Dési Bouterse, President of Suriname (since Aug 3, 2010. Re-elected on July 14, 2015)
Desiré Delano Bouterse (born 13 October 1945) is a Surinamese politician. As an army officer, he was the de facto leader of Suriname through most of the 1980s, serving as Chairman of the National Military Council. He lead the National Democratic Party (Nationale Democratische Partij, NDP). On July 19, 2010, Bouterse was elected the new President of Suriname taking office on August 3.
Born in Paramaribo District, Bouterse grew up in Suriname. He attended the Middelbare Handelsschool and acquired the MULO diploma (roughly equivalent to junior secondary general education). He received his military education in the Netherlands.
Military and political career
Bouterse’s name is closely bound with the military regime that controlled Suriname from 1980 until the beginning of the 1990s. On 25 February 1980, the government of newly-independent Suriname underwent a military coup which declared the country to be a Socialist Republic and Bouterse became Chairman of the National Military Council. Though the Suriname Presidency was retained, Bouterse was the nation’s de facto ruler until his resignation in 1988. He served briefly as president himself for a period in 1982.
Bouterse was a leading figure in Suriname’s post-independence civil war, and is responsible for the infamous “December murders” of 1982 and events in the Maroon village of Moiwana in 1986. Since then he has been accused on various occasions of involvement in illegal drug trafficking. In July 1999, he was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands for cocaine trafficking. The Netherlands has an international warrant for his arrest, which makes it almost impossible for him to leave Suriname. Suriname cannot extradite him because he is a former head of state.
After the return of democratic government, led in succession by Ronald Venetiaan, Jules Wijdenbosch, and Venetiaan again, Bouterse tried repeatedly to return to power through elections.
Although he was convicted in the Netherlands, he has remained free in Suriname. The Suriname government has said that it is preparing a case against the perpetrators of the December murders to be brought before a judge. The cases are ongoing as of April 2006. Bouterse has denied any involvement in the killings on 8 December 1982 at Fort Zeelandia, in which 15 prominent opponents of the military regime were shot dead. He has said that he wasn’t present and that the decision was made by the commander of the battalion, Paul Bhagwandas, who died in 1996. He did, however, accept political responsibility.
In 2010 Desi Bouterse and his coalition, the Mega Combination (De Mega Combinatie) were voted to become the biggest party in Suriname. The coalition failed to gain an absolute majority in parliament by three seats, requiring 51 seats. In order to secure the votes necessary to become President, Bouterse needed to cooperate with either Ronnie Brunswijk – his former enemy – or the Javanese leader Salam Somohardjo of the Peoples Alliance (Volks Alliantie), who had left the New Front party before the election. On 19 July 2010, Bouterse was elected as President of Suriname; he will be installed in his post on 3 August.
Ronald Runaldo Venetiaan, Former President of Suriname
Ronald Runaldo Venetiaan (born June 18, 1936) is a mathematician and the current president of Suriname. His first term as president was from 1991 to 1996, but he lost presidential elections to Jules Wijdenbosch. In 2000 he won them again, on the New Front banner, receiving 37 out of 51 votes in the Parliament. In 2005 he was re-elected to serve a third term as president and sworn in on August 12.