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From opposing to proposing

The resignation of the PMSD from the Alliance Lepep government on Monday, two years after this alliance won a landslide victory at the general elections, has surprised many. Not really for the act itself but more for the timing.  

Although it was an open secret that the Leader of the PMSD Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval felt uneasy on a number of issues, few would bet that he would choose to leave in such a hurried way, without a proper planning for his party and his political career above all. 

WHAT HAS REALLY PROMPTED THE EXIT OF THE PMSD?    

It is hard to believe that Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval’s disagreement over the Prosecution Commission Bill has prompted his exit from the government, in which until Monday he occupied the second position in the hierarchy. Incidentally Mr. Duval chaired the committee that examined the Prosecution Commission Bill. Was it so hard to get his views accepted? 

If we go by what the Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth told the media after he participated in an end-of-year gathering organized by the MSM in Piton (his constituency, Piton/Rivière-du-Rempart), it would appear that Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval’s only request was to postpone debates on the Prosecution Commission Bill to next year. Ultimately, this is what has happened, the government realizing that it would be wiser to adopt a “wait and see” attitude, as confirmed by the Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth on Wednesday. He was participating in a gathering for senior citizens at Rivière-du-Rempart. 

Now that he has crossed the point of no return, the leader of the PMSD has no alternative but to deploy the heavy artillery. Like puffing out his chest that he has saved the country from a totalitarian drift and that in the process democracy was preserved. 

True it is that the real motives of the government in presenting the Prosecution Commission Bill were not clear. What was even more disturbing was the hurriedness. Some members of the government, like the Attorney General Mr. Ravi Yerrigadoo, did try to provide some simple explanations but that did not suffice. Public opinion had already made its way. The Mauritius Bar Council and the Law Society, which met informally on Monday, urged the government to withdraw both the Prosecution Commission Bill and the Constitution Amendment Bill, deploring the “indecent hurriedness” with which these bills have been “rushed through Parliament”. That says it all! 

One of the explanations provided by an MP from the majority, barrister Mr. Ravi Rutnah, further contributed to the confusion. He told Radio Plus that among others, it was because some ten provisional charges against the former Prime Minister Dr. Navin Ramgoolam had been dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that it had become even more necessary that the DPP be made more accountable. Others argued that it was the fact that the DPP is appealing against the judgment of the Supreme Court, following the decision of this court to quash an earlier judgment by the Intermediate Court that had found Mr. Pravind Jugnauth guilty in the MedPoint case, that means were being found out to muzzle the DPP.    

“ As at now, the MSM has 32 MPs, the ML has seven MPs and the Organisation du Peuple Rodriguais (OPR, which supports the government) has two MPs. With a majority of 41 seats at the National Assembly, it should not be difficult for the Alliance Lepep to rule, unless there are several departures or a break-up with its current ally, the Mouvman Liberater. "

DEPRIVED OF ITS THREE-QUARTER MAJORITY 

In the end, the resignation of the PMSD from the government now deprives the Alliance Lepep government from its three-quarter majority, which Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval has termed as being like the sword of Damocles, dangling over the heads of the population. In clear, the Alliance Lepep government will no longer toy with the idea of amending the Constitution time and again. 

In a communiqué issued by the Mouvement Premier Mai (MPM) on Thursday, one of its spokesperson Mr. Jack Bizlall summarizes the objective of the government, in coming forward with the Prosecution Commission Bill, as follows: “(…) The objective is to centralize everything within a State and to control that State in all its compartments directly or by persons working for them”. The MPM even identifies the mastermind of the whole strategy. He adds that this person has understood how Lee Kwan Yu had imposed his dynasty on Singaporean politics.    

With the sudden departure of the PMSD (and its eleven MPs) from the government, the MSM has no choice but to butter up the Muvman Liberater (ML) and its leader, Mr. Ivan Collendavelloo. That explains why he queue-jumped from number four to number two in the government, though Mr. Showkutally Soodhun may not like it. 

As at now, the MSM has 32 MPs, the ML has seven MPs and the Organisation du Peuple Rodriguais (OPR, which supports the government) has two MPs. With a majority of 41 seats at the National Assembly, it should not be difficult for the Alliance Lepep to rule, unless there are several departures or a break-up with its current ally, the Mouvman Liberater. That seems quite unlikely given the opportunism that characterizes the party. 

LARGE SCALE MANOEUVRES POSTPONED TO MARCH 2017

The strategy of the Sir Anerood Jugnauth and the MSM is too clear. The large scale manoeuvres have been postponed to end of March 2017, prior to the resuming of the National Assembly. That would give ample time to Sir Anerood Jugnauth to complete some of his unfinished business and to participate in the laying of the foundation stone of the Metro Express. This would be left as a legacy, instead of the doomed Heritage City.

Also, but more importantly, this would give more time to the Leader of the MSM and current Minister of Finance Mr. Pravind Jugnauth to prepare to replace his illustrious father as Prime Minister. At the same time, he would chose his team while presenting a new government. 

These three months would also provide the MSM with time to go on a fishing expedition, first from the PMSD itself (already the names of Mrs. Marie-Claire Monty and Mr Guito Lepoigneur are being mentioned), then from the Mouvement Patriotique (MP) led by Mr. Alan Ganoo and from the independent MPs (five in all). This a high-risk matter which involves ethnic considerations and maintaining political stronghold in the various constituencies. 

The untimely arrival of the PMSD in the opposition has had its toll too, the first casualty being the Leader of the MMM, Mr. Paul Bérenger who has lost his post of Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Bérenger was very elegant to submit his resignation as Leader of the Opposition to make way for Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval. 

Now, will Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval prove his mettle as Leader of the Opposition?  So far, he has been used to occupy high positions within various governments. He is perceived as being more a government member than an opposition Leader. Will he succeed in uniting the opposition which comprises diverse parties like the Labour Party, the MMM and the MP? 

Or how long will a shrewd political like Mr. Paul Bérenger play second fiddle in the opposition? He, who has been used to lead the opposition, would no doubt find it difficult to operate within such a diverse opposition. It is a fact that from April 2006 to September 2007 when the PMSD (then led by Mr. Maurice Allet removed its support to the MMM), Mr. Bérenger lost his post of Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Nando Bodha was appointed as Leader of the Opposition. Will this situation not create opportunities for a new rapport with the MSM? 

It seems obvious that Mr. Xavier-Luc Duval will have a working arrangement with the Labour Party. The grapevine has it that an agreement “à la israelienne” has been negotiated between the Labour Party and the PMSD, to allow the leader of the PMSD to become the Prime Minister for at least two years. Meanwhile, the country has a new Leader of the Opposition, pending the appointment of a new Prime Minister!

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