Suriname. The arrival of sixteen Dutch marines in June
sparked speculation that former President and Suriname's
strong man Desi Bouterse would be forcibly brought to the
Netherlands, where he is wanted for drug offenses and
threatened by eleven years in prison.
Countryaah website, the opposition accused the government of using Bouterse
as a means of pressure to persuade the Netherlands to
release the $ 200 million in annual aid money that Suriname
previously received but which was frozen two decades ago.
President Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan claimed that the Marines
had come to participate in the planning of a joint military
exercise and that Bouterse will not be extradited. A
domestic legal process against him has also been started.
The biggest general strike in the country's history and
huge protest demonstrations that paralyzed Paramaribo over
several months caused the parliament to wake up from its
hibernation. In June, the Wijdenbosch government was ousted
and blamed for the country's economic collapse.
Although Parliament tried to prevent it, Wijdenbosch
managed to retain its position and appointed nine new
ministers. But after allegations of corruption involving
several of his ministers, the entire government resigned in
In May 2000, the Venetian NF won the parliamentary
elections. The front got 47.3% of the vote, and in August
Venetiaan was elected president by 37 of the parliament's 51
parliamentarians. Jules Ajodhia was elected to the post of
Vice President and Prime Minister.
The tension between Suriname and Guyana due to the
decades-long dispute over the territorial waters between the
two countries reached a tentative peak in June 2000, when
ships from Suriname forced Canadian exploration firm CGX
Energy to withdraw from the area. The company had been
authorized by the Government of Guyana to investigate oil
deposits in the area. In July, leaders from the two
neighboring countries in Jamaica met to negotiate the issue,
but were unable to reach an agreement, and the Canadian
company therefore finally decided to suspend the