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Forbes Burnham

Burnham, Forbes, 1923–85, prime minister (1964–80) and president (1980–85) of Guyana, formerly British Guiana. His full name was Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. Of African descent, he received a law degree (1947) from the Univ. of London. Returning home, he founded (1950), with Cheddi Jagan, a political party devoted to gaining independence from Great Britain. He broke with Jagan in 1955 to form a more moderate party. In the 1964 elections his party trailed Jagan's, but Burnham, overcoming Jagan's plurality by uniting with a small third party, was named prime minister. He led his country to independence (1966), and, despite vigorous opposition from Jagan, was reaffirmed as prime minister in elections in 1968 and 1973. With enormous aid from the United States, which had worked secretly to destabilize the Jagan government, he furthered public works and decreased the country's high unemployment rate. He promoted the nationalization of natural resources and attempted to ease racial tensions between blacks and majority Asian Indians by opening government positions to the Indians.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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