Mohamed Irfaan Ali
|10th President of Guyana|
|Assumed office |
2 August 2020
|Vice President||Bharrat Jagdeo|
|Prime Minister (also First Vice President)||Mark Phillips|
|Preceded by||David A. Granger|
|Minister of Housing and Water|
7 January 2009 – 20 May 2015
|Prime Minister||Sam Hinds|
|Preceded by||Harrinarine Nawbatt|
|Succeeded by||Ronald Bulkaan[a]|
|Born||25 April 1980|
Leonora, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Guyana
|Political party||People's Progressive Party/Civic|
|Height||1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Education||St. Stanislaus College|
|Awards||Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (2023)|
Mohamed Irfaan Ali (born 25 April 1980) is a Guyanese politician who, since 2020, has served as the tenth president of Guyana. He is the first Muslim to hold the office, along with being the second Muslim head of state in the Americas after Noor Hassanali of Trinidad and Tobago.
Ali was a member of parliament (MP) 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 tenth president on 2 August 2020, after months of legal challenges regarding the integrity of the election and even a consequential recount of all ballots.
Early life and education
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 many of his formative years on the island of Leguan. He is a former 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. In 2003, he completed his Master's Degree in Human Resource Planning Development from the National Institute of Labour Economics, affiliated with the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi and in 2023 the University also awarded him with an Honorary Doctorate.
Early political career
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 of the Economic Services Committee of the parliament of Guyana.
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. He was selected as the presidential candidate for the People's Progressive Party/Civic on 19 January 2019. 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). Ali's lawyers questioned the legality of these charges, and claimed that they were political in nature and "trumped up". 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 misrepresented one of his qualifications. 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 Demerara-Mahaica 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). On 14 August, the charges were dismissed.
In his campaign for the presidency, Ali ran on a mainly economic platform, citing declining growth and increased joblessness under the Granger administration. Ali committed to creating 50,000 new jobs over five years. He has 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 is 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.
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. 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. 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."
Honours and awards
Ali is a recipient of the following honours:
- In 2023, the Government of India conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Award) to Ali in recognition of his contribution in "Politics/Community Welfare" and for "outstanding achievements both in India and abroad".
- as Minister of Communities
- "PM, several Cabinet members sworn in". Guyana Chronicle. 21 May 2015. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
- "President's Biography". Office of the President of Guyana. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
- CaribbeanMuslims.Com (3 August 2020). "President Irfaan Ali Sworn in as Guyana's new leader". Caribbean Muslims. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
- TrakkerNews (4 August 2012). "UWI honours former President Noor Hassanali". TrakkerNews- News all Day, Everyday. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
- 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.
- "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.
- "#BTColumn - Of Muslims and social justice". Barbados Today. 12 August 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
- Hon. Mohamed I. Alli, MP Parliament of Guyana
- "Irfaan Ali sworn in as President". Stabroek News. 2 August 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
- "Irfaan Ali awarded Doctorate of Philosophy in Urban and Regional Planning". Stabroek News. 13 January 2023.
- "President accorded honorary doctorate from Indian university". Stabroel News. 13 January 2023.
- "Global Business Forum LATAM | H.E. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali". staging.globalbusinessforum.com. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
- "Irfaan Ali sworn in as new Minister of Housing and Water", Guyana Chronicle, 8 January 2009.
- "Minister Ali markets Guyana's tourism in Spain", iNews Guyana, 9 June 2014.
- "Biography of His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali – President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces – Office of the President". Retrieved 27 November 2022.
- "Irfaan Ali is PPP/C presidential candidate", Stabroek News, 19 January 2019.
- "Irfaan Ali proposes plan to improve Guyanese lives | INews Guyana". iNews Guyana. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
- "Irfaan Ali on 19 fraud charges over Pradoville Two". Stabroek News. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
- "Irfaan Ali accused of academic fraud". Kaieteur News. 13 January 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
- "Irfaan Ali 19 charges trial further postponed". Kaieteur News. 26 October 2019. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
- "'Trumped up' charges dismissed against President Ali". iNews Guyana. 14 August 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
- "PPPC Manifesto 2020 elections" (PDF).
- "PPPC Manifesto Elections 2020" (PDF).
- Joint Guyana-US maritime, air patrols could begin as early as Monday. September 18 2020. Stabroek News. Retrieved September 19 2020.
- Cohen, Luc (18 September 2020), US, Guyana to Launch Joint Maritime Patrols Near Venezuela. . MarineLink. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
- Chabrol, Denis (2 January 2023). "India awards Guyana's President highest award to person of Indian origin". Demerara Waves Media Inc. Retrieved 30 January 2023.