Ramdin in Suriname with Minister Blok.
By Anton Lutter
Since the ascendance of former army leader Desi Bouterse as president of the Republic of Surinam – a former Dutch colony – relations had been strained. After the 2020 presidential elections in Surinam, Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi has been elected and inaugurated on the 16th of July. Mr. Santokhi, previously Minister of Justice and Police and now Surinam’s 9th president has made it his goal to normalize the relations between Surinam and The Netherlands of huge importance considering the large contingent of Dutch inhabitants who are of Surinamese descent.
End of last month Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok visited Surinam to be part of the 45th Independence Day celebration at the capital Paramaribo, it was the first time in 10 years that a Dutch minister visited Surinam. In August Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Affairs of Surinam, visited The Netherlands to meet his Dutch colleague Stef Blok, both pledging to exchange ambassadors within 3 months. Mr. Ramdin a career diplomat studied social geography at the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Amongst other positions he has been the Assistant Secretary-General of Organization of American States. The current Dutch temporary chargé d’affaires at Paramaribo Henk van der Zwan is the designated ambassador to the Republic of Surinam.
At the moment Surinam is represented in The Hague by temporary chargé d’affaires Mr. Oquemele Denz, both countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2017 while in 2012 The Netherlands called its ambassador back only to have had an ambassador from 2014 until 2017.
Early November President Santokhi has nominated Rajendre Khargi, born Paramaribo in 1955, as his country’s ambassador to The Netherlands. Mr. Khargi is a journalist in The Netherlands who very recently changed his Dutch citizenship for the citizenship of his country of birth. He has been of great importance in supporting Mr. Santokhi since 2013 and working quietly behind the scenes in strengthening the relations between Surinam and The Netherlands. As a journalist Mr. Khargi worked for several news agencies amongst others being the chief editor of ANP Radio.
Furthermore, he is the chair of Diaspora Foundation Lalla Rookh and until recently chair of One World Nederland. As ambassador Mr. Khargi will be instrumental in the implementation of Mr. Santokhi’s new policy of developing the potential of Surinam’s Diaspora in The Netherlands. To that end Minister Ramdin has recently established the Diaspora Instituut Suriname (DIS). President Santokhi: “We will develop Suriname with 1 million Surinamese. With those who live in Suriname and all who are abroad. That’s what I promised and that’s what we’re doing now”.