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OAS and Suriname Sign Agreement for Deployment of an Innovative Electoral Observation Mission to Suriname

  May 14, 2020

On the invitation of the Republic of Suriname, the Organization of American States (OAS) will deploy an innovative Electoral Observation Mission for the general elections to be held in the country on May 25, 2020.

To address challenges occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic, the OAS will innovate a two-pronged approach to its observation work, utilizing both virtual engagement prior to its arrival in Paramaribo, as well as the more traditional in-person meetings with stakeholders on the ground. The ten-member mission, led by Gonzalo Koncke, Chief of Staff in the General Secretariat, will include specialists in electoral organization and technology, electoral justice, political-electoral finance and the political participation of women. The Electoral Observation Mission will also conduct a comprehensive analysis of Suriname’s electoral process and follow-up on the recommendations resulting from the 2015 Electoral Observation Mission. Team members will be deployed on Election Day to observe the conduct of the poll from the opening of polling stations to the tabulation of the results.

Recognizing that Suriname is currently free of Covid-19 cases – a circumstance that has allowed the elections to proceed on schedule - the Mission will comply with all precautionary measures implemented by the Government of Suriname with regard to the Coronavirus, including Covid-19 testing and quarantine for all members upon their arrival in the country.

In order to guarantee the independence and effective functioning of the Mission, OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, and the Permanent Representative of Suriname to the OAS, Ambassador Niermala Badrising, have signed the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Observers for the General Elections.

At the signing of the Agreement Ambassador Badrising reiterated the adherence of the Government of Suriname to the upholding of democratic principles and the rule of law. She also underscored the strong commitment of her Government to the strengthening of democratic institutions, as well as Suriname’s longstanding pledge to further democratic engagement through secret, popular participation in transparent electoral processes. She made reference to the exemplary civic spirit and the excellent reputation that Suriname has demonstrated with regard to the organization of general elections through the decades.

Suriname’s Permanent Representative shared that 17 political parties will be participating in the upcoming elections for the National Assembly, Regional Councils and District Councils. Approximately 380,000 voters in 10 electoral districts will cast their votes. Finally, Ambassador Badrising expressed the appreciation of her Government for the valuable financial contributions offered by OAS member states and permanent observers for the work of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission.

For his part, Secretary General Almagro observed that this is the first EOM to be initiated and deployed by the OAS since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11th. He recognized the agility of the professionals within the OAS Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation in designing an approach that allows the Mission to effectively deliver its observation work, while safeguarding the health and safety of both OAS observers and the stakeholders with whom members will engage in Suriname.

In keeping with its mandate to support member states in strengthening their democratic institutions, the Organization of American States has observed the last six electoral processes in Suriname, from 1987 to 2015.

Reference: E-049/20