Mauritius: Africa’s Only Female President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Finally Resigns

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female President, has reportedly submitted her resignation in the “national interest,” few days after she vehemently refused to stand down after being implicated in a financial scandal.

Her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed told reporters, that her resignation will take effect on March 23.

Local L’Express newspaper reported in February that the country’s first female president, a renowned scientist, had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy jewelry and clothes abroad. According to the paper, she was given the card for serving as the NGO’s unpaid director and it was to be used to pay for the promotion of a doctorate programme named after the president.

Ms Gurib-Fakim’s office said she “had an identical credit card from the same bank [and] inadvertently used the card from the PEI for expenses not linked to her mission”. It added that $27,000 (£19,335) had been refunded and Ms Gurib-Fakim would defend herself with “legal action”.

In a statement to the BBC, PEI London said that Ms Gurib-Fakim had refunded the money to its Mauritian sister organisation. The organisation said it had given her a credit card to cover travel expenses while promoting African science, technology, and innovation.

However a defiant Ameenah Gurib-Fakim had on Wednesday refused to resign, claiming that she is the victim of a smear campaign, and said she was ready to testify in court to debunk the accusations. This contradicted a statement made by Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, who had said she would quit after Mauritius celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence from Britain on March 12.

Gurib-Fakim’s resignation adds to a list of top-ranking government officials on the Indian Ocean island nation, who have stepped down for alleged corruption and improper behavior. Former Deputy Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun left office in November for allegedly making inappropriate comments. In September, Attorney General Ravi Yerrigadoo stepped down to allow an investigation into allegations of money-laundering.