Suriname election appears to be headed for trouble with the incumbent President, Desi Bouterse, asking for a recount after initial results indicated a massive loss for his party.
The Opposition is now claiming fraud.
Officials reported that the majority of polling stations have been counted but not finalized with the Opposition in control.
Even if Bouterse request for a recount is granted, the odds appear insurmountable that he will retain the presidency.
The CARICOM and Organisation of American States (OAS), which have sent observer teams to that neighbouring country, have extended their stay.
OAS in a preliminary statement said that it has held 44 meetings with tight measures in place to protect its observers.
The Mission, which is led by the Chief of Staff of the OAS General Secretariat, Gonzalo Koncke, comprises 13 experts from eight countries – three of whom provided their support remotely.
In all, the Mission visited 96 polling stations in 53 polling centers on Monday. Members reported that the polling stations they observed generally opened on time and that all poll workers and materials were present to allow a proper conduct of the poll.
Reports were received that incorrect ballots had been delivered and utilised in six polling stations.
In its report, the OAS recommended creating an independent electoral body that is responsible for the organization of the elections, including the appointment of poll workers.
The body also recommended a review of the seat formula and reforms to allow for stricter monitoring of campaign financing.
Guyana would be watching the elections in Suriname closely as almost three months since its general and regional elections on March 2nd it is still to name a new president.
There is a recount ongoing of the ballots for the entire country which so far suggests the main Opposition in Guyana- the People’s Progressive Party/Civic – is set to return to power after being booted in 2015.
Meanwhile, with regards to the Suriname’s election, the CMC reported that Opposition parties yesterday warned of possible fraud in Monday’s general election and the Independent Electoral Office (OKB) is threatening to publish the original official reports of all polling stations.
The OKB has also been critical of the observer mission from the Organisation of American States that had expressed concern at a meeting between its president, Jennifer van Dijk-Silos and President Bouterse on the day of the election.
Chairman of the Algemene Bevrijdings- en Ontwikkelingspartij (ABOP), Ronnie Brunswijk said an attempt had been made to remove boxes with official reports from various polling stations of the Paramaribo constituency from the Anthony Nesty
Stadium where they were placed.
Brunswijk, who was among the leaders of four opposition political parties that held a news conference, told reporters that when he arrived at the stadium two vehicles were outside with persons who were not official electoral officials, waiting to take the documents away.
Brunswijk said he spoke with Mike Nerkust, chairman of the main polling station in Paramaribo, who was present at the scene and that alert representatives of the various political parties who were present at the stadium where the counting was taking place, raised an alarm. Many persons were reported to have filmed the incident on mobile phones.
The ABOP chairman said that Nerkust was not forthright in his explanation and was insisting that there was nothing wrong and that no boxes had been taken.
But Brunswijk told reporters that he insisted on checking a certain area in the stadium in the presence of a senior police officer where they found open ballot boxes with official reports.
Brunswijk said he then demanded that the boxes be put back in the hall, where they were sealed with adhesive tape.
Leader of the Progressive Reform Party (VHP), the largest party in the opposition, Chandrikapersad (Chan) Santokhi, a former justice minister, as well as the leader of the National Party of Suriname (NPS), Gregory Russia and the Pertjajah Luhur (PL) leader, Paul Somohardjo, have all called for the OBK to ensure that supervisors were stationed at the stadium.
Santokhi, whose VHP party has won 21 of the 51 seats in the elections on Monday, according to the preliminary results released so far, said “it is the people’s voices that are being stolen now”.
A former Justice Minister, he said the opposition parties no longer have confidence in Nerkust as chairman of the main polling station in Paramaribo.
Meanwhile, Van Dijk-Silos said she is prepared to publish the original official reports of all polling stations even as the Ministry of the Interior (BIZA) yesterday said it is still awaiting the official reports from 64 polling stations in the capital, Paramaribo,
“Once the Ministry of the Interior has received the information from the main polling station, it will be processed on the special website for the informal results,” the Ministry said in a statement. Media reports said that the counting has not yet resumed.
But the OBK official said by failing to immediately announce the voting result, the polling stations as well as BIZA have violated the law.
She said all that needs to be done is to check and process the official reports and then arrive at the official determination of the election results by the Central Electoral Committee after the OKB has given its approval.
“BIZA has nothing to do and should not wait for processed figures. That is purely a matter for the main polling station waiting for processed figures,” she said, adding “the raw material – and those are the official reports – has to go straight to the media, which gives the community a preliminary result, which cannot change much in the official determination.
“For me, this is the biggest blunder of the ministry that considers the figures as his property. The raw figures are from the public, political parties and other stakeholders such as OKB.
“I have photographed all the raw material and we are sorting it by constituency and by resorts, in case the results of the main polling stations are still in doubt. It is reprehensible that two days after the election the preliminary results per polling station are not yet known,” she said adding that the Ministry should have made the necessary requirements to ensure that the counting of the ballots are completed.
Van Dijk-Silos said she cannot accept that the Ministry has indicated that its processing team needed rest.
“As an organization, you should know that you have to work shifts in elections. The announcement reflects the ministry’s incompetence in this area and it now wants to make things right. It remains incomprehensible to me that the ministry does not immediately get the results of the polling stations, has given up to the media. ”
The OKB chairman has also criticised the observer team from the OAS over its comments regarding a meeting she had on Monday with President Bouterse, and several other people.
During the meeting, the OKB chairman, informed Bouterse and the other representatives of political parties of the decision by the independent body to extend voting by two hours.
She said she did not want Bouterse to be informed of the decision through the media and that the OAS Observer Team had described the deliberations as “worrisome”, given that Bouterse was a candidate in the election.
Bouterse’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) which had won 27 seats in 2015 election to form the government, has so far won 15 seats this time around according to the preliminary results.
“Such an interaction may suggest that his special access to information and decision-making process gives him an unfair and differentiated advantage over other candidates,” she wrote in her preliminary election report.
“I do not agree with the OAS and I seriously blame them. The Electoral Act states that the OKB reports to the President. Who else should I contact or who should I inform?” she said, adding “”they (OAS) come to observe, have had all the laws beforehand and have not studied the laws, otherwise they would know that the OKB chairman reports to the President. It is in the law.”
Van Dijk-Silos said the OAS Mission is allowed to have its private opinion, making mention of past examples when she reported to then President Ronald Venetiaan.
“He was a candidate at the time, too. Then it wasn’t a problem. They shouldn’t be falsely accusing or insinuating influence. I can’t be influenced. It’s also an insult to me. I’m not an ox on a leash of people,” Van Dijk-Silos said, adding that she has since informed the OAS delegation of her displeasure.
She said the Ministry of the Interior has also been informed.
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