The Republic of Guyana, the tiny nation on the northeast corner of South America’s Caribbean coast, has a new leader. He’s being called “The President of the People,” but can he help repair relations in this racially-divided country? Correspondent Stephen Gibbs sits down with newly-elected President David Granger and reports on how his new government could affect Guyana’s future.
One of the poorest countries in the Americas, the small nation of Guyana is often seen as the ‘odd-one-out’ in South America. A former British colony, it is the only mainland country where English is the national language. Its cultural ties have traditionally been closer to the Caribbean, than to Latin America.
Guyana also has a long history of racial tensions, when it comes to politics. Guyanese of Indian descent have historically voted for one party. Guyanese of African descent for another. But in its last general elections, there were some signs that that might be beginning to change. The ruling Indo-Guyanese party, which had been in power for the last 23 years, was defeated by a coalition that drew support from both races. Could this mark the beginning of the end of ethno-politics in Guyana?
Granger, a retired army general, was elected into office in May after a very tight vote. The election signifies a major political shift, as Granger defeated a governing party that has been in office for over twenty years. In a sign that the old divisions may be hard to heal, the ruling PPP party is taking legal action to contest the result of the elections. However, several international voter observation missions, including the Carter Center, have deemed them fair.