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Prakash: Roberts free to have his say

By Newsday Staff Wednesday, June 4 2014

The Congress of the People (COP) will consider what Sports Minister Anil Roberts has to say about his suspension from the party in due course, political leader Prakash Ramadhar said last evening.

“He is entitled to a fair hearing,” he told Newsday in a brief telephone interview.

Asked about Roberts’ response that he had not been informed about the suspension and challenged it, Ramadhar said he informed the media on Monday night at COP’s Operations Centre at Charlieville about the suspension and it was the duty of the party’s general secretary to inform Roberts.

At press time, Ramadhar had not seen Roberts’ letter to chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan challenging her authority to suspend him, claiming she had no power to do so, and that the action to suspend him was fundamentally flawed.

Ramadhar could not say during the interview whether or not general secretary Clyde Weatherhead had informed Roberts, the D’Abadie/O’Meara MP, of the decision.

The suspension, he said, was for non-cooperation to clear the air on a video of someone resembling him rolling what appeared to be a marijuana joint.

Speaking with Newsday earlier in the day following a ceremony for distribution of certificates of comfort at Freeman Road Community Centre in St Augustine, Ramadhar said Roberts was entitled to challenge the decision and the party will deal with it.

“Unfortunately he was not an active member in the COP,” he said noting that Roberts ignored many invitations to meet with the party’s executive because he did not have the time to attend.

Asked whether Roberts will leave the party, he said he had not received word from Roberts about either leaving the COP or his response to the decision to suspend him.

“He is a sitting MP and he would continue to do so,” he said adding that “There is an (general) election next year.”

He reiterated the party had made a decision to suspend him and will take steps to formalise that.

His suspension was based on the latest issue of the video, Ramadhar said,“and he has a legal right to the presumption of innocence.”

Noting the issue was a political one and the party needed clarity to defend him and to defend the party, Ramadhar said COP was not able to obtain information from him so the suspension was based on his non corporation to get clarity.

“We leave it open for him to clarify for us and the country, issues around the video,” Ramadhar added.

COP has also said it would call on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to take action against Roberts as a Cabinet Minister.

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