Friday, December 12, 2014 7:32 am
Mauritius, the rich African Island nation in the Indian Ocean, will inaugurate soon an 84 year-old man as the new prime minister.
Anerood Jugnauth, former president and former prime minister, will take over from Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolan following the routing of Ramgoolan’s party in Wednesday’s parliamentary elections by the opposition Lepep coalition led by Jugnauth.
With counting of votes yet to be completed, the Mauritius’ opposition celebrated victory Thursday and Ramgoolan swiftly accepted defeat, after voters rejected his proposals to boost presidential powers.
“I will become the next prime minister,” 84-year-old ex-premier Jugnauth said in a victory speech broadcast on national television, standing alongside other smiling leaders of his centre-right Alliance Lepep coalition.
“As promised, I will do everything so that there is a second economic miracle in the country,” Jugnauth told the nation. He was previously prime minster between 1982-1995 and again between 2000-2003.
Debate over constitutional reform — notably over a divisive proposal to strengthen presidential powers — made Wednesday’s polls some of the most crucial since the country gained independence from Britain in 1968.
Jugnauth said he had won as voters had “felt the danger” of the change.
Ramgoolam, who had wanted to run for the presidency had he won but in a crushing defeat lost even his own parliamentary seat he had held since 1991, said the “elections were carried out with respect to democracy.”
“The electorate has made its choice, I humbly accept its decision, and I will now meet the President of the Republic to submit my resignation,” Ramgoolam said on national radio, speaking in Mauritius’ Creole language.
– One of Africa’s richest countries –
Veteran politician Ramgoolam leads the centre-left group that brings together the Labour Party (PTR) and the former opposition Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) party of ex-prime minister Paul Berenger.
The PTR-MMM coalition had agreed that if they won they would try to amend the constitution so the president would be directly elected. The role is a largely ceremonial position elected by parliament.
Jugnauth’s Lepep fiercely opposed the proposed constitutional reform.
Out of a total of 62 parliamentary seats, by 1730 GMT official results declared 29 had been won by Lepep, compared to 10 for Ramgoolam’s coalition.
Mauritian media projected that final results could see Lepep take some 45 seats, against 15 for its rival PTR-MMM, with two others going to local parties on the small island of Rodrigues, some 560 kilometres (350 miles) to the east.
Mauritius is one of the richest countries in Africa, a middle-income country of some 1.3 million people, with a per capita GDP of just over $9,000 (7,200 euros).