The National Military Council, led by Lieutenant Colonel Desire Bouterse (1946-), controlled the government of Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) between 1982 and 1988, a period when opposition leaders were murdered, natives were restrained, and human rights abuses regularly occurred. In Suriname's eastern region in 1986, increased rebel resistance under Ronnie Brunswijk, a former bodyguard of Bouterse, resulted in a declared state of emergency in December, thus compelling Bouterse to hold general elections that brought a democratic civilian government to power in January 1988. But Bouterse remained head of the army and, in 1989, refused to accept the conditions of a peace signed by Brusnwijk and Suriname's representative in Kourou in neighboring French Guiana.
Raids by the Surinamese Liberation Army, a guerrilla group better known as the Jungle Commando (JC; consisting mainly of Bush Negroes), disrupted bauxite mining and led to the killing of many Bush Negro civilians by the National Army; thousands of Bush Negroes fled to French Guiana. The deteriorating economic and political situation forced the military to open a dialogue with the leaders of the principal political parties that had operated before the coup. In 1985 a National Assembly was formed; a new Cabinet of Ministers was installed the following year, and a new constitution was approved in a referendum on Sept. 30, 1987. Elections held on Nov. 25, 1987, resulted in the defeat of the political wing of the military. The Front for Democracy and Development (Front voor Democratic en Ontwikkeling; FDO), a coalition of the VHP, NPS, and KTPI, formed a new government.
In 1988 the Suriname and French governments (the latter as the sovereign of neighboring French Guiana) began peace negotiations with the JC on the repatriation of the Bush Negroes and the incorporation of the JC in the police force. An agreement signed in July 1989 was opposed by the military as well as by the Tucayana Amerindians, a group of native Indians armed by the military.