|Posted by haimdatsawh on November 9, 2012 at 6:45 AM||comments (0)|
Suriname plans embassies in Germany and Equatorial Guinea
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Suriname plans embassies in Germany and Equatorial Guinea
Published on October 12, 2012 Email To Friend Print Version
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Amidst deteriorating ties between Suriname and its former colonizers, the Netherlands, the Bouterse administration is seeking to expand its diplomatic outreach by establishing embassies in key areas of the globe. Two such embassies will be established in Berlin and in Equatorial Guinea next year, according to the foreign affairs minister of Suriname, Winston Lackin.
Suriname recently opened embassies in France and South Africa. Paris is seen as a natural and important partner for Suriname in Europe according to Lackin. French Guyana borders Suriname.
Lackin told the Suriname Times that preparatory work has started on the embassy in Berlin and that an ambassador will be posted there in 2013. And by the end of this year, a Surinamese embassy will be opened in Equatorial Guinea, West Africa. This will be Suriname’s second embassy in Africa.
Lackin disclosed that a technical team from Equatorial Guinea was in Suriname recently to work on getting the embassy up and running. Suriname wants stronger ties with the African continent, he said. There are also plans for additional diplomatic missions in neighbouring Brazil and Guyana. Argentina will also open a diplomatic mission Suriname.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on November 9, 2012 at 6:40 AM||comments (0)|
Argentina Opens Embassy In Suriname
November 01, 2012 12:06 PM
Argentina Opens Embassy In Suriname
BUENOS AIRES, Nov 1 (BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA) -- Argentina announced the opening of an embassy in Suriname to bolster the "ties of friendship and cooperation" between the two South American countries, the Argentinian government said Wednesday in a statement.
The opening of the embassy in Suriname's capital Paramaribo" reflects the mutual interest to strengthen the traditional ties of friendship and cooperation between the two peoples and will allow the expansion of the relationship between the two countries," said a decree signed by Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman.
The move "will reaffirm Argentina's commitment to the system of regional integration," the government said, stressing the fact that "the Republic of Suriname is a full member of the Union of South American Countries, of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, and of the Caribbean Community."
Argentina and Suriname established diplomatic relations in July 1977.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on June 12, 2012 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
Suriname president to pay state visit to China
Published on June 9, 2012 Print Version
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- A state visit by Suriname’s President Désiré Bouterse to China is being prepared by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Lackin, who himself will soon travel to Beijing to organize the official visit.
Lackin told the Suriname Times, "I will travel to China to prepare the president’s visit."
The expectations are obviously high on both sides he added.
President Desi Bouterse of Suriname. UN Photo/Lou Rouse
During the visit, the two countries are expected to sign various bilateral agreements, especially in the area of financial cooperation and agriculture. Suriname wants China to help develop its agricultural sector. The date of the visit is yet not confirmed, according to Lackin.
"The president currently has a very busy schedule and in China the people are currently in a busy period. Soon they will have national elections,” he said.
China-Suriname ties are strong, and it may not be overstatement to say that it’s the closest among all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations. A New York Times article in 2011 asserted that “With aid and migrants, China expands its presence” in Suriname. “The Foreign Ministry’s elegant new headquarters here is a gift from the Chinese government. Chinese signs on hundreds of businesses, from casinos to grocery shops and furniture stores, beckon the residents of this capital. Chinese work crews are paving roads cutting through the jungle.”
Today, in Suriname, there are two daily Chinese newspapers and a Mandarin school has now opened to service Suriname’s 40,000 strong Chinese population or about 10% of the population.
The mechanisms for expansion of Suriname-China ties are in place through various bilateral agreements. Last year Minister of Public Works, Ramon Abraham signed three memoranda of understanding (MOU) with two major Chinese firms: Cheng International and China Harbor concerning the financing and execution of mega projects totaling some US$6 billion. Among the projects is the construction of 8,000 low-income houses. Two other memoranda were signed with China Harbor, regarding the construction of 500 kilometers of road and a train track from Paramaribo to southern neighbour Brazil, a new harbour and a highway from Paramaribo to the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport at Zanderij.
