…Nageer says President’s action is a desperate attempt to regain confidence and support
Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran, has been relieved from his post as Minister of Health amid a bitter scandal involving human rights activist, Sherlina Nageer.
Dr. Ramsaran has been replaced by Dr. Jennifer Westford, the country’s current Minister of Public Service.
Over the past nine days, two recordings surfaced with the former Health Minister being verbally abusive to Nageer; in one he was heard threatening to slap her and have her stripped.
Dr. Ramsaran made headlines when last week, a recording of him calling the women’s rights activist “an idiot”, “a little piece of shit”, threatening to “slap her ass…just for the fun of it”, and to have her stripped by “some of my women” surfaced.
The first recording caused quite a stir with even several members of the diplomatic corps condemning Ramsaran’s actions. It did not even end there, however. The day after he issued an apology for his “harsh words” Ramsaran launched into another tirade against Nageer.
The second time the Health Minister was recorded labeling Nageer a “miscreant,” saying that she was in need of “psychiatric help.”
With elections less than two weeks away and with pressuring mounting from all sectors of society for him to make the “right move”, President Donald Ramotar yesterday announced that embattled Dr. Bheri Ramsaran has been relieved of his ministerial duties. This was after a meeting between the two.
A release from the Office of the President said “Minister Bheri Ramsaran has since been relieved of his Ministerial duties following a meeting with the President. The President reiterates his outrage at the verbal outbursts and insults uttered by the Minister recently.”
The statement did specifically say that Ramsaran was dismissed but did not specify whether Dr. Ramsaran will continue serving as a member of the Cabinet.
Speaking to Kaieteur News yesterday, Nageer made clear that she was not appeased by the action taken against Ramsaran.
The human rights activist has been conducting picketing exercises outside various public offices including the Ministry of Health, and the chambers of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall.
Not only did she reject Ramsaran’s first apology, she too had called for Ramsaran’s removal from public office. The activist yesterday said the actions taken against Dr. Ramsaran were “too little, too late.”
Nageer maintained that there are too many other ministers and public officers who indulge in the abuse of power and menacing behavior that are yet to be sanctioned by the administration.
She pointed specifically to Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall, who is still in position after issuing threats to Kaieteur News, soliciting a female journalist whom he referred to as a “little thing” for his uncle as well as admitting to misappropriating public funds.
“I think it should be taken with a huge grain of salt. If they really cared they could have acted many times before …It’s two weeks before the elections, the government is under pressure to secure their position as the ruling party,” Nageer said.
She added that government’s decision can be seen a desperate attempt to regain confidence and support of Guyanese, who have been affected by incident.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Trade Union Congress said that it took note that Ramsaran has been relieved of his portfolios by the President Donald Ramotar days after his abuse Nageer and only after public pressure from all quarters.
By way of public statement, the umbrella union said though it welcomed the move, it was “looking through the lens of the trade union being relieved from duties does not necessarily translate to being fired.”
It went on to state that this is the first time the Head of State has relieved a minister of duties and “it only comes at a time when the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) is desperately seeking every vote in society and women are considered a critical demographic.”
“As such this must be seen for what it is, another cheap political exercise because Dr. Ramsaran will receive his salary for the month and retain access to all state privileges, inclusive of vehicles which taxpayers will continue to shoulder the burden,” the GTUC noted.
The body posited that in order to demonstrate that this is not another exercise in “cheap politicking the President must now move to remove Dr. Ramsaran’s name from the List of Electors so that after May 11, whether the PPP wins or lose Dr. Ramsaran is not given another chance to enter the National Assembly as a representative of the people.”
On Monday, General Secretary of the PPP, Clement Rohee, told the media that the Party’s executive committee had “sanctioned” Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran.
He was unable to say what punitive measures were taken but stated that Ramsaran was spoken to “seriously.”
“We have sanctioned the comrade…He was spoken to very seriously,” said Rohee. He added that whether Ramsaran resigns or is removed from his Ministerial post is left to Ramotar’s discretion.
The umbrella union body warned Guyanese not to be fooled by this political gimmick since the President has “ignored public outcries on the wanton abuse and acts of threats by his other ministers, among them Attorney General Anil Nandlall who made sexual statements about a female reporter and Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee despite the National Assembly vote of a no-confidence in his poor performance.”
GTUC is of the view that if the President can relieve Dr. Ramsaran from duties he can relieve former President, Bharrat Jagdeo from behind him campaign with “his crude and bovine behaviour that is creating division through fear mongering.”
The body said that the Minister who is overheard threatening to get women to strip Nageer suggests that the he, his government, or those whom he associates with could commit criminal acts against those whom they want to be silenced.
“This revelation certainly causes one to wonder how many times this may have happened before where persons have been commissioned to commit acts of criminality to silence PPP dissenters. This nation can recount tales of hired mercenaries paid to commit atrocious acts.”
It said, “Ramotar and Jagdeo governments have been one of a culture of violence and fear and the nation must remember the President’s recent threat to an Amerindian public servant from Aishalton with a slap were Mr. Jagdeo present which is similar to that expressed by Dr. Ramsaran.”
Governance under their leadership has seen policies that condone violence which continue to be used to seek political mileage and divide the nation. ”The disbanding of the Military Crime Unit is another effort that their leadership sees crime as functional,” it ended.
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