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20th departure from government

By Ria Taitt

 The pressure had been mounting for some months now. And finally it happened — symbolically on the eve of Emancipation Day.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday announced she agreed to accept the resignation of Sport Minister Anil Roberts.

Roberts’ departure brings to 20 the number of persons from the People’s Partnership administration who have either lost their ministerial portfolio or senatorial seat. It is a record for any government in this country.


Eleven ministers were fired:

They were Mary King, Subhas Panday, Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, Nan Ramgoolam, Verna St Rose Greaves, Collin Partap, Herbert Volney, John Sandy, Christlyn Moore, Jamal Mohammed, Glenn Ramadharsingh and Roberts.

Of the 11 fired, four were axed in response to specific allegations—Partap, Volney, King and Ramadharsingh—while the other seven lost their portfolio as the result of a Cabinet reshuffle.

Additionally three ministers—Jack Warner, Chandresh Sharma and now Roberts--resigned, for ethical issues.

 Nicole Dyer-Griffith lost her parliamentary secretary porfolio and her place in the Senate as a result of a Cabinet reshuffle.

And three senators without portfolio—Patrick Watson, Dhanny Maharaj and Terrance Daynes--had their senatorial appointments revoked, while two other senators- David Abdulah and Lyndira Oudit, a former Vice-President of the Senate, resigned their seats, Movement for Social Justice severed links with the ruling coalition following repeated criticisms of its performance, while Oudit resigned to join the Independent Liberal Party. 

Of the 11 ministers fired, eight lost both the ministry and their place in the Senate simultaneously. They were King, Panday, Baptiste-Cornelis, Ramgoolam, St Rose-Greaves, Sandy, Moore and Mohammed.

The remaining three who were fired--Partap, Volney and Ramadharsingh—kept their seats in the House of Representatives.

  Volney, however, lost his seat in the House of Representatives, one year after his sacking, when he resigned from the United National Congress (UNC) and made history by being the only person to have lost his seat as a consequence of the application of the provisions of the Crossing of the Floor Act. 

Warner, who resigned as a minister, voluntarily resigned his seat in Parliament, making history, too, when he launched a new party (Independent Liberal Party) and successfully defended the Chaguanas West seat under the ILP banner in a by-election.

It is not clear whether Roberts would resign his seat in the Parliament. If not, he joins the growing backbench of former ministers which includes Ramadharsingh, Partap and Sharma. If he chooses to resign his seat, there would be no by-election because the resignation has come in the last session of the Parliament. 

 
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