Mauritian Premier Succeeded by Son, Opposition Plans Protest

Updated on
  • Pravind Jugnauth to retain finance ministry portfolio
  • Mauritian growth expected to accelerate to 4% this year

Pravind Jugnauth took over as Mauritius’s new prime minister, a day after his father resigned and bequeathed him the premiership, as the opposition announced plans to demonstrate against the transfer of power.

Jugnauth, 55, was sworn in Monday at a ceremony in the capital, Port Louis, and said he would retain his portfolio in the Finance Ministry. Opposition parties will gather in the city on Friday to protest the “indecent way the country is run,” Xavier Luc Duval, the head of the Parti Mauricien Social Democrate, said.

“The handing over of power was done in accordance with the law and with respect for the institutions and the constitution,” Jugnauth said in a phone interview in the Indian Ocean island nation’s capital, Port Louis. “If there is anyone who thinks that my appointment was made without respecting the law, he can have recourse to justice.”

Jugnauth, who served as Mauritius’s finance minister from 2003 to 2005 and 2010 to 2011, was reappointed to the post in May, hours after he won an appeal against a conviction on charges of corruption. In July, he delivered an annual budget that targeted development of the manufacturing, financial-services, tourism, and aquaculture industries to help lift the country’s economic growth rate.

The economy is expected to grow as much as 4 percent this year, compared with 3.6 percent in 2016, helped by the first expansion in the construction industry since 2011, Jugnauth later said in a statement read on MBC, the state-owned broadcaster. Foreign direct investment is expected to reach 17 billion rupees ($475 million) this year, he said.

‘New Momentum’

“I am determined to create a new momentum for our economy with the setting up of major projects in order to have adequate infrastructure to attract large investments,” Jugnauth said. The government will spend 30 billion rupees over three years on transport infrastructure, 25 billion rupees on renewable energy and other energy projects, and 13 billion rupees modernizing its port, he said.

Mauritius is the easiest place in Africa to do business, according to the World Bank, while the African Development Bank ranks it as the most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The sugar- and textile-exporting nation is targeting becoming a high-income country, which is defined as an economy with a gross national income per capita above $12,735, by 2025.

“We want to expand our economic space, especially in Africa,” Jugnauth said. “The tourism industry, supported by an appropriate air-access policy, and investment in new hotels, will also be called to continue its diversification.”

Jugnauth is the leader of the Mouvement Socialiste Militant that has ruled Mauritius since December 2014, when it came to power in an alliance with the PMSD and Muvmen Liberater. The PMSD quit the government in December, citing a disagreement over policy.

His father Anerood Jugnauth, 86, stepped down four months after saying he probably wouldn’t complete his term that was scheduled to end in 2019.

Roshi Bhadain, the immediate former minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, said he refused to take an oath of office on Monday because of the manner in which power was transferred. Sudhir Seesungkur was appointed instead.

“How do you want me to accept that the father leaves his post as prime minister, for no reason at all, and appoints his son in his place,” Bhadain told reporters in Port Louis. “Then the latter named his father as Mentor Minister. How do you want me to take an oath in these kind of conditions?”