Government ministers in Mauritius have agreed that the first female president of the country would have to leave her position after being implicated in a scandal involving her expenses. President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who is the only serving female president in Africa has been accused of using public money worth tens of thousands of dollars on personal purchases.
L’express newspaper reports that these expenses include payments to a dressmaker in Italy, duty-free purchases in Dubai as well as a platinum credit card offered by the Planet Earth Institute, a foundation being owned by Angolan billionaire Alvaro Sobrinho.
Government ministers have since launched impeachment procedures to dismiss the president after she refused to step down at the request of the prime minister, Pravind Jugnauth. The ministers arrived at the decision during a Cabinet meeting chaired by the prime minister in the afternoon of Thursday, March 8.
President Gurib-Fakim has, however, told Mauritius’ Radio Plus station that she will not resign.
“I will not resign. Let them institute their tribunal. I will see later if I am guilty. Since 2017, I have already refunded all the money,” she said as quoted by media CGTN Africa.
The decision to remove the president comes as Mauritius is preparing to celebrate its 50 years of independence. Local reporters say a national assembly is likely to be called next week, after independence day celebrations March 12. At the national assembly, there will be a motion to remove the president from office in line with the constitution for “violation of the constitution or any other serious act of misconduct.” If the motion is successful, a tribunal will begin an investigation and would recommend to the national assembly that the president is removed.
President Gurib-Fakim has been the country’s president since 2015. Mauritius, which recently emerged as the only African country that is practising a full democracy has had regular elections since it achieved its Republic status in 1992, 24 years after its independence in 1968.
The country observes a parliamentary democracy and the president and vice president are elected by the National Assembly for five-year terms. The Prime Minister is appointed by the president and is responsible to the National Assembly. He enjoys significant power whereas the President has a mostly ceremonial role.