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YOU HAVE NO POWER

By SEAN DOUGLAS Wednesday, June 4 2014

click on pic to zoom in

A defiant Sports Minister Anil Roberts yesterday said the leadership of the Congress of the People (COP) has no power to suspend him over the recent video of a man resembling a Cabinet Minister dabbling in a substance that resembles marijuana.

“Kindly advise under what power under the Constitution you have purported to ‘suspend’ me,” he challenged.

“It is my position that not only do you have absolutely no power to so do, but in any event, your actions and that of the Committee are fundamentally flawed, and are more aimed at creating a veneer of some sort of action having been taken to placate others.”

Roberts argued his case against suspension in a letter (dated yesterday) to COP chairman, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, copies of which were sent to media houses. Last Thursday, Seepersad-Bachan told reporters she was disappointed in Roberts for his alleged refusal to cooperate with a team of national executive members who had met at the COP’s base at Flagship House in Port-of-Spain to ask him about the video.

Roberts himself had told reporters he was still a member of the COP. Then by Monday, COP leader Prakash Ramadhar said no-one is above scrutiny and that the national executive had suspended Roberts for his alleged failure to cooperate.

“Until he does so, the COP will not allow him to participate or represent the party in any form or fashion,” said Ramadhar. “He should step aside as a Government Minister until he clarifies the video, whether first of all he is in it and two, whether an illegality was taking place.”

Yet Roberts in his letter yesterday said the suspension typified the allegedly ineffectual leadership of the COP executive, and he urged clarification on several issues he had raised.

His letter began by complaining that he had not even been formally notified of his alleged suspension but had learnt of it via yesterday’s print and electronic media.

“Suffice to say, some 15 hours after which the decision was allegedly made and conveyed to the national media in time to find its way into the printed daily press..., as of 12 noon today, June, 3, 2014, I am yet to receive any notification from you or your representative about this reported state of affairs,” he bemoaned.

“Indeed, rather than take the time to pen me the contents of your alleged decision, I have received several reports that you were heard ‘gallerying’ yourself on the radio this morning (yesterday), alleging that the party had taken action.”

Roberts said it is apparently much easier to pontificate about procedure and transparency than to adhere to same. He challenged the fairness of the disciplinary procedures used by the COP.

“I was invited to a discussion on Thursday, May, 30, 2014, and it was not made clear what allegation or case I had to answer, if any,” he related, but the date was a typo as the meeting took place on May 29.

“Indeed, it was never represented to me that any adverse finding or action would be taken against me.”

Roberts asked whether Seepersad-Bachan should head any such committee, alleging that she had pre-judged him.

“Clearly you pre-judged the issue, and ought not to have placed yourself in a position to purport to make decisions about me,” hit Roberts.

“Clearly, you ought to recuse yourself...Indeed you are quoted in the Guardian newspaper for the very May, 30, 2014 saying, ‘We may have a discussion with him and find out from the others what they want to do, but to me it is a very straightforward issue’.”

Meanwhile last evening, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who heads the Cabinet of which Roberts is a member, told reporters at her Siparia constituency office that she had asked Roberts for a report on the matter which she is now awaiting. She took no further questions as she had to attend an event in the constituency.

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