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24. Guyana (1966-present)

Pre-Crisis Phase (May 26, 1966-November 27, 1991):  British Guiana (Guyana) formally achieved its independence from Britain as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (CON) on May 26, 1966.  Forbes Burnham of the People’s National Congress (PNC) formed a government as prime minister on May 26, 1966.  Parliamentary elections were held on December 16, 1968, and the PNC won 30 out of 53 seats in the National Assembly.  The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won 19 seats in the National Assembly.  Government troops suppressed a rebellion by white settlers and indigenous people in Letham and Annai in the Rapanuni region in southwest Guyana on January 2-4, 1969, resulting in the deaths of some 25 individuals.  Guyana was proclaimed a republic on February 23, 1970, and Arthur Chung became the president.  Legislative elections were held on July 16, 1973, and the PNC won 37 out of 53 seats in the National Assembly. The PPP headed by Cheddi Jagan won 14 seats in the National Assembly.  The PPP claimed election fraud, and initiated a boycott of the National Assembly.  Two individuals were killed in election-related violence.  The PPP ended its boycott of the National Assembly on May 24, 1976.  Amendments to the Constitution, including abolishing the need for referendums to change certain provisions of the Constitution and declaring the current National Assembly as a Constituent Assembly, were approved in a referendum held on July 10, 1978.  The Constituent Assembly approved a new socialist Constitution in February 1980, and the constitution was promulgated on October 6, 1980.  Prime Minister Burnham became president under the Constitution, and Ptolemy Reid formed a government as prime minister on October 6, 1980.

Legislative elections were held on December 15, 1980, and the PNC won 41 out of 53 seats in the National Assembly. The PPP won ten seats in the National Assembly.  The British Parliamentary Human Rights Group (BPHRG) sent eleven observers headed by Lord Avebury to monitor the legislative elections.  The U.S.-based non-governmental organization, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), sent short-term observers to monitor the legislative elections.  Forbes Burnham was elected president by the National Assembly, and he was inaugurated as president on January 18, 1981.  The BPHRG mission reported that the legislative elections were “grossly unfair” on February 16, 1981.  Hugh Desmond Heyt was appointed as prime minister on August 16, 1984.  President Burnham died on August 6, 1985, and Prime Minister Hugh Desmond Heyte was sworn in as president on August 7, 1985.  Hamilton Green of the PNC was appointed as Prime Minister on August 7, 1985.  Legislative elections were held on December 9, 1985, and the PNC won 42 out of 53 contested seats in the National Assembly.  The PPP won eight seats in the National Assembly.  Opposition political parties claimed fraud. Hugh Desmond Heyte of the PNC was elected president by the National Assembly on December 9, 1985, and he was inaugurated as president on December 12, 1985.  Opposition political parties claimed election fraud.  Presidential elections originally scheduled for 1990 were postponed until October 1992 as a result of voter registration problems reported by the CON.

Crisis Phase (November 28, 1991-July 15, 1998):  President Hugh Desmond Heyte declared a state-of-emergency on November 28, 1991.  The government lifted the state of emergency in June 1992.  Legislative elections were held on October 5, 1992, and the PPP won 28 out of 53 seats in the National Assembly.  The NC won 23 seats in the National Assembly.  Cheddi Jagan of the PPP was elected president by the National Assembly on October 5, 1992.  The CON sent 26 short-term observers led by David Peterson of Canada to monitor the legislative elections.  The Atlanta-based NGO, The Carter Center, sent 63 short-term observers from 20 countries to monitor the legislative elections.  One individual was killed by government police during riots in Georgetown on October 5-6, 1992.  President Jagan appointed Samuel Hinds as prime minister on October 9, 1992.  President Cheddi Jagan died following a heart attack on March 6, 1997, and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds was sworn in as interim president.  President Hinds appointed Janet Jagan as prime minister on March 17, 1997.  Legislative elections were held on December 15, 1997, and the PPP won 29 out of 53 seats in the National Assembly. The PNC won 22 seats in the National Assembly. The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) sent eight observers headed by Ambassador George Jones of the U.S. to monitor the legislative elections on December 11-17, 1997. The CON sent 22 short-term observers from fourteen countries headed by former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania to monitor the legislative elections from November 27 to December 17, 1997.  The Organization of American States (OAS) sent 28 short-term observers from ten countries led by Christopher Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago to monitor the legislative elections from November 22 to December 16, 1997.  Janet Jagan of the PPP was elected president by the National Assembly, and she was inaugurated as president on December 17, 1997.  President Jagan appointed former Interim President Samuel Hinds as prime minister on December 23, 1997.  Desmond Heyte, the leader of the PNC, accused President Janet Jagan of election fraud and appealed to the Guyana Supreme Court to nullify the legislative elections. The court refused to nullify the legislative elections.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sent a three-member conciliation commission headed by Henry Forde of Barbados to Guyana on January 14, 1998.  The CARICOM commission mediated the signing of the Herdmanston Accord on January 17, 1998, which provided for constitutional reforms and presidential elections within three years.  The CARICOM established a seven-member commission (Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago) and two staff observers led by Ulric Cross of Trinidad and Tobago to audit the 1997 legislative elections on February 13, 1998.  The government banned street protests in Georgetown on July 1, 1998.  On July 2, 1998,  the heads of state of the CARICOM mediated an agreement between President Jagan and Desmond Heyte in St. Lucia after several weeks of political violence in Guyana.  The PNC ended their boycott of the National Assembly on July 15, 1998.

