All Guyana has to have breathed a sigh of relief that good sense had finally prevailed in the APNU/AFC camp and, because they share a deep commitment to the peace, prosperity, and progress of our beloved homeland, they accepted the GECOM Chairwoman Claudette Singh’s declaration that Irfaan Ali, presidential candidate for the PPP/C, has been duly elected as the next President of Guyana.
In a statesmanlike gesture, President David Granger issued a statement ahead of the GECOM Chair’s receipt of the long-requested CEO’s Report and her expected declaration. He announced that he recognised, as a consequence of the recent decision by the Court of Appeal, the Chair had a “legal obligation” to proceed with the declaration. Most pertinently, he noted that in reference to the objections his party raised about the votes, these would be pursued via an elections petition.
In the morning GECOM meeting, CEO Lowenfield had not presented his report and he was instructed to do so at 2pm. In the meantime, the Government Commissioners requested that the Chair invite the President and the Opposition leader to have a “discussion” in view of what they asserted were deep disagreements between the parties. The Chair complied, but Jagdeo indicated he was willing to meet to discuss “governance issues” but only after the declaration. It was after his call that President Granger issued his statement of concession.
At the 2pm meeting, the CEO presented his report using the numbers from the recount as instructed and the Chairwoman subsequently made her declaration; contacted the Chancellor to inform her of her constitutional responsibility to swear in the President-elect, and Dr Irfaan Ali duly became the ninth President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana on August 2, at 4:36pm.
While we cannot gloss over the acrimony generated during the last five months over the results of the March 2 elections, we are certain that the vast majority of Guyanese – including the supporters of the APNU/AFC coalition – are now prepared, like President Granger, to accept the lawful resolution of our elections dispute and are now prepared to get on with the task of developing our great nation. Our nation has unfortunately been on pause politically since March 2, even as Guyana was hit by the potentially-devastating COVID-19 pandemic, almost right after the elections. The political crisis precluded the meeting of Parliament and as such, even the few initiatives that were undertaken by the caretaker Administration did not have the input and critique of the PPP/C.
But Guyana is fortunate that they have a new government that will hit the road running. While very youthful, the 40-year-old President Ali had been one of the most experienced Cabinet Ministers in the previous PPP/C Administrations. He even held multiple portfolios at one time while unfurling one of the largest housing drives this country has ever seen, as Minister of Housing and Water. But unlike the predecessor APNU/AFC Administration, he will also have Ministers who have seen Guyana through even more daunting challenges in the past than what we are presently confronting.
Immediately after his swearing-in, President Ali announced the appointment of Bharrat Jagdeo who was not only President of Guyana for 12 years, but preceded that stint with concurrent and previous experience as Minister of Finance to bring back Guyana from the worst economic disaster that hit it in its history. Anil Nandlall was returned to the post of Attorney General and he also brings a vast pool of experience within his critical portfolio. The veteran Gail Teixeira with decades of experience in various ministerial portfolios in her new post of Minister of Parliamentary Affairs should be invaluable in the effort to have a working relationship with the new Opposition and enact all the legislation that are necessary to retool our legal framework for the new economy.
We must congratulate President Ali for hitting the precise note needed at this time: that he will be working for Guyanese of all classes, ethnicities, and races.
Congratulations to President Irfaan Ali.