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Fmr US President Jimmy Carter, who spearheaded Guyana’s electoral reforms, in hospice care

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 February 2023, 10:16 by Denis Chabrol

President Desmond Hoyte welcomed President and Mrs. Carter during a visit to Guyana in October 1990. (Photo: The Carter Center/K. Moore)

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who convinced Guyana’s then People’s National Congress (PNC)-led administration to agree to major electoral reforms, has entered hospice care, instead of seeking more medical treatment.

After a series of short hospital stays, the statement said, Carter “decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention”, Canada’s CTV News  quoted a statement from the Carter Center as saying.

At 98 years old, he is the longest-lived American President.

After decades of political pressure by the Dr Cheddi Jagan-led People’s Progressive Party (PPP) for electoral reforms, Dr Jagan lobbied President Carter to ensure the scheduled 1990 elections would have been free and fair.  Despite mounting pressure, Mr Hoyte had, for instance, insisted that counting of votes at the place of poll- one of the PPP’s key demands- would have been a logistical nightmare.

Mr Carter last visited Guyana in 2018 when he had met and spoken with top Guyanese political leaders including then Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, President Donald Ramotar and then President David Granger. Mr Granger, of the PNCR, had described the former American leader as a “friend”, “not a broker”

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Former US President, Jimmy Carter, with other observers, with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and former President Donald Ramotar.

Mr Carter, reflecting on his early role in Guyana’s electoral process, had said that President Hoyte had remained defiant until the last moment and then agreed to give into key electoral reforms- an accurate voters list, a balanced Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and counting of the votes at the place of poll. “Finally, as I was preparing to leave the country and declare that we could not participate, President Hoyte accepted all our provisions. The election was delayed until October 1992, and government officials also invited observers of the British Commonwealth, with whom they had enjoyed a close and friendly relationship,” Mr Carter said in 2007.

Jason Carter, the couple’s grandson who now chairs The Carter Center governing board, said Saturday in a tweet that he “saw both of my grandparents yesterday. They are at peace and–as always–their home is full of love.”

The statement said the 39th president has the full support of his medical team and family, which “asks for privacy at this time and is grateful for the concern shown by his many admirers.”

In August 2015, Carter had a small cancerous mass removed from his liver. The following year, Carter announced that he needed no further treatment, as an experimental drug had eliminated any sign of cancer.

Carter celebrated his most recent birthday in October with family and friends in Plains, the tiny town where he and Rosalynn were born in the years between World War I and the Great Depression.

The Carter Center last year marked 40 years of promoting its human rights agenda.

The Center has been a pioneer of election observation, monitoring at least 113 elections in Africa, Latin America, and Asia since 1989

And years later, upon his cancer diagnosis as a nonagenarian, he expressed satisfaction with his long life.

“I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” he said in 2015. “I’ve had an exciting, adventurous and gratifying existence.”

In his account “Remembering Guyana’s 1992 Elections, an excerpt from his book ‘Beyond the White House,’ by Jimmy Carter,” he states:

“The election center was where all of the communication equipment and computers, on which election results would be tabulated, were located. It was a two-story wooden building with many windows, with the electronic equipment housed in an isolated central room on the second floor. When I arrived, accompanied by three Secret Service agents, the building was surrounded by several hundred rioters, who had already broken all the windows with clubs and stones. There was only one Guyanese police office present, a woman wearing a uniform but without sidearms.

We went upstairs and found that all the computers had been transferred to one of the more isolated hotels for safekeeping. I phoned the hotel manager, who told me that the computers could not be operated there unless “a battalion of troops is sent to protect us against the mobs trying to stop the vote count.” I called the president again. I told him that I was in the unprotected building and that there was no way to complete the election unless the workers could return with their computers. Also, I told him that our Secret Service would contact the White House if I didn’t receive immediate protection from the mob outside.

Calm was restored after another hour, and the computers were tabulating returns by midnight. Our quick count showed that the ruling party would lose by about 14 percent, and early the next morning I went to visit both presidential candidates. They agreed to refrain from any public statements and to accept the final results, which were announced three days later. Cheddi Jagan was sworn in as president after what was considered to be the country’s first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet Jagan, became president, but she resigned in 1999 because of poor health.

The Carter Center has remained in close contact with the people of Guyana and has helped them to work out a long-range plan for economic and political development. A young deputy finance minister, Bharrat Jagdeo, was assigned by the Jagans to work with us on this project, and he performed this duty superbly. When Mrs. Jagan became ill, Jagdeo was chosen to succeed her as president, and he was elected and then reelected in 2001 and 2006. Unfortunately, many of the divisions in Guyana remain.”

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