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Ramotar dodges question on Local Govt Minister’s resignation

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar on Friday side-stepped questions about whether he had asked Ganga Persaud to resign his post as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development.

Ramotar said he was not eager to appoint someone else to fill the vacant post, saying that the ministry already has a minister. Persaud’s Junior, Norman Whittaker, has since taken over full responsibility. “I don’t need to be in a big hurry there. I have a minister in place there already,” he told his first news conference for 2014. While the President said government was ready for local government elections, he said the minister’s resignation would not affect any plans if they are held this year depending on what happens in the “body politic”.

Pressed to say whether he had asked Persaud to resign, the Guyanese leader would only say that he “I accepted his resignation”.

When asked there were differences between Persaud and senior members of the governing party, the President said “no no no, nothing of the kind.”

The President said he was “not totally surprised” at Persaud’s resignation because “we talked from time to time butI think he thought it was time for him to pursue his own issues so I accepted his resignation”.

Persaud has said that he would continue to serve the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) and pledged to work towards it securing a parliamentary majority. He said his decision to leave the ministerial job was driven by personal reasons. “”My resignation as Minister of local Government and Regional Development is based on personal issues presently engaging my attention as well as some additional responsibilities to which I am committed,” he said in a prepared statement.

The Minister quit the job amid swirling controversies in recent months about a memorandum of understanding with a little-known company, Natural Globe Incorporated. Amid persistent questions by the media about the expertise of the company and its track-record in recycling, the Office of the President scrapped that deal.

Weeks later, Persaud was at the centre of another controversy in which he had vetoed the unanimous decision by a selection panel and hand-picked Carol Sooba to be appointed substantive Town Clerk for Georgetown.

Before taking up ministerial appointment, Persaud had been embroiled in a bitter scandal concerning the procurement of law books when he had been Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

Prior to becoming PS, he had been a senior functionary at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).