Mauritius gets new PM, opposition demands new election

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new President of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (R) shaking hands with Mauritius’ Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth (L) as they pose with the cabinet during her swearing in ceremony at the State House, the president’s official residence, in Reduit, south of Port Louis. Mauritian Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth handed over power to his son Pravind on January 23, 2017 despite anger from the opposition which has called for new elections in the island nation. Jugnauth, 86, officially handed his resignation to President Ameenah Gurib Fakim — whose role is ceremonial — after long hinting he would step down before his term expires in 2019. / AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS LARCHE

Mauritian Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth handed over power to his son Pravind on Monday despite anger from the opposition which has called for new elections in the island nation.

Jugnauth, 86, officially handed his resignation to President Ameenah Gurib Fakim — whose role is ceremonial — after long hinting he would step down before his term expires in 2019.

“The job of prime minister involves great responsibility. It is a great burden. I have carried it but now it is time to make way for the youth,” he said after resigning.

His son Pravind, 55, was sworn in at a ceremony boycotted by the opposition.

Mauritius is a model of political stability in Africa, however the handover has created turbulence on the Indian Ocean island, best known as a dream beach holiday destination.

The younger Jugnauth was both finance minister and leader of the ruling Militant Socialist Movement (MSM). Constitutionally, it is he who takes over if the prime minister resigns.

However the opposition has rejected his “inheritance” of the position and called for a protest Friday.

“The best would have been for the prime minister to dissolve the national assembly before his resignation and call an early election,” said opposition leader and former prime minister Paul Berenger.

Former minister of good governance and financial services Roshi Badhain refused to join the new cabinet, saying the handover “was not in line with good governance”.

Anerood Jugnauth will remain in the cabinet with the title “mentor minister”, and will also be in charge of the defence and interior portfolios.

He will also remain in charge of dossiers regarding the Chagos Islands — whose residents were evicted to make way for a US military base — and the island of Tromelin whose waters are disputed between France and Mauritius.

Jugnauth has done several stints as premier since 1982 and one in the ceremonial role of president.

“It is a shame he has ended more than 50 years of political career in this way. We will organise a political campaign across the country to demand the holding of general elections,” Berenger said.

Mauritius, an island of 1.3 million inhabitants, regularly tops the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, and has held a series of peaceful elections and smooth handovers of power since independence from Britain in 1968.

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