Anti-austerity rally turned chaotic on Friday 17, 2023 as dozens of protesters forced their way into Suriname’s parliament and hundreds more rummaged through the capital Paramaribo on Friday, clashing with police.
What was initially a peaceful demonstration turned violent when protesters threw rocks and bottles at the police and proceeded onto the parliament grounds before making their way into the building. Demonstrators also burned fires and looted shops.
Suriname’s Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship, and Technological Innovation advised business owners to shut their premises on Friday and Saturday, due to safety concerns.
The South American country with a population of 61,000 reported inflation of 54 percent for the year 2022. The government’s austerity measures, including the elimination of subsidies mounted on the already high inflation, were the focus of the demonstrations in the streets.
The protesters called for the resignation of President Chandrikapersad Santokhi for ending the state subsidies for fuel and electricity on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund. Demonstrators also were livid about inflation in the prices of other basic goods and the weakening of the Suriname dollar.
Santoshi’s administration released a brief statement indicating that “The government respects everybody’s right to protest but will not tolerate actions like the ones demonstrated today.”
Authorities condemned the attack and said those responsible would be brought to justice. Police responded by firing tear gas and making several arrests.
Noteworthy, the protest had as its backdrop the Suriname National Party, the smallest party in the ruling coalition government, splitting that same week, citing disagreements over poverty and social policies.