A qualified apology by Minister of State in the Ministry of the People, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, over comments she made about People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley has failed to q
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Anil blanks COP on ganja video
Congress of the People (COP) chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan yesterday knocked Sport Minister Anil Roberts for refusing to provide information to the party on a video which allegedly shows a government minister engaging in questionable behaviour. She made the comment moments after Roberts left a meeting called to address the video, which shows a man rolling a cigarette made of a substance resembling marijuana in the company of two women in a hotel room. The video, which was posted on various social media sites, has gone viral. Roberts has neither confirmed nor denied he is the person in the video but there have been repeated calls for him to be fired.
Seepersad-Bachan expressed disappointment that Roberts refused to co-operate with executive members, adding the matter needed to be immediately addressed. She said: “I am disappointed we were not able to get further clarification on the matter because I am sure Mr Roberts recognises that he is a member of the Congress of the People. He was elected on a COP ticket and he owes a duty to the party for us to ensure that this matter is fully clarified... you have a duty and an obligation to this party. “When the people elected you on that ticket there were certain expectations and we must fulfil these expectations... maybe the reports are inaccurate, maybe not in a fair way to him (Roberts) but I think at the end of the day, as public figures we have to be transparent and accountable and we have an obligation to put these matters to rest. This is going on too long in the public domain,” Seepersad-Bachan added.
She made the comments while fielding questions from the media at the COP’s Flagship House at Broome Street, Woodbrook. The COP executive had received a copy of the video for viewing but Roberts had asked that he be with them for that process and the meeting was called for that purpose and for him to answer questions on the issue but Seepersad-Bachan said very little was achieved yesterday. “It was a meeting where we wanted certain clarifications. A letter was sent to Mr Roberts last Thursday and a copy of this so-called video was requested. We did have a copy of it. We did not show it,” she said. “We sought to get clarification from Mr Roberts but he indicated to us that he is not willing to comment. So we really did not get any further information.” She said, however, that Roberts insisted during the meeting he had never used illegal drugs nor been involved in illicit activities.
Members who met with Roberts also included the party’s deputy leader Dr Anirudh Mahabir and general secretary Clyde Weatherhead. The meeting lasted for some ten to 15 minutes. Seepersad-Bachan said Roberts was adamant the matter was now in his attorney’s hands and therefore it was not permissible to comment on it. She added: “We wanted to bring this matter to an early determination. Unfortunately we were unable to achieve that. “Might I say I am not very satisfied with that position either but we are warned that the matter is in the hands of his attorneys and we cannot comment on it. “As it is now, not many of us are very happy with this situation and I know there are many, many members of our political party who are not very happy with this situation. “Our members have been calling on us to deal with this matter and we have been trying to deal with it in the best way that we can as a party.”
She said the meeting was also intended to determine a way forward. On the next step, she said a meeting would be called as soon as possible with the national executive and the matter has to be properly ventilated before any measures could be implemented.
Roberts: I’m still a COP member
The meeting began around 2 pm and Roberts emerged some 20 minutes later. He tried to avoid members of the media by hustling to get into a black, heavily-tinted SUV. He then advised media to “drink water in this hot sun.” Asked for his comment on what transpired, Roberts said: “Comments about what? A meeting with my party to determine the way forward to the election 2015 to ensure that Keith Rowley never becomes prime minister.” Asked whether he still remained a COP member Roberts said: “Of course.”
PM remains mum
At a mass political meeting at Mid Centre, Chaguanas, last Saturday, Persad-Bissessar had said she would only make a decision on Roberts’s political future with the party after carefully examining the existing evidence. She said then: “A decision must be made in the national interest. I will make it without fear and without favour. “But even as I am looking at this, I find it very, very strange, they say passing strange, that this was a video over a year-and-a-half ago. The PNM was saying that they had this video and they talking about it a year-and-a-half ago.”