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Bouterse sworn in for second term as Suriname’s president

swornPARAMARIBO--President Desi Bouterse was sworn in for a second term in office on Wednesday. Shortly after accepting the presidential sash from National Assembly chair Jennifer Geerlings-Simons, the president swore in his fifteen-man team of Ministers. “For the first time in our political history, the people of Suriname have given Government to a political belief that considers ethnicity as a source of wealth and not as the basis for disparity and powerlessness,” the President said in his maiden speech afterward.

Bouterse, who ruled as Suriname’s military strongman in the ’80s after a coup d’état in February 1980, was first democratically chosen as President in May 2010. His National Democratic Party (NDP) wrote history during the May 25, 2015, elections, by being the first party ever to win from a host of mammoth coalitions that had been formed for the sole purpose of removing him from the presidency. NDP won 27 of the 51 seats in Parliament, a majority but nonetheless not enough for him to be elected directly as President. On July 14, 2015, he was elected by the National Assembly for a second term in office. He formed Government with the BEP party (two seats), the DOE party (one seat) and the group Sapoen, a group that splintered from the Pertjajah Luhur party with two seats; the parties signed the governing accord last week Monday.

Bouterse’s team of Ministers comprises Soeresh Algoe (Agriculture and Animal Husbandry), Steven Relyveld (Zoning), Andy Rusland (Transport, Tourism and Communications), Sieglien Burleson (Trade and Industry), Niermala Badrising (Foreign Affairs), Robert Peneux (Education), Siegfried Wolf (Public Works) Faizal Abdoelgafoer (Sports and Youth Affairs), Mike Noersalim (Home Affairs), Patrick Pengel (Public Health), Jennifer van Dijk-Silos (Justice and Police), Edgar Dikan (Regional Development) and Regilio Dodson (Natural Resources).

No Ministers have been appointed yet for the posts at Social Affairs and Housing, and Labour; until then Minister Relyveld will stand in at Labour and Burleson at Social Affairs.

Central Bank Governor Gilmore Hoefdraad will switch to the Ministry of Finance and Brigade General Ronni Benschop, who is currently Commander of the Armed Forces, will become the new Minister of Defence. It is not clear yet who will replace these two officials at their posts.

Former Education Minister Ashwin Adhin is the new Vice President.

Bouterse thanked the National Assembly for “the efficiency in making the transition to a new Government possible. The atmosphere of cooperation, mutual understanding and critical guidance that consistently remained in the national interest, made me feel good. The atmosphere of openness aimed at offering equal opportunities to all Surinamers is what we will have to continue with in the next five years,” he said.

The swearing-in ceremony was held at the imposing Anthony Nesty Indoor Stadium in southern Paramaribo. Among the foreign dignitaries that attended were President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea and his wife, President Rafael Correa Delgado of Ecuador and President David Granger of Guyana and his wife. Caribbean Community Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque and Union of South American Nations Unasur Secretary General Ernesto Samper were also in attendance. Dutch ambassador to Paramaribo Ernst Noorman was present as well.

 

 

 

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