Ramotar supports Bouterse, Suriname against EU boycott
By Gary Eleazar
The Netherlands has spearheaded having the Assembly involving the European Union and the African Caribbean and Pacific (EU-ACP) not be hosted in Suriname in protest of Amnesty Legislation recently approved that will see that country’s President, Desi Bouterse, evading any prosecution stemming from a murderous 1980s altercation.
Guyana’s Executive President, however, is firing back at the detractors, saying that the people of Suriname and its democratically-elected leader are friends to Guyana.
Head of State Donald Ramotar, yesterday told this newspaper that Guyana will be opposed to such a move, adding that if the European Union respects democracy then it would respect the will of the Surinamese people and their decisions.
This publication understands that the European members of respective parliaments, opposed to the confab being held in Suriname, are also unopposed to Bouterse joining the meeting if hosted in another country, hence Guyana was suggested.
While sources at the local EU Delegation have confirmed the information emanating from Europe, this proposal has not yet been officially submitted to Guyana.
This was confirmed too by Ramotar who says that the meeting is still slated for Suriname later this year.
According to reports from the EU, there is the belief that Bouterse is seeking to use such meetings in Suriname as a means of demonstrating to those opposed to him that he still gains international respect.
The EU/ACP is the largest multilateral meeting after the General Assembly of the United Nations, and would bring close to 1,000 parliamentarians from the European Union, Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific States, to Suriname.
The EU Parliament now suggests moving the venue to either Curacao or Aruba should Guyana not be available.
The decision by the EU’s Parliament stems from amnesty law passed in Suriname’s National Assembly last April, that pardons Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse for crimes committed under his earlier military rule in 1982.
Dutch Europarliamentarian Thijs Berman yesterday made public pronouncements of a unanimous decision by the European Parliament against hosting the assembly in Suriname.
At their meeting in Denmark next week, ACP parliamentarians will decide whether they too withdraw their support for Suriname as host country.
Europarliamentarian Toine Manders who had spearheaded the move against hosting the meeting in Suriname, said it wouldn’t bode well for EU-ACP relations if the ACP parliamentarians decide that they do support Suriname.
“There will be no meeting without the Europarliamentarians, so we should choose a different host country. It would be bad for our relations if the meeting isn’t held at all,” he said, hinting that it is Europe who is footing the bill. “The cost of this meeting is in the millions,” he stressed.
The controversial Amnesty Law was approved by Suriname’s National Assembly, amidst local and international calls not to do so. The law pardons President Bouterse for crimes committed under his earlier military rule, including the December 8, 1982 murders of 15 men. Holland, with whom Bouterse has a strained relationship, has since the law was approved, said that Suriname would feel the backlash. Development aid was ceased and the country is being boycotted.
The Dutch Europarliamentarians say it would go against their principles if they would attend the meeting in Suriname, shake hands with Bouterse, and listen to him addressing the gathering.