Bouterse, Désiré Delano
Bouterse, Désiré Delano, 1945–, Surinamese military and political leader, president of Suriname (2010–20). He received military training in the Netherlands and was stationed at a German military base, returning to Suriname shortly before independence in 1975. In 1980 he overthrew the government and was Suriname's de facto ruler until 1988; the period also was marked by a guerrilla rebellion. In 1982 15 opposition figures were killed by the army; Bouterse denied ordering the killings. Democracy was restored in 1988, but two years later Bouterse, who had remained as head of the army, again led a coup and installed his civilian allies. The 1991 elections brought the opposition to power, and he retired from the army in 1992. Bouterse, who had been repeatedly accused of involvement in cocaine smuggling during 1980–90, was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands of drug trafficking in 1999. A member of the National Democratic party, he was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 2005 but was elected to the office in 2010. He faced prosecution in Suriname for the 1982 murders, but in 2012 the National Assembly voted for an amnesty for crimes committed during his military rule and the guerrilla war. In 2015 he was elected to a second term. After the courts invalidated the 2012 amnesty law in 2016, Bouterse used his national security powers to halt the case against him, but the trial resumed in 2017 after a court order. In 2019 he was convicted of having ordered the 1982 murders, but remained free pending appeal.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Surinamese History: Biographies