Mauritius: Angry protesters denounce mismanagement of the oil spill

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Thousands of people demonstrated again on Saturday in Mahébourg (south-east) to denounce the Mauritian government's management of the oil spill which soiled the coast of the island in August.

A colorful crowd, waving flags and chanting slogans, marched through the town of Mahebourg. It was on this coast that the Japanese bulk carrier Wakashio ran aground on July 25, releasing at least 1 tonnes of fuel oil that disfigured the coast - in particular protected areas sheltering mangrove forests and endangered species - and polluted crystal clear waters popular with tourists.

Protesters blame Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth and his government for failing to act quickly enough to prevent the worst environmental disaster in the country's history, which depends on its waters for its fisheries-based food security and tourism. Pravind Jugnauth declined to apologize, believing he had made no mistakes.

"Criminal negligence"

"He must leave" chanted the demonstrators on Saturday in reference to the Prime Minister, also calling for the resignation of the government. “We are here to call on the government to pack up and go. The people no longer have confidence in this government, ”declared Marie, a demonstrator who did not wish to indicate her surname.

The sinking of the Wakashio "illustrates the incompetence of the government", said Bruno Laurette, one of the organizers of the event, denouncing "a criminal negligence which has had an impact on the flora and fauna of our country".

On August 29, a demonstration of exceptional magnitude brought together tens of thousands of Mauritians, who took to the streets of Port-Louis to denounce the government's management of the oil spill. Between 50 and 000 people, according to the estimates of the organizers and the local press - had stormed the cathedral square, in the heart of the capital.


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