Mau­ri­tius ap­proves first woman pres­i­dent

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Prom­i­nent sci­en­tist Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was Thurs­day ap­proved by the par­lia­ment of Mau­ri­tius as the In­dian Ocean is­land na­tion’s new pres­i­dent, mak­ing her the first woman to hold the cer­e­mo­nial po­si­tion.

Par­lia­ment speaker Maya Hanooman­jee, who is also the first woman to hold that post, said the over­whelm­ing ap­proval of GuribFakim’s des­ig­na­tion was a his­toric day for the coun­try. The op­po­si­tion also sup­ported her ap­point­ment, mak­ing the vote a mere for­mal­ity.

“I have al­ways be­lieved in the equal­ity of men and women,” Prime Min­is­ter Sir Anerood Jug- nauth told re­porters.

Her in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony will take place on Fri­day, of­fi­cials said.

Gurib-Fakim, 56, be­comes the first fe­male pres­i­dent of the is­land, which gained in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1968 and re­placed Bri­tain’s Queen El­iz­a­beth II as its head of state in 1992.

For­mer pres­i­dent Kailash Pur­ryag, who had been put in place by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, stepped down as the is­land’s fig­ure­head last week, hav­ing served as pres­i­dent since July 2012, when he was ap­pointed by the is­land’s pre­vi­ous Labour party gov­ern­ment of for­mer pre­mier Navin Ram­goolam.

The Labour party lost elec­tions to Jug­nauth last De­cem­ber, with vot­ers re­ject­ing a con­sti­tu­tional re­form plan that would have strength­ened the pow­ers of the pres­i­dent.

Ram­goolam him­self had hoped to even­tu­ally run for the new, more pow­er­ful po­si­tion. Since his elec­tion de­feat Pur­ryag has been seen as an un­wanted fig­ure­head, while Ram­goolam has been em­broiled in cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions that have shocked the is­land.

Mau­ri­tius is one of the rich­est — and least cor­rupt — coun­tries in Africa, a mid­dle-in­come na­tion of some 1.3 mil­lion peo­ple with a per capita GDP of just over US$9,000 (7,200 eu­ros).

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