Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 June 2023, 12:31 by Denis Chabrol
President Irfaan Ali on Tuesday hesitated to talk about the political future of Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall if he is charged with rape of a 16-year old teenage girl last December.
“As President, I have to deal fairly with what is before me. What is before me is that the minister proceeded on leave to allow that (investigation0. Now, beyond that decisions will have to be made but I can’t assume what will be done,” he told reporters. He said he would respect the decisions of the criminal justice system. “It’s not a matter of standing, it’s a matter of respecting whatever outcome is there,” he said.
Mr Dharamlall, who is also an executive member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), has publicly denied all accusations and is on leave from ministerial duties.
Multiple sources close to the PPP have in recent days said they do not believe that Mr Dharamlall would be returning to ministerial duties because that would be politically risk for the key Amerindian vote in what have been narrow victories for the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and the PPP in 2015 and 2020.
But Dr Ali declined to say whether he would ask or expect Mr Dharamlall to resign if he is charged with the offence. “I would just say I don’t want to assume anything now but all I want to say to you is that I always work in the interest of this country and the people of this country and let the system work and at the end of the system’s job, then we’ll make decisions going forward,” he told reporters.
He said he was relying on independent investigations and advice by the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions. “When the system completes its work, then subsequent decisions will be made,” he added.
Police were up to Tuesday awaiting advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions based on the case file that was submitted last week.
The President, however, reiterated that he remained inflexible on his position about abusers of women and children. “I am very strong on people’s rights and women and children. There is no compromise on that,” he said.
The opposition A Partnership for National Unity, Working People’s Alliance, and Alliance For Change as well as the Amerindian People’s Association and Red Thread women’s organisation have called for the minister to be fired or forced to resign.