Several hundred protesters gathered in the capital of Suriname on Friday to demand the president South American country to resign.
They accused President Chan Santoku’s administration of trying to delay the 2025 general election, which cannot be held until lawmakers amend electoral laws in line with a court ruling last year aimed at creating a fairer voting system.
Earlier this week, the government set up a committee to submit two proposals to amend the electoral law, and Santohi said the bill would be presented to lawmakers within two months. But activists are demanding that the law be approved within a week, although the speaker of Suriname’s National Assembly warned on Thursday that that would not be enough time.
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Activist Maisha Knows said she would organize new protests if there was a delay.
“Let’s go where it hurts. Economically,” she said.
It is the second such protest since mid-February, when demonstrators stormed parliament to denounce the end of state subsidies, which led to a surge cost of electricity, fuel and water. The crowd clashed with police that day, who arrested at least 126 people after initially being overwhelmed by the ferocity and size of the crowd.
This time, there were more policemen than protesters, and officials set up barricades around the presidential office and parliament.
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“Is it democracy to keep your people behind the fence?” shouted one of the demonstrators.
The protests come as Santokha’s cabinet implements austerity measures ordered by the International Monetary Fund, phasing out subsidies for electricity, water and fuel. Current inflation rate is 58%, and the increase in the cost of living is angering many.
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There is no prospect of a sudden relief, given that Suriname has not received money from the IMF for about a year because the government has not met its targets. The IMF agreed to lend Suriname $690 million in December 2021, but only $100 million has been disbursed so far.