Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female president, resigns following financial scandal

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Ameenah Gurib-Fakim
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, now former president of Mauritius. Photo US Navy

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, African’s only female head-of-state has resigned following a financial scandal that had led lawmakers to seek impeachment proceedings.

Shop till you drop (the presidency)

Influential Mauritian news website, L’Express, last week reported that Fakim had spent several hundred thousand rupees on personal purchases using a credit card provided by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI), a non-governmental organization.

At first Ameenah Gurib-Fakim denied the reports, but after parliament ordered an investigation she told local radio station Radio Plus that she had repaid PEI.

“I will not resign. Let them institute their Tribunal. I will see later if I am guilty. Since 2017, I have already refunded all the money.”

The Angolan connection

The use of the bank card caused alarm in Mauritius when the story was exposed because of the controversial owner of the PEI, an Angolan named Álvaro Sobrinho. Sobrinho is reportedly being pursued by prosecutors over $500 million that went missing from a local bank called BES Angola when he was serving as the bank’s president.

According to other reports by L’Express, Mauritius’ Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance has suspected Sobrinho set up the foundation on Mauritius to “mask illicit activities.”

Despite her original defiance, the pressure for Fakim thanks to the connection to Sobrinho grew too much.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigns

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced earlier today that Fakim had resigned.

As reported by the AFP, he said, “The President of the Republic told me that she would resign from office and we agreed on the date of her departure. The interests of the country come first.”

The exact date of Fakim’s departure is still unknown, but she is expected to remain in post for the upcoming 50th anniversary of Mauritius’ independence on March 12th.

When Fakim was appointed president in 2015 she became the first female president in Mauritian history, and the only serving African head of state.

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