Our Democratic Credentials


For a country that has achieved many firsts in terms of overall governance and remained top-ranking in Africa in other economic and political indices, the latest International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), released last Wednesday, has dealt a significant and embarrassing blow to Mauritius’ reputation across the world. The latter report draws attention to a number of democracies with the most severe democratic erosion — a group dubbed “backsliding” countries which includes the United States, El Salvador, Brazil, Hungary, India, Poland and Mauritius.

This only goes to confirm what opposition politicians, the media, political analysts and lay observers have been cautioning: the gradual and persistent retreat from what formed the bedrock of the country’s stability and consequent progress over so many decades when past governments, howsoever constituted, broke new grounds for the good of one and all. Examples are when independence was secured, and democratic rule came along with it, when the diversification of the economy was intensified to get us out of economic stagnation and do away with our geographic isolation. It was the democratic process that allowed us to renew ourselves as occasion demanded and create the confidence that this was a rule of law country steeped in democratic processes, where political adversaries, investors and private business owners would not find themselves harassed.

What obtains today is a semblance of democracy, and it is no wonder that other reputable institutions like V-Dem Institute (an independent research institute that studies the qualities of government) and Reporters Without Borders (an international non-profit and non-governmental organization with the stated aim of safeguarding the right to freedom of information) have also raised the red flag about the decline of democracy in the country. Mauritius has today dropped to the 64th place in the world rankings for freedom of the press compiled by Reporters Without Borders from the earlier 25th in 2007, and it has also joined this year the V-Dem Institute’s list of ‘autocratic’ countries.

How could it be otherwise when the voices of the Opposition can be systematically silenced in what was erstwhile the temple of our democracy and a Speaker shouts to interrupt opposition members like never before, or order them out at the drop of a hat, when the election process itself has come under unprecedented clouds and election petitions take years to be heard, pleas to investigate from a magistrate, the DPP or even the Electoral Commissioner can be ignored by the police, itself perceived to be targeting adversaries of the regime. None of the above international agencies would have been aware that we are now plumbing new depths with the goings-on at the gambling regulatory front or the allegations of improper practices of “planting” drugs at targeted opponents or harassing their families. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 2 December 2022

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