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Parliament Follows Requests by Military Leaders

December 28, 1990

PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) _ President Ramsewak Shankar and his Cabinet have presented their resignations to parliament, which is expected to name a new president and vice president by Saturday.

As the country’s elected parliamentarians somberly sat in silence Thursday night, Vice President Henck Arron handed the resignations to National Assembly President Jaggernath Lachmon. Arron said the Cabinet had already resigned.

The armed forces of this nation in northern South America overthrew Shankar without bloodshed on Monday and urged the parliament to elect new chief executives and hold national elections within 100 days.

Lachman asked Shankar and Arron to remain in office until their resignations were formally accepted, which is expected Saturday despite domestic and international condemnation of the military overthrow. Cmdr. Ivan Graanoogst, the acting army chief, claimed on Thursday that the military’s overthrow of Shankar allowed by the constitution. He denied the takeover was a military coup.

The new chief executive will appoint a Cabinet and set a date for national elections to be held within three months, military leaders said.

Guido Grooscors, Venezuela’s ambassador to the Organization of American States, whose members include Suriname, called the takeover a ″severe violation of the principles of the OAS charter.″

The 13-nation Caribbean Community, known as Caricom, issued a statement by its chairman, Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, expressing ″dismay and outrage″ and demanding full restoration of democracy in the former Dutch colony of 400,000 people.

Manley said otherwise Caricom members may ″reconsider the future relationship with Suriname and the Caribbean Community.″ Suriname does not belong to Caricom.

The first public criticism at home was contained in an editorial published Thursday by the daily newspaper De Ware Tyd.

″Reduced to its essentials, the army has simply imposed its will on the government,″ the newspaper said.

The Council of Labor Union Federations, which represents organized labor in Suriname, issued a statement rejecting the army’s interpretation of the constitution, approved approved by a plebiscite in 1987. The council noted that its objection was in spite of its displeasure with the Shankar government.

Graanoogst became acting army chief Saturday after military strongman Desi Bouterse resigned in a dispute with Shankar. Bouterse, as chairman of the five-commander Military Authority, remains the most powerful figure in the country.

Bouterse came to power after a 1980 military coup deposed Arron, then president. Bouterse headed a military dictatorship that ruled the Georgia- sized nation until parliamentary elections were held in 1987.

Shankar’s three-party coalition, the Front for Democracy and Development, won by a landslide. The assembly elected him in 1988 to a five-year term as president.

Shankar’s overthrow coincided with growing popular discontent with his government’s inability to revive the economy, beset by high inflation and unemployment. The government has a monthly trade deficit of $10 million.

The economic decline began during Bouterse’s rule. Major factors included a fall in prices for bauxite, the country’s main export, and guerrilla attacks that disrupted bauxite and aluminum production.

The Netherlands suspended the development aid in 1982 after the massacre of 15 opposition leaders while in military detention. Bouterse had accused them of plotting his overthrow.

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