Prime Minister of Suriname
In office: 24 December 1973 – 25 February 1980
Monarch: Queen Juliana (1973-1975)
President: Johan Ferrier (1975–1980)
Governor: Johan Ferrier (1973-1975)
1st Vice President of Suriname
In office: 25 January 1988 – 24 December 1990
President: Ramsewak Shankar
Born Henck Alphonsus Eugène Arron
April 25, 1936
Died December 4, 2000 (aged 64)
Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands
Political party National Party of Suriname
Religion Roman Catholicism
Henck Alphonsus Eugène Arron (25 April 1936 – 4 December 2000) was the first Prime Minister of Suriname after it gained independence in 1975. A member of the National Party of Suriname, he served from 24 December 1973 with the transition government, to 25 February 1980. He was overthrown in a coup d’état by the military, led by Dési Bouterse. Released in 1981 after charges of corruption were dropped, he returned to banking, his previous career.
In 1987, Arron was elected as Vice-president of Suriname and served until another coup in 1990 overthrew the government.
Arron was born in Paramaribo in 1936. He completed high school in 1956, and moved to the Netherlands for training in banking. Arron worked several years at an Amsterdam bank. When he returned to Suriname, he worked in the financial system. In late 1963, he became deputy director of the People’s Credit Bank.
In 1961, Arron became a member of the National Party of Suriname (NPS), the main Creole party. In 1970, Arron became the leader of the NPS. In 1973, he created a coalition, including the pro-independence Nationalist Republican Party (PNR), that won that year’s general election.
In February 1974, Arron announced that Suriname would be seeking independence before the end of 1975. Many observers were surprised, as Arron’s NPS did not have a majority in favour of independence.
The Netherlands granted Suriname independence on 25 November 1975. Surinamese politics was riven by ethnic polarisation and corruption; the NPS used Dutch aid money for partisan purposes. Its leaders were accused of fraud in the 1977 elections, in which Arron won a further term, and the discontent was such that a large chunk of the population fled to the Netherlands, joining an already significant Surinamese community there.
In 1980, Arron was accused of corruption by high-ranking military officers. He was overthrown and jailed in a coup by the military led by Dési Bouterse. The Dutch government had previously advised Arron against the establishment of such a standing army. Arron bore the ill-treatment and humiliation with courage; the charges did not stick, and he was released in 1981. A year later, he was selected as managing director of the Surinamese People’s Credit Bank.
In 1987, Arron was elected as Vice President of Suriname (and therefore Chairman of the Council of Ministers), serving from 26 January 1988 to 24 December 1990. Ramsewak Shankar was elected as president. Their government was overthrown in 1990 in another coup by Bouterse and the military.
In December 2000, Arron was invited to the Netherlands to talk about 25 years of independence of Suriname. On the evening of December 4, he died in his hotel room as a result of cardiac arrest.