Chan Santokhi

Chan Santokhi
Chan Santokhi, Sep 2020 (cropped).jpg
Santokhi in 2020
10th President of Suriname
Assumed office
16 July 2020
Vice President Ronnie Brunswijk
Preceded by Dési Bouterse
Leader of the Progressive Reform Party
Assumed office
3 July 2011
Preceded by Ramdien Sardjoe
Member of the National Assembly
In office
12 August 2010 – 16 July 2020
Constituency Wanica District
Minister of Justice and Police
In office
1 September 2005 – 13 August 2010
Preceded by Siegfried Gilds
Succeeded by Lamuré Latour (ad interim)
Martin Misiedjan
Personal details
Chandrikapersad Santokhi

(1959-02-03) 3 February 1959 (age 62)
Lelydorp, Suriname
Political party Progressive Reform Party (VHP)
(m. 2020)
Official presidential portrait of Santokhi

Chandrikapersad "Chan" Santokhi (Dutch pronunciation: [cɑnˈdrikaːpɛrˌsɑt sɑnˈtɔki]; born 3 February 1959) is a Surinamese politician and former police officer who is the 9th and current President of Suriname. After winning the 2020 elections, Santokhi was the sole nomination for President of Suriname. On 13 July, Santokhi was elected president by acclamation in an uncontested election. He was inaugurated on 16 July.[1]

Early life

Santokhi was born on 3 February 1959, into an Indo-Surinamese Hindu family in Lelydorp, in district Suriname (now known as district Wanica). He grew up in the countryside as the youngest in a family of nine children. His father worked at the harbor of Paramaribo and his mother worked as a shop assistant in Lelydorp.[2]


Police career

After Santokhi obtained his VWO diploma at the Algemene Middelbare School in Paramaribo, he received a scholarship to study in the Netherlands. From 1978 till 1982 he studied at the Police Academy of the Netherlands in Apeldoorn.[3] After completing his study he returned to Suriname in September 1982 to work for the police. Since the age of 23, Santokhi worked as a police inspector in Geyersvlijt and Wanica until he was appointed in 1989 as head of the national criminal investigation department. In 1991 he was appointed commissioner of police.[4]

Minister of Justice

In September, 2005, Santokhi was sworn in as Minister of Justice and Police on behalf of the Progressive Reform Party. His period in office was marked by a heavy crackdown on crime, in particular drug trafficking, and a strict, no-nonsense enforcement of law and order. This earned him the nickname sheriff, which he got from Dési Bouterse.[5]

December murders trial

Santokhi who, as police commissioner, led the investigation to the December murders did in the start of his ministership a lot so that the December murders trial could finally commence. Exclusive for the December murders trial he had a heavily secured courtroom built in Domburg, Wanica.[6] Because Santokhi was the impulse behind the trial, he became a much discussed matter of the main suspect in that trial, Dési Bouterse. Bouterse said on 26 November 2007, four days before the commencement of the trial, that Santokhi wanted to "imprison and kill him".[7] Bouterse adduced that numerous previous attempts to "take him out" all failed and warned Santokhi to be cautious with his "intentions to eliminate Bouterse". On 29 November 2019, the Court of Appeal reached a verdict in the December murders trial,[8] and Bouterse had been convicted to 20 years' imprisonment.[9]

On 10 September 2008, Santokhi sued Bouterse for insult, slander and defamation, because Bouterse had alleged that Santokhi had ties to drug dealers and other criminals.[10] On 23 September 2008, the court ruled that the allegations were unproven, ordered Bouterse to publish a rectification, and a penalty payment of SRD 100,000 for each day Bouterse failed to execute the sentence.[11] The same day, Bouterse placed a rectification in De West where he admitted that the statements were untrue.[12]

2010 general election

In the 2010 Surinamese general election, Santokhi received the highest number of votes after Dési Bouterse, despite being placed relatively low on the party list of the Progressive Reform Party.[13] In July of that year, he was appointed as presidential candidate on behalf of the ruling political alliance New Front for Democracy and Development. Santokhi's opponent in the presidential elections was Dési Bouterse. Since Bouterse (NDP) cooperated with Ronnie Brunswijk (ABOP) and Paul Somohardjo (PL), his political alliance had a total of 36 seats, while the New Front only had fourteen.[14] Consequently, Bouterse was elected the eighth President of Suriname.[15]

President of CICAD

Santokhi, who for fifteen years was the official representative of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), was chosen on 6 December 2010, as president of this organization for one year. CICAD is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States, that coordinates the drug policy of the Western Hemisphere. In 2009, Santokhi was, also for one year, the vice-president of this organization.[16][17]

