Mauritius elects incumbent premier for five-year term

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Mauritius's Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) party observes a polling station for the Parliamentary election at Soopaya Soobiah Government School in Reduit, Mauritus, on November 7, 2019. -AFP

PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS - Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth's coalition on Friday won elections in Mauritius by a comfortable margin, reinforcing the legitimacy of a leader who took over from his father in 2017 without going through a vote.

Jugnauth's center-right Morisian Alliance won 38 of 62 seats — enough to secure the outright majority needed to form government alone, the election commission said.

"I have received a clear mandate," for a five-year term, Jugnauth told supporters, adding that he would be prime minister for all Mauritians.

The 57-year-old leader was hand-picked for the top job when his father quit two years before his term expired, spurring the jeers of nepotism that dogged Jugnauth during his brief time in office in the prosperous Indian Ocean archipelago nation that prides itself as a stable democracy in a sometimes volatile neighborhood.

His two opponents — both former premiers themselves, spearheading separate political alliances — hammered the point home on the campaign trail, urging voters to dump the Jugnauth clan.

But the prime minister urged Mauritians to judge him on his short time in office, talking up economic reforms and infrastructure programs as he pursued a popular mandate from the people.

The Electoral Commission said roughly three-quarters of the island's almost one million eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots on Thursday, a bit above the last poll in 2014.

Navin Ramgoolam, a two-time prime minister at the head of the center-left National Alliance, conceded defeat, saying it was "unexpected".

One of Ramgoolam's former allies Paul Berenger, and his Mauritian Militant Movement, followed suit, saying the results should be respected "without bitterness".

The vote was overwhelmingly peaceful across Mauritius, a former British colony that has evolved from a poor, agriculture-based economy to a relatively wealthy financial services hub and tourist beacon.

The country of 1.3 million prides itself as a secure and thriving democracy free of the social and political upheaval roiling some of its African neighbors near and far. -AFP


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