Posted August 12th.1999
Articles taken from Stabroek News

The swearing in of the President

Janet Jagan hands over her resignation as president to Speaker of the National Assembly, Derek Jagan yesterday, paving the way for Bharrat Jagdeo to be sworn in as the new president.

By Gitanjali Singh

Bharrat Jagdeo, 35, was yesterday sworn in as Guyana's seventh President at State House and immediately extended a hand of friendship to the opposition to sit with his administration and iron out differences so that the common cause can be served.

"I am committing myself to be an emissary of renewed hope and a healing process in our society. I promise to put my best effort and that of my party into the realisation of a Guyana of which we all feel a part, an equal part and a Guyana of which we can all feel justly proud," Jagdeo told the nation yesterday.

He acknowledged that for Guyana to move forward, there was need for national cohesion and holds himself out as providing that opportunity.

"I offer you a chance to break the vicious circle of insecurity... we need to trust each other in our ethnically diverse community. We need to break away from this bondage of victim and victor perceptions. Let us look at our real worth as human beings and create a civilised environment in which we can realise our dreams," the new President urged.

Jagdeo yesterday succeeded Mrs Janet Jagan, becoming the fourth PPP/Civic President in three years, and Sam Hinds was again sworn in as Prime Minister. Hinds had to resign on Sunday to facilitate Jagdeo's accession to the presidency, via the prime ministerial position. Mrs Jagan stepped down for health reasons.

At the ceremony yesterday, Mrs Jagan handed her resignation over to Speaker of the National Assembly, Derek Jagan, and dubbed Jagdeo's swearing in a momentous occasion.

Thanking all Guyanese for their support during her 20-month reign, Mrs Jagan said she was handing over the reins to a man of "vigour" and "lots of brain power".

"The presidency will be in good hands," she assured the nation. At one minute after 3 pm, Jagdeo took the oath of office in the presence of the business community, the diplomatic corps, political parties, the media and well-wishers. Immediately after, he was inundated by well-wishers.

Jagdeo will have to grapple with the task of appointing a new finance minister and possibly a trade minister shortly. He will also have to face the challenge of configuring his administration to deal with the burning issues now facing the country.

"I hope to introduce a more comfortable environment for our people and foreigners to invest in the development of the country. I intend to do so with the full partnership of the major players in the society--the private sector, the labour movement and civic society," the new President stated yesterday. He added that all of this could only make sense if a strong and vibrant democratic culture is developed.

Dubbing Guyana a land of opportunities, Jagdeo said the people needed to veer away from the conventional path to recognise this.

"We need to be creative, to revive that inborn entrepreneurial spirit within ourselves so that we can grasp these opportunities," he said and noted that if the country forever depended on others, then it would reap only what others were prepared to give.

He said he recognised that he faced a challenge, but that having the will to succeed was a great start.

"Today, as I accept the highest office in the land, I understand more clearly than ever, the true meaning of [the words I uttered in Kitty on the campaign trail in 1997]. Before me is that great challenge to give life to those lofty ideals. [And] as I stand before you as your humble servant, I appreciate the heavy responsibilities placed upon my shoulders," Jagdeo said.

At Kitty in 1997, Jagdeo had said that all Guyanese dreamed of having a stable career, good paying jobs to take care of their families and savings to own a house and to provide a good education for their children. He had also urged youths to be more tolerant of each other and to learn to love one another.

"It is my deepest desire to live up to the high expectations of our people and to play my part in bringing to realisation their dreams...," Jagdeo said yesterday.

He stated that some may feel that at 35, he is too young to be tasked with such a heavy responsibility as the presidency, but argued that being young was not a disadvantage but an opportunity.

"I know that there are tens of thousands of patriotic Guyanese of all walks of life who are prepared to put their shoulders to the wheel to build a happy tomorrow. I invite those patriots to join me in this national effort to lead this country into the next millennium as a country of opportunities and a bright future," Jagdeo urged.

