Govt acts of voter’s suppression continue: closes entry from Suriname; restricts local ferry services on Elections Day


State-operated ferries plying routes along the Essequibo River have been restricted on Monday, a period when General and Regional Elections are scheduled to take place.
The Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) announced that a decision was taken to limit ferries travelling the Parika route to Supenaam, Leguan and Wakenaam. Vessels traversing from Parika to Supenaam, Supenaam to Parika, along with the Leguan and Wakenaam services will be restricted to only one trip at 16:00h in the afternoon.
Along with that, no ferry services will be available between Parika and Bartica on the said day. This announcement comes at a time when many individuals will be using the boat services to return home or access their respective Polling places. However, no rationale was given behind the sudden move.
The Parika to Supenaam routes are usually undertaken thrice daily, in the morning, midday and afternoon hours. These two regions are bridged solely by vessels, and hundreds of persons would use the services on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, a letter from Chairperson of the People’s National Congress (PNC), Volda Lawrence in her role as Public Health Minister to Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan reveals that she have made a request which was granted that could lead to voter suppression.
Eleven days ago, February 18, she claimed that “Given the increase in the number of [Coronavirus] cases in Germany and France, I am requesting that the Backtrack Entry to travellers from Suriname be closed during the period February 29 through March 7th, 2020.”
But even if there were concerns, the question that has been asked by persons who had information on the response by Minister Ramjattan to accede to Lawrence’s request was why was the closure made effective eleven days later – just two days before the elections scheduled for March 2?
It is a well-known fact that many Guyanese residents in Suriname, most of them from Berbice, were returning to vote in the elections since it had been authoritatively declared that they still retained their inalienable right to vote, once they had been registered in the past and their names were on the Official List of Electors.