A politician from Suriname, Chandrikapersad "Chan" Santokhi, whose grandparents had been taken as indentured laborers from Bihar, India during the 19th century, was born on February 3, 1959, in Lelydorp. He is a member of the Progressive Reform Party that won 20 seats out of 51 in the National Assembly. He's the youngest of nine children, his father worked at a port, and his mother worked in a shop.
In 1978, Santokhi received a scholarship to study at the Nederlandse Politieacademie in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Research in 1982 and served as Paramaribo's police commissioner. In 1989, Santokhi was appointed director of the national criminal investigation department, and two years later, in 1991, he became chief commissioner of Suriname's police department.
In 2005, Santokhi served as the Minister of Justice and Police of Surinam. In 2010, he was elected Chair of CICAD, the autonomous body of the Organization of American States that coordinates the Western Hemisphere's drug policy. In 2010, he received the "Great Officer of the Yellow Star," a state decoration. In 2011, he served as Chairman of the Progressive Reform Party.
Chandrikapersad and Mellisa Kavitadevi Seenacherry were married in a Hindu ceremony on July 19, 2020. He is the father of four children, two of whom are from a previous marriage.
As of July 16, 2020, Santokhi has taken office as President of Suriname in a ceremony without a public presence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had been elected President by acclamation in an uncontested election, thus being the 9th President of the Republic of Suriname. He replaced former president Dési Bouterse who was found guilty of murdering trade union leaders and journalists in 2019 and smuggling more than a thousand pounds of cocaine through the country. During his inaugural address, Santokhi noted that he inherited serious economic problems for the nation due to his predecessor's excessive spending.
Santokhi, a political philosopher influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, attended India's Republic Day parade in January 2021 and spoke at the 16th virtual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in New Delhi in January 2021. In addition to calling for visa-free travel between Suriname and India, he urged the development of significant economic and political ties between them.
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