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|3rd President of Mauritius|
25 February 2002 – 7 October 2003
|Prime Minister||Anerood Jugnauth
|Vice President||Raouf Bundhun|
|Preceded by||Ariranga Pillay (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Anerood Jugnauth|
|Born||25 November 1940|
|Political party||Militant Socialist Movement|
After two of his successive predecessors had resigned over their refusal to sign a controversial anti-terrorism bill, the parliament elected Offmann to serve as President of Mauritius on 25 February 2002. He served in the post until Paul Bérenger became his prime minister and nominated a new president on 1 October 2003.
Educational and professional background
Because secondary education was not free, his family could not afford to meet the costs of education for seven children. Thus, when he completed primary school education, he chose to compete for a scholarship in order to pursue his studies further. He won the government-awarded mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship Scholarship in 1956 and secured a seat at the prestigious Royal College School and the Technical College of Floreal. To acquire practical knowledge and experience, he was trained at the Mauritius Railways Department where he stayed up to 1963. In that same year, he was approached by the team of the Daily Express to work as a technician in the composition sector. He worked for the paper until 1979 when he was offered the post of Director of Father Laval's Printing, a company owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port-Louis and for which he worked until 1983. From 1983 to 1986 he was Director of the Daily Socialist, a publication which belonged to a political party. In 1975, he obtained the Diploma of Political and Social Sciences at Claver House, London.
Offman joined the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative in 1957, where he became deeply involved in the overall strategy of the movement with regard to its information campaign and training programme. The programme was in favour of the working youth of the Indian Ocean Islands and on the African Continent as well on the international scene.
In 1964, he was selected by the Mauritian Branch of the JOCI to participate in the first International Training Course. It committed him to fight illiteracy, poverty other social evils on the international plane.
On his return from this training course in 1965, he was appointed Member of the Commission of African Studies. From 1966 to 1968, he was responsible for coordinating JOCI activities within the Indian Ocean Islands and from 1966 to 1969, he was a Member of the African Team and of the Executive Committee. It was only during the period 1966 to 1969, while he was the coordinator of activities within the Indian Ocean Islands that he took two years’ leave from in order to devote himself fully to social and voluntary work. One of the highlights of this period was the Meeting of the JOCI Indian Ocean Islands in 1967 which was attended by, among others, by a South African delegate during the days of apartheid. Another significant event was the first Meet of the African Continent in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1968, which was organised exclusively by the African Team of the JOCI, composed of African delegates including himself. The others were France Tévi Sedalo, Mathias Dossoumon and Frédéric Jean Njougla. For its preparation, he put in his personal efforts for three and half months, working in situ.
After his marriage in 1969, he left the JOCI and the Bishop of Port-Louis entrusted to him the Presidency of the Commission of Lay Apostolate in Mauritius. While working in the Daily Express, he promoted the diocese. His position, though very favourable professionally and financially, did not fit his aspirations and his JOCI experience.
Offmann was a full-time politician from 1976 to 2002. His first unsuccessful attempt to join Parliament in 1976 did not deter him from his political pursuits. He became a member of the Militant Socialist Movement in 1978 and was elected Member for Curepipe/Midlands after the 1982 elections. He remained MP until to 1995.
He served successively as Minister of Economic Planning and Development (August 1983), Minister of Local Government and Cooperatives (1984 – 1986), Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions (January 1988 – 1991) and as Government Chief Whip (1988 – 1991). From 1987 to 1991, he was General Secretary of the MSM which he helped to set up, and from 1996 to February 2000, he served as party leader.
One of his first missions in Washington (as Minister of Economic Planning and Development) was to convince the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to not press for drastic reductions in the Civil Service Staff and not do away with free education and free health services. The country has, above all, managed to maintain social cohesion and harmony. Today, 44% of the overall wealth produced goes back to the people in the form of free education and Health Services, Social Security and other social services like Youth and Sports, Women’s Rights, Co-operatives, Housing, Arts and Culture etc.
On 20 December 1995, the MSM was defeated in the general elections. No candidates were elected to parliament. The party was plunged into a state of confusion and turmoil. While most lost confidence in the party, Offmann kept faith in its future revival. During the next four and a half years, he drove home the fact that the leader of the MSM was lead the party to success and to victory in an election. Subsequent events proved him right: at the 2000 elections, the MSM regained control of power through an alliance with the Mauritian Militant Movement. After the victory, Offmann offered to stay at the National Secretariat to keep things going because most of the party’s top officials were in government.
In February 2002, he was elected president by the National Assembly which he held until October 2003.
Offmann is married to Marie Rose Danielle Moutou and they have two sons, Gilles Bernard and Hans Erick. Both are married. He is grandfather of Paul Alexandre, Mark Philip and Victoria.
- East, Roger; Thomas, Richard J. (2001). Profiles of people in power : the world's government leaders (1. ed.). London: Europa. p. 347. ISBN 978-1-85743-126-1.
|President of Mauritius
2002 – 2003