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CARICOM leaders briefed on political situation in Suriname
Published on July 7, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

(L-R): President of Suriname, Desi Bouterse; CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque; Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; and President of Guyana, David Granger

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The president of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, briefed fellow heads of government attending the 37th Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit in Guyana about the political and economic setbacks his country is experiencing. He called on leaders to understand the situation in Suriname and reiterated his respect for the democratic process.

Last week, Bouterse halted his trial in relation to the 1982 killing of 15 political opponents during the period when he was military leader, by invoking clause 148 of Suriname’s constitution to end the trial in the interest of “national security”.

He told the audience, “I wish to state that the political stability of Suriname, within the rule of law and the constitution, will constitute the actual promotion of the development of human capital to become the prime engine of our stabilization and recovery plan.”

Suriname’s economy has been negatively affected by a drop in commodities prices and Bouterse urged CARICOM member states to diversify and industrialize their economies.

Suriname has forged several agreements with the IMF, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), making available more than three billion dollars aimed at economic diversification and therefore sustainability of the economy, he noted.

Bouterse also made a veiled reference to “foreign domination” interfering in the internal affairs of other countries by fostering economic and political instabilities.

“We are aware of the fact that the present economic challenges and its social effects have created a situation whereby agendas geared towards foreign domination of our countries are becoming manifest. These agendas use a variety of political and judicial mechanisms to achieve their goals. There are various examples in the South American region, making it necessary to stay alert in this respect,” he said.

Bouterse said that development “can only take place in an atmosphere of political stability. We invite the other heads of state and their governments to remain aware of this reality, and give Suriname the kind of support, which will enable us to broaden and deepen our social program, directed towards our students, our labourers, our farmers, our entrepreneurs and our senior citizens.”

Prior to the Georgetown summit, Bouterse met on Wednesday with President David Granger of Guyana, who travelled to Paramaribo for the meeting, while the country observed “Keti Koti” (Emancipation Day). Prior to that, the head of UNASUR, Ernesto Samper, and Delcy Rodriguez, the foreign minister of Venezuela and pro tempore chair of UNASUR, were also in Suriname for a briefing.

Bouterse told the Guyanese president that Suriname will put aside the border issue for now and focus attention in spurring more economic development between the two Dutch- and English-speaking neighbours. Both countries have renewed efforts to bridge Courantyne River that divides Guyana and Suriname to facilitate more commerce.

Meanwhile, a second well drilled by Exxon Mobil this week confirmed a significant oil reserve off the Guyana coast.
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