Navin Ramgoolam

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Navin Ramgoolam
GCSK FRCP
Navin Ramgoolam 2014.png
Prime Minister of Mauritius
In office
5 July 2005 – 17 December 2014
President Anerood Jugnauth
Kailash Purryag
Preceded by Paul Bérenger
Succeeded by Anerood Jugnauth
In office
27 December 1995 – 11 September 2000
President Cassam Uteem
Preceded by Anerood Jugnauth
Succeeded by Anerood Jugnauth
Leader of the Opposition
In office
11 September 2000 – 4 July 2005
Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth
Paul Bérenger
Preceded by Anerood Jugnauth
Succeeded by Paul Bérenger
In office
15 September 1991 – 20 December 1995
Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by Prem Nababsing
Succeeded by Anerood Jugnauth
Personal details
Born Navinchandra Ramgoolam
(1947-07-14) 14 July 1947 (age 71)
Port Louis, British Mauritius
Citizenship Mauritius
United Kingdom
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Veena Brizmohun (1979–present)
Parents Seewoosagur Ramgoolam
Sushil Ramjoorawon
Residence Riverwalk, Floreal
Alma mater National University of Ireland
London School of Economics
Inns of Court School of Law
Signature

Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP (born 14 July 1947) is a Mauritian politician who was Prime Minister of Mauritius from 2005 to 2014 and leader of the Labour Party.[1] He was Leader of the Opposition from 1991 to 1995. He served as Prime Minister for the first time from December 1995 until September 2000, and became Leader of the Opposition again from October 2000 to 4 July 2005. On 5 July 2005, he became prime minister for a second term after his Alliance Sociale won the general elections. He served again as Prime Minister from 2005 to 2014, when he was defeated afterwards.

Early life and education[edit]

Navin Ramgoolam was born on 14 July 1947 to then Dr. Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and his wife Sushil Ramjoorawon at their Desforges Street residence in Port Louis. Navin Ramgoolam belongs to the Kurmi community.[2] His ancestral village in Harigaon in Bhojpur district, Bihar. He attended the Royal College Curepipe from 1960 to 1966 and proceeded to study medicine in Ireland between 1968 and 1975, where he obtained the LRCP&SI licentiates from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

When his father, the former Governor General and former Prime Minister, died in December 1985, Ramgoolam was on the point of immigrating to Canada when Sir Satcam Boolell (then leader of Labour Party) and Paul Berenger (the leader of the Mauritian Militant Movement) convinced him to return assume the leadership of the Labour party with the objective of an alliance which would defeat Anerood Jugnauth in the general elections. Jugnauth was the central figure of Mauritian politics since 1980. He was the dominant figure and enjoyed an immense popularity among the Hindu community.[citation needed] Rammgoolam Jr, son of SSR, was brought to counter the popularity of Jugnauth. He subsequently served as a medical doctor at Dr A.G Jeetoo Hospital in Mauritius from 1985 to 1987. In 1987, he started his law studies at The London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. Upon completion of his LLB degree in 1990, he returned to Mauritius to face the electorate as the new leader of the Labour party in the 1991 general election.

1991 elections and first candidacy[edit]

The leadup to the general elections held in 1991 saw a realignment of the country's major political parties. The Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), which had been the main opposition party, decided to contest the election as an ally of Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth's Militant Socialist Movement (MSM). Ramgoolam's Labour Party and Gaëtan Duval's Parti Mauricien Social Démocrate (PMSD), both of which had been allied with the MSM in the previous election, formed a separate alliance, along with the Rodrigues People's Organisation (OPR). A major campaign issue was the proposal of the MSM-MMM alliance to cut the country's ties with the British Monarchy and declare a republic with a President as head of state. Ramgoolam opposed this, arguing that the Presidential office would be too ceremonial, leaving all executive powers effectively in the hands of the Prime Minister.

