Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 July 2023, 14:56 by Denis Chabrol
President Irfaan Ali on Wednesday did not categorically say whether Local Government Minister Mr Nigel Dharamlall, who resigned amid a rape allegation by a 16-year old schoolgirl, would be hired again by his administration.
“Whether the minister, who is a citizen, will have any work in government is not something I have considered or he has requested at this moment,” he told a news conference at the Office of the President.
Dr Ali, however, referred to a statement bearing the purported signature of the girl which seeks to exonerate Mr Dharamlall and cast aspersions on the opposition and other activists as well as name officers of the Child Care and Protection Agency of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. The President said “I have not read” that letter that was being circulated.
The President’s refusal to categorically state whether or not Mr Dharamlall would be hired again by his administration came almost one week after the pro-People’s Progressive Party (PPP) , INews, quoted Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo as praising the qualities and value of M Dharamlall to the PPP. “He’s a very efficient person, I’ve work with him a long time and he is committed to the task of national development…I’ve seen him work very, very hard and I need to say that…that he’s been a great asset to the PPP in its work and I think this whole matter has taken a toll on him and his psyche…and so I think he needs time to recover from this,” Mr Jagdeo was quoted as saying.
For his part, the President had said at the time of announcing Mr Dharamlall’s resignation that, “Nigel Dharamlall has committed to me that he will continue to support and be a member of the People’s Progressive Party and also be supportive of the government.”
Meanwhile, President Ali dismissed calls by Red Thread, Amerindian People’s Association and other sympathisers for an independent probe into the conduct of the investigation by the police, Child Care an Protection Agency and the Director of Public Prosecutions. “I think it’s insulting to say that our system is not independent. From Day One the President of Guyana made it clear that the system would be allowed to work,” he said.
After the girl issued a ‘no further action’ statement, the DPP advised the police not to proceed further with the case. Mr Dharamlall subsequently resigned from his ministerial post and parliamentary seat which were both accepted by the President.
The President said all of the agencies that investigated the allegation against Mr Dharamlall are independent and are the same that had conducted probes against ministers of a former government. The President did not answer the question precisely about whether an independent investigation would be conducted but insinuated that the question by the News Source reporter was biased. “I never heard that question from you then. I never heard that from you. I would ask you to refer to them. Give those examples,” he said.
Dr Ali appealed to Guyanese to trust the system.
“I want to make it very clear that children and women and their welfare are of utmost importance to me and this government. There is absolutely, absolutely no time in which this government will put the welfare of women and children on second burner or third burner,” the President added.
He did not specifically express any concern for the girl or said whether government would assist her in any way.