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Jaishankar in Mauritius amid unrest | India News


NEW DELHI: Foreign minister S Jaishankar landed in Mauritius on Sunday on a two-day visit to advance a trade and investment agreement with the island nation, one of India’s key partners in the Indian Ocean region. He, however, arrived in the middle of civil unrest, with opposition parties and civil society groups calling for the resignation of PM Pravind Jugnauth and his government.
Foreign minister of Mauritius Nandcoomar Bodha resigned and has positioned himself as a challenger to Jugnauth. In an exclusive conversation with TOI, Bodha dwelt on the causes of the unrest and the future of India-Mauritius ties.
Describing himself as the “last of the Mohicans”, Bodha said he resigned as minister and secretary general of the ruling party Militant Socialist Movement. “I’ve served under Sir Aneerood Jugnauth (present PM’s father) for ages, I have served in government for years, but I think the time has come when we need something else,” he said.
“From last August there has been unrest, against corruption and fraud. In Mauritius, it is believed that a small controlling coterie is running the show. There is an outcry for fundamental change,” he said. In his resignation statement, he said, “This new vision will encompass dreams and aspirations of all Mauritians.” Bodha said, “I will be devoting myself to this new vision for a new Mauritius.” He said if six-seven more leaders quit, the Jugnauth government would be in a minority and polls would be inevitable.
Asserting that the country can’t run as it is at present, he said, “I’m talking to everyone in the opposition. I am going to present a manifesto with several proposals for coming years. I am confident this will be a national program and I’m trying to crystallise this desire for change,” he said. “Jaishankar’s visit will be important because we’re signing this free trade area agreement. It will open up trade and investment ties between India and Mauritius. Mauritius will be able to export certain goods to India. It will help India access Africa through Mauritius.We’re part of African Union and SADC.” India, he said, is opening up to Africa. “We can be useful.”
In terms of security, Bodha said India has a key role. “India can be important — in Indian Ocean maritime security, and in the Indo-Pacific. We’ve an issue of sovereignty and a dispute with the UK and US. I think India can be instrumental in bringing everyone together to find a solution for us,” he said.

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