The election turned out to be a landslide for Jugnauth. The MSM/MMM alliance won 57 of the 62 directly elected seats. Of the 5 seats won by Ramgoolam's alliance, 2 were held by the OPR and 3 by his own Labour Party (Arvin Boolell, Vasant Bunwaree and himself, being elected in constituency 5, Triolet & Pamplemoussess). Following his defeat, he took leave as Leader of the Opposition and returned to London to complete his law vocational course at Inns of Court School of Law. He was called to United Kingdom Bar, Inner Temple in 1993.

In 1993, Prime Minister Jugnauth asked the Speaker of the National Assembly to declare Ramgoolam's seat vacant as he had not attended Parliament for three consecutive momeths. The Speaker referred the case to the Court but the Judge found that it was unconstitutional.

Shortly afterwards, Jugnauth dismissed Bérenger from the Cabinet after learning that Ramgoolam had hosted him at a private dinner at his Riverwalk residence. Bérenger and 10 MMM members joined Ramgoolam on the opposition benches. Although the MMM caucus was larger than the Labour Party caucus, he agreed to let Ramgoolam continue as Leader of the Opposition.

1995 elections[edit]

The Labour Party and the MMM went on to forge an alliance to contest the 1995 elections. The alliance won all 60 directly elected seats from the mainland (with Labour taking 35 seats and the MMM 25). Ramgoolam became Prime Minister with Bérenger as his Deputy. The coalition soon fractured, however, after the infamous "Macarena" scandal broke out and Ramgoolam dismissed Bérenger in 1997. Bérenger then became Leader of the Opposition, while Ramgoolam formed a one-party government. In 1999 racial war broke out during Ramgoolam's Prime Ministership, after the famous Mauritian singer [Kaya] was killed in police detention. The latter had been arrested following a concert and rally organised by [Rama Valayden] asking for legalisation of sodomy and marijuana.

2000 elections[edit]

Jugnauth and Bérenger formed a new alliance to contest the 2000 elections. Part of the agreement was to allow Jugnauth to serve for the first three years of the five-year term, then resign to assume the Presidency and allow Bérenger to complete his unexpired term. Ramgoolam, for his part, formed an alliance with the Mauritian Party of Xavier-Luc Duval (PMXD), a breakaway from the PMSD led by Xavier-Luc Duval, the son of Sir Gaëtan Duval. The MSM/MMM alliance won 54 of the 60 directly elected mainland seats. Ramgoolam, who had retained his own seat, became Leader of the Opposition.

2005 elections[edit]

His Alliance Social won the general elections against the MSM/MMM outgoing government. He was again appointed as prime minister with a majority of 38 out of 60 seats. His alliance also won the local/municipal elections in 2006 where the MSM/MMM was severely defeated. These consecutive defeats and internal instability caused the break-up of the MSM/MMM coalition.

As the MSM had more seats than the MMM and Pravind Jugnauth was not elected, Nando Bodha was appointed as Leader of the Opposition.

2010 elections[edit]

With the 2010 elections approaching, Ramgoolam decided in 2008 to support Jugnauth for re-election as President, to forestall a possible return by Jugnauth to parliamentary politics, where Ramgoolam viewed him as a potential threat. Jugnauth's condition for accepting the offer was an alliance between the Labour Party and the MSM. At Ramgoolam's insistence, the Alliance de L'Avenir also included the PMSD, into which the PMXD, and its leader, Xavier-Luc Duval, had merged; seven of the sixty parliamentary candidates would come from the PMSD).

The Alliance de L'Avenir won 41 of the 60 directly elected seats. Ramgoolam remained Prime Minister and Pravind Jugnauth, son of Sir Anerood Jugnauth, became his Deputy. Following the involvement of some members of the MSM in the Medpoint Scandal, however, Ramgoolam dismissed the MSM from the government.

2014 elections[edit]

Riddled by scandals and especially weakened by the infamous [coz-cozer] episode where the Mauritian parliament was closed for 9 months, the general elections originally scheduled for 2015 were brought forward to December 2014. The Labour Party made a new alliance with the MMM, proposing a constitutional amendment where the President would have Executive powers. Ramgoolam and Bérenger, the MMM leader, claimed that the election was a referendum on the proposal, which they called the Second Republic. The amendment being one made to the [Constitution of Mauritius], more than 45 of the 60 directly elected mainland seats were required for this manoeuvre to succeed. Ramgoolam would run for the Presidency and Bérenger would succeed him as Prime Minister.

