March 14, 2018 / 11:10 AM / 7 days ago

Mauritius president rejects calls to resign over financial misconduct allegations

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim rejected calls for her to resign over accusations of financial misconduct and will provide evidence to debunk these, her office said in a statement on Wednesday.

Last month the local L’express newspaper said Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card issued by an international non-governmental organisation to buy clothes and jewellery in Italy and Dubai. She has denied any wrongdoing and said she had refunded all the money in question.

Last week Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said Gurib-Fakim, the first woman to hold the largely ceremonial role, would step down on March 12. She contradicted this in a statement published on the website of her office on Wednesday.

“Her Excellency reject any resignation prospect. She is ready to take legal action before the courts to defend herself against the slanderous accusations,” the State House statement said.

The Indian Ocean island nation, which markets itself as a bridge between Africa and Asia, is trying to shift an economy mostly focused on sugar, textiles and tourism towards offshore banking, business outsourcing, luxury real estate and medical tourism.

The report in the L’express newspaper said Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card issued by Planet Earth Institute, an organisation which supports education by offering scholarships.

The president had served as an unpaid director of the NGO and that the credit card was to be used to pay for the promotionm of a doctorate programme named after the president.

Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Raissa Kasolowsky

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