President: Desire "Desi" Bouterse
The former military leader of Suriname in the 1980s and early 1990s, Desi Bouterse won enough parliamentary support in July 2010 to be elected president.
This followed his Mega Combination coalition's winning 23 out of the 51 seats in parliament in May, thereby becoming the largest single party.
He won the presidency with the help of two smaller parties after weeks of strenuous efforts by the opposition to stop him.
Mr Bouterse's election campaign concentrated on winning over poorer voters who felt let down by the previous government's economic austerity programme.Tried for murder
Mr Bouterse is a controversial figure. In 2007, he was put on trial for allegedly ordering the killing of 15 political opponents as military ruler in 1982.
But the slow-moving case was put on hold when parliament passed a law giving Mr Bouterse and his 24 co-defendants blanket immunity for human rights violations committed during military rule.
The amnesty law provoked outrage among his opponents, while former colonial power the Netherlands recalled its ambassador and froze aid in protest.
In 1999, the Netherlands convicted Mr Bouterse in absentia of drug-trafficking in 1999. He denied all charges in the case. As head of state he is immune from prosecution abroad.