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  • An estimated 380,000 people will take part in the elections in a country with a population of approximately half a million.

    An estimated 380,000 people will take part in the elections in a country with a population of approximately half a million. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 May 2020
Opinion

The smallest country in South America has reported 11 cases of confirmed infections with one death.

The South American nation of Suriname will hold Monday its parliamentary elections to renew the 51-seat National Assembly members, who will then vote to designate the country's president.

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An estimated 380,000 people will take part in the elections in a country with a population of approximately half a million. The authorities indicated that voters who attend polling stations must comply with some preventive COVID-19 measures, such as social distancing and wash hands.

There are 17 parties contesting the 51 legislative seats.

If the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which runs on a record of social reforms and major infrastructure spending, maintains its current 26-seats, it will keep its one-seat majority in the Assembly. 

This, as well as the party’s political allies, would likely ensure the needed two-thirds votes for President Desi Bouterse’s third term.

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If the party loses any seats, rival Chandrikapersad Santokhi of the Progressive Reform Party (VHP) is favorite to take office.

Opposition political parties have demanded late last year Bouterse's resignation after a military tribunal sentenced the head of state to 20 years in prison due to killings during a military Junta in the 1980s.

Bouterse led the military junta in Suriname in 1980 after the "Sergeants' Coup," which overthrew the government of Henck Arron. He became president of the country in 2010 and was re-elected five years later.

After his rise to power, the country experienced a resurgence in labor rights and authority of union leaders.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) announced that a four-member team had landed last week in Suriname to observe the process.

“In response to the request from the Government of the Republic of Suriname, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has fielded a CARICOM Election Observation Mission to monitor the general elections which will be held on Monday, 25 May 2020,” a statement from the Caricom secretariat said.

The smallest country in South America has reported 11 cases of confirmed infections with one death. The 11th case is a Brazilian who allegedly entered the country illegally alongside eight other men, according to the country's health ministry.

Two weeks ago, the government started easing lockdown measures by opening up businesses. But it kept borders with French Guiana and Guyana closed.

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