Blog: Not on the Eve
Of course Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam is right when he says that we cannot bring major electoral reforms by amending the constitution on the eve of general elections.
Now that the Prime Minister has indicated that a bill is nearly ready to be presented to parliament and the leader of the opposition, Paul Berenger has publicly said that MMM and Labour have practically agreed on all the reforms that should be brought. It is high time for the public to know what has been cooked between the two leaders. This issue has also wrecked the MMM-MSM so called 2000 remake.
It is a very healthy sign that Navin Ramgoolam wants a full discussion in public before bringing the amendments and the reforms. At present, there is a lot of confusion in the public mind. Speculations are that the reforms should bring a dose of proportional representation with some sort of Best Loser System being retained, sharing of power between the President and the Prime Minister, guarantee for woman’s representation and increase in the number of MPs. Only when the bill will be published that we will know exactly the intention of the two leaders.
The public has taken this issue very seriously. All opinion leaders have woken from their usual slumber. Many are asking what is there in it for me, for my party, for my community, for my caste. Only few are thinking of what is there for their country.
But the Prime Minister has clearly stated that the reforms will be to move the country forward into modernity. The present constitution has served us well for nearly 45 years. The reforms are met to correct certain anomalies which hinder our development into full nationhood. They will be a step forward towards national unity, patriotism and mauritianism. We can really stand as one people as one nation. Institutionalized communalism and casteism will be abandoned.
Objections will certainly come from the usual “passeists” who enjoy the “status quo”. They will lose their power of lobbying on communal and caste grounds. We should not be naïve to believe that these considerations will disappear overnight. But these reforms will help us to move towards meritocracy.
Still there are some genuine apprehensions. At present there is one center of power – the Prime Minister. It was in 1976 at the OAU summit in Mauritius that the question of SSR as Prime Minister being qualified to head the AOU was raised on account of his not being the head of state and holding the powers of a head of state. Sir Harold Walter had then circulated a paper enumerating the powers of the Prime Minister. They were equivalent to any African President of a one party state in Africa. And that too in a democracy. The joker the Prime Minister holds is the power to dissolve parliament and fix the date of elections.
SSR has always said that there should be no two centers of power. It will not only be a cause for conflict but a temptation for coup d’état as has happened in Seychelles in 1977. Prime Minister Albert René had seized power when President Mancham was in London to attend the Common Wealth summit. I believe our social fabric and institutions will not allow for coup d’état to succeed in Mauritius as long as we respect the rule of law and democracy. Mauritius is not Fiji, Trinidad, Suriname or Madagascar.
If we move towards a second republic with the President holding some powers, I believe the best model will be the French one. The President controls foreign policy, the army and presides over the cabinet. The President cannot hold less powers that what the Prime Minister does today. The Prime Minister in a power sharing agreement can be responsible for the day to day running of the government and should be accountable to the President.
Prime Minister is right when he says that the reforms are not met to accommodate any person or any party or any coalition. In future, the Prime Minister and President may come from one party or from different parties. As such they will have to cohabit as it happened in France with Chirac and Mitterrand. We should never leave room for any power struggle at the top. There should be only one captain in a ship, either as at now the Prime Minister or the President as in France.
Found a typo in the article? Vous avez trouvé une faute de frappe dans l’article? Click here.
More in Blog
Le Matinal E-Paper
Le Matinal on the Web
The keywords below represent the current searches people are performing on major search engines like Google/Yahoo, and eventually landing on our website. Click to refresh.