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EXECUTIVE PRESIDENTS OF GUYANA

L. F. S. Burnham (Forbes Burnham

Hugh Desmond Hoyte

Cheddi B. Jagan

Sam Hinds

Janet Jagan

Bharrat Jagdeo

Donald Ramotar

L. F. S. BURNHAM

(President: Oct 6, 1980 - Aug 6, 1985)


L.F.S. (Linden Forbes Sampson) BURNHAM (1923-1985) was the first Executive President of the Republic of Guyana.


Burnham was born in Kitty, then a village near the capital city of Georgetown, British Guiana on February 20, 1923. [Kitty is now part of Georgetown.] He was the son of James Ethelbert Burnham and his wife Rachel Abigail (nee Sampson).


Young Burnham was a brilliant student. After primary education at the Kitty Methodist School he began his secondary education at Central High School and then went on to Queen’s College in 1935. A year later he gained the Centenary Exhibition as well as a Government Junior Scholarship, and the Percival Exhibition the following year. In 1942 he won the highest scholastic award in the country at that time, the British Guiana Scholarship, which was awarded annually to the scholar attaining the highest grades at the Senior Cambridge Examinations held locally.


In 1944, he earned the Bachelor of Arts Degree at External Examinations of the University of London. Burnham then left for the United Kingdom and read for the Bachelor of Laws honors degree which he gained at the University of London in 1947. A year later he was admitted to the bar of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, London.


During his student years, Burnham, noted for his oratorical power, was active in politics. He was elected President of the West Indian Students Union in London in 1947 and subsequently participated as a delegate of the Union in the International Union of Students’ congress in Prague and Paris in 1947 and 1948 respectively.


Burnham then returned to British Guiana (Guyana) where in 1949 he became co-founder (with Dr. Cheddi Jagan) and Chairman of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). In 1952 he was elected to the Georgetown Town Council, becoming mayor of the capital city in 1959 and again in 1964. In 1959, Burnham was elected President of the Bar Association of Guyana. He was also elected President of the Guyana Labour Union in 1963 and again in 1965.


When the PPP Government came to power in 1953, he had the portfolio of Minister of Education, but following the suspension of the British Guiana constitution by the British government, and the rift in the PPP, Burnham in 1957 became the founder and leader of a new political party – the People’s National Congress (PNC). The PNC was the main opposition party in Parliament between 1957 and 1964.


In December 1964 the PNC became the major party in a coalition government and Burnham became Premier of British Guiana. He led the country to independence on May 26, 1966 becoming, under the constitution, the first Prime Minister of Guyana, as the country was now called. On February 23, 1970 Guyana became a republic.


When the People’s New Constitution was promulgated on October 6, 1980, Burnham became Guyana’s first Executive President, a position he held until his death.


He maintained a farm, loved to ride on horseback, and was keenly interested in cricket and chess.


In 1951 he married Sheila Bernice Lataste. They had three daughters: Roxanne, Annabelle, and Francesca. His second marriage was to Viola Victorine Harper in 1967. From that union came another two daughters: Melanie and Ulele.


After leading the country for 21 years, he died on August 6, 1985 at the Georgetown Hospital in Guyana following a throat operation.


Forbes Burnham’s inaugural speech following elections in 1964



HUGH DESMOND HOYTE

(President: Aug 6, 1985 - Oct 9, 1992)


Hugh Desmond Hoyte, former President of the Republic of Guyana (1985-1992), was Leader of the People’s National Congress.


Between 1969 and 1984, Mr. Hoyte held many Ministerial posts including those of Home Affairs, Finance, Works and Communications, and Economic Development. In 1984 he became First Vice President and Prime Minister, and served as President of the Republic from August 1985 to October 1992.


