Africa’s only female president will resign over expense claims
MAURITIUS — The president of Mauritius will resign this week over claims she used a credit card provided to her by an NGO for personal expenses, her lawyer said.
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, submitted her resignation for the “stability of the country,” her lawyer, Yousouf Mohammed, said in an interview with local news agency ION.
Mohammed added she would leave office on March 23. She’s been president since 2015.
The president was left fighting for her political career after local media published a report that she had paid for personal expenses on a credit card given to her by the London-based charity Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in 2016.
Gurib-Fakim was accused of spending up to $26,000 on jewelery and clothing using a credit card provided by the NGO, which was founded by an Angolan banker with business interests in Mauritius.
It had earlier been reported that she would resign but Gurib-Fakim refused to resign saying she had done nothing wrong.
A statement released Friday by the president’s office explained that she had inadvertently used the credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute because she had a similar card and immediately repaid the money to the PEI when the error was discovered. Gurib-Fakim was appointed to the PEI board in 2015, but resigned two years later in 2017.
“Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has never received any gifts, salary or favors from the Planet Earth Institute. She is very surprised to be the subject of these cruel and violent attacks one year later, ” the statement added.
The PEI also posted a statement on their website saying that “the PEI accepted the resignation of Prof. Gurib-Fakim on 20th March 2017. She had repaid our Mauritian sister foundation for sums apparently inadvertently used on a credit card issued to her to cover logistical expenses whilst travelling to promote African science, technology and innovation.”
The institute is accredited to the United Nations Environmental Program and its mission is the “scientific independence of Africa.”
A scientist by training, Gurib-Fakim was the recipient of a L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science.