President Chan Santokhi | Facebook
Text Size:

New Delhi: Suriname, a small country in South America with a significant Hindu population, elected a new president Monday, ending the dictatorial rule of Desi Bouterse.

Chan Santokhi, an Indian-origin former police chief, won a landslide victory in the general elections conducted in the country in May.

Santokhi, who was also the leader of Opposition, replaced Bouterse, who is facing murder charges and has also been convicted of drugs smuggling abroad.

The new president now inherits a country on the verge of bankruptcy, widespread corruption and the coronavirus pandemic. So far, there have been 780 cases and 18 deaths.

Suriname is a former Dutch colony but the country’s relations with the Netherlands, which was once its primary trade partner, deteriorated under Bouterse’s rule.

Bouterse “shifted Suriname’s foreign alliances away from the Netherlands and toward China and nearby Venezuela, whose redistributive economic policies and anti-imperialist rhetoric he copied at home,” the New York Times reported.

Santokhi, the 61-year-old member of the Progressive Reform Party (PRP), will be sworn in as president on 16 July.

Also read: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro confirms Latin and South America’s Right-ward tilt

Bouterse’s ‘December Murders’

As police chief, Santokhi investigated the now former-president for his involvement in the “December Murders” where 15 young, prominent Surinamese men were killed after they criticised Bouterse’s military dictatorship.

While Bouterse was convicted of the crime, his sentence was never enforced for fear of riots. Four decades of running the country has earned him deep connections in the military as well as the love of a loyal voter base.

Both Santokhi and Bouterse were present in Congress Monday, where Bouterse warned Santokhi, “It won’t be an easy job; I’ve experienced that myself. But it will succeed if we work together. If you need me, you know where to find me.”

Meanwhile, Santokhi promised to unite the country’s diverse citizens and addressed his greatest obstacle. “We’re on the brink of a financial abyss. There is concern. The treasury is virtually empty. This crisis surpasses any worst-case scenario we’ve considered. We will have to face the crisis together. We have no time to lose.”

Also read: Football match during pandemic, ‘mask rage’ incidents in South Korea & other Covid news

Suriname’s Hindu connection

The 2012 census reveals that Christianity is the predominant religion in Suriname, accounting for 48.4 per cent of the country’s total population while Hinduism is the second-most practiced religion, composing 22.3 per cent of the population respectively.

The country also accounts for the third-highest number of Hindus in the Western Hemisphere.

Indians settled in the Dutch plantations in Suriname under the British rule and have since stayed on due to the liberal policies of the country allowing them to practice their religion. They form the religious majority in North Suriname.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism



  1. It is not true that our country has been under a dictatorship over especially the ten past years. It is absurd to write such a article about a democratic republic, whilst the usa is dealing with a president now a days that considers the free press enemy of the state and likes to be endorsed for things a government is suppose to do. I hope the writer of this article will clear the false information, that Suriname was under a dictator.

  2. It is a lie that Suriname was under a dictatorship. We are a democratic country which like to be treated with respect and no false information. America is now becoming a dictatorship with the current president.

  3. That is correct. By posting that our land was under dictator ship is false . America is on the other hand becoming a dictator ruling it. If you oppose him you are the enemy and if you do not endorse him whilst he has to do things the government is supposed to do, he takes that as an insult. So will the editor be kind to leave out the false information that my land was under dictatorship. You could freely express you thoughts and the media also had their freedom of speech.

  4. Your Title and information in this article is completely WRONG! This is FAKE news.

    1. Suriname was NOT under dictatorial rule. It is true that Desi Bouterse was dictator from 1980-1988. However after 1988 Suriname always was a democracy. Our first president after 1988 was an Indian even. This is our third Indian president. In 2010 Desi Bouterse came back into the picture, because the people of the country elected his party to rule the country. In Parliament our president is chosen, the people don’t directly elect one. So in 2010 his party voted for him to become president. Every 5 years we have elections. In 2015 his party came back into power. So he has been president for ONE decade and not FOR DECADES as your article mentions.

    2. Suriname was never under British rule, but under Dutch rule. We were a Dutch colony and that’s why we speak Dutch. Britain and Netherland signed a treaty to bring Indians from India to Suriname to work. however the British had so many rules on how to treat Indians. Trust me you guys were treated well by the Brits. The Dutch were known to be the worst colonizers. And with Britain constantly threatening them to end the flow of Indians to Suriname if they don’t follow their rules, which actually happened for a small period of time, the Dutch decided to bring Indonesians to my country. That’s why Suriname also has a lot of Indonesians (Javanese).

    3. The reason why he wasn’t arrested wasn’t out of fear for riots, but because he appealed the decision. He had a few weeks to appeal the decision or else it wouldn’t be made official and would’ve had to be arrested. However there are fears for riots if he loses his appeal and gets arrested.

    So please check your SOURCES! There is a lot wrong in your article

  5. I am sorry but the title and first paragraph of this article is wrong and false.
    Suriname was NOT under dictatorship. By writing this down you are adding to a way of stereotyping my beautiful country and I cannot Standby and not say Anything.

    President Desire Delano Bouterse was the first president in Suriname history to be chosen instantly in Parlement. This is how our democracy works, our parlement votes for the president. All other presidents went through two rounds of voting in parliament and lacked votes and had to go to the general public assembly to be chosen into office.
    NOT Bouterse. He was chosen twice, democratically. We have not had a dictatorship in Suriname in the last 10 years and I demand this caption is substituted by the truth

Comments are closed.