Hundreds of Surinamese demonstrate against Venetiaan’s administration – better housing & improved handling of border disputes among main grouses

Hundreds of persons took to the streets today demanding the resignation of Suriname’s President Ronald Venetiaan who presented the 2008-9 national budget to Parliament.

The protestors voiced their anger at the manner in which the government handled the border dispute with Guyana, its neighbouring CARICOM partner, with opposition legislators saying that the independent United Nations Tribunal had ruled in favour of Georgetown.

The opposition legislators boycotted the presentation of the budget and Opposition Leader Desi Bouterse led the demonstrators in the streets of the capital as police maintained a high profile outside the Parliament building.

I am very sad that this government is positioning police forces to crackdown on its own citizens,” one demonstrator said.

Carrying placards and chanting slogans, the demonstrators voiced their frustrations with the government and Bouterse in an address later said that opposition would embark on various initiatives to force the resignation of the government before the next general election scheduled for May 25, 2010.

But Venetiaan told Parliament that the boundary dispute settlement opened the way for Suriname to implement economic activities in the area awarded to the country. He said while the government had been disappointed at the ruling, he was urging citizens to accept the findings of the tribunal.

The protestors were also demanding improved housing, health, employment and education and said these were issues which need to be addressed.

In his budget address, Venetiaan said he expected a budget deficit of US $145 million and that government revenue in 2008 is expected to reach US $864 million.

Opposition legislators Jiwan Sital and Jules Wijdenbosch said they were disappointed with the address of the President.

Sital said that the President did not put enough emphasis on critical issues as housing and job creation, while Wijdenbosch said he was also disappointed in the presentation.

But President Venetiaan told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that he did not expect anything different from the opposition.

Every year it is the same song. I am not surprised. We don’t downplay this, but we take note of it“, he said.

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