Guyana: a cinco meses de las elecciones, declaran ganador al opositor Mohamed Irfaan Ali
Declaran ganador de comicios presidenciales en Guyana
La Presidenta de la Comisión Electoral de Guyana (Gecom), la jueza jubilada Claudette Singh, declaró en la tarde de este domingo al Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, del Partido Cívico Progresista de los Pueblos (PPP/C) como el nuevo presidente de ese país.
Tras la declaración, hecha de conformidad con la Constitución guyanesa, Irfaan Ali asumió el cargo de noveno presidente Ejecutivo de dicha nación, con lo cual puso fin a una crisis electoral que se extendió a lo largo de 153 días. El político fue juramentado por la canciller interina del Poder Judicial, jueza Yonette Cummings-Edwards.
Además fueron juramentados cuatro integrantes del Gabinete: Bharrat Jagdeo, en la Vicepresidencia, y el brigadier (retirado) Mark Philips, quien fungirá como Primer ministro. Para los cargos de fiscal General y ministra de Asuntos Parlamentarios rindieron juramento, Mohabir Anil Nandlall y Gail Teixeira, respectivamente.
La declaración de la Gecom fue emitida tras recibir el informe del oficial principal de elecciones, Keith Lowenfield, sobre los comicios presidenciales y regiones que tuvieron lugar el 2 de marzo pasado.
El informe del CEO se basó en los datos que aportó el recuento nacional de votos, según el cual el Partido/Cívico Progresista de los Pueblos (PPP/C) obtuvo 33 escaños, mientras que la coalición Asociación para la Unidad Nacional/Alianza para el Cambio (APNU/AFC) obtuvo 31 escaños.
Tras darse a conocer la declaración de la Gecom, el presidente saliente, David Granger, anunció de manera pública que respeta el fallo de dicha instancia.
Irfaan Ali se desempeñó con anterioridad como ministro del Gobierno con responsabilidades para sectores como la vivienda, el turismo y el comercio. El político de 40 años también tiene experiencia parlamentaria desde 2006 y durante la última Asamblea Nacional presidió el Comité de Cuentas Públicas, responsable de examinar el gasto público. Se doctoró en Filosofía en Planificación Urbana y Regional por la Universidad de las Indias Occidentales.
Dr Irfaan Ali sworn in as 9th Executive President of Guyana
Five months after a record-breaking protracted electoral process stemming from the caretaker A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition’s refusal to accept defeat and give up office, People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C) Dr Irfaan Ali was on Sunday finally sworn-in as the ninth Executive President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
The swift and simple ceremony took place around 16:00h at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown – the same venue that was used for the National Recount which verified Ali’s victory at the March 2 polls.
The 33-day exercise confirmed the PPP/C won the presidency with a commanding 233,336 votes, a remarkable lead of 15,416 votes over its nearest political rival, the APNU/AFC – which has been insistent in hanging onto power and dragged out the electoral process with several litigations in the courts. The coalition secured 217,920 votes.
Dr Ali was sworn-in by Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, following the much-anticipated declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) earlier on Sunday.
In his inaugural address as President-elect, Dr Ali committed to Guyanese that he will uphold the Oath of Office he took and work every day in the best interests in the people of Guyana.
“There is one future and that future requires a united Guyana. That future requires a strong Guyana. That future requires every Guyanese to play a part in building our country, ensuring we leave a better Guyana for the next generation. We are in this together. We are not separated by class, by ethnicity, by religion or by political persuasion. We are united in the true Guyanese spirit,” he asserted.
The President-elect noted that there is a lot of work to be done and this will start instantaneously.
In fact, in a subsequent interview, he posited that it is now time for Guyana to charter a way forward that is built on unity and inclusiveness. He used the opportunity to reassure Guyanese that he and his Administration will continue to govern for all of Guyana.
“We have to be respectful to each other. We have to ensure, and this is what [my] Government will be focused on, a development agenda that would reflect the priorities of every Guyanese. We’re building a country for every Guyanese. There is no [need] for fear, there is no need for distinction based on political persuasion; no need for distinction based [on] religious belief or ethnicity. This is a Government for all of Guyana and that is the way this Government will operate,” he contended.
Reflecting on the event over the past five months, Ali explained that the experience will further strengthen his resolve and commitment to good governance and adhering to the rule of law.
“I did not require the events of the last five months to make me more appreciative of who we are as a people. We all have responsibility to safeguard and protect who we are as a people, to protect our freedom and our democracy. So, the events have strengthened my resolve and my commitment to ensuring that democracy, good governance, the rule of law and the changes that are required to ensure we never find ourselves back in a position like that, must be addressed,” he posited.
