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Cablegate: Mauritian Cabinet Reshuffle and Presidential Appointment

VZCZCXRO3075
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHPL #0312 2591459
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151459Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4167
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PORT LOUIS 000312

SIPDIS

AF/E FOR MARIA BEYZEROV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR KDEM MP
SUBJECT: MAURITIAN CABINET RESHUFFLE AND PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENT

REF: PORT LOUIS 307

1. SUMMARY. On September 12, a week earlier than expected, Prime
Minister Navin Ramgoolam confirmed that Sir Anerood Jugnauth's (SAJ)
mandate as President will continue for five more years. One day
later, on September 13, the Prime Minister announced a
much-anticipated cabinet reshuffle. In addition to many
reappointments, four new Ministers were sworn in (3 Hindu and 1
Creole) and one was demoted to Deputy Speaker of the National
Assembly. While the media speculates on what this signals for
alliances in light of 2010 legislative elections, politicians remain
quiet on the effects of these changes. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------
PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENT AND ALLIANCES
--------------------------------------

2. According to local press reports, advisers close to the Prime
Minister admitted that the renewal of Anerood Jugnauth's
presidential mandate was an attempt to undermine any MMM/MSM
alliance possibility in light of upcoming legislative elections.
Based on a Business Magazine survey published on April 2, an MMM/MSM
alliance would have majority support of the population (Note: 31
percent for MMM/MSM against 25 percent for the Prime Minister's
Social Alliance party. End of note).

3. MMM leader Paul Berenger, however, insists that appointing
Anerood Jugnauth for a second presidential term will not affect any
potential political alliance between MMM and MSM. MSM leader Pravind
Jugnauth somewhat echoed these statements when he told the press
that his party is happy with the decision but that it does not
necessarily affect its chances for an alliance with MMM. On the
other hand, local press also reported that Jugnauth privately
expressed that he was pleased with the renewed interest shown
towards his party by the Prime Minister.

----------------------------------
REACTION TO THE CABINET RESHUFFLE
----------------------------------

4. As rumored for months, Ramgoolam made a number of changes to his
cabinet, increasing the number of Ministers to 22 and moving Etienne
Sinatambou, former Minister of Information Technology &
Telecommunications, to the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly
chair. He also decided to get rid of the Attorney General's
additional ministerial portfolios to be in conformity with the
constitution (see reftel). Ramgoolam claims that the cabinet
reshuffle signals an era of modernity that seeks to be results- and
community-oriented. Still, some have expressed reservations over
the appointments, such as Creole leader, Father Jocelyn Gregoire,
who expressed "frustration and anger" at the new total of 13 Hindu
ministers.

CABRERA

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