By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Legislators of Suriname’s main opposition Nieuw Front faction are seeking clarification from President Desi Bouterse regarding his son’s arrest on Thursday by US law enforcement authorities.
Dino Bouterse (40), travelling on a diplomatic passport, was arrested on a drugs and weapons charge, including cocaine trafficking. Bouterse has been indicted for allegedly trafficking 10 kilos of cocaine to the US last July.
He was arrested at the international airport in Panama City by local law enforcement authorities and subsequently handed over to US agents. Bouterse was scheduled to appear in a Manhattan federal court on Friday afternoon.
The younger Bouterse’s arrest came as his father was about to take over the pro tempore presidency of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on Friday during the group’s seventh heads of government summit currently being held in Paramaribo.
Meanwhile, the Suriname government issued a statement regarding the matter.
“According to information that has reached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the American Embassy in Suriname, Dino Bouterse was arrested in Panama. Meanwhile he has been transferred to the American judicial authorities. The grounds for the arrest are unclear. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is following developments closely,” read a short statement from the Surinamese ministry of foreign affairs.
On Friday the opposition in parliament sent a letter to the president seeking clarification over the arrest.
“Can the president confirm whether this information is true? Can the president disclose what Dino Bouterse was doing abroad and why he was travelling on a diplomatic passport,” the opposition asked in its letter to the head of state.
Opposition legislator Asiskoemar Gajadien is even going a step further, calling for the resignation of President Bouterse.
“In any normal democracy the president would step down over such a serious issue,” Gajadien told local media.
He argued that, especially as Suriname was assuming the pro tempore leadership of UNASUR on Friday, an incident like this is an embarrassment to the entire nation and a dent in its international image.