Guyana's government record

Alas, my old employer and friend Darcus Howe (14 May) has got it wrong on Guyana. I have just returned, having spent four months working in my homeland up to and after the general election of 19 March.

The situation is clear. The Indo-Guyanese People's Progressive Party president, Bharrat Jagdeo, won a thumping victory (53 to 42 per cent) over the opposition People's National Congress. It was a free and fair election. All international observers - Jimmy Carter, the EU, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States - accepted that. The PNC leader, Desmond Hoyte, refused to accept the result and his supporters took to the streets, burning and looting and terrorising the racial majority. President Jagdeo has appointed most of his Cabinet, which has an Afro-Guyanese prime minister (and has had for eight years) and three other Afro ministers. That total may soon rise to five. He has begun a productive dialogue with Hoyte.

The investors have been put off not for the reason that Howe offers, but because of the patently anti-democratic campaign being waged by the PNC to destabilise the government. That still has not come to its end. The truth is always more prosaic and multi-layered than at first seems. Guyana has decided: it is just that the opposition is taking a long time to listen.

John Mair
London W12

This article first appeared in the 18 June 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Meet the people who make Tony Blair sweat