Suriname to hold National Assembly election

Suriname will hold parliamentary elections today for the country’s 51-seat national assembly. The unicameral legislature has the power to elect

The National Assembly of Suriname

Photo: Luc V. de Zeeow

Suriname will hold parliamentary elections today for the country’s 51-seat national assembly.

The unicameral legislature has the power to elect the country’s president. The incumbent scandal-ridden president, Desi Bouterse, was last year convicted of murder; the conviction stemmed from the killing of 15 political opponents during Bouterse’s 1980-1982 coup. His appeal is due to be heard in June.

Should Bouterse’s National Democratic Party (NDP)—running on a record of social reforms and major infrastructure spending—retain its current 26-seats in the Assembly, it will maintain its narrow one-seat majority in the legislature. Along with NDP’s political allies, this would likely assure the necessary two-thirds votes for Bouterse’s third term as president.

If the party loses any seats, veteran rival Chandrikapersad Santokhi of the Progressive Reform Party (VHP) is favourite to take office. Santokhi, a former prosecutor who initiated Bouterse’s criminal proceedings 12 years ago, has called on the president to resign. The VHP is running on a platform of debt reduction amid the country’s economic crisis.

If Bouterse’s appeal fails, he will be forced to serve a 20-year prison sentence handed to him in December 2019. However, the appeals process is likely to last a decade. Furthermore, an NDP-controlled Assembly would likely lack the political will to impeach him until that appeal fails.

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