August 14, 2010

The Return of Bouterse and CARICOM

THE INAUGURATION ceremony is over. It is official: Desi Bouterse, Suriname’s 64-year-old former military commander who first seized political power in a coup 20 years ago, is again controlling the reins of state power. As of yesterday he is functioning as the new constitutionally and ceremonially sworn president of that former Dutch colony. According to reports out of the capital Paramaribo, the only Caribbean Community representative, at prime ministerial level, to attend the inauguration would have been Prime Minister Samuel Hinds of Guyana, representing President Bharrat Jagdeo, who had lost no time in congratulating Bouterse.

Suriname and Guyana are the Caribbean Community’s two mainland states located on the continent of South America. They are multi-ethnic and multicultural and have a colonially-inherited territorial dispute, arising from Surinamese claim to Guyanese demarcated territory in the New River triangle area, reputedly with hydro-power potential. Both the secretariats of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and CARICOM were reportedly invited to have an official presence for the inauguration of Bouterse, who succeeded the three-term elected mathematician Runaldo Venetiaan. Among CARICOM states not represented, at any level for Bouterse's inauguration, were Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, as confirmed by this columnist; and related to stated absence of any official invitation.

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