Guyana - Government

As of 23 February 1970, Guyana became a cooperative republic. Guyana's first president was elected by the National Assembly on 17 March 1970, and the post of governor-general was abolished. Proclamation of the cooperative republic also entailed the provision of mechanisms for the takeover of foreign enterprises. Guyana's basic parliamentary structure dates from the constitution negotiated prior to independence in 1966. Under a new constitution approved in 1980, the unicameral National Assembly consists of 53 members elected by secret ballot under a system of proportional representation for a five-year term, plus 10 members elected by 10 regional councils, and 2 members elected by the National Congress of Democratic Organs. The latter, which is composed of deputies from local councils, together with the National Assembly, constitutes the Supreme Congress of the People of Guyana, which may be summoned or dissolved by the executive president. This office, created by the 1980 constitution, is filled by the leader of the majority party as both chief of state and head of government. The president appoints a cabinet including a prime minister, who also holds the title of first vice president.

The voting age and age of majority are 18 years, and suffrage is universal. However, electoral irregularity is the rule, rather than the exception. A British-led team of observers pronounced the 1980 vote "fraudulent in every respect." The 1992 election was considered by most observers to be the first fair poll since 1965. Boycotts both before and after elections have been frequent as a result of fraud charges, but the net effect of these boycotts has been to enhance the power of the majority party.

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