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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2402

(Question No. 5078)

Mr Coleman asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 18 February 1987:

(1) Is he able to say whether reports in the London newspaper, The Times, that Libya has sent at least 100 counter-insurgency experts to Suriname to assist the army in fighting an anti-government rebellion in the eastern provinces of Suriname are correct.

(2) Is he able to say whether reports from French Guyana that more than 5000 Surinamese refugees have fled across the Maroni River in order to escape the conflict are correct.

Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Rumours that up to 100 Libyan counter-insurgency experts are assisting the Surinamese army have been circulating for some time. However, countries which follow developments in Suriname closely have no evidence for a Libyan presence beyond the 14 or so Libyans at the Libyan People's Bureau-or Embassy in our terms-in Paramaribo, the capital.

(2) Up to 9000 `bush negroes' are believed to have fled from Suriname into French Guyana as a result of the fighting in Suriname.