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ELECTION FEVER: Jugnauth retains seat as Prime Minister of Mauritius3 min read

Jugnauth’s party won 38 of 62 seats – enough to secure the outright majority needed to form a government alone

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ELECTION FEVER: Jugnauth retains seat as Prime Minister of 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 centre-right Morisian Alliance won 38 of 62 seats – enough to secure the outright majority needed to form a 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 neighbourhood.

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 centre-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”.

Family under fire

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 neighbours near and far.

Jugnauth had pointed to his stewardship of the economy, which grew at nearly four percent in 2018, social reforms and an infrastructure drive when opponents denounced “papa-piti” (from father to son) politics during the campaign.

Jugnauth has also introduced a minimum wage, about 215 euros ($240) a month, increased pensions for the elderly and reformed labour laws. The first stage of a new light rail network is also scheduled to open in December. 

But this is not without its problems.

Youth unemployment, at 22 percent, is also high and income inequality is seen as deepening in the diverse country of 1.3 million.

It has also earned a reputation as a tax haven, and has come under fire for helping global companies park their wealth offshore, particularly those operating in some of its African neighbours.

Pope Francis, who visited in September, urged the country against seeking profit at all costs.

Mauritius is predominantly Hindu but has sizeable Christian and Muslim minorities.

While voters choose 62 MPs, the Electoral Commission appoints eight others from those not elected but who attained the highest scores. This system rebalances the distribution of seats between parties and communities.

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Supporters of Sudan’s Bashir oppose handover to ICC

Supporters of ousted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir held a protest Saturday vowing to oppose any move by the country’s new authorities to hand him over to the International Criminal Court

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Supporters of ousted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir held a protest Saturday vowing to oppose any move by the country’s new authorities to hand him over to the International Criminal Court.

Dozens of his supporters, carrying Bashir’s portrait, gathered outside the Khartoum court where he is being tried on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.

“We are with you. We will never betray you. No, no to ICC,” chanted the crowd as the former president was brought to the courthouse for a hearing.

The demonstration comes amid growing calls from human rights groups, activists and victims of Sudan’s Darfur war for the surrender of Bashir to The Hague-based court.

“President Bashir represents the whole of Sudan. We have an independent judiciary and if any trials are to be held, they must be held here,” said protester Mohamed Ali Daklai.

“We reject any outside or foreign tribunal. ICC is anyway a political court used by Western countries to pressure the weak.”

Bashir was ousted by the army on April 11 following nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.

The military generals who initially seized power after the president’s fall refused to hand Bashir over to the ICC.

He is wanted by the ICC for his alleged role in the Darfur war that erupted in 2003 as ethnic African rebels took up arms against Bashir’s then Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalizing the region economically and politically.

Khartoum applied what rights groups say was a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

The ICC has accused Bashir of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the vast western region of Darfur. He denies the charges.

About 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades after seizing power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, is being held in a Khartoum prison and facing trial on corruption charges.

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Central Africa News

Rebels in DR Congo kill 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives

Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country,

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Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country, a local official said on Saturday.

The latest killings, which occurred in the night from Friday to Saturday, take the total number of those killed in revenge attacks in the past two weeks to more than 30.

The attacks took place in two locations in the Beni region of the North Kivu province where the Congolese army last month announced an offensive to root out insurgents belonging to the Islamist-inspired rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a militia of Ugandan origin that has long operated in the border region.

Beni administrator Donat Kibwana said the attackers used machetes and knives and were believed to have gone on to loot shops and homes.

The army said on October 30 it had launched “large-scale operations”, including shelling and troop deployments, aimed at ridding the area of armed groups. 

But the civilian death toll in ADF attacks has been rising, and residents have accused the army of focusing their efforts on the wrong areas. 

“It’s a complicated situation because the population is the target of ADF revenge attacks against army operations,” said Teddy Kataliko, president of the Beni Civil Society.

The ADF, which has been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995, is accused of having killed hundreds or even thousands of civilians in the Beni region in the past five years.

The Islamic State jihadist group has claimed some of the ADF’s recent attacks but there is no clear evidence of any affiliation between them. 

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Politics

Mozambique’s Renamo lose bid to annul election

The Constitutional Court rejected the application on grounds Renamo “did not submit enough evidence to sustain it’s complaint”.

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Mozambique’s largest opposition party Renamo has lost its bid to annul last month’s election results after the country’s top court threw out its challenge, according to a court judgement seen Friday.

Renamo, the rebel group turned opposition party, lodged an application after it lost the October 15 election to the long-ruling Frelimo party.

It accused the government of “massive electoral fraud” and of using violence and intimidation on voting day in a breach of a peace deal between the two parties who once fought a civil war.

But the Constitutional Court, in a judgement dated November 11 but seen on its website on Friday, rejected the application on grounds that the party “did not submit enough evidence to sustain its complaint”.

Last week the European Union cast doubt on the credibility of the ruling party’s victory, saying its observers detected a litany of “irregularities and malpractices” and called on authorities to clarify them.

Mozambican civil society and international observers had already flagged numerous alleged attempts to stuff ballot boxes and chase away election monitors, as well as hundreds of thousands of so-called “ghost voters” on the electoral roll.

Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 per cent of the votes cast.

The election posed a major challenge to the country’s already fragile peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo who fought a civil war from 1975-1992 that left one million dead.

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