24 October 2017

Mauritius: Leader of opposition suspended from parliament after sit-in protest

Tension between Xavier-Luc Duval, leader of the opposition, and Speaker Maya Hanoomanjee led to the parliamentary session being suspended within one hour of having resumed after a three-month break. Duval took offence to the time allocation during the Private Notice Question (PNQ) with Minister Nando Bodha monopolising most of the time with lengthy answers.

The parliamentary session started off with a dose of nostalgia with the likes of Paul Bérenger, leader of the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM) and Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth paying tribute to Prem Nababsing and Lutchmeeparsad Ramsewok. However, matters soon took a turn for the worse once the actual parliamentary work started. Duval's PNQ was focused on the Metro Express, the controversial project that has even led to a by-election in Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes.

Bodha revealed that the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) would provide an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the end of the year coupled with other mitigation measures undertaken as far as the environment is concerned. He also claimed that the Metro Express would not solve the congestion problem on its own but that other measures, such as road decongestion, would be required as well.

Duval managed to get in a few remarks pertaining to the users of Metro Express, averring that with a growing number of car users, it is unlikely that the project would solve anything at all. When the speaker eventually told Duval that his time was up, the leader of the opposition refused to yield the floor, arguing that he had not been given enough time. After a few bitter verbal exchanges, Hanoomanjee ordered Duval out. However, he refused to leave and the session was suspended.

MPs made their way back into the National Assembly an hour later - Duval was still sitting in parliament - to learn that the speaker and the prime minister agreed on a suspension of "two days and the next sitting" for the leader of the opposition unless he offered unreserved apologies. Speaker Hanoomanjee then suspended the session again to allow MPs to break for lunch.

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