And with relations with its former colonial power, the Netherlands, at an all time low, the Bouterse government has moved to consolidate ties with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and the Persian Gulf States. The Netherlands withdrew its ambassador from Suriname and suspended the remaining distribution of funds granted to Suriname during independence in 1975 because the Surinamese Staten (Parliament) passed an amnesty act that pardons Bouterse of his involvement in the 1980 coup.
Lackin said that the EU should not “lecture” Suriname. He said, “The Dutch can keep those 20 million Euros. We don’t really need it, and it could be better used in the Netherlands itself to help their poor who form lines at soup kitchens.”
|Posted by haimdatsawh on May 29, 2012 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
National holiday costs Suriname SRD 50 million
(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – The price tag for every holiday is SRD 50 million, but if the authorities decide to cut back on the number of national holidays, bringing the total from 15 to five, the country would be able to save SRD half a billion a year. Accountant Haroen Karamat, special consultant for the national holidays, calculated that in Suriname there are only 249 productive days. The accountant has made a calculation of the financial consequences of holidays based on the 2010 GDP.
Karamat’s calculations were among the topics discussed at a seminar ‘National Holidays’ held in the Wyndham Garden Hotel yesterday. Bishop Steve Meye of the God’s Bazuin Ministries is convinced that the number of national holidays needs a cut back, but he argues for retaining internationally recognized religious holidays. He proposes the creation of a system that allows special days for the different groups in society. These days do not necessarily have to be a national holiday.
Karamat who represented the Association of Store Owners (VVW) tells de Ware Tijd that if Saturdays and Sundays are added to the 15 national holidays, it would amount to 166 days off per year, which is the equivalent of five months free pay. If the 2010 GDP, SRD 9.9 billion, is divided by the remaining 249 days it comes to SRD 40 million. With a margin of error of 25 percent this would amount to SRD 50 million per day. The accountant proposes to cluster a number of national holidays, cutting back the total to five.
He proposes the first day of Christmas, 1 July as Immigration Day, Independence Day and two other days which the government could determine later on. By restructuring the number of holidays the government will be able to save SRD 500 million. The new measures would not cost the state a cent if implemented, the expert says. “Internationally recognized religious holidays may not be surrendered under any circumstances, because they are celebrated across the globe,” says Meye, referring to mainly the Christian holidays. He proposes a free day for special religious, ethnic and cultural groups without elevating these days to national holidays. The special groups and the country would benefit greatly from this system. He added that if Karamat’s calculations are right Suriname seriously needs to reevaluate its productivity.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on May 29, 2012 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
ACP sides with Suriname on parliamentary assembly with EU
(de Ware Tijd) THE HAGUE – The African, Caribbean and Pacific countries forming the ACP have proclaimed their solidarity with Suriname on the issue of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA).
Suriname was appointed to host the 24th JPA in November, but if the European legislators refuse to come to Suriname the event will not take place. Co-presidents Louis Michel and Musikari Kombo have been given specific instructions on the ACP stance for their meeting with EU legislators.
Tomorrow, the ACP and EU legislators will meet in Horsens Denmark for the 23rd JPA when the issue will be tabled. The European Parliament will then officially declare its stance on holding the 24th JPA in Suriname. The EU had proposed moving the meeting to another Caribbean country, but the ACP has taken a hard stance stating that it is either Suriname or no meeting.
Nieuw Front legislator Asiskumar Gajadien tells de Ware Tijd that the ACP have a unified stance in this matter. Parmessar, who heads the Surinamese delegation, confirms the ACP solidarity. He refrains from a reaction though since the EU has not taken a formal stance yet. ‘But the ACP is ready for them,’ says Parmessar. Gajadien claims that by adopting the Amnesty Act Suriname has been put to shame. ‘I don’t want to get ahead of things, but I don’t think any of the parties will back down, so the JPA will not take place.’