The President further outlined that Sunday’s events are all about celebrating democracy and on that note, expressed his gratitude to the various political parties, civil society, the diplomatic and international community and other stakeholders who were committed to ensuring democracy was protected and prevailed in Guyana.
“Guyana will have a bright future because of your efforts. I take the Oath of Office because of the hard work of many individuals… We thank you sincerely for your confidence and your trust… In voting for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, you’ve elect a Government to serve all the people of Guyana and that is what your next Government will be doing,” he added.
Dr Ali brings to the presidency a long and diverse experience at all levels of Government. He previously served as a Government Minister under the PPP/C, with responsibilities for major sectors like housing, tourism and commerce. During his tenure, he conceptualised and implemented the largest and most extensive housing drive in the country’s history, undergirded by a massive house lot distribution to citizens from all strata and geographic regions.
The 40-year-old politician also has a wealth of parliamentary experience; he became a Member of Parliament in 2006 and during the last National Assembly, he chaired one of the most important committees; the Public Accounts Committee which is responsible for examining public expenditure.
Ali was born in Leonora, West Coast Demerara (WCD). He attended St Stanislaus College and has been a member of the PPP for over 20 years, starting at the Party’s youth arm. He was recently awarded a PhD in Philosophy in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of the West Indies at St Augustine, Trinidad. He has also been a part of the leadership for 15 years, during which time he held the position of Finance Secretary for several years.
In his professional experience before he became a Minister, Ali worked as an economic planner, also chairing a Project Steering Committee on the Low-Income Settlement Committee.
He also worked as the National Programme Coordinator of local Caribbean Development Bank-funded programmes. When he did become a Minister in 2009, he went on to serve in the Cabinet for seven years.
The new President has committed to executing the manifesto of the party, which they consider to be a contract they made with the electorate which put them into office. The PPP/C has outlined a range of policies and programmes it intends to embark upon to bring relief to the country’s economic sectors, business community, and ordinary citizens who have been largely affected by the policies and programmes, or lack thereof, implemented under the APNU/AFC Administration.
However, in an overarching manner, the new President announced in the period during the long recount that he was very concerned about immediately addressing divisions in the country which were precipitated and exacerbated by the APNU/AFC’s hysterical and incendiary campaign.
He specifically pointed to the need for inclusive governance, which was included in the manifesto but which he will prioritise. He also pointed to the already stagnated economy, which was further devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as requiring his urgent attention. It is fortuitous that economic development is the new President’s forte and it is expected that he will hit the ground running in this area.
While President Ali combines youth with experience, he heads a team that includes his Prime Minister Mark Philips with decades of organisational experience as a senior officer of the Guyana Defence Force and also the former longest-serving President of the Republic of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, who has promised to place all his experience at the service of the new Administration. Unlike the outgoing Administration, the PPP/C, which was in office only five years ago, has experienced personnel at all levels, inclusive of the youthful faces that have been seen during the campaign.
Among the policies outlined in the PPP/C manifesto are the removal of Value-Added Tax (VAT) on key areas such as electricity, water and healthcare.
Also, on the Party’s agenda is the reversal and/or reduction of the over 200 tax measures imposed by the coalition Administration — such as on building materials, on data, and exports. VAT will also be reversed on farming, mining and forestry equipment.
The Party has promised to reverse the land rent, and draining and irrigation charges on cattle rearing, rice farming and new taxes miners.
The manifesto outlined 20,000 online scholarships and plans to offer free university education within its five-year term in office.
Other areas the PPP plans to address are reducing the age limit on the importation of vehicles, reversal of the 2 am curfew, the restoration of the Joint Services bonus and support for small businesses.
President Ali appoints several Cabinet Members
Following his swearing in yesterday as President at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) by the Chancellor of the Judiciary (Acting), Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Irfaan Ali made four key appointments.
Brigadier Mark Phillips was appointed Prime Minister. Phillips had previously served as the Chief of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
Former President and General-Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, was appointed Vice President.
Executive of the PPP/C Anil Nandlall was reappointed to the post of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs.
Meanwhile, Gail Teixeira has been appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance. She had previously served as the Parliamentary Chief Whip for the PPP/C.
According to the recently sworn in President, he anticipates making the remaining appointments later in the week.
Former President David Granger urges supporters to remain peaceful
Former President David Granger, who still leads the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), has urged his supporters to remain peaceful as the embattled party seeks redress through the court after losing power.
