Guyana's new leader sworn in; pledges compromise

Sunday, December 04, 2011

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Guyana's new president was sworn in yesterday, pledging that his minority government will work with an opposition-controlled Parliament in the South American country.

Donald Ramotar, a 61-year-old economist, said he would consult with leaders of other political groups and name a Cabinet in 48 hours.

"The new arrangement in Parliament will test the maturity of our leaders," he said. "Pettiness must be put aside."

Ramotar's People's Progressive Party, which is dominated by people of East Indian descent, won 32 seats in Monday's election, four less than it had in the last Parliament. The Opposition Partnership For National Unity has 26 seats, a gain of four, and the Alliance For Change has seven, a gain of two.

It is the first time a minority government will lead Guyana since the country's independence in 1966, and Ramotar said that will force compromises.

"This process will not be easy," he said. "It is time for all of us to cast our partisan cloaks and put on our national garb."

Guyana's political divisions run largely along ethnic lines, between people of Indian and African descent.

Ramotar replaces Bharrat Jagdeo, who served the two-term maximum set by Guyana's constitution.

Ramotar has pledged to continue Jagdeo's policies of safeguarding the mining and agricultural sectors and improving education in the nation of roughly 780,000 people on South America's northern shoulder. Its economy depends on the export of commodities such as gold, bauxite, sugar, rice, shrimp and timber.

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