Ramgoolam and Berenger were opposed by the MSM-led Alliance Lepep, which also included the PMSD, which had been Ramgoolam's coalition partner, and a new party called Muvman Liberater, formed by a significant portion of ex-members of the MMM who were opposed to the idea of giving Ramgoolam more powers . The Alliance Lepep, which opposed the proposal for the Second Republic, won 47 seats out of 60. The Labour-MMM alliance won only 13 seats, 9 from the MMM and 4 from the Labour Party. Ramgoolam lost his seat for the first time in his political career. On 12 December 2014, he resigned as Prime Minister of Mauritius.

2015 arrest[edit]

In February 2015, Ramgoolam was arrested at his residence at Port Louis. 11 formal charges were levelled against him by the police. The country was shocked by images of 220 Million Mauritian Rupees as well as sexual pills such as Viagra and sexual toys(legally prohibited in Mauritius) hoarded by him in 3 safes at his residence of Desforges Street, Port-Louis. Police questioned him about a burglary which took place at his Roche Noires residence in 2011 and allegations that he had asked a businessman, as well as Deputy Commissioners of Police, to make a false report of the break in to the local police station asserting he was not there at the time. Police are also investigating the alleged suicide in custody of a suspect in the burglary. Ramgoolam has denied any foul play, accusing his critics of trying to discredit him, however the evidence is damning. On the same day, Police searched his house at Riverwalk and found Rs 220 Million, nearly half of it in foreign currencies, including millions in bills of USD that had never been put into public circulation. Some of the money was contained in envelopes or wrappers with good-will messages for the election, including one from a certain V. Bhunjun. Ramgoolam has given contradictory statements on the cash recovered. He initially stated that the recovered monies were part of the Mauritius Labour Party funds to rebuild the head office. However, this was contradicted by the treasurer of the Mauritius Labour Party. He then changed his statement saying the money represented election donations to his Party. However, he was arrested on two charges, conspiracy to do a wrongful act and money laundering. He was held in custody and released on bail the following day. On 14 February, Ramgoolam announced that he was taking leave from the activities of the Labour Party to devote himself to his legal battle and defend his honour. He accused unnamed adversaries of spreading misinformation with the intention to put an end to the Labour Party. He designated Arvin Boolell as the new spokesman for the Labour Party, however he was seen gatecrashing a committee led by Arvin Boolell, which subsequently led to the latter leaving the office of the MLP in anger.[3][4]

On 15 May 2015, he was arrested again on three charges and was granted bail after spending two nights in police detention. He currently faces twenty-two (22) charges for dealing in cash above MUR 500,000 which is an offense in Mauritius.

Scandals[edit]

Macarena Party[edit]

In March 1997, on the eve of Easter, Navin Ramgoolam hosted a "Private Party" at Albion, a posh beachside neighbourhood that is now infamously known as the "Macarena Party" due to the Macarena song being played at loud volumes there. The media noted that a public personality had invited a few young ladies(including a minor) to a cocktail party. However, the ladies were shocked to find that it was a very private party, with Navin Ramgoolam, then Prime Minister of Mauritius, another MP from the [Mauritius Labour Party] as well as 3 businessmen.

Minors

One of the participants was a former Beauty Queen, however there was also a minor among the ladies. The matter got out of hand when one of the ladies refused to let herself be groped and left, banging the door and threatening to report the affair to the police.

