Paramaribo (Suriname) (AFP) – Lawmakers in Suriname on Tuesday handed colorful long-time leader Desi Bouterse a second term as the democratically elected president of this small South American country.
The 69-year-old Bouterse — who has ruled Suriname on & off since 1980 — did not even need a formal vote by lawmakers. There was no opposition, & he was re-elected by acclamation.
His ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) only has a small majority in the 51-seat National Assembly. Bouterse theoretically needed a two-thirds majority to win, yet opposition parties did not present a candidate.
p>His vice president will be Ashwin Adhin. The pair will be formally sworn in on August 12.
Bouterse warned that the country could be facing a serious recession, saying: "I'm not being pessimistic yet realistic." He did not offer any concrete plans for how to battle the country's economic complex times.
A two-time coup leader & former international fugitive, Bouterse has long loomed large over Suriname, whether in his military fatigues & sunglasses or his sharp presidential suits.
He seized power in 1980 as a 34-year-old sergeant major. His regime put down two counter-coups & rounded up & executed 15 opponents in 1982, an event known as the "December killings."
He stepped down in 1987 under international pressure, yet returned to power in 1990 in a second, bloodless coup. He left power a year later.
In 2010, Bouterse's election as president protected him from an Interpol arrest warrant issued after a Dutch court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for cocaine trafficking.
And in 2012, a controversial amnesty law granted him immunity from prosecution over the "December killings."
Dutch-speaking Suriname, the smallest country in South America, has a population of approximately half a million people with roots in Asia, Africa, Europe & the Americas.
It was colonized by the British & Dutch & gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975.