Post-Crisis Phase (July 16, 1998-present):  Maurice King of Barbados, representing CARICOM, facilitated inter-party dialogue between the PPP and PNC.  The PPP and PNC ended inter-party dialogue on March 1, 1999. Chief Emeka Anyaoku, CON secretary-general, mediated negotiations between government and PNC representatives on May 6-9, 1999, and the parties agreed to resume inter-party dialogue. The PPP and PNC resumed inter-party dialogue on June 14, 1999.  Bharrat Jagdeo was appointed as prime minister on August 9, 1999.  President Janet Jagan resigned for health reasons, and Prime Minister Bharrat Jagdeo was sworn in as president on August 11, 1999.  On January 15, 2001, the Guyana Supreme Court invalidated the results of the 1997 legislative elections and called for new legislative elections in March 2001.  Legislative elections were held on March 19, 2001, and the PPP won 35 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly. The PNC won 27 seats in the National Assembly.  Bharrat Jagdeo of the PPP was elected president by the National Assembly on March 19, 2001, and he was inaugurated as president on March 31, 2001. The European Union (EU) sent eight election experts and 29 short-term elections observers headed by Mark Stevens of Britain to monitor the legislative elections between October 13 and April 5, 2001. The OAS sent 34 short-term observers from eleven countries led by Ambassador Colin Granderson of Trinidad & Tobago to monitor the legislative elections from March 1 to April 8, 2001. The CON sent eleven short-term observers led by Sir Ieremia Tienang Tabai of Kiribati to monitor the legislative elections beginning on February 26, 2001.  The CARICOM sent ten short-term observers from ten countries headed by R. Carl Rattray of Jamaica to monitor the legislative elections. The Carter Center sent six medium-term observers and 37 short-term observers from 10 countries headed by Jimmy Carter, Rosalyn Carter, and Lloyd Erskine Sandiford of Barbados to monitor the legislative elections from February 5 to April 6, 2001.  CON Secretary-General Don McKinnon appointed Sir Paul Reeves of New Zealand as special envoy to Guyana on August 29, 2002.  Satyadeow Sawh, Minister of Agriculture, and three other individuals were killed by assassins on April 22, 2006.  The foreign ministers of the CARICOM condemned the assassinations on April 26, 2006.  CON Special Envoy Paul Reeves condemned the assassinations on April 27, 2006.  Eight individuals were killed in political violence in Bagotstown and Eccles on August 8, 2006.  The OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the killings on August 14, 2006.  Legislative elections were  held on August 28, 2006, and the PPP won 36 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly.  The PNC won 22 seats in the National Assembly.  Bharrat Jagdeo of the PPP was re-elected president by the National Assembly on August 28, 2006, and he was inaugurated as president on September 2, 2006.  The CARICOM sent 13 short-term observers from 11 countries headed by Hensley Robinson of Barbados to monitor the legislative elections from August 20 to August 29, 2006.  The CON sent 18 short-term observers led by Ratu Epeli Nailatikau of Fiji to monitor the legislative elections from August 22 to September 5, 2006.  The OAS sent 123 long-term and short-term observers from 14 countries to monitor the legislative elections from May 12 to September 11, 2006.  The Carter Center sent three medium-term observers and seven short-term observers headed by Sir John Compton of St. Lucia to monitor the legislative elections from August 7 to August 31, 2006.  CON Special Envoy Paul Reeves met with Robert Corbin, leader of the PNC-Reform, on September 7, 2006.  Government troops clashed with gunmen in the village of Buxton on January 23, 2008, resulting in the death of one government soldier.  Gunmen killed eleven individuals, including five children, in the mostly ethnic-Indian village of Lusignan on January 26, 2008.  Government police killed two gunmen in the village of Buxton on January 31, 2008.  Gunmen killed twelve individuals, including three government policemen, in the town of Bartica on February 18, 2008.  Legislative elections were held on November 28, 2011, and the People’s Progressive Party-Civic (PPP-Civic) won 32 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly.  The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), including the People’s National Congress-Reform (PNC-Reform), won 26 seats in the National Assembly.  Donald Ramotar of the PPP-Civic was elected president by the National Assembly on November 28, 2011, and he was inaugurated as president on December 3, 2011.  The CON sent 15 short-term observers led by Denis Marshall of New Zealand to monitor the legislative elections from November 21 to December 5, 2011.  The OAS sent 25 short-term observers from 14 countries to monitor the legislative elections from November 20 to December 2, 2011.  Three individuals were killed in clashes between government policemen and protesters in the town of Linden on July 18, 2012.

