Paul Bérenger

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The Honourable
Paul Raymond Bérenger
GCSK
Paul Bérenger.png
Leader of the Opposition
In office
1 October 2013 – 15 September 2014
President Kailash Purryag
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Preceded by Alan Ganoo
Succeeded by Pravind Jugnauth
In office
5 July 2005 – 5 July 2006
President Cassam Uteem
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Preceded by Von Mally
Succeeded by Navin Ramgoolam
In office
5 July 1997 – 11 September 2000
President Cassam Uteem
Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by Navin Ramgoolam
Succeeded by Von Mally
In office
21 August 1983 – 30 August 1987
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Seewoosagur Ramgoolam
Veerasamy Ringadoo
Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by Gaetan Duval
Succeeded by Prem Nababsingh
Prime Minister of Mauritius
In office
30 September 2003 – 5 July 2005
President Anerood Jugnauth
Deputy Pravind Jugnauth
Preceded by Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Succeeded by Navin Ramgoolam
Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius
In office
20 December 1995 – 10 July 1997
President Cassam Uteem
Karl Hoffmann
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Anerood Jugnauth
In office
20 September 2000 – 30 September 2003
Preceded by Kailash Purryag
Succeeded by Pravind Jugnauth
Leader of the MMM
Incumbent
Assumed office
19 October 2013
Preceded by Alan Ganoo
Member of Parliament
for
Rose Hill & Stanley
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 September 1991
Personal details
Born (1945-03-26) 26 March 1945 (age 69)
Curepipe, Mauritius
Political party Mauritian Militant Movement
Residence River Walk Community, Vacoas-Phoenix (Personal)
Alma mater Bangor University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Paul Raymond Bérenger GCSK, MP (born 26 March 1945) is a Mauritian politician who was Prime Minister of Mauritius from 2003 to 2005. He has been Leader of the Opposition at various reprises from 1983 to 1987, 1997 to 2000, 2005 to 2006, 2007 to 2013 and lastly from October 2013 until September 15th, 2014 when he submitted his resignation. [1]He was also Deputy Prime Minister from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2003, and he was a cabinet minister in the government of Anerood Jugnauth in 1982 and 1991.

In 2003, Berenger took office as Prime Minister following the resignation of then Prime Minister Jugnauth after serving as his deputy for three years. He led the MSM/MMM coalition government for a period of one year and nine months before his alliance lost the elections to the Labour Party in 2005.

Bérenger founded the Mauritian Militant Movement in 1969 along with Dev Veerasawmy and the Jeerubarkhan brothers. It is known to be the best established political force in the country as since its inception, it has always received more than 40% of direct votes in general elections. After the 2000 elections, the MMM formed a coalition with the Militant Socialist Movement. They came to an agreement that the leader of the MSM, Anerood Jugnauth, would serve as prime minister for the first three years of the five-year term of Parliament and Berenger would take over for the remaining two years of their term. This agreement was fulfilled; Berenger subsequently tried to run on his own in the following elections but lost to Navinchandra Ramgoolam in the 2005 elections.Bérenger is an alumnus of the University College of North Wales in Bangor, now Bangor University.[2]

On 22 January 2013, Berenger publicly announced that he was diagnosed with tonsil cancer[3] and resigned both as Leader of the MMM and Leader of the Opposition for his treatment during which Alan Ganoo (who is a MMM member and MP) was designated to succeed him temporarily as both Leader of the MMM and Leader of the Opposition.[4] After he successfully recovered from cancer, he returned to his position as Leader of the Opposition on October 1, 2013.

After his party ended up their alliance with the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), Berenger negotiated an alliance with the Labour Party on a power sharing deal where both parties would include 30 candidates and same number of government ministers. Navin Ramgoolam will remain prime minister until a new constitution is adopted to enhance the powers of the president before resigning to make place for Berenger to succeed him.

Early life and education[edit]

Berenger was born to descendant of French origin who were established in Mauritius in ancient generations. He has had his high studies in UK and France and in 1969 went to UK to study French and graduated from the Bangor University with a BA Hons in philosophy and French. He later worked as Trade Unionist from 1970 to 1982 before winning the general elections.[5]

Bérenger, who is a Christian of French descent, has been the only Prime Minister of Mauritius who was not a Hindu, for a time.

1976 elections[edit]

In 1976 then Prime Minister, Ramgoolam announced general elections and proposed a fight of three, on one hand the Labour Party, the Mauritian Social Democrats and lastly the MMM.

Anerood Jugnauth won over the elections for the Prime Minister Candidate, Jugnauth was President of the MMM and was among few to propose candidacy to contest the post of Prime Minister. He was therefore declared Candidate to the post of Prime Minister while Berenger proposed to held the office of Minister of Finance in the Cabinet.

The results showed in a Hung-parliament situation of the National Assembly of Mauritius. The MMM had won 34 seats, the Labours won 28 seats and the Social democrats won 8 seats. Nevertheless Ramgoolam contracted an alliance with the Social Democrats and made a majority of 36 seats. Jugnauth was appointed as Leader of the Opposition but it was Berenger who was the main opposition leader. Sir Anerood Jugnauth later declared that he was a part-time leader of the opposition. All the Parliamentary works of the opposition leader was being done by Berenger and only made signed by Jugnauth.

