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Ramsaran relieved from duties as [Guyana] Health Minister

Bheri-Ramsaran3From Guyana Times

…Westford appointed to act

Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsaran has been relieved from his duties by President Donald Ramotar following the “distasteful” remarks he uttered against rights activist Sherlina Nageer last week.

There has been intense public pressure for Ramsaran to go and Ramotar last week had promised to act. In a statement issued by his office, the President said that current Public Service Minister, Dr Jennifer Westford will now take up the portfolio for the Health Ministry. “His Excellency, President Donald Ramotar has named Dr Jennifer Westford to act as the Minister of Health. Minister Bheri Ramsaran has since been relieved of his ministerial duties following a meeting with the President,” the statement read. The President reiterated his outrage at the verbal outbursts and insults which were uttered by the Minister.

Candidates’ list

Donald-Ramotar5Meanwhile, when questioned on whether Dr Ramsaran’s name will be removed from the List of Candidates for the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Government spokesman, Dr Roger Luncheon as well as Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, said it could not be done at this point in time since the list would have already been submitted to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the time for changes has expired.

In his statement Friday afternoon, Ramotar strongly reprimanded Ramsaran following the revelation of statements he uttered during and following a public confrontation with Nageer in Berbice. “The statements and behaviour of the Minister do not reflect the high standards I have set for ministerial conduct nor the public’s expectations of an office holder. It is outright disrespectful and improper. I intend to have further discussions with the Minister on this matter,” President Ramotar said, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsaran

Meanwhile, the women’s arm of the PPP, the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO) also condemned Ramsaran, saying in a statement that it was “extremely disappointed” with the utterances of the Minister.

The WPO said its disappointment stemmed from the fact that Dr Ramsaran was a hardworking individual who was schooled in a political environment to respect women’s equality. “Dr Ramsaran is known for his support for women’s empowerment and has always been prepared to provide assistance to women, especially those who are medically challenged. WPO is, therefore, dismayed that he allowed himself to react to provocation without giving considerations to his manner of speech; his reaction was unacceptable. We know that there are people who would stop at nothing to make others lose their cool in the performance of their duties, but the Minister, who is an intelligent person, should have recognised that and acted with restraint at all times.”

According to the WPO, Guyanese women are no longer submissive and, as such, will not allow themselves to be intimidated by statements that seek to denigrate them. “WPO fought for women’s rights and empowerment in Guyana, but is mindful that rights come with responsibilities as well. No one is forced to answer a question except in the court of law and one can always choose to ignore provocation and remain silent or be non-committal.”

For their part, both the Women and Youth Groups of the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition said they were outraged by the “cursing out of a young woman at the Whim Magistrate’s Court by Dr Bheri Ramsaran”.

They said although there had been similar transgressions in the past, they cringed when they “listened to the recent threats” Ramsaran issued to the young woman. Among other things, he threatened to have “some of my (his) women” strip and beat her “just for the fun of it”. The groups said Ramsaran’s behaviour crossed every boundary of decency. “He has once again demonstrated the crassness and total disrespect for this nation’s women…”


Adding his voice to the issue, Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman Ramesh Persaud told a news conference that the actions of the Minister undoubtedly may have been provoked. However, he said: “We also believe strongly that provocation of that nature of persons in the high political offices or Minister and certain behaviours of that nature is not acceptable. It is somewhat irresponsible and we just learned that the President would have issued a statement and that he condemned such behaviour. We are of the view that his behaviour warrants sanctions from the President. We are hoping the President would take the necessary actions regarding sanctions of the Minister,” Persaud told reporters.

Asked to clarify whether the call for sanctions meant the sacking of the Minister, PSC Spokesman Kit Nascimento offered: “It could. The view of the Private Sector is that the President should act as the situation requires. What our position is that while it may have been provoked, it is a totally inexcusable behaviour coming from the Minister of Health. It matters not what the provocation is.”

Since his outburst, Ramsaran has apologised for his action, claiming that he was provoked. However, he has been roundly chastised by former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Education Minister Priya Manickchand and PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate Elisabeth Harper.


President Donald Ramotar

Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsaran

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Related story:

Minister’s ‘slap and strip threats’…“A decent president would have sacked him immediately” – Legal Community

From Kaieteur News

The recent verbal assault unleashed by Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran, on Women’s Rights Activist,

Sharlina Nageer, has not only been described as abusive, insulting, threatening and obscene but a joint statement issued by a faction of the legal community, has outlined that “a decent Minister would have resigned by now.”

In fact the statement from the Guyana Bar Association, Guyana Association of Women Lawyers and the Justice Institute Guyana, lashed out at President Donald Ramotar, pointing out that “a decent President would have sacked him (Dr Ramsaran) immediately.”

Moreover, the group is calling upon the President to prove his decency by sacking Dr Ramsaran not only as a Minister but also as a member of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). It was pointed out in the statement that “Dr Ramsaran’s threats to “strip” and “slap” a young woman would be disgusting conduct by any man. They are particularly reprehensible coming from a Member of Parliament and a Minister of Government.”

The legal group’s statement also went on to underscore that it is unacceptable for Dr Ramsaran to seek to excuse his behaviour by saying that he was “provoked.”

Dr Ramsaran was recorded last week Monday hurling threats and very abusive words at the activist who had confronted him on his purpose outside the Whim Magistrate’s Court.

He was at the time reportedly leading a team of protestors as a matter involving former President Bharrat Jagdeo was being called inside the court house.

Angered by the activist’s line of questions, Dr Ramsaran not only called her an slap strip Ramsaran

After the recording of the exchange between the Health Minister and Nageer was widely circulated on social media, the Minister, the following day issued an apology by way of a statement which however, failed to clearly state that it was intended for the women’s right activist.

The Minister in his apology claimed that “it is unfortunate that I was provoked into anger and uttered harsh words at her for which I now regret.” He was subsequently recorded berating the woman at an official health forum.

Nageer has since officially filed a police complaint against the Minister.

According to the legal community’s statement, Section 141 of the Summary Jurisdiction Act prohibits threatening, abusive, insulting or obscene language, gestures or behaviour. Moreover, committing such acts constitutes a crime that carries a sentence of up to six months in jail.

As such the statement adds that “ President Ramotar’s failure to sack Dr Ramsaran sends a clear message to the people of Guyana that this Government believes it is above the law. That is a very dangerous message which undermines the rule of law.”

It was pointed out too, that the Health Minister’s intolerable conduct was a response to being asked about his record as a Minister. However, it was stressed in the statement that it is the right of every citizen to call a Minister to account for his actions. “Sovereignty belongs to the people. We exercise it through our representatives. Their accountability to us is the foundation of democracy. That is why our Constitution requires political parties to respect the principles of national sovereignty and of democracy.”

As such, it was noted that the lack of accountability to the citizen is not democracy but the tyranny of the executive. “It does not matter how awkward, ill-times or inconvenient the questions, public office carries with it the duty to respect every citizen,” added the statement.

According to the statement too, the Constitution as well as the international conventions which Guyana has proudly signed, guarantee political and civil rights. “But our freedom begins to wither when a citizen threatened and abused by a Minister and when a President does nothing. This time it was a young woman. Who is next?”

In emphasising that the Health Minister’s action has been reported across the globe, the legal group has asserted that the situation has become a national as well as an international embarrassment.

For this reason it was reiterated that “if President Ramotar will not sack Bheri Ramsaran for the sake of the voters of Guyana, he must do so for the sake of Guyana’s international standing.”

For more on this story go to:

See also today’s iNews Cayman Editorial:

“Is it ‘normal’ for women to be insulted by government ministers?”



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