By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – David Granger of the Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change Coalition (APNU-AFC) has been sworn in as the eighth president of Guyana since 1966. Over 408,000 people participated in the election.
The elections were called after former Guyanese president Donald Ramotar suspended parliament back in November 2014. Ramotar was trying to avoid a vote of no-confidence after his party was accused of corruption.
Ramotar’s People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been in power since 1992. The election that year was considered to be the first “free and fair” election since the country gained its independence.
Granger’s coalition will have a one seat majority over the PPP in the Guyanese Parliament of 65 seats.
The PPP has asked for a recount of votes in certain areas of the country, claiming that some votes were “suspiciously” rejected. The APNU says that recounts are illegal after a 12 hour period following the posting of results, as per the country’s 1964 Representation of the People Act.
The election was overseen by a number of international election observation groups, including a mission from the Carter Center. Former US president Jimmy Carter travelled to Guyana with the mission to oversee the election, but had to cut his trip short due to illness. He has issued congratulations to Granger.
Officials from the US and the UK, including the U.S. Embassy in Guyana have called the election “free and fair.” The Commonwealth Observer Group did express concern regarding the amount of time between the election and the results announcement, and said that it would issue a recommendation for a shorter waiting period.
In his address at his swearing in, Granger announced that there would be a “transition team” put together to facilitate the change in regime.
The APNU-AFC is a multi-racial bloc – representative of Guyana’s ethnically divided demographics. In the past, party allegiances have been strongly based on racial identity.
Guyana gained its independence from Great Britain in 1966. The region was settled by former slaves following the abolition of slavery, and indentured servants from India. English is the official language of Guyana. Although race has been a major source of division in past politics, Granger and the APNU-AFC have pledged to end racial divisions.
For more information please see:
Reuters – Guyana in political crisis after suspension of parliament – 17 Nov 2014
CIA World Factbook – Guyana – 13 May 2015
Business Standard – Guyana postpones release of official election results – 14 May 2015
The New York Times – Guyana Swears in New President Who Ended Foes’ 23-Year Rule – 16 May 2015
Reuters – Guyana swears in new president after multi-racial bloc wins vote – 16 May 2015
Stabroek News – Address by David Granger on swearing in as President – 16 May 2015
Stabroek News – Jimmy Carter congratulates Granger – 16 May 2015