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Rights activist Sherlina Nageer rejects President’s action against Ramsaran; wants similar action against Attorney General

PPPC Prime Ministerial Candidate, Elisabeth Harper (right), who was among several persons and organisations that have condemned Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran (left) for hurling insults and indecent language and considering assaulting her at Whim Village, Corentyne earlier this month.

Rights activist, Sherlina Nageer on Wednesday rejected President Donald Ramotar’s announcement that he has relieved Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran of ministerial duties because he had insulted her, describing his move as a political gimmick.

“Noted but we are still not appeased. We are less than two weeks before elections. It ‘s pretty clear to me that it is simply for that reason that a decision has been made now,” she told Demerara Waves Online News. She reasoned that if the Guyanese leader was sincere about women’s rights, he could have taken similar action previously.

Instead, Nageer said she would only consider the President’s motive as sincere if he takes  similar action against Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall. “If Mr. Ramotar fires Anil Nandlall tomorrow it might change the landscape significantly,” she said.

In a private telephone conversation back in October 2014, he is heard asking a Kaieteur News reporter to arrange for a female reporter to have intimate relations with his uncle. Nandlall has already apologized for the comments contained in that recording and has pledged his full support for the rights of women and children.

Nageer argued that the taking away of ministerial duties from Ramsaran might be due to persistent pressure from several quarters for him to resign or be fired. “I am not fooled by this. It seems obvious that they feel pressured and maybe they have lost  ground in the last week and half from their core constituency- Indo Guyanese- maybe it’s an attempt to regain some of those votes,” said Nageer, an author of children’s books.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon has conceded that the action taken against Ramsaran was due to pressure. Asked whether he believed that the incumbent administration was hoping that the relief of ministerial duties would result in the incumbent administration regaining list ground ahead of the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, Luncheon referred such questions to the PPP’s Headquarters.

The rights activist plans to pursue criminal, civil and professional action against Ramsaran, a medical doctor by profession.

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) also viewed President Ramotar’s action against Ramsaram with deep suspicion, saying it came days after his abuse of Ms. Sherlina Nageer and only after public pressure from all quarters and the PPP Civic was heading into general elections.  “Looking through the lens of the trade union being relieved from duties does not necessarily translate to being fired,” said the labour organisation.

“This is the first time President Ramotar has relieved a minister of duties and it only comes at a time when the PPP 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 wants the President to prove that it did not engage another exercise in cheap politicking by removing Dr. Ramsaran’s name from the List of Candidates so that after the 11th May, whether the PPP wins or loose Dr. Ramsaran is not given another chance to enter the National Assembly as a representative of the people.