Deputy PM and finance minister Sigrid Kaag has arrived in Suriname in an effort to head off further chaos around the cabinet’s plans to apologise for the Netherlands’ role in slavery on December 19.
Kaag arrived at Zanderij airport at 7.30 pm and will hold talks with a number of ministers as well as president Chan Santokhi.
Surinamese and Caribbean community groups in the Netherlands have slammed what they say are the cabinet’s rushed and badly-thought out apology plans, and argue July 1 next year would be a more appropriate date. Slavery will then have been banned in the former colonies for 150 years, after a 10 year transition period.
Locals have welcomed the decision to send Kaag to talk to those on the ground. ‘We ran up a disadvantage because of slavery and have never caught up,’ Hesdy Ommen, chairman of the federation of former plantations in the Para district, told broadcaster NOS.
‘We have concrete ideas about how the apology should be given and are happy to talk about them,’ Ommen said.
On Thursday, a court in The Hague ruled that there are no legal grounds to stop the apology taking place next week.
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