During his Presidency, he initiated far-reaching electoral and economic reforms which strengthened the bases of the democratic culture of Guyana, promoted market-oriented policies and stimulated economic growth. As a Minister of Government, he had at various times responsibility for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) affairs under the Lome Convention and was the ACP spokesman on sugar for 1981 to 1983. His portfolio also included Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs. As a member of its Conference, the Heads of Government of CARICOM charged him with responsibility for promoting freedom of movement within the Community and for co-ordinating Caricom’s policy on the environment for the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and generally. He was also nominated Caricom’s spokesman on sugar. Prior to his full-time service as a Government Minister, he held many public offices from time to time. He was Chairman of the Legal Practitioners’ Committee, a statutory body which deals with disciplinary matters relating to members of the legal profession; Chairman of the Timber Grants Wages Council; Chairman of the Customs Tariff Appeals Tribunal; and a member of the Elections Commission, among other offices.


He was also deeply involved in the Trade Union Movement and was Legal Adviser to the Trades Union Congress and several member Unions. In his ministerial capacity, Mr. Hoyt as Guyana’s Governor on the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank and headed many delegations to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Caribbean Committee for Development and Cooperation, the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, ACP/EEC Meetings and other regional and international conferences on economic, financial and developmental issues. He was Guyana’s chief representative at the deliberations which led to the establishment of the Latin American Economic System (SELA) and was a member of the Latin American Council from 1975 to 1983. He has maintained a strong interest in regional and hemispheric affairs and has spoken and written widely on this subject. Mr. Hoyte had a keen interest in ecological and environmental matters. In this area, he worked closely with the London-based Commonwealth Human Ecology Council and has written and spoken on these issues, both locally and internationally. He was the architect of the Iwokrama International Rainforest Project in Guyana, which he initiated at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1989.


Born in Georgetown, Guyana in March 1929, Mr. Hoyte received the B.A. and LL.B. degrees from the University of London. He was a British trained lawyer, a Barrister-at-Law of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and a Member of the Guyana Bar. He was appointed to Queen’s Council in 1969, which designation was changed to Senior Counsel in 1970 when Guyana became a Republic. Mr. Hoyte was a Life Senator and a member of the Supreme Council of the Presidency of the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, which has observer status with the United Nations; a member of the Advisory Board of the Women’s Federation for World Peace; a member of the international Advisory Board of the Hemispheric Congress of Tourism; and an Honorary member of the Board of The Americas United Foundation. He was also a Patron of the Errol Barrow Memorial Trust Fund (a regional Trust established in honor of the late Barbadian Prime Minister) and a Patron of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Foundation based in London.

(from the PNC Web site)


Hugh Desmond Hoyte died on Sunday, December 22, 2002. His body was laid to rest at the Place of the Seven Ponds in the Botanic Gardens on December 30, 2002.

Last Speech of Hugh Desmond Hoyte to Party's Congress


CHEDDI BHARAT JAGAN

(President: Oct 9, 1992 - Mar 6, 1997)


Cheddi Bharat Jagan was born on March 22, 1918 on the  sugar plantation of  Port Mourant, Berbice, in British Guiana where his father was as a foreman of a work crew. His grandparents had come from India as indentured laborers. 


After primary school and two years of secondary school, his father sent him to Queen’s College in the city of Georgetown. He was fifteen years old. In September 1935, he left for the United States where he did pre-dental studies at Howard University. He worked hard and was able to earn a scholarship to pay for his second year at Howard. In 1938, he entered Northwestern University and embarked on a four-year dental program from which he graduated in 1942. 


While studying dentistry he was also doing courses in social studies. When he graduated in 1942, it was with his degree in dental surgery (DDS) and a Bachelor of Sciences degree (B.Sc). 


On August 5, 1943 he married a student nurse, Janet Rosenberg before returning home in October that year. She came to her new home two months later, in December. 


Cheddi set up his dental practice with the help of his wife, as dental assistant, his brother, as laboratory assistant, and a cousin. 


He also spent a great deal of time with the workers and was soon established as a labor leader.


