Voting starts in Mauritius legislative elections

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - 19:55

Port Louis: Voters in Mauritius turned out
on Wednesday to choose parliamentarians and a prime minister for the
next five years in a contest that highlights the African
success story`s ethnic divide.

Some 900,000 people are eligible to elect 62 MPs in the
polls which pit Prime Minister Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, in
office since 2005, against Paul Berenger and his opposition
alliance.

From 2003 to 2005 Berenger was the first Mauritius prime
minister not of South Asian origin, the ethnic community that
makes up more than 50 per cent of the island`s population.

The Indian Ocean island comprises four communities:
Hindus, Muslims, those of Chinese descent and Creoles -- those
with European roots and people of any origin other than the
first three.

More than 500 candidates are entered for the 62 elective
seats to represent 21 constituencies.

Three candidates will be elected in each of the 20
constituencies on the main island Mauritius, while two will be
voted for to represent the 21st constituency Rodrigues isle to
the east of Mauritius.

A further eight are designated through a complex process
in an attempt to balance the ethnic composition of the
Parliament.

Under the Mauritius parliamentary system, based loosely
on the British one, the president of the republic calls on the
leader of the political party with a majority of elective
seats in Parliament to become prime minister and form a
government.

Campaigning ended yesterday evening without any
incidents. Ramgoolam and Berenger made their last address to
voters in political programmes on state television, with both
saying they were confident of victory.

These elections are the ninth organised in the Indian
Ocean archipelago since independence in 1968. Since then
Mauritius has developed a solid democratic system and has
posted good economic growth, putting its 1.2 million
inhabitants among the richest on the African continent.

The country`s 305 polling stations will close at 6 pm
(1400 GMT) local time. Votes will be counted and results
announced tomorrow.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - 19:55

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