Suriname President axes five ministers in Cabinet reshuffle
PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Monday, May 7, 2012 – Almost half way through his term, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse has made sweeping changes to his cabinet, causing his parliamentary support to effectively drop from 36 to 30 of the 51 seats.
In a major reshuffle last Thursday (May 3), Bouterse dismissed five ministers, including the ministers of justice and police, sports and youth, physical planning, land and forest management, regional development and public health, reportedly due to poor performance. Meanwhile, three cabinet members will be appointed to other ministries.
The Bouterse administration took office in August 2010, after a landslide win in the May 2010 general elections by Bouterse’s Mega Combination party. However, on several occasions, Bouterse has expressed his dissatisfaction with the performance of his government, warning that a major shake-up was imminent.
Last Thursday’s dismissals were not the first casualties of Bouterse’s dissatisfaction as he previously had replaced Finance Minister Wonnie Boedhoe and Physical Planning Minister Martinus Sastroredjo.
During a meeting with officials of the coalition party Brotherhood and Unity in Politics (BEP), the head of state said that the party’s service is no longer needed, since the BEP faction in parliament had dropped from four to two seats as a result of infighting.
Sources indicate that Bouterse also notified the New Suriname party that he is no longer counting on their two legislative seats. Disgruntled that the party was not invited to present a cabinet minister when Bouterse formed his government in August 2010, several months later New Suriname severed ties with Bouterse’s Mega Combination coalition.
The party said that they would no longer take responsibility for government actions and will only give support to the administration in parliament if proposed actions or measures were deemed “in the interest of the people”. Earlier this year, New Suriname voted against the 2012 budget.
Last month, the MPs and legislators of the BEP faction abstained from voting in favour of the controversial amnesty bill, which granted Bouterse impunity for the so-called ‘December-murders’.