Former Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo has assailed the incumbent David Granger administration in Guyana, claiming that the government’s policies are “a threat to democracy.”
In delivering the keynote address on the recent launch of the Richmond Hill, Queens-based International Center for Democracy (ICD), at Russo on the Bay, Jagdeo said this threat particularly surrounds the issues of elections and the separation of powers.
“And, if we fail to address these, our country will slide back,” he warned patrons at the gala event in the Howard Beach section of Queens.
“On the courts in Guyana, the party flag [incumbent party] flew above the national flag,” he added. “The president has failed to appoint judges. At one stage, for three to four months, we did not have a court of appeal in Guyana. I shudder to think [about] what is happening in Guyana today.”
Jagdeo claimed that there are “major attempts of the executive to change the spirit of the Constitution,” stating that “the Constitution is being eroded.
“The management of Parliament – we reduce the powers of the Public Service Commission,” he said, alluding to the incumbent administration. “I can go on to the changes because I realize that our country needs to go forward.”
He also said that his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been waiting for two years to have its election petition heard.
“If the government has control of the judiciary, they you’ll never have justice,” Jagdeo said.
Economically, the former president said the Guyanese economy has “flat-lined,” claiming that “if you take away businessmen, there’s no investment, because they’re [businessmen] are scared.
“People, particularly the business community, are shaking,” he claimed. “Already the economy is in the doldrums. If you got to Guyana, they [the people] will tell you [that] our economy has changed.
“The government seems to be focusing on oil,” he said, stating that “oil proceeds are volatile.
“If you kill the labor incentive sectors and try to replace it by a capital incentive sector, you’ll get 300 jobs,” he added. “Their [government] whole philosophy is one we [PPP] don’t subscribe to.”
He charged that there’s “wonton spending” by the Granger government, stating that, “by the time we left office, we restored a bankrupt country.”
Jagdeo, born on Jan. 23, 1964, was President of Guyana from Aug. 11, 1999 to Dec. 3, 2011.
He holds a number of global leadership positions in the areas of sustainable development, green growth and climate change.
As a member of the PPP, Jagdeo served as Minister of Finance in the 1990s, becoming President after Janet Jagan resigned for health reasons.
Subsequently, he won two elections, in 2001 and 2006. He was the first President of Guyana to relinquish office in accordance with term limits he signed into the Guyanese Constitution.
At age 35, Jagdeo was one of the youngest heads of state in the world.
In late 2011, his term of office officially came to an end as a result of the term limit amendment to the Constitution, piloted by his government, and signed into law by himself, which created a two-term limit for anyone elected President after 2000.
He was succeeded by PPP/C presidential candidate Donald Ramotar, who was elected President in the Nov. 28, 2011 general elections.
During Jagdeo’s tenure as President, major economic and social reforms were undertaken in Guyana.
When he relinquished office, Guyana was concluding its fifth consecutive year of strong economic growth, often out-pacing all other countries in South America.
External debt had been almost halved, and external reserves were almost three times their 2006 level.
Brigadier David Arthur Granger, Jul. 15, 1945, has been President of Guyana since 2015.
He served for a time as Commander of the Guyana Defense Force and subsequently as National Security Adviser from 1990 to 1992.
He was Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly of Guyana from 2012 to 2015.
Granger stood as the opposition coalition’s presidential candidate in the November 2011 general election, but was defeated.
He was elected as President in the May 2015 general election.
Born in Georgetown, the Guyanese capital, Granger attended Queen’s College, Guyana’s elite and prestigious school, like the former Presidents Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan, and scholars like Walter Rodney and Rupert Roopnaraine.
In 2010, Granger made a successful bid to be elected as the presidential candidate of the People’s National Congress–Reform for the November 2011 general election.
Standing as the opposition coalition’s presidential candidate, Granger was defeated by Donald Ramotar. He was unanimously elected as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly on Jan. 16, 2012.
Granger stood again as the presidential candidate of the opposition coalition, APNU – AFC, in the May 11, 2015 general election.
The coalition secured the majority of votes, and Granger was sworn in as President of Guyana on 16 May 16, 2015.