He said that he was bringing no hang-ups from the past to the office of the president, just the hope that all young men and women who dream must have.

The former economist in the State Planning Secretariat, who became special adviser to the minister of finance in 1992, junior minister of finance in October 1993 and was elevated to senior minister of finance in March 1995, yesterday said he was humbled by the trust reposed in him by his party.

Jagdeo pledged to live up to the expectations of his people and noted the need as well to interact with the world community. He said his administration would continue to forge bonds of friendship with neighbouring countries and a cornerstone of his foreign policy would be the advancement of closer integration with CARICOM.

He would soon be meeting the CARICOM leaders and said he intended to emphasise Guyana's position to quicken the process of political and economic unity within CARICOM. Traditional friendly ties with the USA, Canada, the UK, India, China and other states are also to be deepened.

Paying tribute to Mrs Jagan as the heroine of Guyana and the woman of the century, Jagdeo compared her wisdom, courage and humility to that of South African statesman Nelson Mandela. He described her as being in the category of people who made rather than accepted history and said that in stepping down she has shown a strength of character few can boast, and humility born of courage.

The Chicago, Illinois-born Mrs Jagan, wrote another chapter of her 53-year political career in Guyana when she stepped down yesterday as the first female executive president of Guyana.

She had co-founded the Political Affairs Committee with her husband, the late president Cheddi Jagan; H.J. Hubbard; and Ashton Chase in 1946. That year she also founded the women's political and economic organisation that dealt with social work committees and charitable organisations.

Her long political career included her contesting general elections in 1947 under limited franchise in Central Georgetown, which she lost.

She served as general secretary of the People's Progressive Party (PPP), which was formed in 1950, for 20 years. In 1953, she formed the women's arm of the PPP, the Women's Progressive Organisation. She entered the House of Assembly as a representative of the Essequibo constituency that year.

Her career also included a six-month term in prison for civil disobedience in 1954, after the PPP government was put out of power by the British.

Mrs Jagan was the first woman elected to the Georgetown City Council and was one of the first three women to be elected to Parliament during 1957 to 1961. She was also member of the legislative council, Essequibo.

In 1957 she was appointed minister of health, labour and housing and in 1963 was minister of home affairs and a member of the Senate.

In 1992 she became First Lady after Dr Jagan won the elections. On his death in March 1997, she contested the general elections that year and won.

President Bharrat Jagdeo and First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo,
share a warm moment after his swearing-in as the country's seventh
president yesterday at State House. (Photo by Ken Moore)

The President and the PM: President Bharrat Jagdeo (second from left)
and First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo (second from right), with Prime Minister Sam
Hinds and his wife Yvonne Hinds after the swearing-in ceremony yesterday
at State House. (Ken Moore photo)

Presidential hug: President Bharrat Jagdeo envelops
Minister of Culture,
Youth and Sports, Gail Teixeira, in a warm
hug after his swearing-in yesterday at State House.

Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green (right) offering congratulations
to President Bharrat Jagdeo shortly after the swearing in ceremony at
State House yesterday. (Ken Moore photo)

President Bharrat Jagdeo (right) accepting felicitations on his
elevation to the presidency from CARICOM Secretary-General,
Edwin Carrington after the swearing in ceremony at State House yesterday.

I wish you the best: Businessman Ron Webster (left) offering his
congratulations to President Bharrat Jagdeo after the installation
ceremony at State House yesterday. (Ken Moore photo)

First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo radiates happiness
following the swearing in yesterday at State House
of her husband, Bharrat Jagdeo as the country's
seventh President. (Ken Moore photo)

Retirement talk? Father Malcolm Rodrigues (left) in discussion with
former President, Mrs Janet Jagan yesterday at State House shortly
after she had resigned the post and Finance Minister, Bharrat Jagdeo
had been sworn in as her replacement. (Ken Moore photo)