PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Mar 4, CMC – Suriname has suspended with immediate effect the joint military patrols with neighbouring French-Guiana following an incident on the Marowijne River in the border area between the two countries.
The government has accused the French law enforcement authorities of destroying the properties of Surinamese nationals on Surinamese soil.
They said it is third incident in a short period in which French troops set fire to mining equipment and other possessions of Surinamese gold miners suspected of gold mining activities on French territory. Regarding the two previous incidents, the French authorities claimed that the actions had taken place on French territory.
President Desi Bouterse has convened urgent consultations with Speaker of the House, Jennifer Geerlings-Simons and the Minister of Defense, Ronni Benschop, who is also the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss “this far-reaching action by the French”.
In a statement, Suriname said it had sent a diplomatic note to French Guiana expressing its strong objection to this “worrying development” and requested a thorough investigation to find out what exactly transpired.
Benschop has also sent letters to the Commander of the armed forces and to the leadership of the Gendarmerie in French-Guiana.
In the letters, he indicated that the National Army of Suriname has suspended with immediate effect the joint patrols until there’s clarity in this matter.
“The Surinamese government is very displeased about this event, especially since both countries are involved in negotiations, in order to establish a definitive boundary in the Marowijne River. This unacceptable behaviour of the French shows less respect to Suriname and does not reflect the desired neighbourly relations. The government has once again calls upon the French authorities to abstain from unlawful actions on Surinamese territory”, the Bouterse administration said in its statement.
Meanwhile, the French ambassador to Suriname, Antoine Joly, has called for calm in anticipation of the outcome of the investigation.
“As the government of Suriname wished, France is conducting an investigation as soon as it was informed by the Surinamese party on Friday afternoon of the supposed incident. I invite each other to wait calmly for the results of this investigation which will be made public very quickly”, Joly.
He said that the joint military missions done for years against illegal activities and in particular against the gold mining and the use of mercury on French soil have nothing to do with a police cooperation agreement signed by the two countries several years ago.
The diplomat said this cooperation “has not given rise to any incident since the ratification of the agreement”.