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Lawmakers in Suriname have begun debate on an amnesty that would cover the president for actions committed under his past military dictatorship.

The amnesty is expected to pass Wednesday in the National Assembly, where President Desi Bouterse's coalition holds a majority.

Bouterse seized power in a 1980 coup. He allowed the return of civilian rule in 1987 only to launch a second coup in 1990. He stepped down as military chief in 1992, but remained a powerful force in the former Dutch colony in South America. Lawmakers elected him president in 2010.

He has been charged with killing 15 prominent political opponents in 1982. Bouterse has accepted "political responsibility" but says he wasn't present for the executions.