The armed forces overthrew the elected government of this former Dutch colony Monday night after a dispute between its president and longtime military chief, Dutch and local news media reported.
The army chief, Lt. Col. Desi Bouterse, had resigned earlier in the day, raising speculation that he would seek to seize control of the small mineral rich country on South America’s northeastern coast.
Bouterse led a military coup that toppled a legitimately elected government in 1980 and ruled the country until elections were held in 1987.
But relations between the government and Bouterse have been strained since the elections, captured in a landslide by the governing Front for Democracy and Development.
The acting commander of the armed forces, Ivan Granoogst, read a statement on Surinamese television saying the army was acting in line with its “constitutional responsibility” in taking control of the government, Dutch Television said.
Dutch radio said the army promised to organize elections within 100 days.
Earlier Monday night, a reporter for the Surinamese newspaper De Ware Tyd told the Associated Press bureau in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that the military had overthrown the government.
Later, all telephone and telex lines to Suriname went out of service. In Washington, the State Department had no immediate comment.
In a dispute with President Ramsewak Shankar, Bouterse announced Saturday that he was resigning as head of the military in this nation of 380,000 people.
He was angered by the treatment he had received at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on a recent visit and accused Shankar of collaborating with Dutch officials who refused to grant him a visa or allow him access to journalists.