Navin Ramgoolam

Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, MP is a Mauritian politician who has been Prime Minister of Mauritius since 2005; previously he was Prime Minister from 1995 to 2000.

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Navinchandra Ramgoolam,[1] GCSK, FRCP, MP (born नवीन चन्‍द्र रामगुलाम on 14 July 1947) is a Mauritian politician who has been Prime Minister of Mauritius since 2005; previously he was Prime Minister from 1995 to 2000. He also serves as Minister of Defence, Home Affairs and External Communications, as well as Leader of the National Assembly. Being the leader of the Mauritian Labour Party, he serves as Member of Parliament for constituency No. 5 Triolet & Pamplemousses since 1991. As of February 7th, 2012, he is also serving as Minister of Rodrigues and Outer Islands & Dependencies due to the resignation of Minister Nicholas Von Mally[2][3].

Ramgoolam trained as a doctor at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland and achieved full registration with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom in 1977. He later converted to Law by achieving a Master of Laws qualification at the London School of Economics before starting a political career.

After a first candidacy for Parliament in 1991, he returned as 1st Member elected in Constituency No 5. He stood as a prime minister candidate for the Labour Party, but the party was heavily defeated by Sir Anerood Jugnauth with his MSM and alliance party MMM. The Labour Party secured only 3 seats of 70 in the House of Parliament. Jugnauth won 59 seats and the rest went to Rodrigues party. Thus Paul Bérenger became Leader of the Opposition.

Ramgoolam became Prime Minister in the landslide victory of 1995 general elections where the Labour Party in alliance with the MMM won 60 seats. He formed his cabinet and stayed as Prime Minister for a five year mandate. The government collapsed after the MMM left the coalition, but Ramgoolam continued to rule with a small majority. He lost the elections of 2000 and became leader of Opposition again until 2005.

Ramgoolam's Alliance Sociale (a coalition including his own Mauritian Labour Party, the Mauritian Party of Xavier-Luc Duval, and several smaller groups) defeated the governing Mauritian Militant Movement-Militant Socialist Movement coalition in the 2005 general election. Ramgoolam was re-appointed as Prime Minister.

In the 2010 elections, the Labour party made an alliance with the Militant Socialist Movement and the Mauritian Social Democrat Party. His alliance won him a 3rd term as Prime Minister. However, since the MSM left the government in 2011, he only has a small majority of 37 seats against 32 in opposition.

Early life

Navin Ramgoolam was born in a Hindu family to Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, a then practising physician, and his wife Lady Sushil Ramgoolam in Port Louis, Mauritius. He was born when his family was still poor and he grew up in the Capital City of the country. He went to study medicine in Ireland and graduated as a medical practitioner in 1973. He then converted to law in late 1980s and joined the Middle Temple Inn of Court. He worked in different private hospitals in the United Kingdom and was on the point of immigrating to Canada when Sir Satcam Boolell (then leader of Labour Party) and Paul Berenger convinced him to come back to Mauritius and to fight and win the leadership of the party.

Leadership of the Labour Party and 1991 Elections

Navin Ramgoolam assumed leadership of Mauritius Labour Party in 1991, succeeding Sir Satcam Boolell at this post. He contested his first General election in 1991 as leader of Mauritius Labour Party. The Labour Party was defeated by the MSM-MMM - coalition between party of then incumbent Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, and Paul Berenger winning only 3 seats out of 60. However, Navin Ramgoolam was elected first member of Parliament for the Constituency of Pamplemousse-Triolet, the previous constituency of his late father. Since then, he has always been elected at top of the list.

Although the MLP and PMSD suffered heavy electoral losses in the September 1991 general election and were faced with internal weakness, they attempted to act as an assertive and contentious opposition. The PMSD lost its veteran leader Sir Gaetan Duval at the end of 1991 after his retirement. The MLP's leader, Dr. Navin Ramgoolam, has been attacked by his own political allies for his inexperience in high office and frequent overseas travels. The opposition was quick to criticize the prime minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, for issuing a new MR20 bank note with the image of the prime minister's wife in mid-1992. In addition, the opposition and the ruling coalition have taken each other to court over charges of fraud in the 1991 election.

