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Mauritius : Constitution and politics

Constitution

Status: 
Republic
Legislature: 
Parliament of Mauritius
Independence: 
12 March 1968

The independence constitution established a multiparty democracy, and the country became a republic in 1992. The presidency is non- executive; political power lies with the Prime Minister and the cabinet. The President is appointed for a five-year term by the National Assembly on a motion made by the Prime Minister and supported by the vote of the majority of all the members of the Assembly. The single-chamber National Assembly comprises up to 70 members, 62 of whom are elected (60 from 20 three-member constituencies on the island of Mauritius plus two from the single constituency of Rodrigues). Up to eight additional seats are allocated to ‘best losers’, to ensure representation of a variety of ethnic groups.

The constitution provides for the appointment of President, Vice- President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, a cabinet of ministers, and up to ten parliamentary secretaries. Provision is further made for an Attorney-General, a secretary to the cabinet, a commissioner of police, a director of public prosecutions and a Leader of the Opposition.

General elections take place every five years, based on universal adult suffrage for citizens over the age of 18. The constitution establishes the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It guarantees the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual: freedom of conscience, freedom of association, movement and opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of creed and religious belief, and the right to private property.

Politics

The elections in September 2000 were won by an alliance of the two main opposition parties, the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien (MSM) and the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM), taking 54 seats while the alliance led by the Labour Party won only six, and MSM–MMM alliance leader Sir Anerood Jugnauth formed a new government, with MMM leader Paul Bérenger as his deputy until September 2003 when, by agreement, Bérenger became Prime Minister and caretaker President Karl Offmann made way for Jugnauth to become President.

In the July 2005 general election, the opposition Social Alliance (with 38 seats) defeated the governing alliance (22 seats) and Labour Party leader Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam became Prime Minister. Turnout was over 80 per cent.

The general election in May 2010 was won by Ramgoolam’s newly formed Alliance of the Future, with 45 seats (including four best losers), while the opposition Alliance of the Heart – led by Paul Bérenger – won 20 (including two best losers). Turnout was 78 per cent.

At the end of March 2012 Jugnauth resigned the presidency to return to party politics. Vice-President Monique Ohsan-Bellepeau became acting President. On 20 July 2012 Rajkeswur Purryag was elected President by a majority of the members of the National Assembly.

The general election held on 10 December 2014 was won by the MSM-led Alliance Lepep, which secured 51 seats, including four best losers. The governing Labour Party–MMM alliance took 16 seats, including three best losers, and the Organisation of the People of Rodrigues two. Alliance Lepep formed a coalition government with Sir Anerood Jugnauth as Prime Minister.

On 29 May 2015 President Rajkeswur Purryag resigned and Vice-President Monique Ohsan-Bellepeau became acting President. On 4 June 2015 Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was unanimously elected President by the National Assembly.

Head of government

The Rt Hon Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister
The Right Hon Sir Anerood Jugnauth was sworn in as Prime Minister of Mauritius following December 2014 elections. Elected for the first time as member of the Legislative Assembly for the Constituency of Rivière du Rempart in 1963, he has been returned in the Constituency of Piton-Rivière du Rempart in seven General Elections from 1976 to 2014. He first became Prime Minister in 1982 and remained in office until 1995. He has also served as Prime Minister from 2000 to 2003 and also as President of the Republic from 2003 to 2012. This is his sixth mandate as Prime Minister. He served as Leader of the Opposition during the period 1976-1982. He holds a LLB from the Lincoln’s Inn, University of London. He was called to the Bar in 1954. He is the holder of several prestigious local and international Awards, including the Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG), conferred in 1988. He was born on 29 March 1930 in Mauritius.