United States Condemns Attack on Suriname’s Parliament

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The United States has condemned Friday’s attack on the Surinamese National Assembly building and related acts of violence, saying the incident is an unacceptable assault on democracy.

“We support the right to peaceful protest and respect for the rule of law. The United States remains committed to helping Suriname strengthen its democratic institutions”, the US Embassy in Paramaribo said in a press release.

In addition, Suriname’s Speaker of the House, Marinus Bee, also strongly condemned the attack on the National Assembly.

During a demonstration against President Chandrikapersad Santohki’s policies, dozens of demonstrators entered the parliament grounds, vandalizing the lobby, destroying possessions and smashing windows with stones.

The protest was held because of the increase in fuel prices last week when the government ended the subsidy on fuel and announced a further increase. The government also announced that the subsidy on electricity and cooking gas will be phased out in the coming months.

“It is with contempt-filled amazement that I, as Speaker of the National Assembly, have taken note of the havoc my compatriots have wrought during what was billed as a peaceful protest. Not only as Speaker of the House, but also as a person, I am strongly opposed to any form of destruction and will therefore certainly not leave it unaffected that The House of the People has been treated in such a destructive manner by the so-called demonstrators,” said Bee in a statement released late Friday .

He further argued that he knows that people are having a hard time. However, the incidents from earlier in the day do not justify, according to the chairman, “people taking to the streets to mutiny”. Together with the other members of the assembly, Bee noted, he is trying to alleviate the needs of. Bee: “Populating the streets mutinously and plundering will certainly not ensure that the Surinamese economy becomes healthy. Of course you have the right to express your displeasure, but please do so in a civilized manner.” Continuing on the path taken by the rioters will plunge the country into a valley “which will be difficult to get out of”, he said.

Due to the protest, public debates of parliament in which the Budget 2023 would be discussed further, were canceled.

An ATM in the building was also destroyed, a reporter’s car was looted and set on fire, and several journalists covering the demonstration were physically and verbally assaulted and beaten. In addition, a member of parliament who went to the demonstration to calm the angry mob was beaten by police officers.

According to police reports, in downtown Paramaribo, numerous shops were looted, and government buildings were destroyed.

Meanwhile a man was shot by the security forces when rioters tried to smash the windows of the central bank of Suriname. The police succeeded in tracking down and arresting dozens of looters.


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