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
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
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
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.