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Ram Seegobin Comments on Labour-MMM Coalition Negotiations


In a press statement on the confused political situation, a statement that was requested by a daily newspaper, Ram Seegobin, gave the following declaration in the name of LALIT today, Sunday 8 June. He began by reminding people that LALIT two weeks ago distributed a leaflet denouncing the Labour-MMM alliance being cobbled together.

We called it, and this is patently true, an alliance that was created and is being manipulated by the private sector bosses, and this, in their interests. The bosses openly argue (through people like Lindsay Riviére, Rajiv Servansingh, Tim Taylor – all big-time representatives of the bosses, in their different ways)that they want a strong Government, an authoritarian Government, one without a meaningful opposition, so that this strong Government can impose austerity measures on the working people of the country, so that capitalists can, in this way, confront the crisis in the sugar industry, in tourism and in many other sectors. The bosses openly call for a program of privatization and of dismantling the welfare state. For this, they say, they need “strong Government” to impose “unpopular measures”.

Listening to Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam yesterday, Ram Seegobin continued, it becomes clear that he does not just want a 60-0 in the coming general elections, but that he actually wants to avoid any meaningful part of the electorate not actually voting for him and his allies. So, he, too, wants this “strong Government”.

All this to say, that from LALIT’s point of view, if the alliance has effectively broken down with Bérenger yesterday announcing that their coalition being negotiated is no longer “on”, so much the better. We want none of this kind of dangerous alliance between Government and Opposition in order to force the working people and the poor to bear the brunt of the crisis that is the fault of the capitalist class.

Clearly, this is no more than a new Bérenger move in what are ongoing negotiations. LALIT notes that Bérenger uses and abuses this tactic regularly. He used it again and again in his Re-Make negotiations with Aneerood and Pravind Jugnauth, and he used it only a month ago with Navin Ramgoolam, himself.

However, the fact remains that Navin Ramgoolam, who is Prime Minister, and Paul Bérenger, who is supposed to be Leader of the Opposition, held a joint press conference. This is not the stuff of the usual Mauritian political system at all. What kind of an Opposition Leader does this?

What is, of course, happening is that both Ramgoolam and Bérenger, for a second time, are realizing that there is very violent opposition to their proposed coalition within their respective ranks. The outcry is obviously worse in the MMM. Ivan Collendavelloo is an indicator of this revolt, not the totality of it. The rough language in public of MMM members in every corner of the country is continuing. Labour is also under enormous pressure. And we should not be surprized at the open revolt, because these two individual leaders are cobbling together what suits their own personal political interests, and everything else has become secondary. It would be unlikely that their interests coincide with the aspirations of their political bases. They do not.

So, all that is happening now, after Clarisse House joint meeting number 3, is identical to what happened last time after Clarisse House 2: both leaders are calming down the mutinies in their respective camps. They do this by pretending (for a while) that it is all “off”.

The fact remains, however, that the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader held a JOINT press conference. Actions speak louder than words. And this took place after the meeting at which Bérenger says he discovered that Ramgoolam was re-negging on certain “details”. So, Bérenger knowingly performed a charade in the joint press conference. All he is doing is trying to strengthen his hand in ongoing negotiations. He has successfully made Navin Ramgoolam get rid of his MSM ally in Government during Round One, and now in Round Two, he has had Ramgoolam’s other ally, the PMSD, kicked out.

Both Ramgoolam and Bérenger maintain that they are in complete agreement on the fundamental issues, and that there are only details separating them.