The legislator says the decision to suspend the JPA will not only affect the coalition but the entire country. ‘The hotel and catering industry, taxis, tourism and many other sectors stood to benefit from this meeting. It’s a pity things have come to this.’
Gajadien stresses that the opposition has in no way influenced the decision of the European legislators. He blames it all on adoption of the Amnesty Act. If parties fail to find a solution to the problem on Sunday, a final decision will be taken on Wednesday during the plenary session when the 23rd JPA comes to an end. Parmessar says that when the ACP learnt from informal sources of the EU’s and Dutch plans they met and discussed strategies. ‘We from the ACP have brains too to strategize and analyze,’ Parmessar says mockingly.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on May 22, 2012 at 6:15 AM||comments (0)|
President Bouterse has moved to strengthen his Mega-Combination coalition through a strategic cabinet reshuffling. On Thursday, May 3rd, President Bouterse announced the ministries that would have been affected by his reshuffle. These were: the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs, The Ministry of Regional Development, the Ministry of Justice and Police, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Physical Planning, Land and Forest Management. The President’s move comes from in- depth evaluation earlier this year and months following public speculation of the need for changes on account of performance.
One observer has stated, “it is a demonstration of the Bouterse-Ameerali’s commitment to transparency and good governance in the interest of the nation as a whole.” Following high-level consultation with the other leaders of the Mega-Combination coalition, the President announced the appointments to ensure a better- and smoother-running government machine. New appointments included Mrs. Shirley Sitaldien, Minister of Education and Community Development; Mrs. Abigail. Lie A Kwie new Under-Minister in the Ministry of Public Works and Mr. Mahinder Gopi, the Under-Minister in the Ministry of Regional Developmenti.
This is the first time that a female has been appointed as Minister of Education and Community Development in the Republic of Suriname. Mrs. Sitaldien received the nod from the President and the coalition partners.
The Ministry of Public Health is now under the mantle of Drs. Blokland, also a medical practitioner, like his predecessor. Whereas the latter was trained in Cuba, Drs. Blokland did his studies at the Medical University in Suriname.
Of interest is the detail that the Mega-Combinatie leaders chose to appoint a disciplined straight-talking ex-law enforcement officer Mr. Edward Belfor as its Minister of Justice & Police.
These recent moves meant that one party was excluded from holding ministerial positions: the BEP. The political groups, the BEP and Nieuw Suriname, were weighed and found wanting when it came down to standing firm on principled collective ground. Apart from internal party issues on leadership, the BEP has reduced its representatives in the National Assembly from four to two seats. There has been internal dissatisfaction within that party.
President Bouterse also told the New Suriname Party that he will not be depending on the votes from their two parliamentary representatives. There are also strong fissure lines within the leadership of the New Suriname Party which has been content with critical support for the government. This year the party voted against the government's current budget and it abstained from voting on the Amnesty question.
According to senior party sources these measures are part of Bouterse's new plans to have a more focused, efficient and tightly organized government. In a recent rally President Bouterse emphasized that Suriname needs to work together to maintain its present economic growth and stability. There was a public show of support for the governing mega-combination coalition which also includes Ronnie Brunswick of the A-Combination Party and Paul Somohardjo of the Pertjalah Luhur.
Supporters of the government feel that not much has been lost by the departure of the BEP and the absence of full support from the New Suriname Party. They noted that the BEP faction abstained from voting in favor of the Amnesty Act.
Supporters of President Bouterse feel that he has moved to consolidate his government in the wake of the controversy over the passing of the updated Amnesty Act. The court investigating the 1982 executions of fifteen people has decided to adjourn its deliberations. Judge Cynthia Valstein-Montnor explained that "we adjourn until a new constitutional court is established which will determine whether the law was in accordance with the Surinamese constitution." This constitutional court has yet to be established by the government.
