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UNC Senator Anil Roberts takes the oath of office in the Parliament yesterday.

Jesse Ramdeo

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision to appoint Anil Roberts to serve as an Opposition senator has been met with both commendation and condemnation.

Both long-standing UNC members Dr Fuad Khan and Dr Suruj Rambachan contend that Roberts’ voice will be a strong weapon in the Opposition’s artillery during debates with the PNM and maintain the move will not backfire given the negativity associated with the Lifesport programme.

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith told Guardian Media that given the extensive nature of the case, which he likened to the Clico debacle, bringing it to an end would not happen overnight. He, however, said there were matters he described as low hanging fruits which were being pursued and would result in action being taken sooner rather than later.

Political activist Devant Maharaj said Roberts’ appointment was another bad decision by the Opposition Leader.

In a media statement, the former People’s Partnership government minister said, “Roberts should have waited until the conclusion of his legal matters before resuming frontline politics.

Senior UNC member Dr Fuad Khan believes Roberts’ appointment was just what the Opposition needed in the Parliament.

“I would have done the same thing myself but I would have put him in the House of Representatives as one of the candidates for a safe seat. He is one of the few men that can harness the prime minister with his debating skills.”

Khan’s sentiment was also shared by former MP Dr Suruj Rambachan, who said if it was up to him, only a few adjustments to the composition of the bench would have been made.

However, Roberts’ place would have been secured under him.

“I think what the Leader of the Opposition is doing is trying to have a very strong and forceful voice in the Senate. Yes, there are allegations against Roberts and Jearlean John, but surely there are allegations against the People’s National Movement also.”

But while some have questioned the impact on the UNC’s image given the stigma against Roberts, political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath maintained the allegations were no different from those against other officeholders. “As far as I am aware, Mr Roberts has not been charged for anything and until such time we have to leave it there and whatever the judgement of the political leader, that’s the judgement.”

According to Ragoonath, Roberts’ return to politics is likely his reward from the UNC’s political leader for his efforts and contributions during the party’s campaign trail for this year’s general election.