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Voters to elect new government on Monday

Jamaica Gleaner 2020-05-21 06:45:00
President Desi Bouterse

PARAMARIBO (CMC):

A four-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Election Observer Mission has arrived here ahead of next Monday’s general election in which voters will elect a new government in the Dutch-speaking country.

Supervisor of elections of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dora James, is heading the mission that will meet with the electoral officials, leaders of political parties and other stakeholders and will monitor the electoral process, including the opening of the poll, the voting process, the closing of the poll and the counting of the ballots.

“For CARICOM, election observation serves as a platform to support existing democratic traditions within the Caribbean Community as part of its wider policy of supporting democracy and good governance,” the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said in a statement.

President Desi Bouterse is leading his ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) into Monday’s general election. In the 2015 poll, the party won 27 of the 51 seats and 80 per cent of the votes cast.

But political observers say the 74-year-old Bouterse faces a daunting re-election battle. They note that apart from the effect COVID-19 has had on the CARICOM country’s economy, a scandal at the central bank has shaken confidence in the financial system.

Further, Bouterse has appealed a 20-year jail term imposed by a court here last November, following the December 1982 murders of 15 political opponents.

Seventeen parties have registered to run against the NDP, but unlike 2015 when some of the opposition parties formed coalitions, this is not the case this time around.

“The tribal electorate also seem to suggest that on election day, traditional voting behaviour patterns may stay the course and work in Bouterse’s NDP’s favour,” said one political analyst, adding that with no coalition ahead of the voting “that would give the NDP an advantage, because the NDP is the largest political party”.