Friday, December 2, 2011

Guyana News: Ramotar ethnic Indian wins the presidency.

Ethnic Indian candidate wins presidency in Guyana

By Denis Chabrol (AFP) –

The PPP/C has led the former British colony since 1992 and enjoys backing from the ethnic Indian majority (AFP/Pool/File, Alexander Nemenov)
GEORGETOWN — Donald Ramotar, the candidate from Guyana's longtime ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic, has won the presidency, electoral authorities said Thursday.

Ramotar, 61, had been expected to succeed outgoing President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is limited to two terms. He becomes the sixth head of state and government.

But the PPP/C, which has led the former British colony since 1992 and enjoys backing from the ethnic Indian majority, failed to win a majority in the 65-seat national assembly.

It obtained 32 seats with 48.6 percent of the popular vote in Monday's election, Guyana's chief elections officer Gocool Boodhoo announced.

The main opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), which largely receives Afro-Guyanese support, won 26 seats with 40.8 percent of the vote under the proportional representation system.

The smaller Alliance For Change (AFC) got seven seats, and the tiny United Force was shut out.

"I would have liked to have a majority in the parliament but the electorate has spoken and we have to work with what we have," Ramotar said, adding that he would soon appoint his cabinet.

APNU supporters took to the streets of the capital Georgetown, chanting slogans in favor of their presidential candidate David Granger and protesting the declaration of Ramotar's victory.

Outside parliament, where political leaders were meeting, protesters pushed down police barricades Riot police armed with tear gas and rifles, stood at the ready but there were no immediate reports of arrests or scuffles.

Granger has alleged massive irregularities in the elections in favor of the PPP/C.

Since a split in 1953, the country's political landscape has been divided along ethnic lines.

Ramotar hopes to capitalize on his predecessor's strong economic record, which was backed by social policies that gave priority to housing, education, health and infrastructure development, notably power generation.

He promised during his campaign to fight corruption and drug trafficking in Guyana, a transit point for large amounts of cocaine and other illegal drugs, by allowing the US Drug Enforcement Administration to set up a local office.

Ramotar, an economist by training, has served as his party's general secretary since 1997 and was appointed to serve as Jagdeo's political advisor in the waning months of his presidency.

The president-elect, who has served on several corporate boards, is a married father of three.

Guyana, a country of 750,000 that gained independence in 1966, is wedged between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. It exports bauxite, rice and sugar cane.

Boodhoo put voter turnout from the 475,000 eligible voters at 72.9 percent.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved

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