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Nagamootoo questions Harper’s sincerity on domestic violence; PPP defends her

Ambassador Elisabeth Harper and President Donald Ramotar

The incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC) Prime Ministerial candidate, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper on Thursday brushed off suggestions that she was campaigning alongside Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo against whom domestic violence accusations have been leveled.

“I am not interested in commenting. I don’t have time to comment on those criticisms. I have bigger issues to deal with which is to promote my platform to the electorate,” she told Demerara Waves Online News.

After Harper was selected to be President Donald Ramotar’s running mate, she appeared on state TV alleging that she had been physically abused by her first husband but managed to climb those hurdles and be a successful woman.

Addressing A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition rally at Whim earlier this week, that entity’s Prime Ministerial candidate Moses Nagamootoo questioned her platform of domestic violence because she was now involved with a party that has been silent on Jagdeo’s alleged domestic abuse against his then partner, Varshnie Singh. “If she was so concerned about domestic violence, why is she tonight on the same platform with Bharrat Jagdeo?

“Mrs. Harper, your next Prime Minister, sits on the same stage with Jagdeo and she wants to fight against domestic violence,” Nagamootoo told a gathering of at least 5,000 persons.

He added that “we squarely condemn domestic violence. No one ought to be the victim of domestic violence.”

While Harper chose not to respond to Nagamoootoo, Minister of Human Services, Jennifer Webster came to her spirited defence at a news conference, urging that women be respected. “To try to score cheap political points at the expense of someone else’s life story is uncouth. We must respect each other and work together to fight the scourge,” said Webster who is responsible for gender affairs.

Webster contended that to attack any woman is to disregard Guyana’s constitution and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Asked how she reconciled her reaction to Nagamootoo’s remarks with the silence by senior female PPPC members when Singh had publicly criticized her partner of evicting her. She had complained several years ago that she had no other choice but to sleep on a couch in a mosquito-infested area of State House. “I would say that that is an allegation and I am not familiar with the former President’s personal life as it related to his relationship with Ms Varshnie  Singh,” she said.

Asked whether she had sought clarifications about the Jagdeo-Singh issue, she said “yes” but insisted that she was unfamiliar.