Mauritius President Gurib-Fakim refuses to resign over expense scandal

Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-FakimImage copyright

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Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became Mauritius’s first woman to be appointed president in 2015

Africa’s only female head of state, Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, is refusing to quit over an expense scandal, just days after it was announced she would resign.

Ms Gurib-Fakim denies any misconduct after allegations emerged she made tens of thousands worth of personal purchases on a charity bank card.

Her office has said the purchases were accidental and have been paid back.

The country’s prime minister had said she would stand down on Monday.

But the president’s office has now contradicted this statement.

“Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, having nothing to feel guilty about and able to provide corroborating evidence, rejects any idea of resigning,” the president’s office statement said.

It also said that Gurib-Fakim, a renowned scientist, “had an identical credit card from the same bank inadvertently used the card from the [Planet Earth Institute] PEI for expenses not linked to her mission”.

Her office said $27,000 (£19,335) has been refunded and Ms Gurib-Fakim will defend herself with “legal action”.

Local L’Express newspaper reported in February that the country’s first female president used a credit card given to her by the PEI in London to buy jewellery and clothes abroad.

According to the paper, she was given the card for serving as the NGO’s unpaid director and it was to be used to pay for the promotion of a doctorate programme named after the president.

In a statement to the BBC, PEI London said that Ms Gurib-Fakim had refunded the money to its Mauritian sister organisation.

The organisation says it had given her a credit card to cover travel expenses while promoting African science, technology and innovation.

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