“There is no choice,” declared the prime minister nonchalantly to a bemused audience of journalists. He was talking about bequeathing the primeministership to his son. What he probably meant is: “You have no choice as a population!”
Legally speaking, we don’t. There is no need to rehash the same arguments about the constitution and how it allows the leader of the biggest party to lead the government if the prime minister is no longer available. Many members of the legal profession and other political observers have been tripping over themselves to remind us of that. In fact, the prime minister’s as-a-matter-of-fact announcement of such a serious move, which touches the heart of our democracy, has immediately been followed by a subtle competition about who is more vocal than who in support of the soon-to-be-crowned prince.
I must say, I have nothing against Pravind Jugnauth – or indeed anybody else – becoming prime minister if that is the wish of the people of this country. Nor do I have a problem with our constitution, which has held us in good stead for decades. I, however, have a big problem with deceit and hypocrisy.
When we were called to cast our votes in the 2014 election, there was no mention of the prime ministerial candidate not finishing his mandate. In fact, Anerood Jugnauth’s detractors were shouting from all rooftops that he was too old and that his only motivation was to pave the way for his son to illegitimately seize power. He and his team vehemently denied the ‘allegation’ and insisted that he was going to be prime minister for five years. The ‘five years’ became a mantra during the campaign. Then everybody started attributing God-like qualities to the prime ministerial candidate to show that he could rule for five years and perhaps beyond. The insistence on the five-year mandate was meant to fend off the accusation that we may one day be tricked into a situation where the father suddenly decides he is no longer well enough and the son takes over. To rule out such a possibility and show his good faith, the prime minister decided not to nominate his son as deputy prime minister or even as one of the three vice-prime ministers. With that, he put our minds at ease and the majority of us gave him our votes. Suddenly, we are told that someone who was not given a mandate to be prime minister is not only going to become prime minister but that there is no other choice!
Naturally, the koalas holding on to their fickle branch of power for dear life stayed frozen in their position lest any involuntary move is mistaken for courage and costs them their seats. Smiles were in order and all is well in Dodo Land. Some even suggested that this scenario had been privately agreed on before the election, thus unwittingly confirming that we had been taken for fools.
You will have noticed that, in this whole saga, everyone has been careful not to utter the taboo word: MedPoint. Remember that the director of public prosecutions is still waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision for leave to appeal to the Privy Council in the matter. In case the Supreme Court does not grant leave, the DPP may ask for leave from the Privy Council itself. Either way, the country will find itself in a situation where the law lords are hearing an appeal, in a criminal case, against its own prime minister!
“I always wondered what it felt like to live in North Korea,” Indian Film Director Anurag Kashyap tweeted about film censorship. "Now I don't even need to catch a plane." The good news is that neither do we!
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