Going beyond Ethnicity among Cardinal’s Guidelines to Eligible Voters in Mauritius

Maurice Cardinal Piat, Bishop of Port Louis, Mauritius

In a country constituted and defined by people from different origins, horizons, civilizations, and cultures including language and religion, among other distinguishing factors, the Bishop of Port Louis, Maurice Cardinal Piat is urging eligible voters in next month's poll to consider going beyond their respective ethnic affiliations and vote according to the values of the vying candidates.

“Vote for people based on their skills and the values they promote, not on the ethnic group to which they belong,” Maurice Cardinal Piat stated in a pastoral letter dated October 15, seen by ACI Africa.

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth announced the holding of general elections after dissolving the parliament, America-based VOAnews has reported. By law, the country has between 30 and 150 days to organize elections after the Prime Minister dissolves parliament.

The November 7 poll is expected to result in a 70-member Assembly with a 5-year term of office and must lead to the formation of a multi-party majority coalition, which will appoint the country’s Prime Minister, Africa News has reported.

Jugnauth, who is also Finance Minister, will be seeking another term as leader of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM). 


Beside calling on Mauritians to downplay the ethnic identity of the political candidates, Cardinal Piat encouraged eligible voters to look out for candidates who seem keen on “the real issues that are of concern to the public.”

The Cardinal, a member of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), cited respect for freedom and civil rights of citizens and the fight against poverty as significant considerations in the choice of candidates at the poll.

In his pastoral letter, the Cardinal who has served as Local Ordinary of Port Louis diocese since 1993 and Cardinal since 2016 advised against actions that can compromise the credibility of the general elections.

"The direct or disguised purchase of votes, the emotions and excitements that take precedence over reasonable reflection, the cascade of promises with snooping but meaningless slogans and the insults and personal attacks that replace substantive debates," are all problems that risk aggravating doubts over the credibility of the electoral process, the 78-year-old Mauritian Prelate said.

In his considered view, "an electoral campaign must be marked by democratic debates that call on the intelligence of citizens and do not amount to low-level fighting." 

More in Africa

He encouraged Mauritians to take part in the poll saying, “I invite all those who are going to vote, and especially those who will be voting for the first time, to use their right to vote in a thoughtful and responsible way. We all owe it to our country.”

“Do not sell your conscience for personal gain but be concerned about the common good,” he cautioned and added, “Do not sell your vote to the highest bidder for personal or marginal favors … Do not abdicate your duty to vote on the grounds that politics is corrupt. We have the politicians we deserve.”

Addressing the role of the Church he leads in the Island country’s politics, Cardinal Piat said, “The Catholic Church has no voting instructions to give, let alone favorites to present.”

He explained, “Its mission, in the name of the Gospel, is to enlighten people's consciences in order to help citizens, especially young people, to use their right to vote wisely.”

The electoral campaigns, which opened a month after Pope Francis' visit to the country, offered an opportunity for Cardinal Piat to recall the Holy Father's message to Mauritians during the Pope’s pastoral visit to Port Louis on September 9.  


“Pope Francis drew our attention to the major issues that should be of particular concern to us: young people, their jobs, the drugs that imprison them; the poor, migrants,” he said. 

“While stigmatizing discrimination and corruption, he encouraged us not to succumb to the temptation of an idolatrous economic model that feels the need to sacrifice human lives on the altar of mere profitability ... at the expense of protecting the poor, the environment,” the Cardinal recalled in his pastoral letter.

Mauritius, a stable democracy in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 1.3 million, gained its independence from Britain in 1968. Its economy is based on tourism, financial services, sugar and textile exports.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.