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COP suspends Roberts over ganja video
The Congress of the People last night suspended Sports Minister Anil Roberts from the party over his failure to co-operate with them in the controversial ganja video matter. The decision was taken following an emergency meeting at COP’s Operations Centre in Charlieville, Chaguanas. It came more than two weeks after the video, which shows a man resembling a Government minister rolling what appears to be a marijuana cigarette in a hotel room with two women, was aired.
Roberts has refused to confirm or deny whether he is the person in the video and last week also refused to co-operate with COP executives at a meeting specifically called to view the video and address the matter. In making the announcement following last night’s meeting, COP leader Prakash Ramadhar said the party felt it had no other option, as the matter has long been occupying public debate. He said after serious consideration, the executive agreed that Roberts did not co-operate with them to clarify the issue, whether he was in the video and whether any illegal activity was being committed at the time.
Based on his failure to co-operate, Ramadhar said they agreed that he will not be allowed to participate in, or represent the party in any form or fashion and they will also take steps to have him removed as a member. Asked if this was a suspension, Ramadhar said yes, adding that according to the Westminster system that we follow, in a situation where an issue is unresolved the minister should step aside. He suggested that Roberts should step aside as a Government Minister as well, but said for now the COP was doing its part. “We will be exploring every option to sever any and every tie with Roberts,” he said.
Noting that Roberts was entitled to the presumption of innocence before guilt, Ramadhar said he will still be given an opportunity for a fair hearing before the executive if he chooses to do so.
Asked about the possibility of Roberts suing over the decision, Ramadhar said their decision was purely political one, but said they would deal with the legal matter when and if it comes.
Asked whether he felt Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar should remove Roberts from her Cabinet, he said, “The Prime Minister is entitled to her processes, but he’s a member of the party and he went into the election on a COP ticket. The Prime Minister will have her responsibility.” He said the decision was to be communicated to Roberts last night.