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Suriname election: Bouterse leads, but too early to tell

Source: The Daily Herald 26 May 2015 06:23 AM

PARAMARIBO--At 10:00pm Monday, three hours after polling stations closed, it was still hard to get a clear indication who would emerge the winner of the elections.

Only about 10 per cent of all votes cast at the 623 polling stations had been counted and while these seemed to favour President Desi Bouterse’s National Democratic Party, the number was too low to base a prediction on.

A spokeswoman for the Central Voting Bureau expected all votes to be counted by midnight to 1:00am Tuesday, after which it would not be long before a winner would be declared. “The counts are slowly dripping in,” she said.

Election Day 2015 went by peacefully. “Typical Suriname voters. All through the campaign the parties descended to mudslinging, but on Election Day you can see sympathisers from opposing parties side-by-side championing their favourite politicians, without fuss. The politicians should take note,” one person commented after watching a TV report on the peaceful process.

President Bouterse, whom the latest polls indicated as favoured by most voters, cast his vote around 6:00pm in Clevia, near his house in northern Paramaribo. Hundreds of sympathisers drummed around at the polling station, cheering him on while his security detail wedged him through. The hugely popular politician had been visiting polling stations through the country all day, flanked by his wife Ingrid.

“It has been a great atmosphere all over,” he told journalists, refusing to make predictions on the outcome. “Let us wait until the people have spoken.”

He ventured only briefly into making statements about the aftermath. “If the people see it fit to give us one more term, the real work starts tomorrow. We have some things we will adjust, but our advantage is that we already have insights into the matters of the country. We are already in the race if the people decide positively about us,” he said.

Asked about possible cooperation, he said, “We have to wait and see, but we are keen to work with other positive thinkers.”

The biggest contender against his National Democratic Party (NDP) is the mammoth coalition of V7 led by Chandrika Santokhi. While the early counts indicated that NDP seemed strong in districts Para in the South and Nickerie in the West, Districts Saramacca and Wanica in the centre of the country seemed to become the battleground where the two political giants would have their neck-and-neck race.

Santokhi cast his vote around midday in District Wanica, also surrounded by a throng of sympathisers from all parties that form the V7 coalition.

“I believe we have utilised all available possibilities, tools and campaign strategies to win this election and we have been able to convince the people in the last couple of weeks that the way this country is being governed right now is not good for the future. We HOPE the electorate does its civic duty to bring a change,” he said.

Ronny Brunswijk’s A-Combination appeared the third biggest vote-getter, clocking strong early results in the hinterland.

“But mind you this is a distorted picture, from only a few polling stations that have been counted so far. We have still got a long way to go,” warned political observer Jack Mencke, a university professor keeping tabs on the outcome at the press centre in the National Indoor Stadium (NIS) in Paramaribo.

Democratic Party [DP] mentioned 2 times
National Democratic Party [NDP] mentioned 2 times
Helping Our People Excel Association [HOPE] mentioned 1 time Corner Stone Solutions NV