Mauritius President to Step Down Amid Row Over Credit Card Spending


The president of Mauritius, who was accused of using a credit card issued by a charity to buy clothes and jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars, will step down, the prime minister announced on Friday.

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth told reporters that Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first female president of the island nation off the east coast of Africa, would resign after Monday, when the country marks its 50th anniversary.

“The president of the republic told me that she would resign from office and we agreed on the date of her departure,” Mr. Jugnauth said in Port Louis, the capital, according to the BBC.

He did not provide the exact date of her departure, but he said her resignation would take place before Parliament returns at the end of the month.

“The interest of the country comes first, and I am proud of Mauritius’s image as a model of living democracy in the world,” Mr. Jugnauth added.

Ms. Gurib-Fakim, a chemistry professor who was appointed to the largely ceremonial post in 2015, has denied any wrongdoing and said she had refunded all the money she spent.


“I do not owe anything to anybody,” she said on Wednesday. “Why is this issue coming up now, almost a year later, on the eve of our independence day celebrations?”

The local newspaper L’express published bank documents purporting to show that the president had shopped in Italy and Dubai in 2016 with a credit card issued by Planet Earth Institute, a London-based charitable organization, according to the BBC.

Ms. Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, was appointed to the charity’s board as an unpaid director in 2015, but resigned two years later.

The Planet Earth Institute, which supports education by offering scholarships, is accredited to the United Nations Environmental Program and says its mission is the “scientific independence of Africa.”

The organization was not immediately available for comment.

Analysts said that while Ms. Gurib-Fakim had a considerable international profile, her popularity at home was waning, according to CNN.

Mauritians increasingly saw her as a “president in transit” because of her frequent trips abroad, Rabin Bhujun, managing editor of the local news site ION News, told CNN.

“How does it benefit the country for her to be on the Forbes list?” he said. “This is an important factor which encouraged the government to get rid of her. They felt she wasn’t a heavyweight in politics and had no problem sacking her.”

Mauritius, a diverse country of about 1.3 million, is a popular tropical tourist destination. The country also has a reputation as a tax haven, with lax laws that provide loopholes for racketeers and would-be arms dealers seeking to use it for international transactions.


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