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Guyana, Suriname National Assemblies agree to formalise relations

Guyana’s House Speaker, Raphael Trotman presents a painting of Marshall Falls to his Surinamese counterpart, Dr. Jennifer Geerlings-Simons

The National Assemblies of Suriname and Guyana are to formalise structured relationship aimed at creating a better understanding of their systems and ensuring that laws crafted are not detrimental to either country.

Speaker of Suriname’s National Assembly, Dr. Jennifer Geerlings-Simons hoped that a bond between the two Houses would help to minimize misunderstandings of their systems.

She said there might be instances in which one Assembly might need to know how the other would be crafting legislation.

“If we might consider legislation in Suriname, maybe on economical issues, it might be wise for Suriname or Guyana or the other way around to know what Guyana is doing on that issue so that we don’t make legislation that might backfire,” she told a news conference.

Differences she identified in the National Assembly of her former Dutch colony include no provision for an Opposition Leader or Prime Minister. Also, ministers are not parliamentarians but the parties supporting the government are represented in the House. The leaders of opposition parties are also parliamentarians.

Geerlings-Simons said the two Houses could also learn how the neighbouring South American countries are addressing problems associated with mining and trafficking in persons. Financial, economic and commercial opportunities could also be explored at the bi-parliamentary level, she said.

The Speaker of Guyana’s National Assembly, Raphael said the two sides explored finding a formal mechanism to better understand co-related issues such as migration, crime and the sharing of knowledge and resources.

“The word ‘association’ has a different connotation in Suriname than it would for us and so it is proposed that we have maybe a contact group where we agree to meet regularly with an agenda,” he said. The governments, through their Foreign Affairs Ministries, would have to agree on the mechanism.

The two Assemblies are expected to formalise the relations when Trotman pays a return visit to Suriname next year.

Geerlings-Simons and Trotman are due to report the outcome of the Surinamese visit to their respective law-making bodies.

The Guyanese House Speaker presented a brooch- Victoria Regia Lily-to his Surinamese counterpart. Guyana’s National Assembly also presented a painting of the Marshalls Falls to the National Assembly of Suriname. The painting is by Merlene Ellis.

While here, the Surinamese Speaker met with President Donald Ramotar and his governance team that includes Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett;  Governance Advisor, Gail Teixeira and Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon.

The team also met with the Foreign Relations sectoral committee of Guyana’s National Assembly.