Political analysts say the arrest of Marlene McDonald could be earthshaking for the People’s National Movement as they move toward the upcoming election season.
Political scientist Dr Winford James said while it was still premature to speak on the matter it was an unwelcome development for the government.
“I will say if the story is true it is quite disturbing, it would be an earthshaking one for the PNM in the context of local elections and next year, general elections and house of assembly elections,” he said.
“This was quite unexpected where I was concerned but we have to trust the DPP. If he says that there is enough basis for an arrest then it is quite serious and quite disturbing. Earthshaking for the PNM of course because this is a member who has had a very chequered history since her appointment as Minister of Government.”
James said the fact that McDonald had been previously been investigated made the latest development even more dire for the PNM.
“She was removed from office in relation to similar charges. She was reappointed because there was nothing apparently to support those earlier charges to come again which of course doubles our suspicion with respect to culpability. So I don’t know what kind of meltdown has occurred to Ms. McDonald but it’s quite serious, quite bad for the PNM I think,” he said.
Another political scientist, Dr Indira Rampersad said the arrest also placed the PNM on the backfoot given their history of highlighting the corruption allegations facing UNC members.
“There was a lot of consternation when she was brought back and not having been fully cleared. Clearly, it’s going to show misjudgment or an error in judgment on the part of the PNM to bring her back or the government to bring her back as a minister given the allegations that were over her head. Because a lot of allegations that had been over the heads of UNC persons and they had to resign or they were fired as the case would be and some of them are still being hounded. Now the shoe is on the other foot,” said Rampersad.
However, she said the situation would also hinge on if she is charged following this arrest.
PNM founding member Ferdie Ferreira felt it was too soon to speak on the matter but agreed it was a hindrance to the government.
“Any party facing that, any political party having a minister arrested before an election, whatever the consequence it is certainly gonna have an effect on the party. It is ammunition to the Opposition,” he said.
Another political commentator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, felt that McDonald’s detention only served to improve the public’s opinion of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, while both parties may attempt to spin the issue in the upcoming election campaigns.