Chan Santokhi

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Chan Santokhi
चान संतोखी (Sarnami)
Official portrait, 2020
9th President of Suriname
Assumed office
16 July 2020
Vice PresidentRonnie Brunswijk
Preceded byDési Bouterse
Leader of the Progressive Reform Party
Assumed office
3 July 2011
Preceded byRamdien Sardjoe
Member of the National Assembly
In office
12 August 2010 – 16 July 2020
ConstituencyWanica District
Minister of Justice and Police
In office
1 September 2005 – 13 August 2010
PresidentRonald Venetiaan
Preceded bySiegfried Gilds
Succeeded byLamuré Latour (ad interim)
Martin Misiedjan
Chairman of the Caribbean Community
In office
1 July 2022[1] – 31 December 2022
Secretary-GeneralCarla Barnett
Preceded byJohnny Briceño[1]
Succeeded byPhilip Davis
Personal details
Chandrikapersad Santokhi

(1959-02-03) 3 February 1959 (age 64)
Lelydorp, Suriname District, Suriname (present-day Wanica District, Suriname)
Political partyProgressive Reform Party
(m. 2020)
Alma materNederlandse Politieacademie, Apeldoorn (BS)
AwardsHonorary Order of the Yellow Star (2010)[2]
Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (2023)

Chandrikapersad "Chan" Santokhi (Sarnami: चंद्रिकापेर्साद सांतोखी; Hindi pronunciation: [cⁿd̪rikɑːpərəsɑːd̪ə sⁿt̪oːkʰiː]; Dutch: [t͡ɕɑnˈdrikaːpɛrˌsɑt sɑnˈtɔki]; born 3 February 1959) is a Surinamese politician and former police officer who is the 9th president of Suriname, since 2020. After winning the 2020 elections, Santokhi was the sole nominee for president of Suriname. On 13 July, Santokhi was elected president by acclamation in an uncontested election. He was inaugurated on 16 July.[3]

Early life[edit]

Chandrikapersad 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.[4]


Police career[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Minister of Justice[edit]

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.[7]

December murders trial[edit]

Santokhi who, as police commissioner, led the investigation of the December murders done at the start of his ministership 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.[8] 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".[9] 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,[10] and Bouterse had been convicted to 20 years' imprisonment.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] The same day, Bouterse placed a rectification in De West where he admitted that the statements were untrue.[14]

2010 general election[edit]

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.[15] 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.[16] Consequently, Bouterse was elected the eighth President of Suriname.[17]

President of CICAD[edit]

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.[18][19]

Chairman of the Progressive Reform Party[edit]

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.[20] With eight seats in the parliament, the VHP was the biggest opposition party until 2020.[21]

President of Suriname[edit]

Santokhi with Frans Timmermans in July 2023

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.[22] On 30 May, Chan Santokhi announced his candidacy for President of Suriname.[23] On 29 June, the VHP nominated Chan Santokhi as their candidate for the Presidency.[24] On 7 July, the coalition nominated Chan Santokhi as President of Suriname and Ronnie Brunswijk as Vice-President of Suriname.[25] 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.[26][27][28] He was inaugurated on 16 July, on the Onafhankelijkheidsplein in Paramaribo in ceremony without the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[29][3] He took his oath reciting Hindu Sanskrit shlokas and mantras in his oath ceremony.[30] Santokhi's inauguration was also blessed by several Christian religious leaders.[31][32]

In September 2021, Santokhi visited the Netherlands and became the first Surinamese president to do so since 2008, after diplomatic relations between the two countries had cooled down. Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte referred to the rapprochement as "historic".[33]

Personal life[edit]

On 19 July 2020, Chan Santokhi married his long-term partner, Mellisa Seenacherry. The marriage took place in a private ceremony.[34] Mellisa is a lawyer by profession.[35] He also has two adult children (a daughter and a son) from a previous marriage.[36]


  1. ^ a b[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ "H.E. Chandrikapersad Santokhi".
  3. ^ a b "Live blog: Inauguratie president en vicepresident". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  4. ^ Wagenaar, Leonoor (1 December 2006). "Crimefighter met lef". Parbode (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Chandrikapersad Santokhi (Den Haag)". NTR PREMTIME (in Dutch). 26 September 2011. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  6. ^ "De meest bedreigde man van Suriname". de Volkskrant (in Dutch).
  7. ^ "Moet Bouterse bang zijn voor Chan de Sheriff?". De Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Proces Decembermoorden wordt hervat". Nederlands Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Bouterse bedreigt minister van Justitie Santokhi". de Volkskrant.
  10. ^ "Breaking News: Twintig jaar cel voor Bouterse". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Overwinning oppositie in Suriname betekent einde tijdperk Bouterse". Elsevier Weekblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Kortgeding Santokhi tegen Bouterse". Waterkant (in Dutch). 10 September 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Bouterse tekent beroep aan tegen vonnis". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Bouterse plaatst rectificatie in De West". Waterkant (in Dutch). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Aangeboden Chan Santokhi: leiderschap in een nieuwe politieke werkelijkheid". Nieuws Suriname (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Bouterse en Brunswijk willen Suriname regeren". Waterkant (in Dutch). 7 July 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Suriname election: Convicted murderer Dési Bouterse is replaced by ex-police chief". BBC News. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Breaking news: Santokhi gekozen tot CICAD-voorzitter". Starnieuws. 6 December 2011.
  19. ^ "Santokhi voorzitter inter-amerikaanse drugsbestrijding".
  20. ^ VHP groeit sinds aantreden Santokhi, De West 13/01/2012
  21. ^ "VHP: alle corruptiezaken in Suriname vervolgen". (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  22. ^ "VHP grote winnaar verkiezingen 25 mei 2020". GFC Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Breaking: Santokhi president en Brunswijk DNA-voorzitter". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Chan Santokhi voorgedragen als presidentskandidaat". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Santokhi en Brunswijk kandidaat president en vicepresident". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Live blog: Verkiezing president en vicepresident Suriname". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  27. ^ "Kandidaatstelling Santokhi en Brunswijk een feit". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  28. ^ "Breaking: NDP dient geen lijst in". Dagblad Suriname (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  29. ^ "Inauguratie nieuwe president van Suriname op Onafhankelijkheidsplein". Waterkant (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  30. ^ "Suriname elects Indian-origin 'Chan' Santokhi as President". Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  31. ^ "Chan Santokhi is de nieuwe President van Suriname". Radio Tamara (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Live blog: Inauguratie president en vicepresident". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  33. ^ "Waarom het bezoek van de Surinaamse president aan Nederland historisch is". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  34. ^ "President Santokhi en partner Mellisa trouwen vandaag". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  35. ^ "President Santokhi en partner Mellisa in het huwelijksbootje gestapt". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  36. ^ Ramcharan, Ashwin (21 April 2020). Chan (PDF) (in Dutch). Uitgeverij De Mango Boom. p. 163. ISBN 978-94-028-1728-7.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Siegfried Gilds
Minister of Justice and Police
Succeeded by
Martin Misiedjan
Preceded by President of Suriname
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Progressive Reform Party
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chairman of the Caribbean Community
Succeeded by