Tuesday, 16 June 2015 00:00

What to expect from President Gurib-Fakim

IOO's correspondent in Mauritius Nasseem Ackbarally spoke to President Gurib-Fakim, a few hours before she took her office at State House, Mauritius. Below are exceprts of the exclusive interview which showcase how this Indian Ocean island nation is going to shift its focus in line with emerging global shifts.

NA: What is your feeling after being elected to the Supreme function of the State of Mauritius?
AGF: This is a big challenge. I will have to learn the ins and outs of the post. I'll try to bring my personal touch to it. Obviously, l will follow the same rigor and discipline that science taught me. As a woman, I feel the government has sent a very strong message to the population, to women, saying “yes, this is possible.”

NA: Did you ever dream of occupying such a high level Constitutional post?
AGF: l have always dreamt of serving my country at different levels. Now, achieving this one, I must say it's a dream that has come true but I have never ever seen myself in such a job.


President Gurib-Fakim the decorated scientist now thrust into the deep sea of politics [Image Credit: NA]

NA: From scientist to President, how will the transition take place?
AGF: I should first learn and try to understand the job of a President. The Constitution of the country is now my Bible. I'll have to dig, learn, and assimilate to the maximum the ins and outs of the post but also to act fast on certain matters.

NA: Will you suspend your job as a scientist the time you will be President?
AGF: Science will be one of the pillars on which I'll work. I'll try to introduce a real policy regarding science in the country. I see that the government is very keen to make an impact at the level of science and technology. I'll bring my experience in the field to materialize this idea so that it becomes a source of jobs for the youth.

President Gurib-Fakim when taking the oath of office [Image Credit: NA]

NA: What are your ideas about taking Mauritius to the next stage of economic prosperity?
AGF: Cultural heritage is of real interest to me because it concerns tourism that is an important economic pillar of the island. Tourism should not only be the sun, the sea and the beach. If we are able to develop a cultural cum green and sustainable tourism, the quintessence of Mauritian culture will emerge. I'll also work on education because our human capital is our only resource that is needed to operate our economy. There is also the social environment to take care of. Inevitably, there is a lot to do. I have also told myself that a President should cater for the expectations of the people.

NA: What could be the relations of Mauritius with the neighbouring countries in Africa under your mandate?
AGF: I must say that Mauritius has been somewhat absent from the international scene, particularly at the level of the African continent for some time. I sincerely believe that the potential for growth and development for Mauritius will come through Africa. This is a continent that is becoming younger, where growth has been 5% annually in the last five years and as such we ought to cooperate fully.

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