At the beginning of the evening (Dutch time), anti-government demonstrators forced their way into the Assembly building in Paramaribo, where the parliament of Suriname is housed. The lobby of the building has been destroyed and windows have been broken, local news site Starnieuws reports. There would also have been a fire.
To push back the demonstrators, the military police fired tear gas and blanks. Several people would have become unwell due to the tear gas, writes Star News.
It is also restless in other places in Paramaribo. A police post near a bank has been knocked over, a historic building has been set on fire. A local journalist’s car was also set on fire. Images also show that a gas station is looted and the window of a shop is smashed.
These are images from the Surinamese capital:
Several thousand people attended the anti-government protest this morning. The organizers of the demonstration would have lost control of the crowd and no longer seem to be present at the riots, Starnieuws reports. The military police deploy helicopters for surveillance.
“Everyone here is very shocked,” says journalist Lena van Dijk, who works in Paramaribo for the Surinamese Jeugdjournaal. “The protest started very pleasantly this morning, there were also many young people and children. When the truck with the organizers of the protest on it was not allowed into the city center by the police, demonstrators went to get the truck and things got a bit restless. “
Van Dijk was present on Independence Square, near the parliament building, when demonstrators started calling for politicians to come out. “That didn’t happen and then the atmosphere changed. When demonstrators entered the grounds of the Assembly building, the police fired tear gas. People panicked and fell. My colleagues and I were also hit.”
Then people started looting. Van Dijk says that many shops in the inner city have placed wooden boards in front of the windows for extra protection. A building of a telecom provider is said to have been set on fire. The Central Bank of Suriname reports online that extra security measures have been taken after stones were thrown at the bank building and staff.
Images of a gas station being looted are circulating on social media:
The Surinamese government has responded to the disturbances in a written statement. The cabinet writes that it will “under no circumstances tolerate the rule of law and democratic institutions in our beloved Suriname being affected”.
Furthermore, a so-called task force has been set up to track down people responsible for “attacks and destruction” and hand them over to the judiciary. The statement also says that the leaders of the protests will be questioned.
The demonstrators demand the departure of President Santokhi and Vice President Brunswijk. They do not keep their election promises, they say.
Santokhi inherited an empty state treasury from his predecessor Bouterse. Suriname is also now suffering from poor economic conditions and high inflation. Last week, the prices of fuel, gas bottles and internet, among other things, were raised sharply. In addition, there is anger about nepotism: Santokhi has put several relatives in important positions.
The social democratic party NPS left the government coalition on Wednesday. In its own words, the party has hardly been involved in decision-making in the last two years, while the NPS often disagreed with, for example, political appointments of family members and friends.
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