Surinam became South America's newest independent state on Monday (24 November) in a spectacular open-air ceremony marked by the tearful public reconciliation of the country's two main rivals for political power.
GV Street scene in paramaribo (4 shots)
SV & CU INTERIOR Prime Minister of Surinam and Dutch representative signing document (4 shots)
CU & SV Traditional dancers (with music) (4 shots)
SV & LV Princess Beatrix arrives and sits in stand (3 shots)
LV New flag is raised
SV People cheering
GV Prime Minister & Opposition leader embrace each other and wave to crowd
SV Tribal dancers (3 shots)
LV Fireworks display
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Background: Surinam became South America's newest independent state on Monday (24 November) in a spectacular open-air ceremony marked by the tearful public reconciliation of the country's two main rivals for political power.
Henck Arron, the black Prime Minister, and Jaggernath Lachmon, the Indian opposition leader, embraced and kissed before thousands of their supporters in a big football stadium in the capital, Paramaribo.
The 25,000 people packing the stadium danced and cheered as the Dutch flag was lowered for the last time and the new Surinam tricolour, with a central golden star, was raised. It marked the end of 325 years of colonial domination. Brilliant fireworks lit the night sky.
Fears that the independence celebrations could be marred by violence and bloodshed between politically opposed racial groups were quelled last week when the two leaders put aside their differences to frame a national constitution.
Representatives attending the celebrations included Princess Beatrix, the future Queen of Holland. Holland was the last country to rule the 54,000 square mile territory which has a population of only 360,000.
During the independence celebrations, Mr. Arron promised to hold elections by next July. He made an appeal for an end to racial divisions and called on the estimated one quarter of the country's population who have fled with their skills to Holland. The emigrant stream resulted from the population's uncertainty about the future.