World Bulletin / News Desk
Suriname President Desi Bouterse, a former military ruler and convicted cocaine smuggler, is seeking a second term in the small South American country's national elections on Monday.
Pre-election polls had initially shown Bouterse's National Democratic Party well ahead, but the gap seems to have closed in recent weeks and the race now appears neck and neck.
His main rival is Chandrikapersad Santokhi, a former justice minister and police commissioner, of the six-party V7 opposition coalition, which accuses Bouterse of cronyism and corruption, and promises transparency and accountability.
Bouterse was convicted in absentia of drug trafficking by a court in the Netherlands in 1999. He has denied any wrongdoing.
He was also facing prosecution, stemming from a probe by Santokhi, then police commissioner, for the execution of 15 opponents in 1982 during his military rule, but the National Assembly passed an amnesty law in 2012 that grants him immunity.
His son Dino was sentenced in March to 16-1/4 years in prison, after pleading guilty last August to U.S. charges that he tried to offer a home base to the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah.Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Mayıs 2015, 00:00