Suriname moves ahead with new administration but Guyana’s defeated President clings to power

President Bouterse swears minister Moestadja as acting DNA chairman. Photo: NII
President Bouterse swears minister Moestadja as acting DNA chairman. Photo: NII

Neighbouring Suriname is moving ahead with putting its new governance structure in place with the swearing in, on Monday, of its President-in-Office of the National Assembly, while Guyana is still caught up in a fierce political battle due to the incumbent government refusing to concede defeat and make way for the newly-elected administration to take its place.

Earlier today, Suriname’s Minister of Labour, Soewarto Mustadja, was sworn in as President-in-Office of the National Assembly by outgoing President Desi Bouterse.

The role of the President-in-Office is to swear in and admit the newly elected Assembly Members and to lead the election of President and Vice-President of Parliament.

After these actions, the work of the President-in-Office is completed and he takes a seat in the hall with the other representatives of the people. At the moment, the elected president takes over the leadership of the parliament.

The opposition parties – Progressive Reform Party, Algemene Bevrijdings- en Ontwikkelingspartij, The National Party of Suriname, and the Pertjajah Luhur, and the Brotherhood and Unity in politics – together will control 35 of the 51 seats in the National Assembly, while Bouterse’s NDP won the remaining 16 seats.

President Bouterse wished the President-in-Office the very best and success in carrying out the forthcoming acts in the country’s meeting room, according to media reports out of Suriname.

The General Elections in Suriname were held on May 25, and the results were declared and accepted by all stakeholders mere days after.

Suriname’s Bouterse had conceded defeat for the sake of allowing his country to move forward, but it is the opposite for his counterpart in Guyana. Embattled President David Granger has tightened his grip on power even though the results of a national recount have confirmed that his ruling party was massively defeated by over 15,000 votes.

It should also be noted that President Granger’s APNU/AFC Coalition was defeated twice – first in a no-confidence vote in the Parliament in December 2018 and then at the March 2 national elections.

After prolonging the elections for more than a year following the no-confidence vote, the elections were finally held in March 2020.

It is now almost four months since the electorate voted but credible results are yet to be declared even though they are widely known and certified by all stakeholders, including the parties themselves and local and international observers.

The national recount results, which constitute data generated from the 2,339 Statements of Recount (SORs), show that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won the March 2 General Election with 233,336 votes cast in its favour. The APNU/AFC secured 217,920 votes. For the new parties, the numbers are as follows: A New and United Guyana – 2313; Change Guyana –1953; Liberty and Justice Party – 2657; People’s Republic Party – 889; The Citizen’s Initiative – 680; The New Movement – 244; and the United Republican Party – 360.

Only a few days ago, former Ambassador of Barbados to the US and Permanent Representative to the OAS, John Beale, expressed that CARICOM should be firm in telling Granger that he has lost the elections and should spare Guyana “any further shame” by conceding defeat.

Beale noted that the attempts by the APNU/AFC Coalition to “steal the elections” have not worked, since based on the evidence that has been presented so far, it is clear that the Opposition PPP/C has convincingly won the March 2, polls.

“Granger should be told by all CARICOM leaders that all attempts to steal the elections have failed and are over. He should go now, put an end to the abuse of the court system, and spare Guyana any further shame,” Beale wrote in the opinion piece published by Caribbean News Service.

Beale also warned that the “dark forces” in Guyana must not be allowed to “contaminate or disgrace” other countries in CARICOM that value democracy and free and fair elections.