The Hague considered invading Surinam

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In 1986 the Dutch government drew up detailed plans to launch a military operation aimed at deposing Surinam's army leader Desi Bouterse, according to former cabinet ministers.

The news has emerged in newspaper De Volkskrant, which quotes former Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers and former ministers Hans van den Broek and Wim van Eekelen.

The plan was set up in response to a request from three members of Surinam's government, including Prime Minister Pretaap Radhakishun. The operation was to involve 850 Dutch marines with logistical support from the United States in the form of navy ships, planes and helicopters. The aim was to arrest Mr Bouterse at one of his hide-outs.

In the end, the plan was dropped as the Dutch government considered the risk of casualties and injuries too big. Rumours of such a plan have been circulating for years but had, until now, never been confirmed.

In the article, Socialist Party MP Harry van Bommel accuses former Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen of providing inadequate answers to previous questions posed by the SP. In 2007, Mr Verhagen said that in 1986 the Netherlands had consulted the United States regarding the possible evacuation of Dutch nationals from Surinam in view of the animosity towards them at the  time.

Surinam's Foreign Minister Winston Lackin says he is glad the existence of the plans has finally been confirmed. In a reaction to the publication of the article, Mr Lackin says Mr Bouterse, Surinam's current president, has often mentioned the existence of such plans. Mr Bouterse has been accused of ordering, as army leader, the execution, on 8 December 1982, of several opponents.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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