By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse, who had planned to be in Equatorial Guinea on Thursday for the seventh assembly of heads of state and government of the Caribbean, African and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries, will remain home to take part in intense budgetary debates in Parliament for the year 2013 and to hammer out outstanding issues with coalition partners and the opposition to guarantee a successful outcome, according to information from the Office of President Bouterse.
The foreign minister of Suriname, Winston Lackin, who just returned from Brazil, will also remain in Suriname to attend the Parliamentary debate and to defend his ministerial budget for 2013.
Suriname’s ambassador to Brussels and the European Union, Wilfred Christopher, who is already in Equatorial Guinea, will now take on the role of head delegate. Christopher has been attached to the foreign ministry of Suriname since 1981 and speaks English, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish.
The summit started on Thursday and will end on Saturday, in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar and his delegation was also scheduled to depart Wednesday afternoon with the president of Suriname to Equatorial Guinea. Already in Equatorial Guinea is Guyana’s foreign minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett. Most likely Ramotar may not now make it to Malabo.
In related news, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of St Lucia was expected to deliver an address in his capacity as chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), on behalf of the Caribbean region of the ACP Group at the opening ceremony of the Summit on Thursday.
Host President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, along with African, Caribbean and Pacific group leaders, will meet to strengthen south-south solidarity and collaboration, Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development programs in ACP communities, and to enhance ACP countries’ role in the global arena.
Foreign minister of Equatorial Guinea, Mba Mokuy, in his opening remarks to a foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday said, "Equatorial Guinea is committed to the development of south-south cooperation. This can in no way be a substitute for traditional north-south cooperation, but an important complement to it … and an essential axis of solidarity among countries of the south."
Suriname and Equatorial Guinea have forged strong ties and will soon open embassies in their respective capitals. Both heads of states, Bouterse and Mbasogo, have exchanged visits between their countries.