Schoolgirl flips-flops on sexual assault allegation against minister; Norton wants minister removed from office

Last Updated on Friday, 16 June 2023, 20:28 by Denis Chabrol

A schoolgirl on Friday is believed to have flipped-flopped on grave allegations of sexual misconduct against a government minister, saying that the posts of claims that she purportedly made were politically motivated.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said when the 16-year old girl was contacted she confirmed that the incident occurred.

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand said that her ministry, after learning about the incident, “made contact with a view to assisting the child in her best interest and in accordance with what she wants.”

Late Friday, she posted on Facebook that the claims being made in the open letter to President Irfaan Ali that she was a victim were untrue.

“It has been brought to the attention of my family that numerous social media profiles have been publishing untruth statements attributed to our family. Please note that these statements are very hurtful and disrespectful to us. If this continues, we will be forced to take legal actions against those who continue to make these libelous and false claims. Please desist from involving me and my family in the political games of this country!!,” the girl said.
Efforts to contact her mother by phone and Social Media were not immediately successful.
The minister did not respond to WhatsApp messages, including a Facebook post of a graphic and detailed account of the sexual counter allegedly with him, and calls to his phone and WhatsApp.
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, who named the minister, urged President Irfaan Ali to remove the minister from office to avoid a possible interference in a professional police investigation into alleged rape. “The President should remove (the named minister) from office. To keep him there is to place him in a position of power so that he can obstruct the course of the investigation and affect the final outcome,” he said.  Mr Norton asked that the child be protected and counselled and that neither the child nor her family should be intimidated.

He also asked that the probe be conducted impartially and free from political interference and “get to the bottom and the truth”, even as he identified the need for civil society to get involved in the quest for justice.

President Irfaan Ali promised that if  a probe revealed that the allegations were true, they would be not be condoned and that stern action would be taken. “We don’t tolerate any nonsense in this government and once the facts are investigated and once a report is made, I expect a full investigation and anybody in the government will be held accountable for their action,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
He referred to the schoolgirl’s rejection of the allegations on Facebook, and the previous one with the claims have to be evaluated. The President said he planned to “have a detailed conversation with the minister also.”
Dr Ali would not be drawn into comment about whether the minister was now a political liability for the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) given the fact that this was now the third such allegation that had been leveled against him in recent years. “I am not going to go down that road,” he said, stressing that allegations have to be based on facts by someone coming forward. The President said he told his ministerial cabinet that “nothing that is disrespectful  to girls and women will be tolerated.”
Legal experts on Friday told Demerara Waves Online News that once the girl gives a statement to the police that the claims were untrue, there can be no virtual complainant and so the matter is effectively closed from legal standpoint.