Indian-origin Mauritius PM steps down, son takes over

Port Louis–Pravind Jugnauth, son of Indian-origin Anerood Jugnauth, took over as Mauritius Prime Minister on Monday after the 86-year-old former premier resigned in favour of his son.

Anerood Jugnauth, who has been in his post since 2014, announced in a televised address on Saturday that he was resigning in favour of a “younger and more dynamic leader”, reported news channel Africanews.

The move prompted accusations of nepotism and calls for refrendum from opponents, according to reports.

Pravind Jugnauth, 55, is the leader of the main political party Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), and had already formed his ministerial cabinet after receiving an appointment letter from President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

Anerood Jugnauth

The main opposition Labour Party protested against the appointment which it termed as a “Father-Son Deal”. The police rejected a request from the Labour Party to hold a sit-in protest. Labour leaders urged their supporters to wear black to denounce the move.

“This is a black day for Mauritius. The Jugnauth family is turning the Island into a ‘Banana Republic’. This is great treason in history as the population never voted for this dynastic arrangement,” former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Navin Ramgoolam said.

Pravind Jugnauth also holds the post of Finance Minister and his party has the majority of seats in the National Assembly since December 2014.

The younger Jugnauth has studied Law at University of Buckingham and later joined the Lincoln’s Inn in central London and became a Barrister. He then joined Aix-Marseille University in France where he graduated with an LLM, according to the government of Mauritius portal.

Pravind is married and has three daughters. His father, Anerood, had served as both the President and Prime Minister of Mauritius and held various ministerial portfolios, including Minister of Rodrigues, Defence, Home Affairs and National Development Unit.

His mother, Sarojini Ballah, is a primary school teacher by profession. She had actively participated in several political and social activities and was also the patron of various charitable organisations.

A central figure of Mauritian politics in the 1980s and 1990s, the older Jugnauth continuously (except for the periods 1995-2000 and 2012-2014) held a constitutional office since 1976.

Pravind Jugnauth had visited India in September last year as Finance Minister and held talks with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Sushma had appreciated Pravind Jugnauth for visiting India on his first tour abroad which was said to be in keeping with the “very special blood relationship” between India and Mauritius.

Both sides had decided to extend their collaboration to areas of defence and security, and also restarted talks on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Partnership Agreement (CECPA).

Anerood Jugnauth had visited India in November last year as Prime Minister and had expressed support for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to demonetise higher value currency.

Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, is a middle-income country of some 1.3 million people, with a per capita GDP of just over $9,000. People of Indian origin comprise around 68 percent of Mauritius’s total population of over 1.3 million.

Most of them are descendants of Indian labourers who were brought in the 19th century and early 20th century to work in the sugarcane plantations.

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