By Kenton X. Chance
NAIROBI, Kenya (CMC) — Suriname says as it prepares for a general election in May 2020, it will not condone any attempt to remove its democratically elected government and president.
Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, issued the warning at the two-day 9th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), which wraps up here on Tuesday.
Last month, a Military Court sentenced President Desi Bouterse to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the 1982 murders of 15 political opponents of his then military government.
The trial has been going on for several years and in a lengthy verdict the Court did not order his detention. Bouterse has two weeks to file an appeal.
In 2017, Bouterse along with 23 co-defendants, appeared in the Military Court after the Court of Justice had earlier rejected a motion to stop the trial. The former military officers and civilians had been charged with the December 8, 1982 murders of the 15 men that included journalists, military officers, union leaders, lawyers, businessmen and university lecturers.
The prosecution had alleged that the men were arrested on the night of December 7 and 8 of that year and transferred to Fort Zeelandia, then the headquarters of the Surinamese National Army. They said the men were tortured that night and summarily executed.
Addressing the ACP Summit, being held under the theme “A Transformed ACP: Committed to Multilateralism”, Pollack-Beighle, who is the head of her country’s delegation, said that Suriname, as a young independent nation, has been facing different challenges in its development process and its stance on multilateralism.
“Those challenges span in the financial, economic, and environmental areas, but also in the political field,” she said, adding that the road chosen by Paramaribo “is to put our people first”, and that social housing, education and free basic health care remain at the helm of the nation priorities.
Pollack-Beighle said her country’s priority is breaking free from “the attempts of colonial and extraterritorial dominance and patronage, an approach which is encountering great opposition”.
She said her country is preparing for “general, free and fair elections” in May 2020 and “will not condone any attempt to remove our democratically elected Government and President.
“In this regard we emphasize that Suriname will continue to advocate for the upholding of international law and democracy and strongly reject every form of intervention and interference in the internal affairs of our sovereign state and any other sovereign country,” the foreign minister said.
Pollack-Beighle said that any intervention or interference in the affairs of sovereign states are, obviously, against the principles of UN Charter and key objectives of the ACP.
“And I call on this august body to continue reject such positions as we make the ACP relevant,” Pollack-Beighle said.