Irfaan Ali

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Mohamed Irfaan Ali
Secretary Pompeo Holds a Joint Press Availability with Guyanese President Ali (50367901818) (cropped).jpg
Ali in 2020
10th President of Guyana
Assumed office
2 August 2020
Vice PresidentBharrat Jagdeo
Prime Minister (also First Vice President)Mark Phillips
Preceded byDavid A. Granger
Personal details
Born (1980-04-25) 25 April 1980 (age 41)
Leonora, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Guyana
CitizenshipGuyanese
NationalityGuyanese
Political partyPeople's Progressive Party/Civic
Height1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
Spouse(s)
Arya Ali
(m. 2017)
Children1
Alma materUniversity of the West Indies

Mohamed Irfaan Ali (born 25 April 1980)[1] is a Guyanese politician who has served as the President of Guyana since August 2020. Ali is the first Muslim President of Guyana, along with being the second Muslim head of state in the Western Hemisphere after Noor Hassanali.[2][3][4][5][6]

Ali was a Member of Parliament (MP)[7] and the Minister of Housing before becoming the presidential candidate of the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in the March 2020 general election. He was sworn in as Guyana's 10th president on 2 August 2020, after months of legal challenges regarding the integrity of the election and even a consequential recount of all ballots.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Ali was born to an Indo-Guyanese Muslim family in Leonora, a village in the West Coast Demarara region of Guyana. The child of two educators and one of two sons, Ali also spent much of his formative years on the island of Leguan. He is a past student of the Leonora Nursery and Primary schools and Cornelia Ida Primary. Ali completed his secondary education at St. Stanislaus College in Georgetown, Guyana. He holds a doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of the West Indies.[9]

Professional career[edit]

Ali served as Project Manager of the Caribbean Development Bank's Project Implementation Unit in the Ministry of Finance and Senior Planner in the State Planning Secretariat.

Early political career[edit]

Ali became a member of the National Assembly of Guyana in 2006. He was subsequently appointed to the portfolios of Minister of Housing and Water[10] and Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce.[11]

During his tenure as Minister, Ali performed the functions of President and Prime Minister on separate occasions. In 2015, the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) went into opposition during which time he served as chair of the Public Accounts Committee and co-chair the Economic Services Committee of the Parliament of Guyana.

Presidency[edit]

Candidacy and election campaign[edit]

Irfaan Ali was the presidential candidate of the People's Progressive Party (PPP/C) for the 2 March 2020 general and regional elections in Guyana.[12]

He was selected as the presidential candidate for the People's Progressive Party/Civic on 19 January 2019.[13] His selection came at a time after Ali had been charged with 19 counts of conspiracy and fraud by Guyana's Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).[14] Ali's lawyers questioned the legality of these charges, and claimed that they were political in nature and "trumped up".[15] At the time when Ali was running for president, the charges had never been brought to a full Court hearing.

Immediately following his selection, Ali was accused of academic fraud, with opponents claiming that when Ali was in his early 20s, he had mis-represented one of his qualifications.[16] Ali was also indicted on 19 charges of other fraud for allegedly defrauding the State of over $174M between the period 2011 and 2015, allegedly conspiring with persons unknown to "greatly undersell" 19 plots of state lands at Plantation Sparendaam and Goedverwagting in East Coast Demerara to current or former government officials. The trial on the matters was postponed several times. He was granted self bail on the charges. The lands, which were sold for $39.8M, are valued at $212.4M, according to the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).[17] On 14 August, the charges were dismissed.[18]

In the campaign for the Presidency, Ali ran on a mainly economic platform, citing declining growth and increased joblessness under the Granger Administration.[19] Ali committed to creating 50,000 new jobs over five years.[20] He emphasized the need for transparency and adherence to globally-recognised standards of governance for Guyana's nascent oil sector, which is expected to transform Guyana's development. Ali committed to establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund protected against political interference, and to strengthen Guyana's ability to uphold the Santiago Principles and the global requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Foreign relations[edit]

United States[edit]

Ali with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in September 2020

In September 2020, in a joint statement with the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ali said the two countries would begin joint maritime patrols aimed at drug interdiction near Guyana's disputed border with crisis-stricken Venezuela.[21] The agreement came as U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp, as part of a consortium with Hess Corp, ramped up crude output from Guyana's massive offshore Stabroek block, a large portion of which is in waters claimed by Venezuela.[21] Pompeo and Ali added that "greater security, greater capacity to understand your border space, what's happening inside your Exclusive Economic Zone - those are all things that give Guyana sovereignty."[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "President's Biography". Office of the President of Guyana. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  2. ^ CaribbeanMuslims.Com (3 August 2020). "President Irfaan Ali Sworn in as Guyana's new leader". Caribbean Muslims. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  3. ^ TrakkerNews (4 August 2012). "UWI honours former President Noor Hassanali". TrakkerNews- News all Day, Everyday. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  4. ^ Yahya-Sakur, Nafeeza; Kurmanaev, Anatoly (10 September 2020). "Killings Reignite Racial Tensions in Guyana". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  5. ^ "As Guyana Gets First Practicing Muslim President, OAS Urges Weakness In Country's Electoral System To Be Addressed". Americas News Network. 2 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  6. ^ "#BTColumn - Of Muslims and social justice". Barbados Today. 12 August 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  7. ^ Hon. Mohamed I. Alli, MP Parliament of Guyana
  8. ^ "Irfaan Ali sworn in as President". Stabroek News. 2 August 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  9. ^ Irfaan Ali awarded Doctorate of Philosophy in Urban and Regional Planning
  10. ^ Irfaan Ali sworn in as new Minister of Housing and Water
  11. ^ Minister Ali markets Guyana’s tourism in Spain
  12. ^ Irfaan Ali is PPP/C presidential candidate Stabroek News
  13. ^ "Irfaan Ali proposes plan to improve Guyanese lives | INews Guyana". iNews Guyana. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  14. ^ News, Stabroek (29 November 2018). "Irfaan Ali on 19 fraud charges over Pradoville Two". Stabroek News. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Irfaan Ali on 19 fraud charges over Pradoville Two". Stabroek News. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Irfaan Ali accused of academic fraud". Kaieteur News. 13 January 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Irfaan Ali 19 charges trial further postponed". Kaieteur News. 26 October 2019. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  18. ^ ""Trumped up" charges dismissed against President Ali". iNews Guyana. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  19. ^ "PPPC Manifesto 2020 elections" (PDF).
  20. ^ "PPPC Manifesto Elections 2020" (PDF).
  21. ^ a b Joint Guyana-US maritime, air patrols could begin as early as Monday. September 18 2020. Stabroek News. Retrieved September 19 2020.
  22. ^ US, Guyana to Launch Joint Maritime Patrols Near Venezuela. September 18 2020. MarineLink. Retrieved September 19 2020.

External links[edit]