For years, the previous government had failed to appoint the constitutional court. It is now up to the current Bouterse-Ameerali Mega-Combinatie government to make right what was left conveniently unattended by those previously in power.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 27, 2012 at 7:05 AM||comments (0)|
Two parties out of Suriname ruling coalition
(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – VHP legislator Asiskumar Gajadien is not surprised the coalition has fewer members now, as this was to be expected. During a coalition conference Monday evening, it was decided to discard partners BEP and Nieuw Suriname, so the governing coalition now has 32 instead of 36 seats in Parliament.
NPS Parliamentarian Ruth Wijdenbosch does not want to comment on the recent developments within the coalition, telling the paper it is an internal matter and she would rather await further developments. Winston Jessurun (DA’91) had speculated earlier that the reshuffling was used as a threat to coalition members to get the Amnesty Act through Parliament. “And now this turns out to be true. Those who did not agree have been cast aside,” he concludes. Gajadien believes everyone within the coalition should agree with the vision and ideas of “one person.” He thinks even more coalition members will be discarded, as “there is no respect for members’ individual opinions.” He suspects it is a direct consequence of the four legislators’ decision to walk away during the vote on the Amnesty Act
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM||comments (0)|
EU parliament votes against Suriname sanctions
Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:00 am
By BERT WILKINSON Special to the AmNews | 0 comments
The Dutch brought the issue to the European Union assembly last week with the aim of punishing those in authority, but other EU nations appeared not to be very interested in the issue, much to the chagrin of the Hague.
The country’s 51-seat Parliament controversially voted 28-12 last month to approve the amnesty, just as a local court was getting ready to hear closing arguments in a mass murder case involving incumbent President Desi Bouterse and more than 20 ex-soldiers and civilians involved in the December 1982 murders. The civilians were executed for allegedly plotting a counter-coup with Western nations.
Bouterse, 66, said the amnesty was not aimed at perverting the course of justice, as the trial will continue, but “to heal the nation” of an open wound that has hung around the necks of its citizens for nearly 30 years.
But opposition parties and civil society groups have been railing against the amnesty and are looking for ways to have it condemned and overturned internationally.
Dutch lawmaker Thijs Berman raised the amnesty issue at the European Parliament, but failed to get the support of other nations to impose economic sanctions on Suriname.
The Hague has already recalled its ambassador and has told local authorities he will not be returning, withholding $30 million in grant aid earmarked for the country.
If the Dutch had had their way, top Suriname officials, mostly the 25 suspects involved in the ongoing trial, would have been banned from traveling through E U countries.
The local De Ware Tijd newspaper quoted Dutch legislator Kathleen Ferrier as saying that she had hoped for the travel ban and other forms of agreed sanctions, but as it is not to be so far, she wants the EU “to engage in harsh dialogue with Suriname.”
Suriname’s Caribbean trade bloc neighbors have so far stayed away from commenting on the issue, perhaps because the amnesty was granted by the nation’s highest constitutional forum or because civil society and other groups have not lobbied them.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 25, 2012 at 8:40 AM||comments (0)|
President Bouterse: "We have never asked for 20 million euros'
The first message came from Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Lackin. President Desi Bouterse Netherlands sent a clear message. "Times have changed. They say: 'We will not give 20 million euros. We never asked for 20 million euros." At one point we had an import coverage of 6 months and have saved U.S. $ 130 million."
Bouterse said that the Netherlands wishes to withhold money, not even enough for the plans to build bridges, to be financed. "It has no effect on us. Probably on the new batch of trainees."
President Bouterse said that he does not care to talk politics from The Hague. "Put it in a note, then you get another note back. We are not at war with the Netherlands, we are engaged in this country."
Bouterse is not affected by the diplomatic 'feints' of the Netherlands. For him it does not matter whether they want to recall their ambassador or not. So to speak, they may even send three ambassadors to here. He will always receive friendly. "We do not panic."
