Anil Maharaj, Councillor for Cumuto / Tamana on the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation. (Image courtesy Councillor for Cumuto / Tamana Anil Maharaj Facebook)

Five PNM Councillors on the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation have issued a strong statement, reiterating their demand that UNC Councillor Anil Maharaj resign his position on the Council, following his arrest for misbehaviour in public office.

The statement was issued today and signed by the five Councillors— Councillor Martin Rondon, Councillor Simone Gill-Joseph, Councillor Paul Mongolas, Alderman Daneille Marshall-Piper, and Alderman Ronney Lochan.

They are demanding that Anil Maharaj resign immediately as Councillor.  He resigned earlier this week from his post as Chairman of the Finance Planning and Allocation of Resources Committee, saying he intended to fight the charges and clear his name.

The PNM council members state that a dangerous precedent was set during the Kamla Persad-Bissessar Administration, which Mr Maharaj is using to justify staying in office.

“…a former UNC Chairman of the Rio Claro Regional Corporation, was arrested and charged with bribery, but was allowed to continue his term of office whilst on bail. The people of Sangre Grande vehemently denounce this precedent that has been set by the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and the PNM Members of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation outright reject it,” the PNM councillors declared in their statement.

The full text of the statement follows…

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FLASHBACK – PNM councillor for the electoral district of Valencia West in the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Simone Gill-Joseph addresses members of the media during a press conference where she called for the immediate resignation of UNC councillor  for Cumuto/Tamana Anil Maharaj, who was charged with misbehaviour in public office. Her colleague Paul Monglas looks on.

PNM Council Members Demand Resignation of Councillor Anil Maharaj

The resignation of Councillor Anil Maharaj as Chairman of the Finance Planning and Allocation of Resources Committee is nothing short of an inadequate attempt to pacify the people of the Sangre Grande Region. Councillor Maharaj is a Public Officer as dictated by his position of Councillor and not as Chairman of a Committee in the Council. Having been charged with Misbehaviour in Public Office, a charge that directly correlates to his position as Councillor at the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, the PNM Members make a vociferous call for the immediate resignation of Councillor Anil Maharaj.

We take this opportunity to remind the public about the resignation of former Ministers, Mr. Eric Williams and Mr. Franklin Khan, as they were both challenged by the United National Congress (UNC) to resign, alongside the continued spread of misinformation about their conduct. Once charged, both Members did the honourable and decent thing by demitting office until their names were cleared. The action taken by these former Parliamentarians is exactly what the country expects of office holders who are charged with criminal offences and the UNC is well aware of this fact.

However, in a baffling turn of events, a former UNC Chairman of the Rio Claro Regional Corporation, was arrested and charged with bribery, but was allowed to continue his term of office whilst on bail. The people of Sangre Grande vehemently denounce this precedent that has been set by the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and the PNM Members of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation outright reject it. Councillor Anil Maharaj must not be seated in the distinguished chamber of the Regional Body while on Bail for charges of Misbehaviour in Public Office. It should be noted that as a sitting Councillor, Mr. Maharaj still holds voting powers in each committee including that of the Finance Planning and Allocation of Resources Meeting, therefore it is unacceptable that Mr. Maharaj continues to act in this position with the opportunity to engage in sensitive matters. Contrary to what the UNC wants the country to believe, this is not “meddling in UNC’s internal affairs” as stated by their representative. We, as PNM Members of the Council, are fighting for the sanctity of our burgesses and to uphold the integrity of our Corporation’s dignified Chamber, and we do so without fear or favour.

On behalf of the people of Cumuto/Tamana and by extension the region of Sangre Grande, we ask Political Leader of the UNC, Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Chairman of the SGRC, Councillor Anil Juteram and UNC Council Members of the SGRC to demand the resignation of Councillor Anil Maharaj immediately. This is not a tit-for-tat scenario between PNM and UNC, it is simply the right thing to do.

Councillor Martin Rondon
Councillor Simone Gill-Joseph
Councillor Paul Mongolas
Alderman Daneille Marshall-Piper
Alderman Ronney Lochan