Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has sacked his Minister of Public Utilities Marlene McDonald, just two days after appointing her in the first place.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister stated that Rowley “today advised President Anthony Carmona to revoke the appointment of Ms Marlene McDonald, Minister of Public Utilities with immediate effect.”
Rowley is believed to have asked McDonald to resign on Saturday, less than 24 hours after she was sworn in by Carmona. The Port of Spain South MP apparently resisted.
The Office of the Prime Minister gave no reason for McDonald’s sacking but, almost certainly, it was related to her choice of guest at the swearing in ceremony as she turned up with Cedric “Godfather Burkie” Burke amongst her entourage.
Burke, 42, is the owner of Good Fellas Security and Burke and Company Ltd construction company. However, he is also touted as the president of the Rasta City gang and was arrested under the Anti-Gang legislation during the 2011 State of Emergency. He was also arrested, two years later, during a raid in Sea Lots when police described him as “a major player” in the area.
When Burke was arrested during the State of Emergency, police apprehended him at the Hyatt hotel where he had been paying in excess of TT$900 a night in cash during his stay.
McDonald insisted Burke was a good fellah—in the nicest sense of the word.
“You noticed upstairs, I have two persons upstairs, and you know why I invited them here?” McDonald asked the media, rhetorically. “They are from East Port of Spain, from the Sea Lots area. They represent the best of what East Port of Spain has to offer.
“We are not just nobody or anybody, we are people, first and foremost.”
Rowley apparently disagreed. McDonald’s reappointment was controversial from the start, as she has dealt with her share of controversy related to benefits provided to her common-law husband, Michael Carew. The Trinidad Guardian suggested she is still under investigation from the Integrity Commission.
McDonald remains a MP and the PNM Deputy Political Leader while she also chairs at least one parliamentary committee.
Statement from the Office of the Prime Minister:
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has today advised President Anthony Carmona to revoke the appointment of Ms Marlene McDonald, Minister of Public Utilities with immediate effect.
Ms McDonald was recently sworn in as Minister in the Ministry of Public Utilities after a sixteen (16) month period of absence from the Cabinet.
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.