Guyana swears in ex-army general as new president

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A retired army general was sworn in Saturday as Guyana’s new president after his multi-ethnic opposition coalition won the South American country’s general elections and ended a 23-year reign by the People’s Progressive Party.

David Granger said that Guyana’s democracy has been fortified and that he views himself a president for all of the people as thousands of supporters clad in the party’s yellow-and-green colors cheered him outside Parliament.

His party has pledged to end racial divisions that long have marked politics in Guyana, a country of nearly 746,000 people who are mainly of Indian and African descent.

Granger, 69, became Guyana’s eighth president since the country gained independence from Britain in 1966. He vowed to reduce high youth unemployment and violent crime as well as crack down on piracy.

Guyana’s elections commission said Granger’s Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change Coalition won 207,200 votes. The People’s Progressive Party got 202,674 votes. Granger’s coalition will have a one-seat majority in the 65-member Parliament.

The elections commission rejected a demand for a full recount from former President Donald Ramotar, who said Saturday that he would seek other measures to protest the results.

Ramotar had previously suspended and dissolved Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote, triggering early elections as his party faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement.

The U.S. Embassy has called Monday’s election “free and fair” and dismissed allegations about irregularities.

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