A particularly acrimonious row developed over Ramgoolam's absence from parliament beginning in July 1992 in order to pursue a law degree in London. The speaker of the National Assembly claimed that the MLP leader violated rules relating to absences by members of parliament. The case was referred to the Supreme Court. The Ramgoolam affair not only has prompted grumbling within the MLP but also has highlighted the tension within the ruling coalition, namely, the continuing friction between Paul Bérenger, external affairs minister and secretary general of the MMM, and Prime Minister Jugnauth. Bérenger criticized Jugnauth for calling the National Assembly out of recess while Ramgoolam was out of the country, claiming that the prime minister was merely creating another pretext for stripping the MLP leader of his seat.[4]

1995 Elections and First Tenure as Prime Minister

In 1994, Ramgoolam's party joined hands with the Mouvement Militant Mauricien and they won the 2 seats contested in by-election in January 1995 in constituency of Rose-Hill-Stanley. Navin Ramgoolam then assumed Prime ministership of the country in December 1995 following the landslide victory in the 1995 General election in which the coalition he led won all the 60 seats in parliament. His first prime ministership was marked by two by-elections that he won and marred by island-wide racial riots after the death of Joseph Reginald Topize, also known as "Kaya", the famous Seggae singer of creole origin in prison. In 2000 he was defeated by two political leaders, Paul Bérenger and Anerood Jugnauth, who joined hands to oust him out power, but was still elected as first representative of his constituency in National Assembly.

From 1995 to 2000, he was much criticised by the media with his inexperienced way of holding high offices and the Labour party which was at the highest peak in 1995 as it had never won a 60-0 elections began to sank in polls.In the early days of 2000, the labour party nevertheless was ahead in the polls to win over the MMM and MSM. However at the last minute in a 45 minutes meeting between Sir Jugnauth and Berenger, an alliance of MSM-MMM was remade and Navin Ramgoolam lost heavily once again winning only 8 seats against 56 seats. Sir Anerood Jugnauth became Prime Minister in 2000 following his victory.

2000-2005

Following the victory of the MSM-MMM alliance, he resigned as Prime Minister. Between 2000 and 2005, he was Leader of the Opposition. He once again was at the same point of beginning with only 8 Mps. He initiated new policies and a new team. He took on board former members of the MSM and MMM namely Rama Sithanen & Rashid Beebeejaun. Sithanen who was finance minister in the MSM government helped in economic policy making and Beebeejaun ensured the support of the Muslim electorate concentrated in Port Louis. He then initiated a coalition of small parties alongside with the labour party in early 2005 and stood as Prime Minister again.

2005 and Prime Minister

In 2005, he made a coalition the Social Alliance led by Labour Party won the election. Navin Ramgoolam kept his promise to introduce free transport services for the elderly as a tribute for their efforts to bring Mauritius to where it stands and students for they are the future of the nation. He also specified tight deadlines for achieving various other (short-term) macroeconomic measures to ensure the country sustains development. These involved tax reform amongst others.

His management in terms of making diplomatic relationship with other countries have served him well. He has made enormous contribution to the economy since his second appointment as Prime Minister

Following the general election on 5th May 2010, Navin Ramgoolam was re-elected as prime minister and the Mauritius Labour Party won a majority of 41 seats against 18 seats by the MMM of Paul Berenger and 1 seat went to the FSM. The good handling of the economic issues, ensuring an improved growth during the global financial crisis, is considered by some to have been a determining factor in his winning the election with a more comfortable margin than in 2005. Another important factor was his political strategy of allying himself with the MSM, which ensured the opposition did not have a credible alternative prime minister. The Labour-led coalition won 29 seats out of 30 in rural constituencies and 12 seats of out 30 in urban constituencies. This was the first time since 1991 elections that a Mauritian Prime Minister won a second consecutive term.

Personal life

Navin Ramgoolam is the son of former Prime Minister and Father of the Mauritian Nation Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and Lady Sushil Ramgoolam. He is married to Veena Brizmohun since 1976. He has a sister and his brother in law is an Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Titles and Honours

  • Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean