Latin America & Caribbean

Suriname profile - Leaders

President: Desire "Desi" Bouterse

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Desi Bouterse first led Suriname following a coup in 1980

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.

His record as president impressed voters enough to secure his National Democratic Party an absolute majority in the May 2015 elections, ensuring that Suriname will have its first non-coalition government.

Amnesty on murder charges

Mr Bouterse remains 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, and Suriname does not have an extradition treaty with the Netherlands.

In 2014, Mr Bouterse's sone Dino pleaded guilty in a New York court to charges of supplying arms to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a US-designated terrorist group.

Dino Bouterse had been arrested and extradited from Suriname to the US in 2013 on other, drug- and arms-related charges.