President Chan Santokhi’s Government of Suriname has not attended an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting for three years and sends low-level representatives to Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) meetings.
The government is wise to know that the OIC was there for Suriname in tough times. There are deep ties in areas of banking financing and grants to Suriname. In addition, South-South relations include conducting training in many fields, capacity support in all fields like Reverse Linkage, and other support through the many organs of the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank to Paramaribo.
People at the OIC and IsDB said that Suriname is not active in OIC. For three years now, they have stopped attending meetings. And what about the Islamic Bank, they send level representation to those meetings.
Some question whether or not the government lacks capacity, intimated, or is just anti-Islamic.
The former government kept OIC IsDB ties at the Presidential Secretariat, while now, it is moved to the Foreign Ministry. Former President Bouterse kept close ties with this part of the world, the Middle East and Turkey. Meanwhile, when the Chan government came to office, his foreign Minister flew to Jerusalem and said that Suriname would open an Embassy in Al Quds, the Disputed City sacred to Muslims. Christians and Jews.
A spectrum of civil society and government agencies and the opposition widely condemned the action. The Muslim minority, of about 20% in unity, repudiated the government for ill will and lack of sensitivity towards them.
On Wednesday, the Chan government will welcome the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), H.E. Dr Muhammad Al Jasser, who is set to embark on a visit to two Latin American nations: the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Suriname.
These missions are scheduled for September 24th to 26th, 2023, and September 27th to 29th, 2023, respectively.
“The decision to visit Latin American countries follows the conclusion of the U.N. General Assembly, during which crucial development issues related to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were addressed.”
“The mission’s second phase will bring Dr. Al Jasser to the Republic of Suriname, where he will hold discussions with top government officials and other influential policymakers.”
The Saudis and the Israelis will soon forge ties; Iran is making peace with its Arab Gulf neighbours, and President Chan Santokhi will put aside biases and find confidence and capacity in engaging and expanding business and commerce with the 56 countries of the OIC and the IsDB. But this can only start by engaging these groups with steady and competent officials.
There are many obstacles in the ordinary course of providing opportunities and developing a nation’s economy for the well-being of its citizens. The current Suriname Government would be wise to set aside prejudices in order for every possible benefit can be obtained on their behalf.