Monday, February 13, 2012

Dési Bouterse

Desiré Delano "Dési" Bouterse (born 13 October 1945) is a Surinamese politician who has been the ninth President of Suriname since 2010.

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. Later, as leader of the National Democratic Party (Nationale Democratische Partij, NDP), Bouterse was elected as President of Suriname on 19 July 2010 and inaugurated on 12 August 2010.

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). He received his military education in the Netherlands.

Drug Tarfficking
Since the return of democratic government, Bouterse has been accused on various occasions of involvement in illegal drug trafficking. In July 1999, he was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands to nine years in prison for cocaine trafficking. 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. Wikileaks published in 2011 a cable in which the American embassy confirmed Bouterse's involvement, together with that of Shaheed Roger Khan from Guyana, in the drugs trade. Representatives of the parliament say that President Bouterse should give an explanation for the Wikileaks cable, but officials from the government discard this as not being their problem.

December murders
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.

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