[Sources: Associated Press (AP), December 13, 1997, December 20, 1997, January 15, 1998, July 2, 1998, March 21, 2001; Banks and Muller, 1998, 385-389; Beigbeder, 1994, 246, 286; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), December 10, 1997, December 18, 1997, January 2, 1998, January 5, 1998, January 6, 1998, January 12, 1998, June 29, 1998, July 1, 1998, July 2, 1998, August 9, 1999, August 12, 1999, March 19, 2001, March 20, 2001, April 22, 2006, August 29, 2006, September 1, 2006, January 27, 2008, January 28, 2008, February 1, 2008, February 18, 2008, November 28, 2011, December 2, 2011, July 19, 2012, September 30, 2012; Caribbean Community (CARICOM), January 15, 1998, January 17, 1998, January 20, 1998, February 16, 1998, March 10, 1998, March 31, 1998, July 2, 1998, July 3, 1998, July 16, 1998, March 1, 1999, March 19, 1999, September 4, 1999, December 17, 1999, March 15, 2001, March 26, 2001, August 25, 2006, August 29, 2006; Caribbean Net News, April 26, 2006, August 11, 2006, August 14, 2006, August 25, 2006, August 28, 2006, August 30, 2006, September 1, 2006, September 5, 2006, September 7, 2006; Carter Center (CC) press release, January 23, 2001, March 16, 2001, March 20, 2001, March 21, 2001, August 31, 2006; Carter Center (CC) report, February 15, 2007; Commonwealth of Nations (CON), December 2, 1997, May 9, 1999, February 27, 2001, March 12, 2001, March 20, 2001, August 29, 2002, September 6, 2006, September 22, 2006, November 18, 2011; Degenhardt, 1988, 144-145; European Union (EU), March 21, 2001; Facts on File, May 26-June 1, 1966, December 19-25, 1968, January 30-February 5, 1969, July 29-August 4, 1973, April 5, 2001; International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), December 11, 1997, December 16, 1997; Jessup, 1998, 265-267; Keesing’s Record of World Events, March 1-8, 1969, October 1, 1976, September 4, 1981, February 1986, December 1997, January 1998, June 1998; Langer, 1972, 1251; Organization of American States (OAS), January 12, 1998, January 13, 1998, April 8, 1998, March 17, 2001, October 1, 2001, August 29, 2006, December 8, 2006, November 25, 2011, November 29, 2011; Reuters, October 7, 1992, December 13, 1997, January 13, 1998, January 15, 1998, January 18, 1998, June 2, 1998, March 28, 2001, March 20, 2001.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Mars, Perry. 1990. “Ethnic Conflict and Political Control: The Guyana Case,” Social and Economic Studies, vol. 39 (3), pp. 65-94.