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Ramotar fires his health minister just ahead of elections

Sherlina Nageer (with finger pointing) interacting with Dr. Bheri Ramsaran (Mark Jacobs photo) Sherlina Nageer (with finger pointing) interacting with Dr. Bheri Ramsaran (Mark Jacobs photo)
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday May 1, 2015 – President Donald Ramotar has relieved Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran of his ministerial duties.

In a brief statement the Guyana President said having dismissed Dr Ramsaran from the Cabinet, Dr Jennifer Westford is the new Minister of Health.

Ramsaran had been under fire after insulting and threatening a female rights activist in an altercation caught on tape.

“The president reiterates his outrage at the verbal outbursts and insults uttered by the minister recently,” Ramotar said, just over a week after Dr Ramsaran was in an April 20 confrontation with Sherlina Nageer outside a court where he had joined supporters of former president Bharrat Jagdeo who is facing a criminal charge.

Speaking on a radio programme President Ramotar said he believes that his “very kind”  long-time political comrade was “entrapped” and “provoked.”

Speaking on this week’s edition of I-Radio’s Hard Talk, the President said he was sorry for the plight that Ramsaran, a political fighter and human rights advocate, found himself. 

“While I did what I had to do, I still feel sorry for him in a way because it was clear he was set up and it was a deliberate attempt to set him up, to frame him up, probably they know of his temperament and they played on that,” said Ramotar.

Under mounting pressure from inside and outside the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) for Ramsaran to resign or be fired ahead of the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, he was relieved of his duties. It is unclear whether he is now a minister without portfolio and member of cabinet.

Asked why it took him so long to get rid of Ramsaran from the Health Ministry and after a second recording had surfaced, the President said he did not want to fire anyone by cellular phone because it would not have been the decent thing to do. He also said Ramsaran told him that the second recording was taken out of context but he believed that the issue had taken on a life of its own partly due to the work of “opposition media.”

Ramsaran told rights activist Sherlina Nageer last month outside the Whim Magistrates’ Court to F-Off and called her a “little piece of shit" after she had repeatedly questioned his presence there for a court case involving former President Bharrat Jagdeo when he should have been paying attention to maternal and child mortality. He was heard on an audio recording telling someone that he had considered slapping her for the fun of it and would get his women to strip Nageer.

Note: This article was originally published on May 2, 2015 on Demarara Waves It has been edited and republished by News Jamaica. The original version, with references, can be read Here.

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