To be honest, I didn't expect it to turn out like this. I will believe it one hundred percent when he actually ends up behind bars. I have long had to see how guilty politicians can get away with impunity for long periods of time, even in countries traditionally considered – rightly or wrongly – as properly functioning democracies like Israel and the US.
Of course, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn't have had fifteen comrades killed to keep them in power – I'm leaving aside the deaths of others who now number in the tens of thousands of Palestinians. But a coup attempt after a failed election, or to abolish the Supreme Court — now blocked by the same Supreme Court by a shaky eight-to-seven majority — is not entirely trivial. Whether Trump and Netanyahu will ever be punished remains to be seen.
In any case: justice has so far taken its course, despite the fact that Desi Bouterse still has the overwhelming support of a large part of the Surinamese electorate – and their families living in the Netherlands – and despite all the threats from his supporters. Slow, slow? Of course. But if you are serious, not everything happens so quickly in other places.
Whether Trump and Netanyahu will ever be punished remains to be seen
Now, finally, the highest legal authority in Suriname has upheld the verdict. A head of state or government is not above the law. Netanyahu, and certainly Trump, seem to agree. The only option for Bouterse is an apology. He said he would refrain from doing so, no doubt because Suriname's current president, San Sadoki, had played a role in starting his case at a different stage, saying the judicial sentences should simply be carried out.
Judging by the press coverage, Bouterse seems to be betting that he will be pardoned even after the next presidential election in 2025. Either way, he seems resigned to his fate, and the spooky 'street' is quiet.
When the rule of law finally works in Suriname, we in the United States will have to wait and see. Trump's inspiring role in attacking the Capitol, like Bouterse's, has not detracted from his popularity, however. That's no deterrent to being a front-runner for the Republican nomination this year.
Here, too, it remains to be seen whether some of the states that are now considering legally banning Trump from the ballots will eventually go through with that plan. If they do, the Supreme Court — with no fewer than three (of nine) Trump-appointed justices — will go along or end it.
Trump counts on the latter — and it makes sense in his corrupt worldview: I appointed them, so they must do what I want. No African dictator can improve on that. Robert Mugabe and Mobutu Sese Seko once argued similarly in Zimbabwe and Zaire.
Netanyahu was also convinced that the Supreme Court – the epitome of the 'will of the people' – would not dare oppose him. As I said: it was borderline in Israel. The vote was eight to seven. Not a glorious victory for the independence of the judiciary.
The 'will of the people' that Trump and Netanyahu rely on and Bouterse has long relied on: that too plays a role in the Netherlands. Because Wilders also spoke of 'the will of his people' after his election victory. A more aggressive segment of his supporters see 37 seats — compared to the remaining 113 — as enough legitimacy to claim his way outright. Mugabe couldn't improve on that either: we won, so now we can do whatever we want.
Rule of law? Bu. Wilders has primed the mind with his perpetual diatribes against the press and the judiciary. See also racist aggression in Kijkduin after 22 November, further fueled by Wilders in support of residents protesting against the asylum centre.
See also Indifference response by intended alliance partners. Will they really stand up for the rule of law like the Surinamese justice system? Or is the right-wing deal superior to justice?
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