May 20, 2015 issue
Headline News

Granger sworn in as Guyana’s President

As APNU+AFC wins May 11 elections by a narrow margin
Guyana’s 8th Executive President, David Granger
Georgetown – The heated and sometimes rancorous elections campaign for governance of Guyana for the next five years came to an equally controversial and disputed end with the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) declaration of victory for the newly formed coalition, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), against the incumbent Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
Held on Monday May 11, 2015 the election’s final count from the total of 412,012 valid votes cast, was not officially released until five days later, after noon of Saturday, May 16. Soon thereafter, David Granger, Presidential candidate for the APNU+AFC coalition was sworn in as Head of State by the Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Carl Singh at Parliament buildings.
The final tally showed that the APNU+AFC and the PPP/C garnered 207,200 and 202,694 votes respectively. Accordingly, the parties were allocated seats in the 65-member Legislature as follows: APNU+AFC – 33; PPP/C – 32. Guyanese turned up in large numbers for the swearing in ceremony, converging on the outer fence of the Legislative buildings compound to see the 69-year-old former army general.
After the ceremony Granger urged politicians and other citizens to put past rivalries behind them and work in unity to banish poverty, ignorance, fear and hatred.
“The elections are over. The Guyanese people have chosen their representatives. The Constitution has been respected. Our democracy has been fortified. Let us now put past rivalries behind us and work in unity to banish poverty, ignorance, fear and hatred,” Granger told those gathered.
“I shall be a good president for all the people. We, the Guyanese people, have chosen to inaugurate a government of national unity and to promote our multi-party, inclusionary partnership. We are convinced that this is the best way to overcome our historic divisions.”
Granger also extended a hand of friendship to his predecessor Donald Ramotar and his PPP/C administration as he called on them to participate in “inclusionary democracy”.
“Inclusionary democracy is the best way to overcome our divisions,” said the new president.
The United States Embassy in Georgetown expressed the hope that he would work to repair the divisions in Guyanese society that emerged during the election period, and “work to promote inclusive governance and national development in the best interests of all of the people of Guyana”.
“The United States of America pledges its willingness to work collaboratively with the new government in this regard,” it said in a statement.
Former US President Jimmy Carter also extended congratulations to President Granger.
“I have great expectations that the new government will reach out and promote healing and reconciliation in Guyana. It is now time for all Guyanese to unite and work together to realize the great potential of their country,” he said in a statement issued via the Carter Centre which sent a mission to monitor the elections.
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) described the occasion of the swearing in of the nation’s eighth executive president as “historic”.
“The Commission lauds the new president for a well fought campaign which focused on uniting the people of Guyana, and for the promise of an inclusionary government which ensures that the needs of all the people are met,” the PSC said, adding that it was confident that the new government would encourage private investment and support the private sector.
Other contesting parties, including The United Force (TUF) and the United Republican Party (URP) also offered congratulations.
Granger will be formally inaugurated at a ceremony at the National Stadium on May 26, the country’s 49th anniversary of Independence.
He has designated Moses Nagamootoo, former PPP/C stalwart, as prime minister.
Guyanese-born to vie for Miss India
Worldwide crown
Samantha Rodrigues
By Arti Panday
Talented 20-year-old Samantha Rodrigues is taking the pageant scene by storm. After winning Miss India Worldwide Canada, her third pageant to date, she will be travelling to India in September for the final Miss India Worldwide competition to face-off against beauties from across the globe.
Born in Guyana, Rodrigues moved to Canada when she was just three years old. As the fifth child of seven, she spent a lot of time playing with her brothers and considered herself a tomboy growing up. It wasn’t until she went to the Toronto premiere of Ra One where she met Mala Singh, now her manager, that she realized her interest in modeling.
“She picked me, I went on the stage with [Shah Rukh Khan], and we did a dance together. From there, the next day I went to her office and joined Sama Models,” Rodrigues explained.
In 2012, she decided to take two years off from modeling and pageantry to work full time and become independent. Rodrigues decided to make a comeback to the entertainment scene earlier this year and signed up for Miss India Worldwide Canada where she earned the top honour.
While she was very active in her high school’s drama program, she never considered working as an actress or model, originally aspiring to become a drama teacher. After joining Sama Models, Rodrigues began to attend acting classes and is now pursuing a career in Bollywood.
When she was just 10 years old, Rodrigues began to train in Bharatnatyam and Kathak, two forms of classical Indian dance. The pageant winner also began taking Hindi classes seven years ago but has since devoted more time and effort to perfecting her skills.
“I’m currently learning Hindi and taking acting classes from Jai Kalra, he’s a Bollywood actor who recently opened his acting school here in Toronto,” she said. “I must say, it’s been a rollercoaster, there’s been many ups and many downs. You have to be buckled in for the ride for sure.”
Rodrigues is not currently enrolled in academic classes but she began working towards a Bachelor of Arts at York University and eventually plans to complete her degree. The 20-year-old believes that education is extremely important and is looking forward to using her new platform as Miss India Worldwide Canada to encourage youth to pursue the highest level of education they can.
“My goal is to let all youth know around the world that you can do whatever you want. You can achieve anything that your heart desires,” Rodrigues said. “[And] definitely inspire them to reach the highest level of education they can.”
Founded in 1990, the Miss India Worldwide pageant features women of Indian origin between 17 and 27 years old. In 2012 Alana Seebaran was crowned Miss India Worldwide Guyana and later went on to win the Miss India Worldwide pageant. Rodrigues admires Seebaran and remains inspired by her throughout the process of participating in the competition.
“I had someone to look up to. Not only was she Guyanese but she was into the arts, she went to the same school,” Rodrigues said, explaining that Seebaran also attended York University. “She wished me well; she told me it’s going to be a journey but it’s all about how far you’re willing to go, how hard you’re willing to work.”
In preparation for the final pageant in September, Rodrigues has been attending Hindi classes and rehearsing her talent (dancing) for the pageant daily.
“I’m currently rehearsing my talent with Divya Kumar, he’s a Bollywood choreographer based in Toronto so I’ve been practising with him every day because [in] India, there’s so much competition,” said Rodrigues.
The Miss India Worldwide Canada winner credits her pageant finesse to her coach Ray Singh who she says trained her on how to talk, walk and perform in her shows.
Looking forward to travelling to the land of her forefathers, she will be spending the balance of her time in Mumbai meeting with talent directors and representatives as she pushes through in hope of realizing her dream of becoming a Bollywood star.
“I do plan on doing a few auditions there, trying to get at least some endorsements, maybe commercials. I’m just trying to get my foot in the door when I go to Mumbai. That’s what I’m super excited for and hopefully [bringing] home the crown to Canada,” she said.
Rodrigues is also looking forward to visiting temples, and famous sites throughout the country and reaching out to young girls to learn from them and encourage them to achieve their dreams.
“My goal is to help them and inspire them. Show them that there is hope for everybody,” she said. “I do plan on staying there for a month or maybe even more than a month depending on how it goes but I really want to travel and see India, the real India.”
In addition to preparing for auditions, Rodrigues is getting set to launch a YouTube channel with dancing and acting videos in order to showcase her talent to a wider audience.
The Miss India Worldwide competition will be held in Mumbai on September 5.
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