Mauritius cabinet agrees to impeach first female president

International

with YASINE MOHABUTH
As Mauritius is preparing to celebrate its 50 years of independence, the government has decided to launch impeachment procedures to dismiss the President of the Republic, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

This decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in the afternoon of Thursday, March 8.

Government members reportedly agreed that the first female president of Mauritius will have to leave her position after being implicated in an expenses scandal.

“I will not resign. Let them institute their Tribunal. I will see later if I am guilty. Since 2017, I have already refunded all the money.“

Influential media portal, L’Express last week reported that Fakim spent several hundred thousand rupees on personal purchases, using a Platinum credit card offered by a non governmental organisation, Planet Earth Institute (PEI).

PEI is owned by Álvaro Sobrinho, a controversial Angolan businessman, who initially worked with the president to offer scholarships to Mauritian students.

The president initially questioned the authenticity of the media reports, but later claimed to have reimbursed all the money spent with the credit card.

The President, who is a renowned scientist, told Radio Plus she will not resign.

“I will not resign. Let them institute their Tribunal. I will see later if I am guilty. Since 2017, I have already refunded all the money.“

The National Assembly is likely to be called next week, after independence Day celebrations on 12 March, and a motion under section 30(1) of the Constitution, will be on the agenda.

Under section 30(1), the President (or Vice President) may only be removed from office for

(a) violation of the constitution or any other serious act of misconduct or

(b) inability to perform his functions whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or from any other cause.

In order for the process to be initiated, a motion has to be made by the Prime Minister to parliament that the circumstances requiring the removal of the President or the Vice-President be investigated by a tribunal.

This motion must also particularise the ground on which the removal of the President is sought and be supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the Assembly.

Should the motion be successful, a tribunal consisting of a chairperson and 2 or 4 other members appointed by the Chief Justice , from amongst persons who hold or have held office as Judge, must be constituted to investigate the alleged violation or misconduct.

Should the tribunal, after its investigation, recommend the removal of the President to the Assembly, the Prime Minister, may then make a motion for the President’s removal.

Opposition MPs have also asked for the president’s resignation.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became the first woman to be sworn in as President of Mauritius in 2015.

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