September 2, 2006

Guyana’s president sworn in with call for unity

By Sharief Khan

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (Reuters) - Guyana President Bharrat
Jagdeo was sworn in on Saturday for another five years calling
for national unity after this week's peaceful election in the
divided South American nation of 750,000 people.

The former British colony wedged between Venezuela and
Suriname escaped the violence of past votes when tensions
between the ethnic Indian majority and Afro-Guyanese boiled
over into rioting and looting.

Jagdeo, a 42-year-old ethnic Indian who trained as an
economist in Russia, won 54.6 percent of Monday's vote while
his People's Progressive Party/Civic party won 36 seats in the
65-member parliament.

"I am the president of all of Guyana and I need you to work
with me," Jagdeo said at a ceremony attended by opposition
leaders on the trimmed lawn of his official residence.

"I hope to meet leaders of the political parties in
parliament to hammer out a framework of cooperation," he said.

Georgetown, the sweltering coastal capital on the Atlantic
Ocean, was bustling with weekend shoppers preparing for the new
school term. Soldiers were still patrolling as a precaution.

Jagdeo must now tackle crime and bring in investment to
allow Guyana to compete in the Caricom trade bloc of Caribbean

He must also show the international community that he is
willing to fight drug traffickers, whom the United States says
could threaten Guyana's democracy, analysts said.

Guyana, the size of Britain, struggles with poverty, crime
and scarce investment despite rich bauxite and timber reserves.

Robert Corbin, an opponent who charged Jagdeo with ignoring
Afro-Guyanese issues and turning a blind eye to corruption, had
denounced irregularities and accused the PPP/C of fraud at some
polling stations.

But Jagdeo said the opposition leader called him shortly
before the ceremony to offer his congratulations.

Corbin secured 34 percent of the vote and his People's
National Congress Reform party won 22 parliament seats.
Newcomers Alliance for Change won five seats in the chamber
with the last two seats going to smaller parties.