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A 60-year schism

Published by The Economist on Fri, 21 Nov 2014


WHEN 33 opposition MPs took their seats in Guyana's National Assembly on November 10th for parliament's first sitting in since July, they faced a bank of empty chairs. In place of government politicians were copies of a presidential decree that 'prorogued' parliament until further notice. Governance was barely working before. The suspension of parliament ends the pretence.The source of the confrontation is the 2011 election, which produced a split result. Donald Ramotar won the presidency but two parties opposed to him secured a single-seat majority in the National Assembly. President and parliament have bickered ever since. Mr Ramotar suspended the legislature to avoid a no-confidence vote, which looked certain to pass. He will now attempt to govern his fractious country of 750,000 people without recourse to parliament, possibly until the end of April, when he needs a new budget for routine spending to continue.The conflict goes deeper than ordinary political rivalry. It is a big part of the reason that Guyana has remained relatively poor (see chart on previous page). Politics have been polarised by race for 60...Continue reading
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