Long Lines Mark Elections In A Pandemic In This CARICOM Nation

suriname-elections
A man cast his vote at a polling station in Paramaribo on May 25, 2020 during parliamentary elections. Suriname went to the polls on Monday with strongman President Desi Bouterse seeking a third term, battling to hold onto power to avoid spending his twilight years in prison after being convicted of murder. (Photo by DANNY LIU/AFP via Getty Images)
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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. May 26, 2020: An election to elect a new 51-seat parliament in a South American CARICOM nation Monday was marked by reports of long lines, mishaps and the extension of voting by two hours last night.

The chairman of the Independent Electoral Office (OKB) of Suriname, Jennifer van Dijk-Silos, said that the agency had been over-run with complains since the voting started Monday morning at 7 a.m., including of polling stations in the capital Paramaribo receiving incorrect ballot papers.

Due to the number of election irregularities during the day, polls were extended to 9 p.m. last night from 7 p.m. in an election that saw convicted murderer and the National Democratic Party (Nationale Democratische Partij or NDP) and its president, Desiré Delano “Desi” Bouterse, running for re-election for a third term against 17 other parties.

Of the 17 parties registered, the main opposition parties are the Progressive Reform Party (VHP or Vooruitstrevende Hervormingspartij), the National Party of Suriname (Nationale Partij Suriname or NPS), Brotherhood and Unity in Politics (Broederschap en Eenheid in de Politiek or BEP), and Pertjajah Luhur. Each of these parties has some core ethnic group to which they appeal. The VHP has a strong following in the Indo-Surinamese community and is considered as center-left social democratic.

The National Party was the country’s largest political party for many years and was the base for President Venetiaan’s two periods in office from 1991 to 1996 and then 2000 to 2010. It won only two seats in 2015 and is looking to recover its national standing.

Bouterse was sentenced by a Surinamese court in November 2019 to 20 years in prison for the December 1982 executions of 15 political opponents.

Voters stood in line for hours to cast their vote despite the COVID-19 pandemic in what has been dubbed “the mother of all elections.” One voter, ‘The Yin of the Pine Needle @ngasieta,’ posted: “Standing in a line for more than two hours in this grueling heat is NOTHING if it means overthrowing the imbeciles that are the NDP.”

The Electoral Observation Mission of the #OASinSuriname observed the elections Monday as did a CARICOM mission.

OAS observers in Suriname. (OAS image: Twitter)

There are some 383,000 eligible voters in the country.

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