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Friday, 27 July 2012 13:58

National Assembly – Speaker becomes President of the Republic New Speaker takes office

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The National Assembly voted on Friday 20 July  Rajkeswur Purryag, the then Speaker as President of the Republic of Mauritius. The motion was presented by the Prime Minister, Dr Navin Ramgoolam and seconded by Dr Rashid Beebeejaun.
The Deputy Speaker, Pradeep Peetumber was in the chair. He told the House that “in the light of provision of Section 28 (2) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Mauritius, the President shall be elected by the Assembly on a motion made by the Hon. Prime Minister and supported by the votes of a majority of all the Members of the Assembly.

The election took place in the absence of the Opposition. Independent members Eric Guimbeau, Francisco Francois and Cehl Fakeemeeah were present and voted in favour of the motion with 37 members of the government. Absent during voting time were 29 members of the MMM and MSM opposition parties.

With the ‘Ayes’ have it, the Deputy Speaker declared Rajkeswur Purryag, G.C.S.K.,G.O.S.K. elected as President of the Republic of Mauritius.  Following the election procedure, the Prime Minister made an overview of the career of the newly elected fifth President of the Republic of Mauritius. “Hon. Rajkeswur Purryag, who is more familiarly known as Kailash Purryag is a person, who embodies all the qualities and competence befitting the highest office of the land. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, Hon. Rajkeswur Purryag was born on 12 December 1947 in a poor family. His, was an uphill struggle. From very humble beginnings, he is today called upon to become the Head of State of the Republic of Mauritius.

It is a reminder, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, no matter where you start in life, if you possess character and are endowed with discipline and an unyielding belief in your convictions and pe/rsevere against all the odds then you will always climb over adversity. It is, therefore, fitting that we should be honouring someone who has spent his whole life devoted to the selfless service of our people.

Hon. Rajkeswur Purryag has an impressive profession and political track record. His career is also indicative of his belief in self-development and the human spirit’s capacity to overcome all obstacles. He became an Attorney at Law in 1973 and was elected to the Legislative Assembly, for the first time, in 1976. He has occupied the following Ministerial responsibilities with zeal, distinction and dedication:

• Minister of Social Security from January 1980 to June 1982

• Minister of Health from January 1984 to January 1988

• Minister of Economic Planning and Information and Telecommunications from December 1995 to July 1997.

• Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade from July 1997 to September 2000.

• He has made an invaluable contribution in all fields of national endeavour in a spirit of service for higher causes.

• He has been Speaker of the National Assembly since July 2005 and has presided over the deliberations of the House in the greatest tradition of fairness and objectivity.

He has been Speaker of the National Assembly since July 2005 and has presided over the deliberations of the House in the greatest tradition of fairness and objectivity. Hon. Rajkeswur Purryag has always discharged his duties of his various functions with an acute sense of responsibility and competence of the highest order. It is my living sentiment that Hon. Rajkeswur Purryag will uphold the standard of the presidency with a decorum that his Office demands.

With his courage and foresight and the experience of a rich and illustrious career, he is destined to play a significant role in the shaping of the future of Mauritius and the broader goals of peace and welfare. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, on behalf of all the Members of the National Assembly and in my own name, I wish to convey to Hon. Rajkeswur Purryag, Mrs Anita Purryag, their daughter and all the members of his family our most sincere congratulations.”

The Prime Minister then moved for the adjournment of the Assembly to Tuesday, 24 July 2012, at 11.30 a.m.

The Clerk of the National Assembly informed the House that, ‘immediately following his election as President of the Republic at to-day’s  sitting, the Honourable Rajkeswur Purryag, GCSK, GOSK, has submitted his resignation as Speaker of the National Assembly.’

Election of a new Speaker
The Prime Minister, Dr Navin Ramgoolam, presented a motion on Tuesday 24 July 2012 for the election of a new speaker at the National Assembly: “Clerk of the National Assembly, in accordance with the provisions of Section 32 of the Constitution and Standing Order 7 of the Standing Orders and Rules of the National Assembly, I move that Mr Abdool Razack Mahomed Ameen Peeroo, GOSK, SC be elected Speaker of the House.

In line with the tradition of the House, I wish to say a few words about Mr Razack Peeroo, whom I am proposing to be the Speaker of the House. Mr Razack Peeroo is a well-known figure, both as a barrister and as a politician. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1972 and to the Mauritian Bar in 1974. Mr Razack Peeroo first stood as a candidate in 1976 under the banner of the Independence Party – a coalition of the Labour Party and CAM and was duly elected in Constituency No 15 – La Caverne/Phoenix. The other two elected members from that Constituency were Mr Rajkeswur Purryag and Mr Iswardeo Seetaram.

By a stroke of coincidence all three elected members from Constituency No 15 served as Ministers in the Government of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam !

And, by yet another stroke of coincidence, Mr Seetaram and Mr Purryag have also both served as Speaker of the House, and now Mr Peeroo, too is to be Speaker of the House. Mr Razack Peeroo stood again for the Parliament as a Labour Party candidate in 1991 and was returned as the fourth member of Constituency No. 15. He stood for Parliament again in 1995 under the banner of the Labour Party-MMM Alliance and he was returned as first Member of the same Constituency.  Mr Razack Peeroo has held the following Ministerial responsibilities:

-He was Minister of Labour & Industrial Relations from November 1979 to June 1982;

-Attorney General, Minister of Justice & Industrial Relations from December 1995 to November 1996;

-Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Human Rights & Corporate Affairs from December 1996 to June 1997;

-Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Human Rights  & Corporate Affairs & Minister of Labour & Industrial Relations from June 1997 to November 1999; and

-Attorney General, Minister of Justice & Human Rights, Minister for Reform Institutions from November 1999 to September 2000.

His abilities and qualities have been recognised both locally and internationally and have earned him several distinctions.  In view of his exceptional and distinguished service in the political and legal fields, in 2006 he was awarded “Grand Officer of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean” (GOSK).  In 2010, he was elevated to the rank of “Senior Counsel” (SC). His wide experience and his well-known sense of fairness, combined with an unswerving dedication to duty fully qualify him to preside over the deliberations of the National Assembly. I have no doubt that Mr Razack Peeroo will serve the House with the same exemplary distinction he has always displayed in his previous responsibilities. With these words, I move that Mr Razack Peeroo be elected Speaker of this august Assembly.”

Oath of Office
Razack Peeroo then took an oath of allegiance to serve as the new speaker of the National Assembly in the presence of members of the government, elected members of the MSM sitting on the Opposition bench as well as before Eric Guimbeau, Francisco Francois and Cehl Meeah sitting as independent members. All MMM elected members were absent.

After the swearing in ceremony, the newly nominated speaker made a speech in which he underlined the manners and principles which will guide him in his office: ‘ impartiality and equity’ are the basic rules that will allow all sitting members of parliament to give their opinion on national undertakings in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House.

First tasks

Just after the swearing in ceremony, Razack Peeroo took note of a statement made by the Prime Minister on arms trafficking by foreign nationals and presided over the resumption of debates on the ‘Supplementary Appropriation (2011) Bill. During the break that followed for lunch, he met the press who was eager to get a glimpse of his style as speaker of the National Assembly. In the afternoon he followed the various queries of elected members on the ‘Estimates of Supplementary Expenditure (2011) of 2012 during the Committee of Supply and remained until late at night presiding over debates on the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (Amendment) Bill.                                       

Indradev Curpen

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