Political Repercussions With a number of political personalities involved the Macarena Party shook the political world of Mauritius. The MMM, then was forced to call its politburo under its president [Ahmad Jeewah], the leader Paul Berenger being out of country, asking for an unequivocal declaration from Ramgoolam. Hervé Duval, then leader of the PMSD, stated “On ne me fera pas croire que des femmes à qui on demande de venir seules à une party n’aient pas de soupçon sur la nature de la fête. Pas ti dire zot vine boire Pepsi, manze gâteau !”. Ramgoolam stated during a meeting of the Mauritius Labour Party at New Grove. “Oui, j’étais a la fête d’Albion, déclare-t-il, mais je n’y suis resté que quelques instants et pas fine arrive narien”. (Yes I was at the Macarena Party but I stayed only a few minutes and nothing happened there". He further stated that a PDG of a national company had organised the party and he had been there only to save the face of his host. Ramgoolam made several statements about the Macarena Scandal, saying it was a campaign to dirty his image, as "used to be done against his father" and that it was an attempt to destabilise his government.

Ahmad Jeewah stated that the answers were not convincing, causing an uproar among the Mauritius Labour Party. Navin Ramgoolam subsequently challenged Ahmad Jeewah to retract his words or to leave the government. The latter then circulated a communiqué in Parliament stating he had “de comptes à rendre ni d’ordres à prendre du Dr Navin Ramgoolam.” (No answers or orders to give or take from Dr Navin Ramgoolam). Subsequently the Labour Party MPs attacked the MMM Minister Alan Ganoo in parliament about a state lands issue. Ramgoolam made a long declaration to the state-run television, MBC, in which he attacked the press, especially [Week-end newspaper]. He however avoided the talking point of the answer of Ahmad Jeewah.

However, the guests of the Macarena Party then sued L'Express Newspaper for defamation stating they were invited to Albion by “a common friend” and the Prime Minister (Navin Ramgoolam) “spent approximately one hour there socializing with friends as normally the case in any party or cocktail.” This contradicted the statement of Navin Ramgoolam where he stated having passed only a few minutes at the Macarena Party. The ladies also stated that "nothing happened" at the Macarena Party. On the 31 October 2002, the defamation case was struck out in court following an amicable solution between the L'Express newspaper and the four plaintiffs.

A few weeks later, on on 20 June 1997, the PTR-MMM alliance broke down.

Reactions in 1997


Sanjit teelock: Then Secretary General of MTD

“L’épisode Macarena n’est pas et ne doit pas être un événement qui peut être toléré dans l’île Maurice moderne.”

RAMA VALAYDEN: Then leader of Mouvement Républicain,subsequently Attorney General under Navin Ramgoolam.

“If solely consenting adults had been involved, the MR would have avoided any comments. However everything indicates a minor lady was present [...] we demand an inquiry" some people "use human flesh" to try to "position themselves within circles of power"”.

SHEILA BAPPOO: Member of the RPR. Since then she has been a minister in several governments of Navin Ramgoolam. She stated in the presence of Rama Sithanen, then also a member of the RPR, that

“the Macarena Party is "The biggest scandal that Mauritius has ever known".” 

SHEILA BAPPOO: She harangued the Mauritian Parliament in the following terms:

“Allez-vous continuer à cautionner des membres de l’Assemblée nationale qui sont aujourd’hui devenus la honte du pays ? (Will you continue to condone members of the National Assembly who are today a shame to the country?) Certains disent qu’il y a un ministre impliqué, d’autres parlent d’un super ministre et même du Premier ministre. Tout le pays a le droit de connaître la vérité dans cette affaire, car c’est la population qui a envoyé les députés au Parlement. Le PM doit faire une déclaration. Dire li vinn guet lepep dans so lizié." Cette déclaration fut faite en présence de Rama Sithanen, qui était également membre du RPR avant de devenir ministre des Finances de Navin Ramgoolam.

[Some say there is a minister involved, or a super minister or even the Prime Minister. The whole country has the right to know the truth in this matter, because it is the population that has sent the MPs to the parliament. The PM must make a declaration. Tell him to look the country in the eye".]”

AHMAD JEEWAH: Then president of the MMM, which was part of the government. He had called an urgent meeting of the MMM politburo.

