Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has tendered resignation from her post. This is following a scandal which saw her accused of using a bank card provided by an NGO to make personal purchases.
Her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed said her resignation would take effect on March 23. The move will bring down the curtain on a saga that has gripped the Indian Ocean archipelago for weeks.
Gurib-Fakim, whose role is mostly ceremonial, is a scientist and biologist of international renown, and in 2015 joined the London-based Planet Earth Institute (PEI) to try to develop scientific capacity in Africa.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced a week ago that Gurib-Fakim had agreed to resign, with a date set for her departure last Monday. However on Wednesday, a statement from the presidency lashed out at “weeks of attacks and false allegations” and said Gurib-Fakim planned to clear her name and would not go. Her sudden change of heart remains unclear.
The presidency said that in May 2016, she received a credit card from PEI to pay for travel and logistical expenses linked to her role but inadvertently used it for unrelated personal expenses. Gurib-Fakim said she immediately informed the PEI and paid back the amount, as well as all expenses paid by the PEI for her missions.
PEI confirmed the same, adding in a statement earlier on this week that Gurib-Fakim “thus never received gifts, favours, wages or expenses from the PEI, nor undue benefits or advantage”.
However it was not just the expenditure that provoked anger in Mauritius, but the president’s association with Angolan billionaire Alvaro Sobrinho who helped found the PEI and is himself being investigated in Switzerland and Portugal for suspected fraud.
Gurib-Fakim, under pressure from the opposition, resigned shortly afterwards from her role at the PEI.