Suriname. The year was very successful for Suriname’s former dictator, 64-year-old Desi Bouterse. On May 25, his coalition Mega Combinatie won 23 out of 41 seats in Congress, while President Runaldo Ronald Venetian’s New Front became the second largest group with 13 seats. Thus, the game began to mobilize support for Bouterses candidacy for the presidential post, which is added by Congress if there is a two-thirds majority for any candidate. As it was now, the eleven mandates were adopted in support of Bouterses candidacy. But before the vote in Congress on July 19, he had succeeded in getting over his side A-Combinatie, a coalition of several small parties, and was consequently elected president. Ironically, A-Combinatie is led by Ronnie Brunswijk, one of Bouterses’ former bodyguards who, during his dictatorship in the 1980s, led an armed uprising against him.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Suriname has a population of 575,991 (2018). The election of Bouterse as president caused some embarrassing diplomatic problems for Suriname. According to softwareleverage, Bouterse is wanted internationally for drug smuggling following a verdict in the Netherlands in 1999, and the presidential installation on August 12 was not proved by a single foreign head of state. Many observers also made sarcastic comments about Bouterses’ election of Justice Minister Martin Misiedjan, who confesses to the rastafari religion where marijuana is used as part of the ceremony. Also in Suriname, a legal process is underway against Bouterse for a massacre during his time as dictator in the early 1980s, and the outgoing President Venetiaan refused to follow tradition and symbolically surrender power at the installation ceremony.
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The presence on the national territory of different ethnic groups, which in the past had constituted the workforce of the Suriname (Creoles, Amerindians, Javanese, Indians, Chinese and bosch neger, descendants of the rebel slaves who fled to the forests), has always conditioned the political life of ‘former Dutch colony, which in the transition period towards independence polarized around two groups with ethnic representation, the National Party of Suriname (Nationale Partij Suriname, NPS), made up of Creoles, and the Indian Union Party (Verenigde Hindostaanse Partij, VHP, became Progressive Reform Party in 1973, Vooruitstrevende Hervomings Partij), representative of the Indian community. These two parties managed to govern locally thanks to a pact of ‘ethnic fraternization’ and with the support of smaller entities such as the Party for National Unity and Solidarity (Kerukanan Tulodo Pranatan Ingil, KTPI), representative of the Javanese peasants. After the first free elections in 1977, the polarization degenerated into strong ethnic tensions which took advantage of the military led by D. Bouterse, who in 1980 went to government in a coup d’état. The power of the army, despite being reduced by the launch of a new Constitution (1987) and the subsequent formation of civil governments, remained predominant even in the 1990s.
In the elections of 1996 the New Front (Nieuw Front, NF), a coalition formed by NSP, VHP, KTPI and the Party of Suriname’s work (Suriname Partij van de Arbeid, SPA), albeit weakened (won 24 seats, up from 31 the elections of 1991), held the majority, while the national democratic Party (Nationale Partij Democratisch, NDP) Bouterse went up from 12 to 16 seats, and went down from 9 to 4 seats democratic Alternative ‘ 91 (Democratisch Alternatief ’91), the first party with a multi-ethnic base, expression of the interests of a middle and entrepreneurial class.
Taking advantage of the disintegration of the NF, which took place immediately after the elections, Bouterse managed, with the support of the VHP and the KTPI, to create a coalition government and to have one of his men, J. Wijdenbosch, elected by the National Assembly as President of the Republic., who in March 1997 appointed him Councilor of State. During the same year Wijdenbosch, in difficulty due to the exit from the governing coalition of some minor formations, launched various measures aimed at combating the intense drug trafficking between the United States and the Netherlands: this also in an attempt to improve relations between the two states, made difficult by the accusations made by the Dutch against General Bouterse regarding his involvement in drug trafficking. In April 1999 Wijdenbosch removed Bouterse from the Council of State but continued to refuse the extradition of the general, who was sentenced in absentia by the Dutch court in July of the same year to 16 years in prison.