Ex-Mauritius PM Ramgoolam freed on bail

PORT LOUIS (Mauritius), Feb 8: Former Mauritian prime minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam has been freed on bail, officials said, a day after his arrest sparked angry protests from supporters in the Indian Ocean island nation.

Ramgoolam, 67, who was defeated in elections in December, was arrested on Friday and faces charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and money laundering.

He was granted bail yesterday after agreeing to hand in his passports.

The arrest is connected to a burglary that took place in 2011 at a beach property belonging to Ramgoolam. Police have been seeking to question Ramgoolam for allegedly lying about his presence at the scene of the robbery, and asking a businessman to give false testimony to the police.

It remains unclear why Ramgoolam may have lied about his presence at the property, although some local media reports have alleged he may have been wanting to cover up an extra-marital affair.

Police are also investigating the alleged suicide in custody of a suspect in the burglary. The ex-prime minister has angrily denied any foul play and has accused his critics of trying to discredit him.

Following the arrest, police said they also searched Ramgoolam’s home where they discovered the equivalent of around USD 166,000 in cash, for which the money laundering charges have been added.

On Friday scuffles broke out between his supporters and those of the government on the streets of the capital, but police separated the two sides. The island was reported to be calm on Saturday.

Ramgoolam was succeeded by former president Anerood Jugnauth as prime minister in December.

Ramgoolam had wanted to run for the presidency had he won the polls but in a crushing defeat even lost his own parliamentary seat.

Ramgoolam’s father, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, led the country to independence and also served as chief and prime minister.

Mauritius is one of the richest countries in Africa with a per capita GDP of just over USD 9,000 (7,200 euros) among its 1.3 million people. (AGENCIES)

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