Protesters storm Surinames parliament as anti austerity rally turns chaotic

Protesters storm Suriname’s parliament as anti-austerity rally turns chaotic – Portal Canada

PARAMARIBO, Feb 17 (Portal) – Dozens of protesters stormed into Suriname’s parliament as hundreds more rampaged through the capital Paramaribo on Friday and clashed with police as anti-government demonstrations descended into chaos.

Thousands took to the streets in initially peaceful demonstrations against the government’s austerity measures, including the removal of subsidies, amid high inflation.

But the protests turned ugly when protesters threw rocks and bottles at police and stormed the Parliament compound, with some entering the building before being pushed back, a Portal witness said. The police fired tear gas in return.

Others set fires and looted shops, many of which had been closed due to the unrest.

President Chan Santokhi’s government condemned the violence and said in a statement it had set up a task force to trace those responsible for the attack on parliament.

Santokhi’s office urged citizens to avoid downtown and busy places, saying there had been 50 arrests “and that number will continue to rise”.

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The US embassy in Paramaribo issued a statement condemning the attack on the National Assembly building and the violence it entailed, calling the incidents an “unacceptable attack on democracy”.

Suriname’s Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Technological Innovation advised business owners to close their premises on Friday and Saturday for security reasons.

Five business groups advised the community to remain closed until further notice, saying in a statement that “security forces were inadequately prepared for the escalation” of violence.

Suriname, a former Dutch colony in northern South America with a population of 610,000, reported 54.6% inflation for 2022.

The protests come the same week that the smallest ruling party left the ruling coalition, citing disagreements over poverty and welfare policies.

Reporting by Ank Kuipers; writing by Oliver Griffin and Valentine Hilaire; Edited by John Stonestreet, Marguerita Choy, Josie Kao and William Mallard

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