Chairman of the Progressive Reform Party

On 3 July 2011, Santokhi was elected as chairman of the Vooruitstrevende Hervormings Partij (VHP) (Progressive Reform Party). The Progressive Reform Party, which was once an Indo-Surinamese party, has grown, since the appointment of Santokhi as chairman, into a multi-ethnical party which, according to current statistics, is the second-biggest political party in Suriname.[18] With eight seats in the parliament, the VHP was the biggest opposition party until 2020.[19]

President of Suriname

Santokhi with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in September 2020

On 26 May 2020, the preliminary results of the 2020 Surinamese general election showed that the VHP was the largest party, and that Chan Santokhi was the most likely candidate to become the ninth President of Suriname.[20] On 30 May, Chan Santokhi announced his candidacy for President of Suriname.[21] On 29 June, the VHP nominated Chan Santokhi as their candidate for the Presidency.[22] On 7 July, the coalition nominated Chan Santokhi as President of Suriname and Ronnie Brunswijk as Vice-President of Suriname.[23] No other candidates had been nominated on 8 July 2020, 15:00 (UTC−3), and on 13 July Santokhi was elected as president by acclamation in an uncontested election.[24][25][26] He was inaugurated on 16 July on the Onafhankelijkheidsplein in Paramaribo in ceremony without the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[27][1] He belongs to a Hindu family of Indian origin. He surprised the world by reciting Sanskrit shloks and mantras in his oath ceremony.[28] Santokhi's inauguration was also blessed by several Christian religious leaders.[29][30]

Mellisa Santokhi-Seenacherry, wife of Santokhi and First Lady of Suriname

Personal life

On 19 July 2020, Chan Santokhi married Mellisa Seenacherry who had been his partner for years. The marriage took place in a private ceremony.[31] Mellisa is a lawyer by profession.[32] He also has two adult children (a daughter and a son) from a previous marriage.[33]


  1. ^ a b "Live blog: Inauguratie president en vicepresident". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  2. ^ Wagenaar, Leonoor (1 December 2006). "Crimefighter met lef". Parbode (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Chandrikapersad Santokhi (Den Haag)". NTR PREMTIME (in Dutch). 26 September 2011. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  4. ^ "De meest bedreigde man van Suriname". de Volkskrant (in Dutch).
  5. ^ "Moet Bouterse bang zijn voor Chan de Sheriff?". De Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Proces Decembermoorden wordt hervat". Nederlands Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Bouterse bedreigt minister van Justitie Santokhi". de Volkskrant.
  8. ^ "Breaking News: Twintig jaar cel voor Bouterse". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Overwinning oppositie in Suriname betekent einde tijdperk Bouterse". Elsevier Weekblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Kortgeding Santokhi tegen Bouterse". Waterkant (in Dutch). 10 September 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Bouterse tekent beroep aan tegen vonnis". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Bouterse plaatst rectificatie in De West". Waterkant (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Aangeboden Chan Santokhi: leiderschap in een nieuwe politieke werkelijkheid". Nieuws Suriname (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Bouterse en Brunswijk willen Suriname regeren". Waterkant (in Dutch). 7 July 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Suriname election: Convicted murderer Dési Bouterse is replaced by ex-police chief". BBC News. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Breaking news: Santokhi gekozen tot CICAD-voorzitter". Starnieuws. 6 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Santokhi voorzitter inter-amerikaanse drugsbestrijding".
  18. ^ VHP groeit sinds aantreden Santokhi, De West 13/01/2012
  19. ^ "VHP: alle corruptiezaken in Suriname vervolgen". (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  20. ^ "VHP grote winnaar verkiezingen 25 mei 2020". GFC Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Breaking: Santokhi president en Brunswijk DNA-voorzitter". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Chan Santokhi voorgedragen als presidentskandidaat". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  23. ^ "Santokhi en Brunswijk kandidaat president en vicepresident". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Live blog: Verkiezing president en vicepresident Suriname". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Kandidaatstelling Santokhi en Brunswijk een feit". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Breaking: NDP dient geen lijst in". Dagblad Suriname (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  27. ^ "Inauguratie nieuwe president van Suriname op Onafhankelijkheidsplein". Waterkant (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  28. ^ "Suriname elects Indian-origin 'Chan' Santokhi as President". Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  29. ^ "Chan Santokhi is de nieuwe President van Suriname". Radio Tamara (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  30. ^ "Live blog: Inauguratie president en vicepresident". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  31. ^ "President Santokhi en partner Mellisa trouwen vandaag". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  32. ^ "President Santokhi en partner Mellisa in het huwelijksbootje gestapt". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  33. ^ Ramcharan, Ashwin (21 April 2020). Chan (PDF) (in Dutch). Uitgeverij De Mango Boom. p. 163. ISBN 978-94-028-1728-7.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by President of Suriname