Suriname’s Coalition Partners Say They Will Examine a Pardon for Bouterse Within the Provisions of the Constitution

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Desi Bouterse

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Jun 26, CMC – The leader of the Progressive Reform Party (VHP), Chandrikapersad Santokhi, says if a petition for a pardon for President Desi Bouterse comes before the planned coalition government, it will be examined within the constitution of the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

Bouterse, whose National Democratic Party (NDP) lost the May 25 general election, last November was convicted by a Military Court to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the 1982 murders of 15 political opponents of his then military government.

The trial had been going on for several years and in a lengthy verdict the Court did not order his detention.

Santokhi, together with the chairman of the Algemene Bevrijdings- en Ontwikkelingspartij (APBO), Ronnie Brunswijk, Thursday met with Bouterse and that a number of matters were discussed with Bouterse to transfer political power without causing any disturbance.

Brunswijk told a news conference that “a cat cornered makes strange jumps” and that “there was never talk of grace”.

Santokhi told reporters that if a petition for a pardon comes from Bouterse, who has filed an appeal against his conviction, it will be examined and the Constitutional requirements would be taken into consideration.

“We will be guided by the insights that exist with the judiciary. When it comes, we will decide that,” said the VHP leader.

The opposition parties – VHP, (APBO, The National Party of Suriname (NPS), the Pertjajah Luhur (PL), and the Brotherhood and Unity in Politics (BEP) together control 35 of the 51 seats in the National Assembly, while Bouterse’s NDP won the remaining 16 seats. The National Assembly is due to meet in August to elect a new head of state.

The human rights group, Stichting December 8, 1982, has demanded that the new government in no way frustrate the legal process in the December murder trial.

It also wanted the coalition partners to provide assurance that the they would “fully cooperate with the execution of the verdict, whatever the outcome, in the December 8th murder process in higher profession”.

“Everyone is equal before the law. That principle is the pillar of our democratic system. We count on respect for the Trias Politica,” said the founder of the human rights group, Sunil Oemrawsingh. – CMC

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