“Le BP mauve fait savoir que “l’électorat du MMM s’est toujours battu pour la transparence et la moralité et ne devrait pas perdre son âme. [...] les événements d’Albion, tels que rapportés par la presse, ont bouleversé la population” et réclame en conséquence “une déclaration sans équivoque du Premier ministre pour tirer cette affaire au clair.”
“The MMM states that the MMM electorate has always fought for transparency and morality and must not lose its soul. [...] the events of Albion, as reported in the press, have shocked the population.[...] The MMM therefore demands an unequivocal statement from the PM to make everything clear.”

AJAY DABY: Ex Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and member of the MSM. In a series of public meetings Ajay Daby brandished a male slip at the end of a stick stating he had picked it up on the Albion public beach demanding that the MP to whom it belonged resign from Parliament:

“Sa mayo noir ki mo finn ramassé Albion pou fer zot tombé.” (This black slip will make you fall)”

SIR ANEROOD JUGNAUTH: Then Leader of the Opposition.

After demanding a Commission of Inquiry, he asked the following question:

“Will the MMM make itself the accomplice of such depraved maniacs? ”

SAJ then went on to speak longly about this affair in public meetings also stating, with reference to events in dublin in 1970's, where Navin Ramgoolam as student stated:

“Li (Navin Ramgoolam) ti pé dire ou zénes vive enn sel fwa et bizin profit ou zénes. Mé mwa mo krawr sa ki pé arrivé montré ki sa zénes-là pé kontinié amizé. [He (Navin Ramgoolam used to say You live only once and must enjoy your youth. But I think that what is happening shows that this youth is enjoying non-stop]" ”

Honours[edit]

Ramgoolam has received several accolades and honours. In 1998 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Dr Honoris Causa by the University of Mauritius, Dr Honoris Causa from Aligarh Muslim University, India and Dr Honoris Causa by the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India in October 2005. Other awards he attained are the Grand Officier de la Legion d’Honneur from France in March 2006, the Honorary Freeman of Rodrigues from Rodrigues Regional Assembly in March 2007, The Wilberforce Medal from Wilberforce Lecture Trust, Hull, United Kingdom in June 2007, The Rajiv Gandhi Award from Mumbai Regional Congress Committee, India in August 2007, The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from Government of the Republic of India in January 2008 as well as Grand Commander of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean (GCSK) from the Government of the Republic of Mauritius in March 2008. In Paris, Ramgoolam received the Prix Louise Michel, awarded generally each year to a high personality in recognition of his or her outstanding contribution in the political field. He was made Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by the Padmashree Dr D. Y. Patil University, Mumbai, India in February 2009, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) of the Royal College of Physicians, London in May 2009, Honorary Doctor by Staffordshire University, United Kingdom in July 2010, Order of the Rule of Law by the World Jurist Association, Bethesda, Maryland, USA in April 2011, Overseas Bencher by the Inner Temple, United Kingdom in April 2011 and Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) by the Kurukshetra University, Haryana, India in February 2012.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Navin Ramgoolam is the son of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam who was the sixth Governor General of Mauritius, as well as the first Chief Minister and Prime Minister of Mauritius. His mother is Lady Sushil Ramgoolam (1922-1984). Navin is married to Veena Ramgoolam. However, a notorious agent of the MLP, [Nandanee Soornack] has sworn an affidavit in Italian courts stating that she is the mother of his sole heir ,Xiara Chandra Soornack. Questioned about this, Navin Ramgoolam famously stated

“Mo papa tou Mauriciens (I am the father of all Mauritians)”

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Notes Biographiques" (in French). Labour Party. Archived from the original on 19 September 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Heerah, Hashwini (2015-05-08). "Gender and Politicised Religion". 
  3. ^ "[VIDÉO] NAVIN RAMGOOLAM PASSE LES PREMIÈRES HEURES DE CE SAMEDI EN CELLULE". ION News. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Navin Ramgoolam : "J'ai l'intention de défendre rigoureusement mon honneur"". Le Défi Media Group. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "CURRICULUM VITAE". Government of Mauritius. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Anerood Jugnauth
Prime Minister of Mauritius
1995–2000
Succeeded by
Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by
Paul Bérenger
Prime Minister of Mauritius
2005–2015