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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte begins visit to Suriname


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte begins visit to Suriname

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visits Suriname as he seeks stronger bilateral relations through economic and investment ties.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte – Photo: Yves Herman/Reuters

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives in Suriname today for a two-day visit focused on strengthening bilateral relations. 

Rutte’s visit to the former Dutch colony comes as the country continues to grapple with the 2019 conviction of ex-President Desi Bouterse. Before his election in 2010, Bouterse and his political allies took power in a 1980s coup and led a seven-year-long military government. He was convicted of 15 counts of murdering dissidents and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, but his National Democratic Party (NDP) still retains 16 of 18 opposition seats in Suriname’s 51-member unicameral legislative body.

Expect Rutte to capitalize on NDP’s 2020 election loss—in which the convicted ex-president’s party dropped 10 seats into opposition—to reassert Dutch influence in Suriname. Amsterdam helped organize resistance to military rule in Suriname and supported Bouterse’s prosecution. Rutte is likely to stress building trade and investment ties between the Netherlands and Suriname, particularly in public health and agriculture. On this visit expect him to address disaster relief, as the Caribbean nation faces recent flooding and longer-term concerns about climate change, and the possibility of a bailout of the country’s flag airline carrier Surinam Airways. Further expect NDP leadership to criticize the visit, accuse Amsterdam of promoting a veiled neo-colonialism and urge Suriname to distance itself from Holland.  

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