Toney: Anil quits COP, then changes mind
Sport Minister Anil Roberts resigned from the Congress of the People (COP) two weeks ago. Days later, after consultation with another party member, he reconsidered and asked that it be withdrawn. Party members are concerned that while the resignation was official, the withdrawal was based on trust and wondered if Roberts would act in the best interest of the party.
Joseph Toney, COP chairman, yesterday confirmed both Robert’s resignation and the subsequent withdrawal.
“The information I have is that he submitted his resignation on September 13, and then asked, via Member of Parliament Rodger Samuel, that it be withdrawn,” Toney said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Toney said when COP leader Prakash Ramadhar received the resignation on that Thursday, he requested a meeting with Roberts on the Saturday to discuss it.
“The political leader asked for a meeting on (September) 15th, but he (Roberts) did not turn up,” Toney said.
Toney said Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Rodger Samuel, stepped in after Roberts missed that meeting and met with Roberts over that weekend.
“On the September 17, Mr Rodger Samuel returned and told both myself and Mr Ramadhar that Anil Roberts asked that the resignation be withdrawn,” Toney said.
Toney did confirm that while the resignation was formal and written, the withdrawal was verbal. He said the party operated in a manner of trust and took Samuel’s word that Roberts remained a member of the party.
But while Samuel was confident that the party has crossed a hurdle and remained intact, one senior party member, who requested anonymity, questioned why Roberts’ resignation was not accepted as soon as it was tendered.
“Why keep him in there? So he could mash up the party from the inside? They should have accepted that as soon as they got it and just let him go,” the insider said.
The COP also distanced itself from Roberts’s participation in the People’s Partnership Wednesday night panel discussion.
Roberts had then claimed to be a “proud COP member” and was billed as the party representative on a panel that included United National Congress chairman Jack Warner, Local Government Minister Surujrattan Rambachan, Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal and Tobago Organisation of the People leader Ashworth Jack.
But in a media release yesterday, Toney said only he and Ramadhar were authorised to speak on behalf of the party.
“To be clear, MP for D’Abadie/O’Meara Anil Roberts, who appeared on that programme had no authority from the COP to represent the party and his participation would have been in his own right,” he said.
Toney said the COP was not a financial contributor to the event either, despite claims from Warner that it was a party-sponsored initiative.
“The COP wishes to advise the general public that it gave no authorisation, nor was any such request for anyone to appear on its behalf last Wednesday 26th September, on the night television special entitled Remembering Our Democracy,” he said.
Samuel, in a telephone interview yesterday, also confirmed that he stepped in after Roberts’s resignation. Though both men refused to reveal the contents of the resignation letter or even Roberts’s reason for resigning, Samuel said it was a simply a matter of a personality clash.
“I may not agree with all personalities, but I can work with all of them. People operate at different temperatures,” he said, adding that Roberts’ “temperature” was different to that of both Ramadhar and Toney.
Samuel said the party remained strong and united, despite the lack of communication between Roberts and the executive of the COP.
Up to press time yesterday, neither Ramadhar nor Roberts responded to calls, texts or voicemails. Roberts was not at his office on Abercromby Street, Port of Spain and the Express was informed by security guards on duty that he “did not come in today”.
Ramadhar is expected to speak at today’s pre-budget rally at Mid-Centre Mall, Chaguanas.