Mauritius opposition celebrate landslide victory

Mauritius` opposition coalition led by 84-year-old ex-president Anerood Jugnauth celebrated a landslide victory on Friday taking nearly three-quarters of seats in Parliament, as final election results were released.

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 12, 2014, 14:58 PM IST

Port Louis: Mauritius` opposition coalition led by 84-year-old ex-president Anerood Jugnauth celebrated a landslide victory on Friday taking nearly three-quarters of seats in Parliament, as final election results were released.

Jugnauth`s centre-right Alliance Lepep swept up 47 out of 62 seats in the Indian Ocean nation`s Parliament, after voters on Wednesday rejected the ruling party`s bid to boost presidential powers.

The coalition of the outgoing ruling Labour Party (PTR) and the former opposition Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) of ex-prime minister Paul Berenger, took just 13 seats.

Debate over constitutional reform -- notably over a divisive proposal to strengthen presidential powers -- made Wednesday`s poll one of the most crucial since the islands gained independence from Britain in 1968.

Jugnauth, previously prime minster between 1982-1995 and again between 2000-2003, promised he would boost the economy as he once again prepared to take power.

Outgoing prime minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam accepted defeat late Thursday even as votes were still being counted.

But the defeat was so crushing that Ramgoolam, who had wanted to run for the presidency, even lost his own seat that he has held for 23 years.

Two other seats went to local parties on the small island of Rodrigues, some 560 kilometres (350 miles) to the east.

The PTR-MMM said that if they won they would try to amend the constitution so the president would be directly elected. The largely ceremonial position is now elected by parliament.

Lepep fiercely opposed the proposed constitutional reform, and Jugnauth said in his victory speech that voters had "felt the danger" of the change.

Mauritius is one of the richest countries in Africa, a middle-income country of some 1.3 million people, with a per capita GDP of just over $9,000 (7,200 euros).

Both sides campaigned on strengthening the economy, which is based on the textile industry, sugar and tourism.

The country has had only four prime ministers in its history. 

Jugnauth and Ramgoolam have alternated posts since 1982, except for a brief interlude between 2003 and 2005 when Berenger served as prime minister. Jugnauth was also president between 2003-2012.

Ramgoolam`s father, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, led the country to independence and also served as chief and prime minister.