– Official inauguration to be done on Independence Day , May 26 at National Stadium
Amidst the display of love and support by thousands of Guyanese, David Arthur Granger, was sworn in as Guyana’s 8th Executive President yesterday on the balcony of the Parliament with his wife, Sandra, at his side.
It has been several years since such a momentous occasion was held at Public Buildings. It is traditionally observed at State House. The venue was however chosen by Granger to demonstrate respect for the Parliament and for democracy.
There have been several attempts at coalition governments in the past but Granger’s efforts will go down as being the most successful. It broke the 23-year hold the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) had over the nation.
Granger will be leading for the first time ever, a multinational, inclusionary government –A Partnership for National Unity plus Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) which earned itself control of the legislative arm of government with 33 seats.
The party won the 2015 General and Regional election with just under a 5000 votes margin over the PPP/C.
Yesterday’s occasional was an emotional moment, not only for the man-in-the-street but also for several public officials, members of the APNU+AFC and even some in the media fraternity.
Thousands crammed every building within range. Some found comfortable
spots at the Stabroek Market Clock, the rooftop of Demico, and the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court. Others lined the fence of the Parliament building screaming for their President.
If they were not armed with APNU flags, they were decked out in creative green and yellow suits, shoes and hats.
Special invitees to the occasion included, ambassadors of America, Britain and Canada, Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander, GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, International observers, the Private Sector Commission, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former Labour Minister, Nanda Gopaul.
Owner of BK International, Brian Tiwarie was there as was Eddie Boyer of National Hardware. Tiwarie said that he was happy to be a part of the historic occasion. “I love Granger. He is a man of my heart. Everybody knows I support him.”
When “the President of the People” arrived, there were screams. Palm branches were hoisted, horns were honked continuously, and party paraphernalia was thrown into the air.
Granger stepped out of his car elegantly clad in his black suit, with a Guyana emblem pinned to his left chest.
He then made his way to the balcony of the Parliament building. The short programme was chaired by former broadcaster Margaret Lawrence who invited local songbird, Lisa Punch, to sing the National Anthem. And she did so beautifully.
After the National Motto was recited, there were prayers by representatives of the three major religious groups in Guyana.
The Proclamation was read by Dr. Steve Surujbally then Granger took the Oath of Office which was administered by the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Carl Singh.
He swore that he would bear true faith and allegiance to the people of Guyana. He also vowed to faithfully execute the Office of President without fear or favour , affection or ill will.
After signing the oath, he addressed the nation.
“It is written, this is the day which the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in his name,” he said to thousands of cheering Guyanese.
Granger, a historian, said that there is good reason to celebrate now, not only because of the election results but more importantly, for the restoration of democracy. He then expressed his heartfelt thanks to those who voted for the six-member coalition.
“We congratulate the successful candidates of all parties who will soon be elected to serve in the Eleventh Parliament, a parliament I will not prorogue. I encourage them to be faithful to their office.”
“Let us now put the past behind us and live in unity and banish poverty, ignorance, fear and hatred.
“We are here to witness not the swearing in of the party leader but the President of all the people. I shall be a good President for all the people,” the Head of State said.
Granger opined that he believes that the inauguration of a government of national unity is the best way to overcome the nation’s historic divisions.
The President said that for 23 years, the citizenry witnessed the denial of democracy, the prorogation of Parliament, the high crime rate, the squandering of state resources, and youth unemployment.
The “President of the People” appealed to the nation that the damage to the nation should not push them to allow hate to fester within their hearts, but rather serve as another driving force for all to be more determined to refashion the country.
He said that it is time to look to the future. He invited all to his inauguration ceremony on May 26, Independence Day, at the National Stadium.
He also said that as soon as Parliament convenes, Moses Nagamootoo will be sworn in as Prime Minister and Leader of the House.
Granger said, too, that the outgoing administration, the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) has agreed to collaborate with the new government –APNU+AFC —for putting together a transition team to facilitate the transfer of assets and information needed to ensure the continuation of the country.
APNU’s General Secretary, Joseph Harmon, will serve, temporarily as the Head of the Presidential Secretariat to head the APNU+AFC’s team in that regard.
Though his party has been very critical of the PPP/C administration over the years, Granger still extended an olive branch to former President Donald Ramotar to join the unity movement.
Ramotar up to yesterday expressed that he is still hurt and aggrieved by the defeat.
The President then urged those present to live in peace and embrace each other regardless of race, class or political persuasion. He concluded by inviting them to join in singing the national song—”Let Us Co-operate” while holding the hand of the person beside them.
The moment was indeed filled with the feeling of joy and unity.