Mauritius Finance Minister Quits as Premier Takes Overby
Finance minister was admitted to the hospital earlier in March
Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo moved to foreign affairs ministry
Mauritian Finance Minister Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo quit because of poor health related to fatigue and Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth had taken the ministry under his helm following a Monday meeting.
“I met with the finance minister this morning and he told me that he was the victim of overwork and he asked me to relieve him of his duty,” Jugnauth told reporters at his office. “So I decided to withdraw the Ministry of Finance from” him and he’ll move to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Lutchmeenaraidoo, 71, was admitted to the hospital on March 2 suffering from fatigue that made him susceptible to infections, he told the Port Louis-based l’Express newspaper earlier this month. While he was discharged on March 8, he has yet to return to work.
He issued a statement Sunday to deny reports in newspapers including l’Express that he received a 1.1 million-euro ($1.2 million) loan from the government-controlled SBM Group.
Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation with a $12 billion economy, is ranked by the United Nations as Africa’s most developed economy. Its government has used the country’s strategic location and pro-business policies to market itself as a financial gateway to the continent, particularly for Chinese and Indian investors.
Jugnauth, who turns 86 this month, has been prime minister since December 2014, when the Mouvement Socialiste Militant, led by his son Pravind Jugnauth, won elections in an alliance with the Parti Mauricien Social Democrate and Muvmen Liberater. Pravind Jugnauth resigned from his post as technology minister last year after a court found him guilty of corruption, a ruling that he’s appealing. Under MSM rules, Pravind Jugnauth would become the next prime minster should his father quit the post.
Lutchmeenaraidoo didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone seeking comment. He “will not speak to the press for the moment,” his spokesman, Akilesh Roopun, said in an e-mailed response to questions.
The case against Jugnauth has “destabilized” the government, Lutchmeenaraidoo said in the interview with l’Express.
Lutchmeenaraidoo said the 400,000 euro-loan he received was repayable at an interest rate of 1.5 percent a year, he said on his Facebook page.
“I offered my home as bank guarantee,” Lutchmeenaraidoo said. “I did not obtain any favor.”