McDonald is likely now the shortest-serving minister in Trinidad’s history.

marlene-mcdonaldPORT OF SPAIN - Before even getting the chance to take her seat in Dr Keith Rowley’s Cabinet, after getting a second chance to be a minister, Marlene McDonald has been fired – again.

And it appears it’s all over someone who showed up as her guest at her swearing-in.

Just two days after McDonald was sworn in as Public Utilities Minister, the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister advised President Anthony Carmona to revoke her appointment, making her likely the shortest-serving minister in the country’s history.

McDonald had first been fired as Housing and Urban Development Minister in March 2016, after hiring her common-law husband Michael Carew and his brother at her constituency office, in breach of Parliament rules, and amid questions about donations from her ministry to a foundation, of which Carew was said to be a director.

She was returned to Cabinet in a reshuffle announced by Rowley last Wednesday, and officially took the oath of office two days later.

Rowley had defended his decision to allow McDonald back into the fold, saying that the Integrity Commission had found no basis to conclude that she had breached the Integrity in Public Life Act. He had also indicated that if something else came up against McDonald, he would act.

However, eyebrows and questions were raised when photos surfaced of Cedric Burke, who was detained in the 2011 state of emergency and charged with being a gang leader – although subsequently freed –, in photos from the swearing-in ceremony that took place around 1:30 last Friday.

And at 1:08 p.m. on Sunday, the media was informed of McDonald’s dismissal in a statement.

“Prime Minister Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley has today advised President Anthony Carmona to revoke the appointment of Ms. Marlene McDonald, Minister of Public Utilities, with immediate effect,” it read.

“The President has also been advised that the portfolio of Public Utilities should be assigned to the Prime Minister who will now assume these duties in addition to his other responsibilities.”

The statement did not disclose why McDonald was dismissed, but speculation is rife that her decision to invite the reputed gang leader to her swearing-in ceremony was that blew her second chance.

Reports indicate that after it was brought to his attention who Burke was, the Prime Minister called McDonald on Saturday and asked for her resignation. She reportedly asked for more time, but was given her revocation papers yesterday.

However, Burke has denied that the minister had invited him to the ceremony. He told reporters that he had accompanied someone else to the event, but also insisted that he was not involved in any criminal activity as was being suggested.

In a statement issued yesterday on the heels of McDonald’s firing, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar called for fresh general elections, saying that the latest dismissal “is yet another example of the questionable judgment of the Prime Minister and demonstrates his unfitness for office”.

“The Prime Minister should understand that the country has lost patience with his incompetence and should now remove himself from office and seek a fresh mandate,” she said.

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