A heated row over the state of emergency (SoE) resulted in a near physical confrontation between Cabinet colleagues-Minister of National Security Brigadier John Sandy and Sports Minister Anil Roberts. The heated confrontation is alleged to have occurred during last Thursday's Cabinet meeting. Sunday Guardian understands that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was forced to intervene in an attempt to quell the rowdy dispute. Reliable sources told Sunday Guardian that the exchange of words between the ministers broke out after Roberts blamed Sandy and the security forces for the failure of the state of emergency, saying that Sandy should have taken charge of the security forces.
However, Sandy, Sunday Guardian learnt, objected to the minister's accusations. "Minister Roberts was very critical of the Minister of National Security regarding the extension of the state of emergency.... The Minister of Sports felt that the extension of the state of emergency failed and served no purpose given that all detainees were released," top level sources revealed. According to well-placed sources, Sandy took objection to Roberts' comments boasting of his military background and expertise. But the minister's attempt to justify the extension of the state of emergency only further fuelled the "heat" between him and Roberts.
"While other ministers also had views on the extension of the state of emergency, the verbal exchange between both ministers was very heated," sources said. According to sources, Roberts was boisterous in his claims. "Minister Sandy continued to justify his decision to extend the state of emergency warning Minister Roberts that he was not intimidated by him. Some ministers had to beg them to cool it but nobody was listening and then Minister Roberts stormed out the meeting," sources added.
Sunday Guardian understands that Persad-Bissessar instructed Roberts to return to the meeting and reprimanded him for his outburst. While the PM acknowledged that Roberts had a point to make, she felt it could have been done in a better manner. He was asked to apologise to the National Security Minister. More than 400 detainees arrested under the state of emergency have been released. The state of emergency expires tomorrow. Contacted yesterday, Sandy did not deny or confirm the confrontation. On whether he intended to step down following claims from his own Cabinet colleague that the state of emergency had failed, Sandy replied via text message: "Resign?? Don't know about that one and where it came from..." However, several calls and a text message to Roberts went unanswered.