1982 Elections[edit]

In fear of communal campaigning, Paul Berenger made an alliance with then Mauritian Socialist Party and its leader, Harish Boodhoo. He hoped that the PSM would draw most Hindu votes as Hindu was of majority in the country. He still proposed Anerood Jugnauth as prime minister and Harish Boodhoo as Deputy Prime Minister.

In 1982, the MMM won all 60 seats in the parliament. Paul Berenger as proposed made Jugnauth Prime Minister and Boodhoo his deputy. Berenger was then appointed as Minister of Finance.

1983 Elections and Leader of the Opposition[edit]

In early 1983, Berenger proposed to make a constitutional amendment, the one in which the Prime Minister would hold no executive power but the decisions would be taken the Cabinet. Jugnauth expressed his disagreement with him as well Boodhoo.

Berenger proposed to replace Jugnauth and nominated another candidate, namely Prem Nababsingh to hold the office of Prime Minister. Before passing the motion of no confidence in the parliament, Jugnauth dissolved the assembly without any notice and resigned on the same as Prime Minister.

The PSM worked with Jugnauth and the team moved into a more powerful party known as the Militant Socialist Movement, the MSM. Jugnauth led the MSM along with the support of an alliance with the Mauritius Labour Party and the Social Democrats.

The alliance won 41 seats out of 60 and the MMM received only 19 seats. Berenger was appointed as Leader of the opposition up to 1987.

1990 & Onwards[edit]

Winning 3 general elections in a row, showed Anerood Jugnauth highest peak in politics as he remained in power for more than 13 years from 1982. Jugnauth had previously made an alliance with Berenger in 1991 and was appointed as Minister of External Affairs.

In 2001, Berenger faced a charge of aiding and abetting a murder suspect to escape arrest. Swaleha Joomun, a widow, was suing the deputy premier for facilitating the escape of Bissessur who was wanted in connection with a triple murder which occurred on 26 October 1996 in Port Louis. The husband of Joomun was a victim of the murder.[6][7] Bérenger had defended himself by saying that the reason he had helped Bissessur was because the latter wanted to reveal what he knew on the escadron de la mort (death squad). A second private prosecution was lodged against Bérenger by Raju Mohit ( a member of the Movement Republicain) but in both cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions of Mauritius gave a Nolle Prosequi verdict.[8]

In 1993, Jugnauth dismissed Berenger and all Members of the MMM from the government and thus formed a majority with the other parties. Berenger then made an alliance with Navin Ramgoolam then new leader of the Mauritian Labour Party. They made an alliance and agreed to propose Ramgoolam as Prime Minister and Berenger as his Deputy.

In 1995, the MLP-MMM alliance won the general elections creating the second 60-0 of the history after 1982. The alliance won all the seats in parliament. Even Jugnauth lost his seat.

Berenger was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and served until 1997 when Ramgoolam dismissed the MMM from the government and formed his own government.

2000 Elections and Premiership[edit]

In 1999, the national electoral polls showed that the Labour Party received the highest appreciation and was the favorite to win the next elections to be held in 2000.

Berenger and Jugnauth were in a fight when Harish Boodhoo talked to both in a meeting which lasted one hour. It was known as the historical alliance where both the MSM and the MMM would have equal share in the government. It had never been made in the political history of the country.

The Number of Candidates proposed were 30 of the MSM and 30 of the MMM. It was agreed and proposed that Jugnauth will held the office of Prime Minister for 3 years and Berenger would take up for the resting of the term. They also agreed that after the three years, Jugnauth would be sworn as President and that Pravind Jugnauth would be sworn as Deputy Prime Minister.

Berenger agreed to the terms. The MSM/MMM coalition fought the elections against then government coalition of Labour Party and the Social Democrats.

MSM/MMM won 54 seats out of 60 which was surprising. Navin Ramgoolam was appointed as leader of the Opposition and Anerood Jugnauth made his comeback as Prime Minister. He formed a cabinet of 25 ministers as Berenger as Deputy Prime Minister.

Prime Minister[edit]

Paul Berenger remained Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius for three years and following the agreement, Anerood Jugnauth resigned in September 2003 after serving for three years.

Leader of the Opposition[edit]

Paul Berenger has been the leader of the opposition since 2007 after the MMM lost the general elections in 2005 to the Alliance Sociale coalition led by Dr Navin Ramgoolam. The MMM lost elections again in 2010 and currently have 19 MPs in parliament with Paul Berenger again sitting a leader of opposition. In August 2011, following allegations of corruption made by Paul Berenger on the purchase of the a medical clinic by the state, the ruling Bleu/Blanc/Rouge coalition crumbled with the MSM leaving the government. These events have led the major political parties in Mauritius including Paul Berenger's MMM to start discussions upon the necessity of electoral reform. In January 2013, Berenger announced that he had tonsil cancer in a press conference - he let the population know of his plans for treatment in France and that Alan Ganoo was to lead the MMM during his absence. Overall he appeared in good spirits and was confident of a return to mainstream politics. Different sources relayed by the lexpress.mu website also announced the entry into politics of his son, Emmanuel Berenger.[9]

References[edit]