by Zena Henry
Guyanese on Saturday May 16 witnessed the swearing in of the newly-elected President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Brigadier (Ret’d) David Granger as his party, less than one hour after he was declared winner of the 2015 general and regional elections.
Despite murmurs that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had planned to scuttle the declaration by going to court, A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition was declared victor by Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally.
To a wave of supporters, well wishers, international representatives and other officials at the Parliament Building in Georgetown, the new president took the Oath of Office and declared that he has been elected “president for all the people.” In his first address as Head of State and Commander –in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the President announced that a grand inaugural ceremony would be held at the National Stadium, a transition team for the handing over of State assets from the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration, the new Head of the Presidential Secretariat and the swearing in of his Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo.
The President, in the spirit of unity, again extended an invitation to the former government to join the Coalition to work for the good of the country and erase the scourge race-hate, crime, violence against women and the other troubles that have gripped the nation.
To the roars of a gathering that blocked off all roads surrounding Parliament Building, Granger said, “We invite you to attend the formal inauguration ceremony which will be held at the National Stadium on May 26. I also wish to inform you that the outgoing and incoming Administrations have agreed to establish a transition team to facilitate the transfer of assets and the transmission of information needed to ensure the continuity of government and the stability of the State,” he said. Heading the new administration’s transition team is Retired Lt. Col. Joseph Harmon.
Granger later told reporters that the transition team would be focussing on finance, security and foreign affairs.
He extended the hand of friendship to former President Donald Ramotar and members of the PPP to “join this great movement of national unity.”
Granger noted too that along with Harmon heading the secretariat, he will also lead the transition team, while, “my friend and colleague Moses Nagamootoo will be appointed Prime Minister…”
Granger reminded Guyanese that much is in store for them under the unity government. With the six parties forming the Coalition, he highlighted that their aim is to return a better standard of living for the people.
While the swearing in of the President is usually done at State House Granger explained that the hosting of the ceremony was done at Parliament Building, “as a mark of respect to the Parliament, as a mark of respect to our Constitution, as a mark of respect for the people of this great country… the best, the biggest, the most beautiful and the most bountiful country in the Caribbean.”
The celebration he noted is not only for the favourable results of the Coalition, but the return of democracy. The President, in congratulatory remarks thanked, “the successful candidates of all parties who will soon be selected to become members of the Eleventh Parliament;” a Parliament which he said he will not prorogue; relative to actions taken by the former president, facing then, a ‘no confidence’ motion.
The President said the election is over and the “Constitution has been respected and democracy fortified.” He said the nation must now work in unity to, “banish poverty, ignorance, fear and hatred.
He spoke of creating a social and financial environment conducive for the elderly, opportunities for young, and among other things the return of security within the nation.
While the President was meeting with the police and army chiefs and other persons, personnel were downstairs busy replacing the civilian license plates on his car with the Presidential Crown.
Witnessing the swearing in ceremony were thousands of persons who thronged the Brickdam, Avenue of the Republic and Lombard Street area. Several of them perched on the gates of parliament building, wearing green and waving APNU+AFC flags.
Hundreds more opted to stand on Demico House roof and the nearby St. Andrew’s Kirk Church to get a glimpse of their leader taking the oath of office before Chancellor of the Judiciary Carl Singh and subsequently addressing them.
As if that was not enough, the crowd became ecstatic when Granger went downstairs, climbed on a nearby base of one of the unused cannons and waved to them. He then walked along the fence shaking the hands of cheering supporters.