PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) — The party of former military dictator Desi Bouterse obtained the majority of Parliament seats in the South American country of Suriname, according to preliminary results released Tuesday.
Bouterse’s National Democratic Party obtained 26 of 51 seats following Monday’s general election, while the main opposition V7 alliance party led by former Justice Minister Chan Santokhi obtained 17 seats, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Bouterse now needs a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament to be re-elected president. If he wins, he would rule Suriname for another five years. Legislators have to be sworn in by June 30.
There were no reports of violence or irregularities, according to election observers with the Organization of American States. There are 353,000 registered voters in the country of some 550,000 people.
Bouterse is a two-time coup leader and former dictator accused of executing 15 political opponents in 1982. He also was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands in 1999 on drug trafficking charges, but Suriname does not have an extradition treaty with its former colonial ruler. Bouterse also obtained immunity as head of state when he was democratically elected in 2010 amid widespread discontent with Suriname’s economy.
Santokhi had accused Bouterse’s party of financial mismanagement, noting that Suriname’s debt had increased to more than $1 billion in recent years. He also had vowed to reverse an amended amnesty law and restart Bouterse’s prosecution for the 1982 killings if elected president.
Bouterse’s son, Dino, also has faced legal problems.
A U.S. judge sentenced him earlier this year to more than 16 years in prison after he admitted to offering Lebanese militant group Hezbollah a home base in Suriname. Dino Bouterse once led Suriname’s anti-terrorist unit.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.