Pariah Status Averted After Guyana Finally Names President

Guyana’s electoral authorities declared opposition candidate Irfaan Ali president Sunday, ending a five-month constitutional crisis that threatened to turn the South American nation into an international pariah.

The decision eases fears that the country might erupt in violence, or cease to be a democracy, as rival factions fought for control of its fast-growing economy and its massive offshore oil riches.

“I feel immense relief,” said Thomas Singh, an economics professor at the University of Guyana. “I was of the strong view that we’d have had a state of emergency that would have become a dictatorship.”

Electoral commission chair, retired Justice Claudette Singh said Ali, who represents the People’s Progressive Party, had won the March vote over incumbent David Granger. Ali was sworn in later in the day, Stabroek News reported on its website.

A recount had showed Ali beating Granger, and foreign governments, including the U.S., U.K, Canada and the European Union said the country risked international isolation if it didn’t swear in a legitimate government. Those ambassadors congratulated Ali on Sunday and said they “look forward” to working with him, according to a joint statement.

The English-speaking country became a global oil hot-spot after Exxon Mobil Corp. successfully drilled the offshore reserve in 2015. The windfall is expected to transform the country of 780,000, with the economy forecast to expand 53% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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