Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Opposition parties near power following election

Published:Monday | June 1, 2020 | 12:27 AM

PARAMARIBO (AP):

Four Surinamese parties have formed an alliance that would put them close to being able to choose the country’s next president following elections that may have ended the rule of President Dési Bouterse.

While the Independent Electoral Bureau said it has counted 99.5 per cent of the votes from the May 25 election, officials had not formally published the results as of Sunday, and Bouterse – who faces criminal convictions both at home and in the Netherlands – had not conceded defeat.

The United Reform Party, known as the VHP, appeared to have won 20 seats in the 51-member legislature, while Bouterse’s National Democratic Party won 16.

The VHP announced Saturday that it had reached a cooperation agreement with three smaller parties that would give its bloc 33 seats – one short of the two-thirds majority needed to elect the next president of the small country on the north-eastern shoulder of South America.

Party leader Chandrikapersad ‘Chan’ Santokhi, now the favourite to become Suriname´s next president, declined to say if he was negotiating with another party, currently aligned with Bouterse, that will hold two seats.

“We cannot wait any longer,” Santokhi said. “The crisis in the country is huge and the people of Suriname expect us to take action.”

He has proposed to bolster a struggling economy by boosting industry and agriculture, and by appealing for investment by the nearly 400,000 people of Surinamese origin in the Netherlands.

The country of about 600,000 people is hoping also that newly discovered oil reserves will come on line within about five years.