Blog: The dirty Picture
Reference is not being made to the Bollywood movie with a gorgeous Vidya Balan dancing Ooh la la. Rather we mean the dirty picture from Jugnauthwood/Berengerwood. The nomination for the best actor is Paul Berenger and for best supporting actor Sir Anerood Jugnauth. The awards will be decided at election time by the electorate.
The prime minister has called on the president to clear his situation. A president cannot allow himself to be dragged in the arena of active politics. This is what the vote of the MMM central committee has achieved.
Two factual consequences emerge from that scenario: either the president consented to that move of the MMM or the MMM went ahead without his consent, which is an unlikely possibility. If discussions there have been about a remake of 2000 where did they take place?
Were they decided at Le Réduit under the colourable device that has for name law and order and the economy? Whatever the political outcome of that dirty picture there are a number of moral and legal issues that beckon us.
When he assumed the office of president Sir Anerood Jugnauth subscribed to an oath of office. Though there is no written rule by virtue of a well-established convention the president who only replaced the British monarch when Mauritius became a republic should stay away from politics. He must be above the fray. Though he can express his views on matters of national importance he must not be perceived as being partisan.
We have inherited a Westminster type of government and in that schema it is not uncommon for the prime minister and the leader of the opposition to discuss matters of national interest on a non-partisan line.
The Queen does not attack the government of her country. By virtue of well-entrenched conventions the British monarch refrains from conduct that might be perceived as political.
There are instances where the president can really deal with a political issue. In his own deliberate judgment the president can dissolve parliament when a motion of no confidence has been voted against the prime minister and the latter does not resign within three days or asks that parliament be dissolved within seven days. He appoints as prime minister the person who appears to him best able to command the support of the members of the Assembly.
But it is not for the president to undermine the government for the benefit of the opposition and if there are issues these are usually discussed when the prime minister keeps the president informed about the affairs of the country.
Morally the president has overstepped the limit of the power his office confers on him.
Legally it will be for the Supreme Court on occasion arising to rule whether by allowing himself to be projected as the leader of a political alliance the president remained within the bounds of his presidential functions.
Morally he is no longer a president though he may be in office. Morally the prime minister has no duty to inform him anymore about the affairs of the State.
Morally the president has disqualified himself from dealing with the boundaries issue raised by the party of which he has become the leader. The president is now the de facto leader of the opposition and this is legally incompatible with his functions.
So Sir Anerood has only one solution: either he dissociates himself from what the MMM central committee or he resigns. Ooh la la! What a predicament the president faces in that dirty picture of his and Paul Berenger's making.