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 15, 2012 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Lawmakers approved amnesty legislation Wednesday that pardons Suriname’s president for crimes committed under his earlier military dictatorship, rejecting pleas that his murder trial be allowed to run its course.
The National Assembly, which is dominated by President Desi Bouterse’s political coalition, passed the bill 28-12 after 12 hours of debate that went into the night.
The amnesty ends the long-running trial for Bouterse and 24 associates on charges of abducting and murdering 15 prominent political opponents in December 1982, said Delegate Ricardo Panka, a member of the president’s National Democratic Party who argued that the amnesty was necessary to unify a divided country.
“We hope that what we do today in history will be marked as the first step toward a renewed Suriname,” Panka said in the closing debate.
During the debate, the governing coalition modified the legislation to include establishment of a truth commission to examine the killings involved in Bouterse’s trial.
They also agreed to strip amnesty for anyone involved in the massacre of at least 39 ethnic Maroons by soldiers near the village of Moiwana in November 1986 during the South American country’s civil war. Maroons are the descendants of slaves who escaped into the rugged hinterlands when Suriname was a Dutch and British colony.
Those changes weren’t enough for opponents, who pleaded with their fellow lawmakers to allow the trial to play out.
“The separation of powers has been trampled,” said Chandrikapersad Santokhi, an opposition delegate.
Ronny Asabina, a lawmaker who was part of the coalition that elected Bouterse president in a 2010 parliamentary vote, abstained from the vote, referring to a December 1982 victim’s relative sitting in the public gallery watching the debate.
“When I look up, I see the pain in his eyes,” Asabina said. “How can we so carelessly talk about the suffering of the relatives?”
Ronnie Brunswijk, leader of the Maroon party and former Bouterse foe who joined the coalition that elected him president, voted in favor of the amnesty legislation “with a lot of pain in my heart.” He apologized to relatives of the victims of the December 1982 killings but said the country could not afford to have its president convicted at a trial.
“We have to move forward into the future. We need to work at the development of our country,” Brunswijk said. “The only way to do that is by putting our grief aside.”
Bouterse seized power in a 1980 coup. He allowed the return of civilian rule in 1987 but staged a second coup in 1990. He stepped down as military chief in 1992, but has remained a powerful force in the former Dutch colony. Lawmakers elected him president in 2010.
Members of the military killed well-known journalists, lawyers and union leaders in the December killings. Bouterse previously accepted “political responsibility” for those slayings but said he was not present when the executions took place. Witnesses in the trial have disputed that claim.
Legal proceedings against Bouterse and his associates began in November 2007 but have been repeatedly stalled by legal challenges, the unavailability of witnesses and disorganization in Suriname’s legal system.
In 1999, Bouterse was convicted in absentia in a Dutch court of trafficking cocaine from Suriname to the Netherlands, but he has claimed his innocence and avoided an 11-year prison sentence because he can’t be extradited under Surinamese law.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 14, 2012 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
Dutch suspend aid to Suriname to protest amnesty
Published April 13, 2012
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch government is suspending part of its aid to Suriname to protest an amnesty granted to the country's president and others accused of involvement in political slayings, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday.
The amnesty, granted by the country's Parliament, was expected to end the trial of Desi Bouterse and 24 associates, who were charged with abducting and killing 15 prominent political opponents of his dictatorship in December 1982.
"The law must be allowed to run its course," Rutte said.
The three judges hearing the case against Bouterse decided Friday to postpone the trial until May 11 while they review the amnesty law and consider their options.
Attorneys for the president and his co-defendants argue that the amnesty should put an end to the proceedings but prosecutors said the matter must be reviewed by a constitutional court.
Complicating matters is the fact that Suriname's constitution establishes a constitutional court but the country has never created one.
Bouterse has said the amnesty will let his South American country resolve lingering bitterness over its military dictatorship and civil war.
"This is a new beginning," Bouterse said during a visit last week to neighboring Guyana. "This amnesty is intended to heal the whole nation, not just one part of it."
