Desmond Hoyte

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Hugh Desmond Hoyte
Desmond Hoyte.jpg
3rd President of Guyana
In office
6 August 1985 – 9 October 1992
Prime MinisterHamilton Green
Vice PresidentHamilton Green
Mohamed Shahabuddeen
Ranji Chandisingh
Viola Burnham
Preceded byForbes Burnham
Succeeded byCheddi Jagan
3rd Prime Minister of Guyana
In office
16 August 1984 – 6 August 1985
PresidentForbes Burnham
Preceded byPtolemy Reid
Succeeded byHamilton Green
Personal details
Born(1929-03-09)9 March 1929
Georgetown, British Guiana
Died22 December 2002(2002-12-22) (aged 73)
Georgetown, Guyana
Political partyPeople's National Congress
Spouse(s)Joyce Hoyte

Hugh Desmond Hoyte (9 March 1929 – 22 December 2002) was a Guyanese politician. He served as Prime Minister of Guyana from 1984 to 1985 and President of Guyana from 1985 until 1992.


Hoyte was born in Guyana's capital, Georgetown. He was educated at St Barnabas Anglican School and Progressive High School, before studying law in London, England. Back in British Guiana (as it was then called) in 1960 he set up private practice and became one of the leaders of the Guyana Bar Association.[1]

He entered Parliament as a member of the People's National Congress in 1968 and soon began serving in the cabinet. He was home affairs minister from 1969 to 1970, finance minister from 1970 to 1972, works and communications minister from 1972 to 1974, and economic development minister in 1974 to 1980. Hoyte concentrated on economic affairs during his political career. His brilliance was not just seen politically. As an influential role model, he demonstrated how to handle his duties during adversity. With obligation to family and his country, Hoyte masterfully navigated a personal and emotional minefield in May 1985. His entire family, travelling in advance to hear him deliver the May Day address in the town of Linden, experienced tragedy on the evening of 30 April 1985. Their vehicle crashed, killing his only two children: Amanda and Maxine, his sister-in-law and his driver. Only his wife, Joyce, survived. Fraught with grief and tragedy, Desmond Hoyte always continued to skilfully lead his countrymen. He simultaneously mustered the strength to discharge his ministerial duty, and went on to deliver the May Day address the next day after the loss of his love ones. Guyanese remembered listening to the live broadcast on the radio, describing it as an inspiring, yet somber speech which gushed from his mountain of anguish and deep affliction.

Following the December 1980 election he became one of five vice-presidents, with responsibility for economic planning, finance, and regional development, becoming a close associate of the President of Guyana and PNC leader Forbes Burnham.

In August 1984 he was made first vice-president and prime minister. President Burnham died suddenly on 6 August 1985, and Hoyte became President, at a time when Guyana was undergoing prolonged economic and social problems.

Shortly before Burnham's death, he and other members of the PNC had embarked on talks with the opposition People's Progressive Party attempting to achieve a national unity formula to deal with the country's problems. Hoyte announced his willingness to continue the dialogue, but also announced that a general election would be held on 9 December. Responding to criticisms of previous elections as fraudulent, he agreed to certain reforms. Nonetheless, conduct of the election, which returned the PNC to power with an increased majority, was widely criticised for irregularities, and Hoyte's chances of achieving a national reconciliation were thereby diminished.

In July 1987, he hosted the President of the African National Congress, Oliver Tambo, for a four-day visit, highlighting the close links Guyana maintained with the liberation struggle in Southern Africa.[2]

Hoyte was also foreign minister from 1990 until 1992. The October 1992 election was won by the People's Progressive Party, led by Cheddi Jagan; Hoyte conceded defeat.[3] Hoyte remained leader of the PNC until his death.

He also was the PNC candidate in the presidential elections of 1996 and 2001. He received second place both times (40.6% in 1996 and 41.7% in 2001). The PNC never regained the power that it had under the Burnham administration and his own administration. He died in Georgetown, Guyana, aged 73.


  1. ^ Keith A. P. Sandiford, A Black Studies Primer: Heroes and Heroines of the African Diaspora, Hansib Publications, 2008, p. 214.
  2. ^ David A. Granger. "Forbes Burnham and the Liberation of Southern Africa" (PDF). Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Cheddi Jagan Elected As Guyana's President", The New York Times, 8 October 1992.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ptolemy Reid
Prime Minister of Guyana
Succeeded by
Hamilton Green
Preceded by
Forbes Burnham
Leader of the People's National Congress
Succeeded by
Robert Corbin