Private Notice Question: Soodhun’s antics dissected

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The PNQ was focused on controversial MP Showkutally Soodhun

Xavier-Luc Duval, leader of the opposition, focused his Private Notice Question (PNQ) on the significant number of controversies involving Showkutally Soodhun, who was forced to resign as vice prime minister and minister of housing and lands last week.

Before giving any details about the Soodhun-related investigations, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth pointed out that it was important to consider the presumption of innocence, arguing that it is a “sacrosanct human right”. Jugnauth eventually revealed that Soodhun was facing six cases arising from the same facts ­– the leaked video released last week – for “an alleged act of stirring up racial hatred.” The former vice prime minister also lodged a complaint in that case for a reported breach of the Information and Communication Technologies Act. “I am informed by the commissioner of police that an inquiry has been initiated in all seven cases I have referred to,” said the prime minister.

On top of those cases related to one specific issue, eight other separate cases have been reported against the former vice prime minister. These breaches include a number of offences ranging from defamation to publishing false news. As for Soodhun, he also has a total of 14 cases lodged against other people, ranging from a breach of the Information and Communication Technologies Act to swearing a false affidavit. However, as far as the cases under the purview of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) are concerned, the prime minister stated that “no information can be disclosed for cases being investigated”.

The leader of the opposition then went on about several specific cases involving Soodhun. He first asked the prime minister about the former vice prime minister’s use of a private jet and the alleged two extra suitcases he brought with him. “I am sure you picked it up from Menteur Menteur,” argued Duval. The prime minister dismissed the claims as being without substance. “If you have material, please provide them to me. Don’t go and give it to journalists,” said the prime minister.

Duval also pointed out the allegations made against Soodhun regarding a loan from an Indian businessman, the unpaid bills at the Apollo Bramwell Hospital and Iframac, the communiqué released against Qatar by his ministry, illegal posters outside mosques and even the allocation of land to South African businessmen.  Once again, Jugnauth called on the leader of the opposition to provide relevant information or to make a declaration to the police. The prime minister sought to highlight that “there should be material for a prima facie case.”

Having refused to answer most of the questions on Soodhun’s antics, Jugnauth tried to turn the tables and questioned Duval instead during his PNQ. “The people of this country must ask themselves the question. What was the motive of the leader of opposition for handing this recording to those journalists?” wondered the prime minister. “Was it to try to prevent or to stir up communal tensions in the country?”

The leader of the opposition tried to put similar blame on Jugnauth by asking about when he was made aware of the recording. The prime minister claimed that he knew there was a recording in circulation but that he had no idea about the content. However, Jugnauth also suggested that he knew that Duval was in possession of the recording “for quite some time”.

It was Duval’s turn to dismiss the claims as he asked the prime minister for proof of his allegations. “I leave it to his conscience,” concluded Jugnauth.

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On le croyait invincible et intouchable après que ses nombreuses frasques qui ont défrayé la chronique depuis le début de son mandat et qui sont passées sans qu’on le sanctionne. Mais Showkutally Soodhun s’est résigné à donner sa démission d’un «commun accord» avec le Premier ministre Pravind Jugnauth, après qu’une vidéo dans laquelle il tient des propos à relent communal a été publiée. Retour sur le scandale qui a fait tomber le n°4 du gouvernement.

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