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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Mauritius ethnic power transfer
New Prime Minister Paul Berenger
Berenger traces his roots back to France
The first non-Indian to become prime minister of Mauritius has taken his oath of office.

Paul Berenger, 58, who is of white French ancestry, replaces long-serving premier Sir Anerood Jugnauth.

It follows a power-sharing deal between the two men whose parties joined forces to fight a general election in 2001.

Indo-Mauritians make up 70% of the population, and have been in power since the island's independence from Britain in 1968.

Under the deal, Mr Jugnauth takes up the largely ceremonial post of president.

'Safe hands'

A BBC correspondent on the island says members of other ethnic groups on Mauritius hope they can now receive more investment in their communities.

"Today is a great day for democracy," Mr Jugnauth told the 70-seat National Assembly.

Sir Anerood Jugnauth

"I am convinced that I am leaving the destiny of the country in safe hands."

Correspondents say that the small Indian Ocean island state has enjoyed a good record of democracy since gaining independence from Britain in 1968, although traditionally voting has taken place along communal lines.

The population is made up of several ethnic groups which emigrated there over the centuries.

Hindus remain the majority on the island, but there are significant communities of Muslims, Chinese, Creoles and Franco-Mauritians.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Nita Bhalla at the swearing-in for Focus on Africa
"[Paul Berenger] has to be the most controversial politician in Mauritius..."



SEE ALSO:
Ethnic handover in Mauritius
30 Sep 03  |  Africa
Mauritius PM keeps it in family
10 Apr 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Mauritius
26 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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