All LALIT’s 28 candidates for the general elections, due on 10 December, met the Press on Thursday in order to draw lots so as to know which of the four “communities” to fill in on their Nomination Papers or whether to opt not to. The action is a protest against the continuation of the communal “best loser system” that is still in place, despite a lot of propaganda to the effect that it is not. “It is a question of fact,” Lindsey Collen said at the Press Conference. “On 11 December when counting is over, when the 62 elected MP’s have been announced, then the Electoral Supervisory Commission will, business as usual, meet in order to proceed with the “colonial” classification of the population into 4 pre-determined communities, according to the 1972 Census, and proceed with the classification of the 62 elected MP’s into the same 4 pre-determined communities according to the community filled in on the Nomination Papers or the 5th option not to declare. Then the ESC compares the proportions, and proceeds with the nomination of eight Best Losers as MPs”. She said that the Best Loser System is one of the many forms of institutionalized communalism in place.
LALIT opposes this classification of both the population and the elected members of the National Assembly, and has done so by means of a similar protest action since 1983. “Not only is the Best Loser System still in operation,” she said, “but the mini-Amendment to the Constitution that allows candidates to opt for a fifth ‘virtual community’ of conscientious objectors, disappears on 12 December. We are then literally back to square one. It was only ever a temporary affair.” She said that it was impossible for LALIT to accept the absurd concession made by the mini-amendment. Thus the protest of drawing lots for a filling in what “community” has to continue. “LALIT wants all MPs to represent their constituencies, and to represent the program of the Party they belong to, not some ex post facto community that gets tied on to them by the ESC.”
She said that LALIT noted that the Lepep Alliance (MSM-PMSD-Collendavelloo) had undertaken to leave the Best Loser System in place. So, they are no choice. And, she said, the Labour-MMM alliance is coming up with something much worse. First they will amend the Best Loser System to leave the nomination of Best Losers in the hands of party leaders. Second, they have tied up and locked in even this change to other more dangerous changes in their proposed “Second Republic”. This “Second Republic” will concentrate enormous powers in the hands of an Executive President, who will answer neither to the National Assembly, nor to the judiciary, even for criminal offenses. This, if it comes about, is the beginning of a dictatorship, she said. So, just on this one programmatic item, it is only LALIT that has a clear program for Electoral Reform, one that genuinely brings more democracy.
Proceeding to the drawing of lots, as an introduction, Ram Seegobin said that the Constitution defines “four communities” by “way of life”. Aspects like “religion” or “country of origin” are merely aspects of this “way of life”. LALIT candidates consider that our way of life is not different from the rest of the people of Mauritius’ way of life. Any one of us can thus represent any group, for the simple reason that our way of life is so similar. What counts for us is our political program.
“Our drawing of lots,” he said, “is in order to denounce this classification of the people. In the 2000 General Elections, Yousouf Mohamed thought he could classify LALIT candidates on the basis of their names. But the Seetulsing judgment in the Supreme Court established that there is no way that the Supreme Court can know what a candidates way of life is, and whether it is different from that of someone who is supposedly in another community. Judge Seetulsing called for electoral reform in order to deal with the anachronism that the Best Loser System is.”
“It had never been the aim of LALIT’s struggle,” he continued, “to create a niche for our own candidates to fill in a fifth category, i.e. a blank, while the Best Loser System continues as before. “We oppose the classification of the whole population and of Parliament”, he said, “as well as that of candidates, and we oppose it because we oppose the communalization of politics.”
“We draw lots in order to denounce the practice of communal classification. This practice will continue as usual after votes have been counted in the coming election. The Mini-Amendment to the Constitution has done no more than create a fifth category.”
“The lots we will draw today represent the new situation after the mini-amendment: we will draw one of five bits of wood from a cloth bag: the four ‘communities” named in the Constitution and a blank one,” he explained.
Immediately after actually drawing lots, each candidate then came forward and signed a letter renouncing a best loser seat, and calling for their names not to be associated with the best loser system in any way. These letters are to be sent to the Electoral Supervisory Commission.
LALIT’s candidates all drew lots:
1 Roland Bousac
2 Georges Herchenroder
3 Anne-Marie Joly
4 Sergio Monple
5 Kisna Kistnasamy
6 Franco Onno
7 Alain Ah-Vee
8 Roland Fozoo
9 Shardanand Lilldharry
10 Sitresen Marday
11 Sonia Dick
12 Cindy Clelie
13 Corinne Phillipe
14 Laval Yves
15 Arnaud Carolin
16 Martine Mavisa
17 Rajni Lallah
18 Ram Seegobin
19 Christian Battour
20 Ricardo Durhone