August 9, 1999

Jagan's heir sworn in as prime minister in Guyana

                  GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- Guyana's finance minister was sworn in
                  as prime minister Monday in a first step to succeed President Janet Jagan,
                  who is stepping down this week because of heart trouble.

                  As the new prime minister, 35-year-old Bharrat Jagdeo is legally positioned
                  as next in line to succeed Jagan. He is to be sworn in Wednesday as
                  president of this South American country, located east of Venezuela on
                  South America's north coast.

                  Jagan, 78, announced Sunday she was resigning after being hospitalized in
                  the United States last month for a mild heart attack. She said Jagdeo, her
                  hand-picked successor, would be "firm in dealing with government business
                  and is not afraid of making decisions."

                  Sam Hinds, who resigned as prime minister to make way for Jagdeo, will be
                  reappointed premier Wednesday.

                  Guyana's politics are polarized between Indian-Guyanese, who support
                  Jagan's People's Progressive Party, and African-Guyanese, who back the
                  People's National Congress of former President Desmond Hoyte. The
                  People's National Congress said Sunday that it won't recognize Jagdeo's
                  administration because it still disputes the December 1997 elections, though
                  international observers said Jagan's victory was fair.

                  Jagan responded by lashing out at the People's National Congress, which
                  has dogged her 20-month government with street protests and accused her
                  administration of racism.

                  The opposition, Jagan said Sunday, "must know the response of society at
                  large to the destruction they have caused both to the economy and to the
                  societal fabric of the nation.

                  "As a politician with some 50 years experience in this country, I can assure
                  you that such tactics can cast votes," she said. "And that's what they will
                  reap -- the wrath of the people."

                  Jagdeo, who studied economics at Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University,
                  is a ruling party activist from Mahaica, a farming town 25 miles east of
                  Georgetown, the capital.

                  Critics say Jagdeo's hardball negotiating tactics unnecessarily prolonged an
                  eight-week strike this year by civil servants demanding pay hikes. The strike
                  all but shut down government and paralyzed trade.

                  Jagdeo had no immediate comment on the PNC declaration. He did say he
                  planned no changes in an austerity-oriented economic policy that has been
                  criticized by both labor and business.

                  The Chicago-born Jagan has lived in the former British Guiana since 1943.
                  She succeeded her husband, President Cheddi Jagan, who died in March
                  1997. Her term was to run to 2001, but she said her energy and stamina
                  were greatly reduced by her heart attack.