Seewoosagur Ramgoolam


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(b. Belle Rive, 18 Sept. 1900; d. Port Louis, 15 Dec. 1985)

Mauritian; leader of the Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) 1958–82; Prime Minister 1968–82; Kt 1965 Born into a poor Hindu family Ramgoolam qualified as a medical doctor in Britain. He joined the MLP in 1953, becoming its leader in 1958 and was the leading figure in the movement demanding an end to British colonial rule in Mauritius. At independence in 1968 he became the country's first Prime Minister. Under his rule the country was marked by democracy, stability, and significant levels of economic growth. A skilful politician, he was successful in dealing with the racial, ethnic, and religious cleavages within the Mauritian political system. In 1973 he was awarded the United Nations prize for Human Rights and from 1976 to 1977 he was Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Following defeat in the 1982 elections he stepped down in favour of the opposition (the first leader of an African state to do this). In 1983 he was appointed to the, largely ceremonial, position of Governor-General. A quiet and unspectacular political leader, he laid the solid foundations of modern Mauritius.

Subjects: African Studies — Politics.

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