The Caribbean trade bloc this week sent a high level delegation to Paramaribo, Suriname to explain to former dictator-turned-elected-President Desi Bouterse how the regional integration movement works and the country’s responsibilities in the European-styled single trading market, officials said.
Secretary General Edwin Carrington will spend most of two days in the Dutch-speaking South American republic briefing the 64-year-old Bouterse about the work of the trade bloc, in keeping with established traditions when new leaders are elected.
Bouterse won the largest bloc of votes in general elections held on May 25 and was later chosen by parliamentary colleagues to be president of the country of 485,000.
“He is the newest head [of state], so CARICOM is taking the opportunity of briefing him on current and upcoming developments. They have already done so with Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and now are going to Suriname to do the same,” CARICOM spokesman Leonard Robertson said.
Persad-Bissessar won elections in Trinidad &Tobago a day before Bouterse.
Most Caribbean leaders stayed away from Bouterse’s inauguration ceremony in August, fueling speculation about their perceived discomfort with his past as a dictator, his current criminal mass murder defendant status and a drug conviction in The Netherlands dating back to more than a decade.
Bouterse however met most of his colleagues during a summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last month and said he was elated with the reception and welcome from heads of government and state.