Suriname’s Bouterse accepts defeat, but Granger clings on to power despite defeat

L-R: Desi Bouterse and David Granger
L-R: Desi Bouterse and David Granger

President of Suriname Desi Bouterse has conceded defeat at the country’s General Elections for the sake of allowing his country to move forward, but it is the opposite for his counterpart in Guyana; President David Granger, who 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.

The General Elections in Suriname were held on May 25, and the results were already declared and accepted by all parties.

Bouterse’s National Democratic Party (NDP) has since congratulated the opposition parties on their victory in the recent polls and commended their decision to move towards the formation of a coalition government in the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

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 control 35 of the 51 seats in the National Assembly, while Bouterse’s NDP won the remaining 16 seats.

“We wish you prosperity, wisdom, strength, and perseverance in the pursuit of the Surinamese goal, which is sacred to all of us, namely, to push Suriname to greater heights at any level,” the NDP said in a statement after the Independent Electoral Council of Suriname released the official results of the poll over the weekend.

However, in Guyana’s case, President David 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 close to four months since the electorate voted but the 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.

In fact, after their attempts to use Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, to illegally inflate votes in their favour failed, Granger APNU/AFC Coalition tried to every conceivable avenue to hang on to power illegally.

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh last Tuesday voted to use the results from the recently concluded recount and have the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/c) declared the winner of the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

But moments before Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, was set to present his report to the Commission for final declaration, Coalition supporter, Eslyn David, moved to the Court of Appeal to block the Commission from declaring the results.

The Court of Appeal yesterday determined that it has jurisdiction to interpret Article 177 (4) of the Constitution of Guyana which it claims, speaks to the election of a President when the interpretation of the Constitution is being invoked but the GECOM must determine “if more valid votes are cast” for a list.

The PPP/C has since appealed the decision at the Caribbean Court of Justice and is hoping that the matter would be addressed “speedily” so that the way could be paved for the legitimate government to be sworn in.