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Desi Bouterse back in power
 
Desi Bouterse
Mr Bouterse will be sworn in as president on 3 August
Parliament in Suriname has elected the former military ruler, Desi Bouterse, as the country's new president.

Mr Bouterse secured 36 out of the 50 parliamentary votes, two more than the 34 required for a two-thirds majority.

This followed weeks of negotiations with political factions following his party's narrow general election victory in May.

He defeated Justice Minister Chandrikapersad Santokhi, who won 13 votes.

The result represents a remarkable turnaround for Mr Bouterse - from dictator to democratically elected leader.

Colourful figure

Desi Boutserse, who is 64, is one of the most colourful public figures in Caricom-member Suriname.

He first seized control of the country in a coup in 1980, five years after it gained independence from the Netherlands.

Map of Suriname
Suriname won independence from The Netherlands in 1975

He stepped down under international pressure in 1987, then briefly seized power again in 1990.

But he later entered mainstream politics becoming leader of the national democratic party and entering parliament.

Mr Bouterse was able to gain power through the ballot by securing the support of small parties to back his Mega Combination coalition which won the most seats, 23, in May's general election.

Critics have denounced him as a dictator because of his past, and two human rights groups urged lawmakers not to back him.

A tense past

Mr Bouterse was accused of killing political opponents following the coup that first took him to power in Suriname in 1980.

He has refused to attend his trial, which began three years ago and has continued without him.

In 1999 a Dutch court sentenced him in absentia to 11 years in prison for cocaine trafficking, but the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

He has also been facing trial in Suriname for his alleged role in the murder of political opponents in 1982.

Critics say his campaign for the presidency may have been motivated in part by a desire to secure immunity from prosecution.

Mr Bouterse will formally take office on 3 August, replacing outgoing president Ronald Venetiaan.

 
 
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