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Suriname: CONTACT WITH PRESIDENT AND ELECTION AUTHORITIES ON POLLING DAY DISTURBS OAS

International observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) are generally satisfied with the way in which Monday’s elections were held. There is some concern about one matter: the contact between President Desi Bouterse and some ministers on the one hand with the Independent Electoral Office (OKB) on the other during the vote. That is what the observer mission writes in its preliminary report about the elections.

The OAS team noted that the president, along with several ministers and the OKB chairman, met at the end of election day while the voting process was still ongoing. De Ware Tijd reported on its website on Monday that Bouterse was “a few hours” at the OKB for an emergency meeting with, among others, chairman Jennifer van Dijk-Silos, ministers Ronni Benschop (Defense), Stuart Getrouw (Justice and Police) and Yldiz Pollack- Beighle (Foreign Affairs) and Director of National Security, Danielle Veira.

“Although the contents of the meeting were not made public, the mission notes that an important decision was taken shortly afterwards to extend the vote by an additional two hours,” the thirteen-page report said. “While the law gives the executive an important role in the election process, an election day interaction between the president of the country and the authority responsible for overseeing and validating the elections is worrying. In this case, the president also a candidate and such interaction may suggest that he has an unfair and differentiated advantage over other candidates, due to his special access to information and decision-making process, “is further alleged.

The OAS observers visited 93 polling stations at 54 polling stations. Although there were long lines in some places, partly because of the corona measures, despite complaining in some cases, voters have generally waited patiently for their turn. In some places, the elderly and disabled people received assistance from ballot box staff, but there was no clear procedure followed. That the authorities set up a special polling station for people who were quarantined gave the government an extra feather. “Access to vote is an important right,” said the observer mission.

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