Guyana poll pits race against self-interest

First Edition

President Desmond Hoyte is calculating that, when Guyana's voters go to the polls today for the country's first free elections since 1964, they will put self-interest before race and thereby ensure his re-election.

His main rival is Cheddi Jagan, veteran leader of the People's Progressive Party (PPP), who was twice chief minister of British Guiana before independence in 1966. A victory for Mr Jagan would mean not only the departure of Mr Hoyte after seven years in power, but also the end of 28 years of uninterrupted rule by the predominantly black People's National Congress (PNC). Mr Jagan has the overwhelming support of East Indians, people of Asian descent, who make up slightly more than half the 800,000 population.

Mr Jagan, 74, has allowed his campaign copywriters to play heavily on the racial angle. A recent full-page newspaper advertisement showed a grainy picture of an Indo-Guyanese man towing a coffin, with text concentrating on 'the last horrible 28 years' and urged voters to 'exorcise the ghost of PNC's rigged elections'. But Mr Jagan also vows to end racial politics, and has a black running-mate, Sam Hinds, as evidence of his good faith.

The PPP leader has abandoned the fiery Marxist rhetoric that used to be his hallmark. He has even undertaken to continue the successful economic liberalisation programme begun by President Hoyte, who jettisoned the statist policies of his predecessor, Forbes Burnham. Guyana has enjoyed a 6-7 per cent growth rate for the past two years, and therein lies Mr Hoyte's best hope of being re-elected. Wages have tripled in the sugar-growing regions, the traditional stronghold of the PPP, and the President has drawn unusually large crowds at campaign rallies in these areas. The sugar industry, nationalised after independence, is now managed by Booker-Tate.

PNC strategists have emphasised Mr Hoyte's leadership qualities and his 'vision'. His proposals to privatise 38 state-owned corporations, about half of which have already been sold, have attracted interest from potential foreign investors in such industries as mining, sugar and timber, which became badly run-down during the years of Burnham's 'co-operative republic'. Foreign exchange reserves are now around dollars 100m, and the Guyana dollar is relatively stable.

Mr Hoyte has also been cultivating a 'green' image, donating nearly a million acres of virgin rainforest to the Commonwealth- funded Iwokrama project, which will develop ways to control the impact of forest-based industries.

The elections were originally due in 1990, but were twice postponed because of serious problems with the electoral register. The PPP was not alone in contending that the register was rigged by the PNC to make sure it remained in power for ever - the Carter Center in Atlanta, which is supplying up to 100 monitors for today's voting, agreed that there could not be fair elections using the unpurged lists. They had been compiled by the ruling party's own computer centre and were found to be more than 30 per cent inaccurate. That problem has now been put right, thanks in large measure to pressure from the United States, the United Nations and the Commonwealth.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Drama Teacher - Hull and Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: The JobRandstad are currently in need of ...

Reception Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is the UK mark...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments