Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has refused to resign, vowing to fight allegations that saw her embroiled in a financial scandal, the presidency said in a statement Wednesday.
Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, has been accused of using a bank card provided by an NGO to make personal purchases.
Last Friday Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced that Gurib-Fakim had agreed to resign, with a date set for her departure after Monday’s ceremony celebrating the Indian Ocean archipelago nation’s 50 years of independence.
However a statement from the presidency slammed “weeks of attacks and false allegations” and said that Gurib-Fakim planned to clear her name and would not resign.
“Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, having nothing to feel guilty about and able to provide corroborating evidence, rejects any idea of resigning,” read the statement.
Gurib-Fakim, whose role is mostly ceremonial, is a scientist and biologist of international renown, and in 2015 joined the London-based Planet Earth Institute (PEI) to try and develop scientific capacity in Africa.
The statement from the presidency said that in May 2016, she received a credit card to pay for travel and logistical expenses linked to her role.
Gurib-Fakim “who already had an identical credit card from the same bank inadvertently used the card from the PEI for expenses not linked to her mission totalling $26,000 (21,000 euros)”, said the statement.
She said she immediately informed the PEI and paid back the amount, as well as all expenses paid by the PEI for her missions.
This is confirmed by a statement released by the PEI.
Gurib-Fakim “thus never received gifts, favours, wages or expenses from the PEI, nor undue benefits or advantage. Her mission ended on March 20, 2017,” said the statement.