On Sunday, GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh declared the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) the winner of the General and Regional Elections. President Irfaan Ali was sworn in shortly after. In a statement on Sunday, Granger reiterated his compliance with the GECOM Chair’s declaration, adding that the coalition respects the lawful consequences of the ‘declaration’ as announced by the Chairman of the Elections Commission. “The APNU+AFC Coalition will challenge the declared results lawfully, peacefully and purposefully…the Coalition asks its members, supporters and friends – who have been patient throughout our campaign and a prolonged legal process in our Courts – to continue to conduct themselves in a lawful and peaceful manner,” Granger also said, going on to thank Guyanese who participated in the elections as well as his coalition partners.
Meanwhile, People’s National Congress (PNC) Chairwoman, Volda Lawrence also issued a statement in which she said that her party will continue its fight against the declaration of the results in the court, through an election petition.
“I know that you are disappointed and sad. We all are. But our Party has always been a resilient party that has withstood the test of time for more than sixty years….In 1992 we were in this position but, though long, we maintained the struggle and again overcame in 2015.”
The declaration of Dr Ali as President and the PPP as the new Government, brought five months of repeated attempts by APNU/AFC and its surrogates to rig the elections in their favour to an end.
Back in March, Mingo had made two controversial declarations of the Region Four results, Guyana’s largest voting district. Those results were widely criticised by stakeholders as well as the international community as lacking transparency and credibility. This led to the conduct of a National Recount, during which it was unearthed that the RO had heavily inflated the numbers to give Granger’s coalition a landslide victory.
According to the recount results, the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC obtained 217,920 votes – a difference of some 15,416 votes. However, APNU/AFC used a number of its supporters to file court cases seeking to overturn the recount results. In addition, it has staged protests with supporters shouting slogans like “valid votes only.” In fact, a mini protest was held two streets away from GECOM, while the Chair made her declaration on Sunday.
On the heels of international threats of serious consequences and sanctions if Guyana does not have a legitimate Government, the United States had announced visa restrictions last month for individuals responsible for, or complicit in, the undermining of democracy of Guyana. Those persons’ immediate family members are also affected. Further visa restrictions were later announced, as APNU/AFC persisted in holding on to power.
On Thursday, the Court of Appeal dismissed the final challenge brought by APNU/AFC supporter Misegna Jones in a unanimous decision and upheld Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George’s recent ruling that the National Recount exercise is valid, and that the decision taken by GECOM to use the recount figures as the basis for a final declaration of the March 2 polls must be adhered to. She also ruled that APNU/AFC must address their grievances in an election petition.
In the ruling handed down by Appellate Justices Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud, along with High Court Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, it was asserted that the proceedings filed by Jones are an abuse of the court system, since many of the issues raised were previously dealt with in other litigations filed during the protracted electoral process.
Democracy rules in Guyana – US State Department
The United States (US) has been a driving force behind the international community’s push for the former coalition Government to accept the will of the Guyanese people. On Sunday, acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Western Affairs of the US State Department, Michael Kozak lauded the conclusion of the election process.
After five months, A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) finally accepted defeat on Sunday and President Irfaan Ali was sworn in. In a statement on his social media account, Kozak called the declaration a triumph for democracy.
“Democracy rules in Guyana! Today, Mohamed Irfaan Ali was sworn in as president, reflecting the will of the Guyanese people,” Kozak tweeted, sharing a joint statement from the ABCE countries – US, United Kingdom, Canada and European Union (EU) congratulating the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
According to Kozak in his tweet, the US Department of State “congratulates President Ali & look forward to working with all to support Guyana’s development for the benefit of all its people.”
It was only on Thursday that Kozak had, on his Government’s behalf, announced more visa restrictions for senior Guyanese officials who are undermining democracy. Kozak was at the time taking part in a teleconference when he made the announcement. “On July 15, the Secretary announced the imposition of visa restrictions on individuals responsible for, or complicit in undermining democracy in Guyana. Today, we are acting to prevent additional senior individuals from that country from entering the United States,” Kozak had said.
He had reiterated the words of US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who had made it clear that the US would act in the face of the then Granger Administration and its allies’ continued defiance of the will of the Guyanese people by refusing to accept the vote count.
“The count has been certified as valid by international observers OAS and Caricom, Guyana’s and the Caribbean’s highest courts. The United States joins the rest of the Region refusing to go along with this farce. We will continue to act until the Granger Administration accepts the will of Guyanese voters,” Kozak had said.
Dr Irfaan Ali of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was sworn-in as Guyana’s ninth Executive President on Sunday, bringing an end to a record-breaking prolonged electoral process that was driven by the incumbent APNU/AFC regime refusing to bow to the will of the people as expressed through their ballots.
He was sworn-in by Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards following the declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh.
The PPP/C won the presidency with a commanding 233,336 votes, a remarkable lead of 15,416 over its nearest political rival, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) – which has been refusing to accept defeat, and which at the last hour, attempted to file an injunction in the courts to prevent the declaration by Chairman of GECOM Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh.