Guyana, a country of about 750,000 which shares a border with Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela in the northeast of South America, will hold a general election on Monday.
The two main political parties – the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC)— closed their campaigns Saturday, each with its final rally, marking the end of a fierce political battle between them.
Guyana will go to the polls on Monday in a pivotal election in one of South America's poorest nations, where a coming oil boom is set to reshape an ethnically-divided political landscape.
The main opposition leader of the PPP party, Irfaan Ali, closed his campaign by addressing a crowd, where he again highlighted his denunciation against the country’s electoral body about the relocation of the voting center to places that historically have been bastions of his party, reiterating its call for transparency to the judiciary.
For his part, the leader of the APNU/AFC party and current president of Guyana, David Granger, closed his campaign stating that he had a plan for the country’s congress with the exploitation of oil wealth, recently discovered in a sovereignty zone disputed with Venezuela.
The president also said that his government will respect the legal process of parliament against his government, despite not believing in the vote of no confidence towards his administration.
Both leaders signed the electoral commission’s code of conduct under the commitment to maintaining peace, public order and compliance with regulations.
The parties of both leaders also shared a 33-32 split in the outgoing 65-seat National Assembly.
However, the vote comes at a time of heightened global intrigue, given the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected the country will record the fastest rate of economic growth worldwide this year -- 85 percent.
“It looks like the excitement stems from two areas — the size of Guyana’s reserves and what that means for the economy, as well as the timing/optics of developing a major new oil project just as global attention turns to the climate crisis,” Cailin Birch, global economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), told news agency CNBC.
The IMF believes real annualized GDP (gross domestic product) in Guyana will balloon almost 86% in 2020. That’s up from 4.4% last year. To be sure, the IMF’s estimated rate of economic growth in Guyana is 40 times that of what is expected from the U.S. — the world’s largest economy.
Analysts have told CNBC that the reason Guyana can expect to record such an explosive rate of economic expansion stems from the fact it has just become Latin America’s newest crude-producing nation.
“Guyana is the new frontier of oil,” Diego Moya-Ocampos, principal political analyst for Latin America at IHS Markit, told CNBC.
Oil production is currently around 52,000 barrels per day but is expected to grow to 750,000 bpd from 2025.
Meanwhile, Granger's party promises "a good life for all" around the oil forecast and the PPP candidate Irfaan Ali assures that he will decide the best way to put the country's new resources at the service of the entire population.
Around 660,998 Guyanese are eligible to vote but the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said some of the names of its voters' list may be deceased.
Polls are carded to open at 6 am and close at 6 pm.
Final results are not expected to be released on election night due to the remoteness of some polling stations.
The law gives GECOM a 15 day period to give final results.