Suriname president poised win general election according to polls
Suriname will elect a new president and a 51-member national assembly on Monday when the country goes to the polls. Twenty-five political parties are registered to contest the election. Incumbent President Desi Bouterse is leading the poll and could easily capture a plurality of the seats in the assembly, which could put him in office for another five years, according several pollsters, Stichting Enquête Statistiek en Onderzoek Suriname (SESOS) and De Hond.
The president is indirectly elected by the 51-member National Assembly of Suriname.
Bouterse’s National Democratic Party (NDP) is poised to win Monday’s election. The NDP is the only multi-ethnic party in the country and Bouterse has been able to capitalize on this diversity.
“Respect for each other’s differences and tolerance are the guiding forces in our development,” Bouterse said.
Bouterse’s main rival is Chandrika Persad Santokhi of the V7, a coalition of the Hindustani party, VHP and other smaller parties. The NDP will take about 46% and the V7 about 34% of the votes, according to SESOS and De Hond. De Hond predicts that Bouterse will get about 28 seats in the National Assembly and V7 19.
During Bouterse’s presidency, Suriname has seen solid economic growth. He has also instituted several social programs to enhance education, healthcare, housing, youth and the elderly.
Bouterse’s “social contract”, as he put it, has become popular throughout the country. It emphasizes human development, with focus on health care, education, eradication of poverty, social security for elders, housing and youth development.
In an interview last year, when Bouterse spoke about his social contract, he said, “We are guided by the belief that human-centered development advances the creation of a just society.”
“Economic policies should lead to long-term social development, and for this to happen we need to invest in priority areas such as health, education, housing and the security of the environment,” he added.
Economic growth has been steady. Canada and Dubai have emerged as major sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) for Suriname.
Dubai’s DP World has invested in the transportation sector. This led to the modernization of Port Paramaribo, which won the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) Port Award three years in a row.
The mining and oil sectors are also growing. State oil company of Suriname, Staatsolie, attracted investments from the United States, Spain, Malaysia and Germany, and injected about US$500 million in refinery, expansion of offshore oil exploration and development. More recently, a Dubai based company commissioned a US$20 million gold refinery unit in Suriname.
A light rail is also planned to link the international airport to the capital. To modernize the health sector, one hospital is being expanded and modernized with financial support of the Islamic Development Bank, while another is being built with the help of China.
Internationally, Suriname has emerged on the world stage and has chaired some important multilateral forums at the United Nations, CARICOM and UNASUR. Its diverse and growing ties with Brazil, China, Turkey, India, South Africa, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Islamic Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank demonstrate the government’s strategy of expanding its political and economic partners.
Meanwhile, the Organisation of American States (OAS) observer mission is already on the ground in Suriname. They arrived there on Sunday. The OAS has a long history of participating in election monitoring in Suriname. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) are also monitoring the polls in Suriname.
And in Guyana, Suriname’s neighbour, newly elected President David Granger, like Bouterse, is also a former military officer. Guyana’s first lady Sandra Granger’s father is from Suriname and both first ladies have Amerindian ancestry.
Chief of OAS electoral observation mission to Suriname arrives in Paramaribo
The chief of the electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS/EOM) to Suriname, Irene Klinger, arrived on Tuesday in Paramaribo.
Klinger, who was designated by Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, met on Wednesday with Vice President Robert Ameerali and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Lackin. In the days leading up to the election, the chief of mission will also hold meetings with electoral authorities, representatives of political parties, and government officials, as well as members of the media and civil society organizations.
The OAS/EOM, comprised of 24 experts and observers of 13 nationalities (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and the United States), will analyze aspects regarding electoral organization, constituency boundaries, electoral technology, political financing and the equal participation of men and women in the electoral process.
On election day, members of the mission will visit polling stations across the country to observe the various stages of the process from the opening of the polls to the counting, tabulation and dissemination of the results.