Do not bully me.
That was the response of Congress of the People (COP) chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan to Sport Minister Anil Roberts’s decision to write to her and fight the party on its decision to suspend him.
“He is not going to bully me and I ask Mr Roberts to not bully me or fight the COP. We have opened the door for him to come back in and co-operate with the COP,” said Seepersad-Bachan.
The COP executive decided on Monday night to suspend Roberts for his failure to cooperate and clear the air on a video of someone resembling him rolling a marijuana joint.
The video was shown on TV6 News on May 21 and went viral on social media.
Roberts was invited to a meeting last Thursday to answer questions on the video by a COP team, which included Seepersad-Bachan, but, he refused to answer, saying the issue was in his lawyers’ hands.
Seepersad-Bachan yesterday pointed out that Roberts did not meet with her alone but also with members Clive Weatherhead, Dr Anirudh Mahabir and Ann MacPhilip and he refused to give answers.
COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar on Monday said the executive decided to suspend Roberts as he had failed to clarify whether it was him in the video and if there was any illegality being performed.
Ramadhar said further that Roberts should resign as Sport Minister until the issue was resolved and public perception was assuaged.
Roberts yesterday directed his letter to Seepersad-Bachan as opposed to Ramadhar who made the announcement of the executive decision.
Seepersad-Bachan questioned why Roberts was training his guns on her when it was an executive decision.
“It was a national executive decision, not a decision of Carolyn Seepersad. I am not the only member of the team,” said Seepersad-Bachan.
In his letter to her, Roberts stated he was never informed of his suspension and further asked Seepersad-Bachan to state which provision of the COP constitution the executive used to suspend him.
He further accused Seepersad-Bachan of “gallerying” herself on radio, alleging that the party had taken action against him.
Roberts stated he was invited to a discussion last Thursday and it was not made clear what allegation or case he had to answer, if any.
He stated it was never represented to him that any adverse finding or action would be taken against him.
Roberts took issue with reports of a committee set up by Seepersad-Bachan which she headed.
He stated Seepersad-Bachan should recuse herself from any committee on this matter as she had spoken to the media on the issue even before a meeting was held with him last Thursday.
He claimed Seepersad-Bachan prejudged the issue by this move.
Roberts asked Seepersad-Bachan to advise under what power of the constitution he was suspended.
“It is my position that not only you have absolutely no power to so do, but in any event, your actions and that of the committee are fundamentally flawed, and are more aimed at creating a veneer of some sort of action having been taken to placate others. Unfortunately, this sort of ineffectual action is what has come to typify your leadership,” he stated.
Seepersad-Bachan told the Express yesterday she did receive Roberts’s letter and will reply in due course.
She explained there was no provision in the COP’s constitution which speaks to suspension but a new constitution has been drafted which will include expulsion.
Seepersad-Bachan said the executive decided to suspend Roberts in accordance with the party’s code of ethics as it relates to public figures.
She said the COP executive has a duty and responsibility to act and safeguard the interest of the party and therefore it was decided Roberts would not be able to represent the COP anymore.
Seepersad-Bachan said the COP was committed to the People’s Partnership and Roberts was elected as the representative for D’Abadie/O’Meara on a COP ticket.
She said it was within the Prime Minister’s remit to remove Roberts from the Cabinet but when it came to the COP, the executive decided to ban him from party activities in keeping with the party’s principles and code of ethics.
She said a person is innocent until proven guilty but Roberts has not denied whether it was him in the video.
Seepersad-Bachan said the COP has always taken a position on matters of national concern such as the Section 34 controversy which led to the firing of former justice minister Herbert Volney.