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LALIT on Resignation of Prime Minister and the Probable Nomination of Pravind Jugnauth


LALIT is not surprised at all at the resignation as Prime Minister of Sir Aneerood Jugnauth only two years into his mandate. During the electoral campaign in 2014, it was clear that the political strategy of the MSM, and the Lalyans Lepep that it headed, was to have MSM leader Pravind Jugnauth replace him as soon as possible, whether he was Prime Minister or, considered more likely at the time, Opposition Leader. Everyone knew this, and discussed it at the time. However, this MSM and Lalyans Lepep political strategy had to be put on “hold” because of the guilty verdict in the conflict-of-interest case against Pravind Jugnauth, which provoked his resignation as Minister, until he won his appeal when he was re-instated. So, it was only a matter of time. (And it goes without saying that there could be further problems in future if there is a guilty verdict at the Privy Council.)

It is a sign of the bankruptcy of the Opposition Parties – from the Labour to the MMM, from PMSD to even extra-Parliamentary parties like Rezistans – that they have fallen into a hysterical campaign to try to hound the MSM-ML-OPR out of Government on the grounds of a mixture of “anti-dynasty” rhetoric and purely technical interpretations of the Constitution. What they should be doing instead is opposing the MSM Government on its utter failure to come up with any economic measures – either for production to be started up, with jobs created in this production, or to quell the neo-colonization (through settlers) that this Government has, instead, if anything, speeded up. It is this failure on the front of creating new production and new productive jobs that is making the people of the country furious with the Government. But, to try to hound the Government out on the basis of the “papa piti” argument is both childish and politically dangerous populism. Many of the accusers in the anti-“papa piti” brigade are themselves “piti papa”. There is Navin Ramgoolam who is the son the Father of the Nation. Arvin Boolell is the son of Sir Satcam. Xavier Duval, is the son of Gaetan, the nephew of two other political Duvals, the father of another and the uncle of others. This is a generalized phenomenon (take Bush’s and Clintons, or Nehru-Gandhi’s) not easily solved by mere legislation, let alone by hysteria. But, the point is that we in LALIT, in our proposals for proper Electoral Reform, would prevent this kind of confusion as to who is Prime Minister, in the first place. But, the Opposition Parties in this hysterical campaign have never proposed anything similar to what LALIT is proposing and do not even think about it.         

The Westminster system, which LALIT is very critical of on many points, is based on the principle that the person who commands a majority in the National Assembly is Prime Minister. This is just as the person who commands a majority in the Opposition is Leader of the Opposition. So long as Labour and the Independents gave the MMM even tacit support, Bérenger was Opposition Leader, even with the MMM having recently had only six of the 15 Opposition Members. When Xavier Duval resigned from Government and the PMSD was so much bigger than the MMM, clearly Paul Bérenger knew he would not command a majority for long, so he resigned. The Prime Minister (or for that matter Leader of the Opposition) is not directly linked to the general election, but linked consequentially. This is simply because Westminster is based on the very democratic “Constituency” system: for a start, Aneerood Jugnauth, although put forward as future Prime Minister during campaigning, might not have been elected in the Constituency of Riviere du Rempart.

After election results are totted up, the President then nominates the person with a majority. It used to be, in Britain, that the Queen knew who commanded a majority only by having some occult royal powers, and something of this has remained in Mauritius: the President is supposed to look at whose face is on the posters of the winning alliance – which is not very constitutional behaviour, and falls short when that person is not elected – and nominate him!

To clear up this absurd situation, LALIT has for a long time proposed that as soon as results are declared, the National Assembly meets and after electing a new Speaker, elects the Prime Minister. This has two functions: it makes it clear that the Prime Minister does command a majority (even in the case where the person on the posters is not elected in his or her constituency), and it also introduces a new democratic element: the Prime Minister gains a certain new democratic legitimacy beyond what Westminster has.

And the MSM acts as usual in a crude way just as Sir Aneerood is a rough-and-ready man for the “legalist” he claims he is. Politically speaking, what SAJ ought to have announced is his resignation as Prime Minister and the Lepep Alliance’s meeting on the spot to elect a new Leader. Aneerood Jugnauth makes a political and ethical faux-pas when he personally announces his successor, thus re-enforcing the dynastic nature of the Prime Ministerial succession. He is merely assuming that Pravind Jugnauth commands a majority, and the President will have to make the same assumption, too. But the President is always in this ridiculous posture, even immediately after an election. This is what needs to be changed.

On another tack, we do not know if the Opposition Parties are calling for a law that the children of Ministers are to be deprived of their rights to stand for similar office. But, other than this, it is our political work to prevent dynasties. It cannot be achieved by bureaucratic means like legislation or going to the Courts.

Here is the link to our Constitutional Proposals which help us get a better understanding of what is going on than the other Opposition Parties.

Signed: LALIT

9:00 a.m. on 23 January 20217