Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo who was President of Guyana from 11 August 1999 to 3 December 2011has once again fought for the return of democracy to Guyana.
Dr. Jagdeo was born on 23 January 1964 in the village of Unity on the East Coast of Guyana. He received a Master’s degree in Economics, from Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow in 1990,
An economist by profession, he entered public service in Guyana’s State Planning Secretariat in 1990. After the restoration of democracy in Guyana in 1992, Dr. Jagdeo became the Junior Minister of Finance one year later. Rapid promotion ensued, and he became Senior Minister of Finance in 1995. While Minister of Finance, Dr. Jagdeo led the production of Guyana’s National Development Strategy with the support of former US President Jimmy Carter’s Carter Centre. This led to the Carter Centre and Dr. Jagdeo working with leaders in Africa who drew on Guyana’s experience with its National Development Strategy for lessons that could be applied in other countries.
After the retirement of former President Janet Jagan due to illness, Dr. Jagdeo was appointed as Guyana’s President in 1999. Aged 35, he was one of the youngest Heads of Government in the world.
In 2001, Dr. Jagdeo was elected as President and was re-elected in September 2006.
His tenure in office saw unprecedented social and economic reform in Guyana, with improved access to education, rehabilitation of the health system, far-reaching land reform, the biggest expansion of the housing sector in Guyana’s history, expansion of the water and sanitation systems, and large-scale development of the road, river, and air transport networks. In parallel, Guyana’s national debt was substantially reduced, new public procurement and competition laws were passed, and reforms to the tax, fiscal, and investment regimes were implemented.
In September 2005, Dr. Jagdeo was elected Chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a position he occupied until September 2006. He has been awarded the Pushkin Medal by the Government of Russia, and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by the Government of India.
On 26 November 2011, he made a far-reaching farewell address ahead of the nation’s elections on 28 November 2011. He spoke of accomplishments, such as the economy and defense issues, and emphasized his optimism in the future of Guyana.
As a consequence of Dr. Jagdeo’s consistent advocacy for urgent action on climate change, Time Magazine and CNN named the President as one of their “Heroes of the Environment 2008”.
He has been conferred with honorary doctorates of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, TERI University, the University of Central Lancashire, and Trent University.
Dr. Jagdeo was awarded the Pushkin Medal by the Government of Russia, and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by the Government of India.
In April 2013, the former President was conferred with the highest honor of the State of Roraima, Brazil, the Order of Merit ‘Forte Sao Joaquim’.
Time Magazine named Dr. Jagdeo as one of their “Heroes of the Environment” in 2008, and he was awarded the United Nations “Champion of the Earth” award in 2010.
In early 2010, the Secretary-General of the United Nations asked Jagdeo to serve on the Secretary General’s High-Level Financing Group on Climate Change
From 2011 until 2015, Dr. Jagdeo was out of the limelight in politics. The PPP Government became a minority Government in 2011 and lost to the APNU+AFC Coalition in 2015.
Dr. Jagdeo did not sit well with the PPP being out of Government. He was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly on 17 August 2015. Four months after the PPP lost the elections. In 2017, the PPP elected Dr. Jagdeo as the General Secretary.
While being Opposition Leader, the Opposition managed to hold the Coalition Gov.’s feet to the fire. The atrocities and corruption of the Coalition were brought to light. The party fought tireless battles in the courts and on the streets, calling for a hearing of the 2015 Elections Petition which never saw the light of day in Court. Numerous protest actions in front of the Gecom Secretariat saw the resignation of former Chair of Gecom, Dr. Steve Surujbali.
The party under Dr. Jagdeo’s leadership saw the PPP defeating the Coalition at the Local Government’s Elections. The party made headways in areas where there were no PPP Councilors, such as Buxton.
With morals boosted, the Opposition brought a no-confidence motion against the APNU+AFC Gov., The Gov. was defeated after AFC MP, Attorney at Law, Charrandas Persaud, voted his conscience against the atrocities by his Government.
The Coalition mismanaged the country’s finances; businesses were on a downward spiral. Thousands of Sugar workers fired, mostly from East Indian Communities, thousands of Amerindians were fired from their jobs. Taxes were introduced on light and water, while the Gov. gave themselves a 50% pay raise first 100 days in office.
Following a no-confidence motion, elections are to be held within 90 days from the successful passage of the motion. However, the Coalition did not allow the elections to be held.
Instead, a slew of court actions followed all the way to Guyana’s Apex Court, The Caribbean Court of Justice. The Coalition lost all the cases on every point argued except that a person cannot sit in the National Assembly and be a dual citizen.
After losing all court battles, Gecom finally decided to call the elections on March 2, 2020. The elections went fairly smooth on March 2. The APNU+AFC lost the elections.
However, the Coalition did not want to let go of power. Several persons, including the Chief Elections Officer, are accused of trying to rig the elections in favor of the APNU+AFC. They are before the courts on electoral fraud charges.
Dr. Jagdeo did not allow this to happen. The rigging scheme was exposed to all of the International Community. David Granger, who is the leader of the APNU, and Dr. Jagdeo came to an agreement that a recount should be done with the help of Caricom. APNU+AFC did not want the recount, so they filed more court actions trying to block the recount process, however, it was allowed by the courts. The recount process saw the PPP still remaining victorious.
The new government was sworn in on 2nd August 2020, Dr. Jagdeo was appointed Vice President of Guyana.
By Ronald Singh