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SURINAME
Bouterse sworn in for a second term
Latinamerica Press
8/17/2015
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President promotes economic diversification and development of alternative energy sources.

President Dési Bouterse was sworn in on Aug. 12 for a second consecutive term of five years. The National Democratic Party (NDP), led by Bouterse, won the May 25 elections and received 26 of the 51 seats in Parliament. The V7 coalition that is made up of six opposition parties, which won 18 seats in the legislature, came in second place.

Bouterse, 69, needed 34 votes for Parliament to confirm him as president, but because the opposition did not put forth a presidential candidate, Bouterse was automatically ratified on July 14 to run the country between 2015 and 2020.

In his last term (2010-2015), Bouterse implemented a series of social welfare programs, free university education and social infrastructure projects that made him very popular, particularly among the younger population, whose votes were crucial to his electoral victory. V7 was seen as an alliance of old parties that aimed to attack Bouterse with messages like “the NDP spends too much money, we will impose austerity” and accused the president and his ministers of corruption and influence peddling.

In a message to the nation, Bouterse emphasized the need to promote economic diversification that would make Suriname less vulnerable to fluctuations in international prices of raw materials. The country´s economy is based on the extraction of bauxite, gold and petroleum and on the production of aluminum, which account for 85 percent of exports.

“We, as a people, have now an unprecedented opportunity to not base our economy on the benefit of foreign interests. We no longer want to rely mainly on market decisions, such as the price of gold, the price of aluminum and the price of oil. Because we have no influence on the forces that dominate this game,” he said.

“The industrial development of mining, agriculture, forestry and livestock production, and fishing and aquaculture products, should be based on close cooperation between entrepreneurs of Suriname and associated joint ventures, especially in forms of South-South cooperation”, he added.

Sustainable development
Bouterse saluted the Surinamese people for the electoral triumph while calling for unity among different ethnic groups to promote development and reduce poverty.

“I congratulate the people of Suriname for largely supporting a state that, for the first time in its political history, has the political conviction to see ethnicity as a source of wealth for our people and not as a basis for division and impotence,” he said.

Suriname has a population of around 550,000 inhabitants. More than half of the population is of India and Southeast Asia origin, 40 percent of African descent and the rest are Amerindians, Chinese and White.

One of the greatest challenges Bouterse cited is developing alternative energy sources to offset fossil fuels.
 
“Energy in the form of fossil fuels must be balanced with the sound development of our sources of solar, biomass, and hydroelectric energy,” he said. “In that sense, the development of energy as an option of export deserves careful study.”

He also pointed out the need to promote an environmental policy that takes into account the consequences of climate change.

“In particular we must be aware of the consequences of climate change. Suriname is, along with nine other countries, among the most threatened areas. We must face the reality of the facts and act consciously to ensure maximum protection of our coastline and our coastal areas, where 80 percent of our population lives,” he said.
 
Finally, the re-elected president made an appeal to the people of Suriname, particularly young people, stating that “without trust, based on the knowledge and intentionality of the action, we have no chance of success.”

“This positive attitude does not fall from heaven. It must be based on quality education and training of the young people of Suriname in body and mind. In this way, the people of Suriname will not only benefit, but it will also be the sustaining engine of everything we achieve for our nation,” he said.
Latinamerica Press.


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