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Mauritian president Ameena Gurib-Fakim is poised to step down from office following allegations of financial impropriety.
President Ameena, who was sworn into office in June 2015, is expected to resign “shortly after the celebrations of March 12, but definitely before the return to parliament,” revealed Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth on Friday.
Her presidency has been abruptly ended by what is called the Platinum Card Case, brought to light by a Mauritian daily, L’Express.
Documents obtained by the daily show that, in 2016, the president was given a credit card linked to a Barclays Bank account funded by the NGO Planet Earth Institute, ostensibly to be used in the promotion and financing of a PhD program.
However, a significant number of the expenses captured on the card seemed to be of a personal nature, bearing no relation to the stated purpose of the account. Such expenses included a $1,300 purchase at an Apple Store in Washington D.C., about $15,000 spent on three items in Dubai, and a total of $14,500 spent on three purchases within a week at a jewelry shop in Port Louis. There were also purchases made in Rome.
Such acts go against the spirit of the Mauritian constitution, as the person appointed to the office of the presidency is expected to relinquish all other posts, and not receive any form of payment other than the official salary.
Such benefits aren’t the only murky matter in this case.
The PhD program was supposed to be a joint venture involving the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yet the Foundation has refuted any such association with the program or PEI.
Furthermore, PEI is owned by the Angolan tycoon Alvaro Sobrinho, who was implicated in the loss of over €500 million from the BES Angola bank during his reign as the bank’s president. Alvaro is also suspected of purchasing top-of-the-range cars for Mauritian politicians.
President Ameena’s resignation comes after the Council of Ministers recommended her impeachment on Thursday and resigning as such would allow her to receive all the benefits owed to an ex-president; if she were to be removed from office after being impeached, she would not be entitled to these benefits.
She will be replaced by her deputy.