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After UNHRC decision, fight against the Best Loser System still on the agenda

06.09.2012


Members of LALIT were the first since 1983 to refuse to classify ourselves and to declare to which ethnic group we belong to participate in general elections. We did this through drawing of lots to designate the community to appear on our Nomination Paper. But in the 2000 General Elections an elector contested in the Supreme Court this mode of operation used by LALIT.
In his judgment, Judge Seetulsing maintained that the Supreme Court is not entitled to determine someone’s community if that person refuses to classify himself in a particular community.
Furthermore, LALIT appreciates the recent decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in favour of Rezistans ek Alternativ. However, the complaint lodged by this team before this UN body as well as before the Supreme Court and the Privy Council concerns only the obligation to all candidates to declare to which ethnic group they belong, without questioning the Best Loser System. They even conceded that not filling their community on the Nomination Paper “does not affect the operation of the BLS”.
Rezistans ek Alternativ is merely attacking this obligation for candidates to declare their communities. This obligation can be removed but the Best Loser remains as it is. Besides in the 2005 elections after the Balancy Judgment, eleven candidates did not declare their communities but they did participate in the elections. In spite of this possibility the communal Best Loser has remained. It is this particular fact that trouble us and makes us uncomfortable. In LALIT we have always been in favour of the abolition of the Best Loser System but this should be done in the framework of an electoral reform. This opinion of the UNHRC can represent a kind of pressure on the Mauritian State who has signed a certain number of international conventions in respect to human rights.
It may be that this decision bring the question of electoral reform back on the agenda. We note that today leaders of all main political parties are in favour of doing away with this requirement relating to the declaration to which ethnic group one belongs as it appears on the Nomination Paper, but they have divergent positions on the Best Loser System. They are not agreeing on the formula for the BLS. The declaration of ethnic group on the NP can be removed but we have to be on our guard, they can find a disguise way to maintain the BLS formula where the declaration of ethnic group is still present.

Translation of Ram Seegobin’s comments, appeared on Le Mauricien of 5 th September 2012.