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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Surinam election ends in deadlock
Surinam President Ronald Venetiaan and Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the Caricom Summit in Paramaribo, Surinam in February
President Venetiaan does not have the necessary majority to be re-elected
Elections in the tiny South American state of Surinam have ended with no party securing a clear majority.

With most of the votes counted, President Ronald Venetiaan's New Front (NF) coalition has most MPs with 23.

The main opposition group, the National Democratic Party (NDP), led by former military ruler Desi Bouterse, obtained 15 seats, doubling its representation.

Tough negotiations are expected as the NF tries to find the two-thirds majority needed to elect a president.

Alliance building

Mr Venetiaan's four-party coalition is likely to seek alliances with smaller parties, including the A-Combination - representing descendents of former slaves - and the People's Alliance for Progress.

Justice Minister Siegfried Gilds, whose NF lost nine seats in the election, told local radio: "We really believed we would get more seats.

"But we have to accept the voters' decision and examine the possibilities to carry on in the interests of the nation."

The US and the Netherlands have warned they would have difficulty maintaining normal relations with the country if Mr Bouterse were elected president.

He was convicted in his absence by a Dutch court of involvement in the cocaine trade - charges which he has denied.

Mr Bouterse, who ruled the country between 1980 and 1987, is also accused of having 15 government opponents murdered in 1982.

He returned to power briefly between 1990 and 1991.

Parliament will have two months to elect a president once the official results of the general election are published.

Observers from the Organisation of American States (OAS) said the elections were peaceful and orderly.


SEE ALSO:
President 'leads' Surinam's poll
26 May 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Surinam
29 Apr 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Surinam
15 Apr 05 |  Country profiles



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