Eleven of the twelve Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien (MSM) members, who have resigned from the Alliance de l’Avenir government, no longer have the right to sit in Parliament. They must resign and face the electorate afresh, said the Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam at a marathon press conference held on Sunday at his office in the Old Treasury Building, Port Louis.
The PM believes that the twelfth member Jim Seetaram who quit MSM to join the Labour Party cannot be accused of either political defection or of crossing the floor.
The Seetarams had always been Labourites, his father having served in Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam’s government.
He has only come back to the fold. It is the MSM members elected under the banner of ‘l’Alliance de l’Avenir’ that have crossed the floor by joining the opposition,” upholds Ramgoolam.
“If they have guts, they must resign and get a fresh mandate,” challenged the PM.
They resigned from the government because, explained the PM, he refused to put in a word with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in favour of Maya Hanoomanjee regarding the graft case against her.
“On this point I stand firm as a rock. I never intervene with any institutions no matter who is under investigation,” he said.
“Why didn’t they resign when Mookhesswur Choonee was arrested in 2001?” he asked. He too was an MSM minister like Hanoomanjee but, the PM pointed out, Choonee does not belong to the Jugnauth clan but she does.
The Prime Minister also confirmed that he had a long meeting on Saturday with MMM emissary Jayen Cuttaree who was for a Labour/MMM alliance in 2005 but it did not work out. Asked by The Independent if he was planning to meet MMM leader Paul Bérenger, the PM said that Cuttaree was arranging a meeting possibly this week to discuss ‘electoral reforms’.
The MSM leader Pravind Jugnauth did not wait to reply. “How can the PM ask us to resign from parliament when he himself dismissed us from the alliance? Of course we won’t,” he retorted adding that no one at MSM ever asked the PM to intervene with ICAC. Jugnauth is meeting the press this week to give his views on the political quagmire. He will deliver a radio address and receive questions on Wednesday afternoon.
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