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#3944: Suriname: an example for Haiti? (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

Suriname is smaller than Haiti, not quite as poor, but like Haiti, a member
of the regional grouping, Caricom.  It shares the characteristic of a huge
diaspora and the rotting presence of cocaine smuggling.  Here's how they
did their elections last week, with a murderous ex-dictator (Bouterse)
taking part.  To put together a government, the politicians will have to be
just as magnanimous as those in the Dominican Republic were.  Suriname also
lies next to French Guiana, which has a large population of Haitians.  

The electoral system, unlike the multi-constituency system in Haiti (and
most countries) is the much fairer single-constituency (= the whole
country) system, which means small parties have a good chance of getting
represented -- which obviously contributes to social and political peace. 
For all the interest Haitian members of parliament show in their
constituents once they're elected, this one (= no) -constituency system
would be an improvement.  I've never heard it proposed in Haiti.  It might
mean the unthinkable -- one or two chimères and neo-Duvalierists in
parliament... This could be one way to the strengthening of institutions
that Haiti so badly needs -- the culture of tolerance and compromise
(though NOT impunity) in the interests of moving forward.   What do people

Greg Chamberlain




   PARMARIBO, May 28 (AP) -- Suriname's elections last week were fair,
despite the omission of some voters from registration rolls, the
Organization of American States said.
   The problems forced election officials to hurriedly change rules about
identification of voters. The organization's 16-member observer mission
said in a written statement that there were few problems at the polls
during Thursday's vote.  Some voters found their names were not on the
electoral lists but in the end everyone who could produce photo
identification and their electoral ID was allowed to vote.
   "The mission concludes that Suriname has a strong election tradition and
an expert cadre as to organizing elections," observers said Sunday.
   Voters selected hundreds of legislators and local government officials
on Thursday. The newly elected members of the National Assembly will select
a president from their number after the totals are made official later this
   With only two polling stations left to count Sunday, officials said the
opposition New Front of former President Ronald Venetiaan had won 79,156 of
the 166,375 votes tallied, or about 47 percent.
   The result gives the New Front 33 of the 51 National Assembly seats, one
short of the two-thirds needed to choose a president. To win the needed
seat, it was expected to strike an alliance with the Democratic Alternative
91 Party or the Federation of Agrarians and Farmhands Party.
   The Democratic Alternative 91 garnered 9,625 votes, or 5 percent; the
Federation of Agrarians and Farmhands received 7,744 votes, or 4 percent.
   The Millennium Coalition of former military dictator Desi Bouterse had
25,091 votes, or 15 percent. The Democratic National Platform 2000 of
incumbent President Jules Wijdenbosch only mustered 16,449 votes, or 9
   The minority Palu Party won 1,207 votes, less than 1 percent but enough
to win one seat.