In 1947 Dr. Jagan formally entered the political arena with his election to the assembly. Three years later, in 1950, he created the People's Progressive Party (PPP). In 1953, the PPP won the first elections held under universal suffrage; however, Britain suspended the constitution, citing the PPP's pro-communist stance. The British sent troops and warships to deal with any resistance they might encounter. 


Dr. Jagan was imprisoned for six months for  not obeying an order limiting his movements. His popularity was not diminished, however, and he was re-elected leader of the People's Progressive Party in 1955. 


 Between 1953 and 1957, the PPP was split. Dr. Jagan continued to be leader of the PPP, while the new faction, named the People’s National Congress PNC), was led by Forbes Burnham. 


 The PPP won the 1957 and 1961 elections. Following the 1964 election, which was held under the system of proportional representation, the government was formed by a coalition comprising the PNC, led by Burnham and the United Force (UF), led by businessman, Peter D’Aguiar. 


For the next 28 years Jagan and the PPP remained in opposition. He was leader of the opposition until 1992, when the PPP won the election that year. He became president and remained so until his death on March 6, 1997.


Cheddi Jagan was the author of two books, Forbidden Freedom (1954) and The West on Trial (1966).


See also:

Background to the 1953 Suspension of the Constitution

From Montego Bay to Georgetown





SAMUEL ARCHIBALD ANTHONY HINDS (SAM HINDS)

(President: Mar  6, 1997 - Dec 19,  1997)



Samuel Archibald Anthony Hinds, well-known as Sam Hinds,  was Prime Minister of the Republic of Guyana when President Cheddi Jagan died on March 6, 1997. As President Jagan had not completed his term in office, under the constitution of the Republic of Guyana, Prime Minister Hinds automatically succeeded him as President.


As Prime Minister,  Hinds had been  the Deputy Leader of the PPP/Civic coalition. He was the head of the Civic Party before they joined with the PPP.


Elections were held in December, 1997 with Mrs. Janet Jagan, who had been appointed Prime Minister, as the presidential candidate. When the PPP/Civic won the election on December 19, 1997, Mrs. Jagan became the President and she then appointed Sam Hinds her Prime Minister.


President Janet Jagan became ill and, in 1999, decided to resign from the office of President. The intention was to have Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo succeed her. In order to do this, Sam Hinds resigned as Prime Minister on August 9, 1999 allowing President Jagan to appoint Mr. Jagdeo to that office. Mrs. Jagan then resigned from the office of President on August 11, 1999 and the now Prime Minister Jagdeo succeeded her as the Constitution required. On becoming President, Mr. Jagdeo appointed Sam Hinds Prime Minister once more.


Mr. Sam Hinds remains Prime Minister of Guyana (2002).


Mr. Hinds, a chemical engineer who graduated in Canada, was General Superintendent of the Research and Development Division at Linmine.



JANET JAGAN

(President: Dec 19, 1997 - Aug 11, 1999)#JANET



Janet Jagan became the first woman president of Guyana on Dec. 19, 1997.  She had been sworn in as Guyana's first woman Prime Minister  on March 17, 1997, following the death of her husband, President Cheddi Jagan.


Janet Jagan was born on October 20, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She was educated at the  University of Detroit, Wayne University,  Michigan State College and Cook County School of Nursing.


She married Cheddi Jagan on August 5, 1943 and in December that year came to British Guiana. During her first 10 years in Guyana, she worked as Dental Nurse in her husband's clinic. At the same time she became active in labor and political affairs.


In 1946, she founded the Women's Political and Economic Organisation (later called the W.P.O.). She also co-founded the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) and edited the PAC Bulletin. In 1950, she co-founded the People's Progressive Party (PPP), and was Elected party's General Secretary , a post she held that post between 1950 - 1970. She became the first editor of Thunder, the official organ of the PPP.


Janet Jagan held numerous positions of note. She was also the first woman elected to the Georgetown City Council. Following the  suspension of the British Guiana  Constitution and the removal from office of the PPP Government, she was jailed for six months.


