Dési Bouterse

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Desiré Delano "Dési" Bouterse[1] (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈbɑutərsə]) (born 13 October 1945) is the 9th and current President of Suriname.

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. As leader of the National Democratic Party (Nationale Democratische Partij, NDP) Bouterse was elected on 19 July 2010[2] and installed as the new President of Suriname on 12 August 2010.[3]

Early years

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).[4] He received his military education in the Netherlands.[5]

Military and political career

Bouterse's name is closely bound with the military regime that controlled Suriname from the 1980 Surinamese coup d'état 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[6] and Bouterse became Chairman of the National Military Council. President Johan Ferrier was forced out of office in August 1980, and several months after the coup d'état by Bouterse most of the political authority transferred to the military leadership. From then until 1988, the titular Presidents were essentially army-installed by Bouterse, who ruled as a de facto leader with few practical checks on his power.

Bouterse was a leading figure in Suriname's post-independence military coup, and claimed political responsibility 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.[7] Since 1999 there is an international warrant for his arrest ordered by Europol. According to the United Nations Convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, since he was convicted before his election as Head of State since 2010 he has no immunity. This was confirmed by various specialists in International law. See article [1].

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 Surinamese government has said that it is preparing a case against the perpetrators of the December murders to be brought before a judge. The cases were 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 denied being 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.[8]

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