Guyana, Suriname Govts have responsibility to bring prosperity – President Santokhi

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…as President Ali thanks int’l community for vigilance

Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi on Saturday expressed a commitment to work with the new Dr Irfaan Ali-led Government in further strengthening cooperation between the two countries.

Santokhi made the remarks during a brief interview with the Guyanese media as he departed the inauguration ceremony for the Guyanese Head of State, which he attended as a special guest.

“I want to congratulate the people of Guyana,” the recently-elected Surinamese President said, referring to the prolonged political impasse the country endured in declaring a winner of its March 2 elections.

President Chan Santokhi and his wife, First Lady Mellisa Santokhi, greet President Irfaan Ali and First Lady Arya Ali at the Inauguration Ceremony on Saturday

The Surinamese politician would have faced similar struggles whereby the incumbent Administration refused to accept electoral defeat.

Surinamese went to the polls on May 25 and Santokhi’s Progressive Reform Party won the popular vote but the country’s incumbent President Desi Bouterse initially refused to accept electoral defeat. Eventually, Bouterse respected the will of the people and on July 16, he peacefully handed over power.

In Guyana’s case, the country held elections on March 2 and though the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) emerged victoriously, the then incumbent David Granger Administration refused to concede despite mounting international pressure. Eventually, on August 2 – five months later, Granger conceded and Dr Ali was sworn in as the country’s ninth Executive President.

Meanwhile, according to the Surinamese President, he is looking forward to working with the new Administration. He said the two Presidents of both nations have the responsibility to bring prosperity to both countries.

“We have expressed our commitment today that we will do everything to have good cooperation, good friendship, to bring development and prosperity to both nations,” President Santokhi said.

Formal diplomatic relations between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Suriname were established on November 25, 1975.

International community

Meanwhile, President Ali, during his inauguration speech, expressed gratitude to the member states of Caricom and the international community for their vigilance of Guyana’s democracy over the last five months as “we fought to hold high the flag of Guyana as a democratic State, deserving of high regard”.

“Some of those who stayed alert with us, through those dark days, are with us as a new dawn dispels the darkness of despair and shines a light of unbounded expectation on us today. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the resident diplomatic corps from Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States who so fearlessly defended our people’s political rights,” President Ali said, also expressing thanks to organisations like the Organisation of American States, The Carter Center and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The late Owen Arthur

“They were each outstanding in their own way, and in time their names will form a lexicon of heroes of our nation,” President Ali expressed.

In paying homage to the late former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur, who played an integral role in Guyana’s fight for democracy, President Ali explained he had “put himself in his determination that democracy should not die in Guyana, nor should our people be deprived of their political rights.”

Arthur was the leader of the Commonwealth Elections Observer Mission for Guyana’s March 2 elections and is well remembered for his stance against the then caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Karen Cummings, who had threatened to revoke the accreditation of international observers.

President Ali noted that Arthur was a true friend of Guyana and a man committed to justice.