8 November 2017

Mauritius: Last Straw for Minister Showkutally Soodhun?

Showkutally Soodhun, vice prime minister and minister of housing and lands, could face significant sanctions after getting involved in yet another major incident. In a video currently in the possession of l'express - that was not shared due to the possible consequences arising from it - Soodhun is heard making comments that could be interpreted as trying to stir up racial hatred.

Due to the gravity of the situation, Nad Sivaramen, director of publications at La Sentinelle and Axcel Chenney, investigative journalist, met with Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth on Tuesday 7 November to share their concerns over Soodhun's behaviour and show him the video. The prime minister was reportedly irritated by the remarks made by Soodhun.

Soodhun has been linked with a number of controversies over recent months. He is currently facing criminal charges for a death threat he made publicly against Xavier-Luc Duval, leader of the opposition. There was also the issue of the unofficial communiqué made by his ministry condemning Qatar in its standoff with Saudi Arabia even though the official position of Mauritius was that of neutrality. Questions have also been raised over the past week, following the last Menteur Menteur, on how many suitcases the vice prime minister came back with to Mauritius as he travelled by private jet from Saudi Arabia. However, Soodhun's antics on the political scene are nothing new.

He has made a number of inappropriate comments over the years and was even mentioned in the Commission of Inquiry Report on the riots of February 1999 following the death of Kaya. The report suggested that Soodhun might have incited Hindus against Navin Ramgoolam, prime minister at the time, for allegedly "protecting minorities." No sanctions were eventually taken against him.

It remains to be seen whether this time will be any different as the prime minister ponders what the risks would be if he kept Soodhun on board or ended up sacking him from Cabinet.


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