Paul Bérenger

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The Honourable
Paul Raymond Bérenger
GCSK
Paul Bérenger.png
Leader of the Opposition
Incumbent
Assumed office
17 December 2014
President Kailash Purryag
Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by Pravind Jugnauth
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
27 September 2007 – 23 January 2013
President Kailash Purryag
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Preceded by Nando Bodha
Succeeded by Alan Ganoo
In office
5 July 2005 – 5 July 2006
President Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Preceded by Navin Ramgoolam
Succeeded by Nando Bodha
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 70)
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 currently serves as Leader of the Opposition. He was Prime Minister of Mauritius from 2003 to 2005. He has been Leader of the Opposition on several occasions — from 1983 to 1987, 1997 to 2000, 2005 to 2006, 2007 to 2013, October 2013 to 15 September 2014. Following his party's defeat in the 2014 general elections, he became Leader of the opposition for the sixth time, making him the longest ever to serve in this constitutional position.[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. Bérenger, a Christian of Franco-Mauritian descent, has been the only non-Hindu Prime Minister of Mauritius. He was also the first Caucasian politician to lead an African country since the end of colonial rule.

Early life and education[edit]

Bérenger was born to parents of French origin who were established in Mauritius in ancient generations. He did his higher 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.[2] He later worked as a Trade Unionist from 1970 to 1982 before winning that year's general elections.[3]

Political career[edit]

Bérenger founded the Mauritian Militant Movement in 1969 along with Dev Veerasawmy and the Jeerubarkhan brothers. This party has always received more than 40% of direct votes in general elections.

1976 elections[edit]

The general elections of 1976 turned out to be a three-way contest between Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam's Mauritian Labour Party, the Parti Mauricien Social Démocrate (PMSD), and the MMM.

Rather than Bérenger, the MMM nominated its President, Anerood Jugnauth, as its candidate for Prime Minister of Mauritius. Bérenger proposed to held the office of Minister of Finance in the Cabinet.

The election resulted in a hung-parliament, with 34 of the 70 seats in the National Assembly going to the MMM, 28 seats to the Labour Party, and 8 seats to the PMSD. Ramgoolam remained in office, however, by forging a coalition with the PMSD for a bare majority. Jugnauth was appointed Leader of the Opposition.

1982 Elections[edit]

Concerned about possible communal campaigning in the general elections of 1982, Bérenger made an alliance with the Mauritian Socialist Party (PSM) and its leader, Harish Boodhoo. He thought that Bodhoo would have a better chance than himself of attracting the vote of the Hindu majority. He still proposed Anerood Jugnauth as Prime Minister and Boodhoo as Deputy Prime Minister.

In 1982, the MMM won all 60 seats directly elected seats in the National Assembly (except for two seats allocated to Rodrigues Island, which the mainland parties typically do not contest). As proposed, Jugnauth became Prime Minister with Boodhoo his deputy and Bérenger as Minister of Finance.

1983 Elections[edit]

In early 1983, Bérenger proposed a constitutional amendment removing the executive powers of the Prime Minister and entrusting them to the Cabinet collectively. In this he was supported by Boodhoo, but Jugnauth strongly objected. Bérenger then sought a parliamentary motion of no confidence to have Jugnauth replaced as Prime Minister by Prem Nababsingh. Before the National Assembly could vote on the matter, however, Jugnauth dissolved Parliament without any notice and called a general election.

The MMM split, with Jugnauth and his supporters forming a new political party, the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), which included the PSM. The MSM fought the election as part of a broader alliance with the Labour Party and the PSDM. The results gave 41 seats to the MSM-led alliance and 19 to the MMM. Bérenger was appointed Leader of the Opposition.

Elections 1987 through 1995[edit]

Jugnauth and the MSM, in various electoral coalitions, handily won the 1987 election and the 1991 election. Bérenger and the MMM opposed Jugnauth in the former but entered into an alliance with him in the latter, and Bérenger was subsequently appointed Minister of External Affairs.

In 1993, Jugnauth dismissed Berenger and all Members of the MMM from the government and formed a new majority with the other parties. Bérenger then made an alliance with Navin Ramgoolam then new leader of the Mauritian Labour Party, proposing Ramgoolam as Prime Minister and Bérenger as his Deputy. This alliance won the 1995 elections with a 60-nil sweep of mainland Mauritian constituencies. Ramgoolam became Prime Minister with Bérenger as his Deputy. In 1997, however, Ramgoolam dismissed Bérenger and formed a new government without the MMM.

2000 Elections[edit]

In 1999, the national opinion polls showed that Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam's Labour Party was the favorite to win the elections due in 2000. In an hour-long meeting organized by Bodhoo, Berenger made up his quarrel with Jugnauth and agreed to and electoral alliance and a power-sharing deal, should they win the election. The MSM and the MMM would each contest 30 of the 60 mainland seats. If successful, Jugnauth would serve as Prime Minister for three years; he would then resign, assume the (largely, but not entirely, ceremonial) office of President of Mauritius and make way for Bérenger to succeed him as Prime Minister, with Jugnauth's son Pravind Jugnauth as his Deputy.

The MSM/MMM alliance won 54 of the 60 seats. Jugnauth became Prime Minister again, appointing a 25-member Cabinet with Bérenger as Deputy Prime Minister.

The power-sharing agreement was briefly in doubt when, in 2001, Bérenger 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. Joomun's husband was a victim of the murder.[4][5] Bérenger 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.[6]

In 2003, Bérenger duly succeeded Jugnauth, who assumed the Presidency, as agreed.

Prime Minister[edit]

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.

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]

Berenger subsequently tried to run on his own but lost the 2005 elections to Ramgoolam's Labour Party

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 also lost the subsequent elections in 2010.

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 Bérenger.[7][8] Following his successful treatment for cancer, he returned to his position as Leader of the Opposition on 1 October 2013.

After his party ended its alliance with the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), Berenger negotiated an alliance with the Labour Party on a power sharing deal whereby each party would nominate 30 candidates and, if successful in the election, would provide an equal number of Cabinet Ministers. Navin Ramgoolam would remain Prime Minister until a new constitution could be adopted to enhance the powers of the President, before resigning to make place for Bérenger to succeed him. This alliance lost the December 2014 elections, however, and Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, who had come out of retirement to lead L'alliance Lepep (Alliance of the People) was sworn in Prime Minister again, at the age of 84.

References[edit]