Hoyte is dead Barbados Nation - Monday 23, December-2002

VETERAN POLITICIAN and former Guyana President Desmond Hoyte leaving a meeting in 1998.

One of the Caribbean’s best-known politicians and trade unionists, Desmond Hoyte, a former president of Guyana, died yesterday at the age of 72.

Hoyte, who was president of the CARICOM founder member country from 1985 to 1992, and who was opposition leader and president of the People’s National Congress (PNC), had complained of feeling ill for the past three days and reportedly succumbed to a heart attack at his home yesterday morning.

Party officials disclosed they were informed by former First Lady Joyce Hoyte that her husband had just completed his breakfast when he collapsed on the stairs. They managed to have a very brief conversation before he died.

The Associated Press quoted the party’s vice-chairman Vincent Alexander as stating that Hoyte, who had not made any public appearances in the past week, had a history of heart troubles. He underwent triple by-pass surgery in New York in 1993.

The British-trained lawyer, who also served as prime minister, vice-president and in various ministerial portfolios during a near half-century in politics, had been playing a key role in discussions on how to end the race tension that has been gripping the South American country in recent years.

This included a proposal to divide cabinet posts among members of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the PNC.

Yesterday, President Bharrat Jagdeo ordered that the “Golden Arrowhead”, the nation’s flag, be flown at half-mast today and announced that Hoyte would be accorded a state funeral.

“His death is highly untimely given what is happening in the country when we are talking about things like power sharing,” Alexander said. “It is tough for us.”

The PNC will meet in emergency session on Sunday to determine Hoyte’s successor, Alexander said.

Robert Corbin, the party’s current chairman, would probably be elected to hold the leadership post until a special election was held to officially choose a successor, Alexander said.

Corbin, in his early 50s, was likely to win because he received a strong re-election vote in August to remain as party chairman, Alexander said.