Ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) candidate Donald Ramotar yesterday claimed victory in Monday’s presidential elections in Guyana, after the national Election Commission announced the he had captured 49 percent of the vote. Ramotar, who ran under the campaign slogan “Let Progress Continue,” promised to maintain social policies and infrastructure development projects that he said were a staple of his predecessor Bharrat Jagdeo’s administration.
Tensions had risen in Guyana over the course of the week due to the delay in announcing the results from Monday’s election.
Opposition candidate David Granger’s coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), won 41 percent of the vote to help seize an opposition-controlled parliamentary majority for the first time in 19 years. Race plays a heavy roll in Guyanese politics. The PPP/C—in power since 1992—is widely supported by the country’s ethnic majority of Indian descent, while the APNU—a coalition of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and other smaller parties—is dominated by Afro-Guyanese.
Outgoing President Jagdeo has been praised by supporters for his pro-business positions and his leadership in helping Guyana overcome severe economic hardship in the 1980s. Opposition parties and the country’s Afro-descendants, however, accuse the government of racial discrimination, close ties with drug traffickers and ignoring the country’s high crime rates.
President-elect Ramotar will be sworn into office on Saturday.