In 1957, she won a seat in the Legislature, representing  Essequibo and was appointed Minister of Labour,  and Housing. Later she served as  Minister of Home Affairs and a member of the Senate.


She served as a member of the opposition from 1964  until 1992, when the PPP won the election and Dr. Jagan became the President.


After the death of Dr. Jagan on March 6, 1997, she served as Prime Minister of  Guyana.

New elections were held in December 1997 with Mrs Jagan as the Presidential candidate. The PPP/Civic won these elections and Janet Jagan was sworn in as President.

Mrs. Jagan resigned from the Presidency on August 11, 1999 because of ill . However, she remains head of the ruling party, the PPP.


Mrs. Jagan, mother of two, and grandmother of five, died on March 28, 2009.




BHARRAT JAGDEO 

(President: Aug 11, 1999 -  2011)



Bharrat Jagdeo was appointed President of the Republic of Guyana in August, 1999  replacing Janet Jagan, who resigned due to ill . In  2001 he was elected President . 


Bharrat Jagdeo was born on 23 January 1964. He earned the  M.S (Economics) degree at Friendship University, Moscow.


In 1977 he joined the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO), youth arm of the People's Progressive Party (PPP).  In 1980 he became a member of the PPP, and later served in leadership positions on District and Regional Committees. 


In 1990 he began working at the State Planning Secretariat as an economist, then became  Special Advisor to Minister of Finance in 1992 in the PPP/Civic Government. In 1993 he was appointed Junior Minister of Finance and served as  Member of the PPP Central and Executive Committees. In 1995 he was promoted to Senior Minister of Finance.  He acted as Prime Minister on several occasions.  Bharrat Jagdeo also held a number of posts in local and international financial bodies, including Director of the National Bank of Industry and Commerce and governor of the International Monetary Fund.


On August 9, 1999 he was appointed Prime Minister following the resignation of Prime Minister Sam Hinds. Two days later, on August 11, 1999 President Janet Jagan resigned on account  of poor . Under the Constitution, a president who leaves office before completing  a term is succeeded by the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Jagdeo therefore became President. He was re-elected president on March 19, 2001, and again on 28th August 2006.


President Jagdeo  is married.  His wife is Varshnie (Uma) Jagdeo.





DONALD RAMOTAR

(President 2011 -



Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar, born on October 22, 1950 on Caira Caira, an island on the Essequibo River, succeeded Bharrat Jagdeo as President of Guyana,  becoming  the seventh head of state and government. He was the candidate of the  People's Progressive Party/Civic

Mr Ramotar joined the PPP in 1967, was elected to the PPP Central Committee in 1979 and became a member of the PPP Executive Committee in 1983.


After pursuing studies at the Government Technical Institute in Guyana, and later at the University of Guyana, he studied political science and economics in what was then the Soviet Union.

Ramotar began his working life on his father’s timber grant. From 1966 to 1975, he worked at GIMPEX, the commercial arm of the PPP. In 1975 he was appointed Manager of Freedom House, the headquarters of the PPP, a position that he held for eight years.

 After the 1992 election, won by the PPP, Ramotar became an elected member of the National Assembly of Guyana.

He held several important party positions and following the death of President Cheddi Jagan in March 1997, Ramotar he was elected to succeed Jagan as the PPP's General Secretary.

At the PPP's 29th Congress, he was re-elected to its Central Committee on August 2, 2008. Following the Congress, he was re-elected by the Central Committee as General Secretary on August 12, 2008.

On 4 April 2011, the PPP’s Central Committee chose Ramotar as the party's presidential candidate for the November 2011 election.

The election was held on 28 November 2011, and Ramotar was declared the winner. However, the PPP fell one seat short of a parliamentary majority, winning 32 out of 65 seats. Ramotar was declared President, but the two opposition parties together held a majority of seats in the National Assembly.

Mr Ramotar was sworn in as President on 3 December 2011.

Mr. Ramotar is the husband of Deolatchmee Ramotar and the father of three.