Rutte said his administration is halting government-to-government aid to the former Dutch colony. He did not say how much money was involved, but earlier this week Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal suggested it amounted to €20 million ($26.3 million).
Rosenthal said the aid targets Suriname's government and not its 500,000 population. Last week, Rosenthal recalled the Dutch ambassador from the capital Paramaribo to protest the amnesty.
Bouterse seized power in a 1980 coup. He allowed the return of civilian rule in 1987 but staged a second coup in 1990. He stepped down as military chief in 1992, but has remained a powerful force in Suriname. Lawmakers elected him president in 2010.
He has defended the amnesty by pointing out that it also covers the killing of 19 soldiers by rebels in the southeastern region near the border with French Guiana during the 1986-92 civil war.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
By Associated Press, Published: March 20
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Lawmakers in Suriname have proposed an amnesty law that would end the long-running trial of President Desi Bouterse, who is accused along with former military associates of abducting and killing opponents of his dictatorship in 1982.
Members of Bouterse’s Mega Combination introduced the legislation Monday, and Andre Misiekaba, the party’s whip, predicted in an interview on state television Tuesday it would pass the parliament by the end of the week.
The bill amends an earlier amnesty law to include any offenses “in the context of the defense of the state,” between April 1, 1980, and Aug. 19, 1992. That time frame would encompass the country’s military dictatorship and civil war.
Bouterse became president in a parliamentary vote in 2010, but he was a military dictator for much of the 1980s. He and his supporters in the military are accused of arresting 15 prominent opposition leaders, including journalists, lawyers and a trade union leader, and executing them in a colonial fort in the capital, Paramaribo.
Legal proceedings against Bouterse and 24 associates began in November 2007 but have been repeatedly stalled by legal challenges, the unavailability of witnesses and general disorganization in the legal system in the former Dutch colony on the northeastern coast of South America.
Sunil Oemrawsingh, whose uncle was among those killed by the dictatorship, said he and other victims’ relatives are consulting with lawyers and members of the political opposition to block the legislation or overturn it if it passes.
“It is our obligation to the children and the loved ones of those who were murdered and to the rule of law in Suriname,” Oemrawsingh said.
Bouterse has loomed over Surinamese politics for three decades. He first came to power in 1980, when he led a coup that saw the constitution suspended and parliament dissolved just five years after independence. Under international pressure he allowed the return of civilian rule in 1987, only to launch a second coup in 1990. Even after stepping down as army chief in 1992, he has remained a powerful force.
In 1999, he was convicted in a Dutch court of trafficking cocaine from Suriname to the Netherlands, but he has avoided an 11-year prison sentence because he can’t be extradited under Surinamese law.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on February 29, 2012 at 10:00 AM||comments (2)|
Suriname religious organizations will not surrender holidays
(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – The religious organizations consulted by the Commission National Holidays Suriname refuse to surrender their national holidays. “They claim that the days have been obtained through the times and that they are entitled to them. So they want to keep what they have”, says the commission’s chairman Marlon Powel. The organizations believe that the commission should rather consider looking into holidays that are not really celebrated. “With this exception, they are very sober about the issue and believe that currently there are too many holidays”. The business community has expressed the same opinion at the consultations held so far. “The 15 holidays, together with the obligatory free Saturdays and Sundays keep their employees idle nearly one-third of the year. If they let their employees work on holidays, they must pay them 300% of a usual day’s pay. So the costs are too high for the work being done”. The commission has already consulted 16 social organizations. “Some groups think that the commission has been established to file requests for holidays, but we only want to hear their opinions about the current number of holidays”. These talks are scheduled until 21 March, after which the opinions will be included in a report. The commission will present this report at a special seminar. “We hope the discussions there will lead to new insights about holidays”. After the report has been adapted, it will be presented to the President with the commission’s advice. The government itself will then decide whether to add or remove holidays.