Mauritius: Constitution

Updated June 2010

See also Mauritius: Constitutional and Legal Framework

CONSTITUTION Constitution of the Republic of Mauritius, came into force on March 12, 1968. Amended 1982, 1983, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001[1].
FORM OF STATE Republic[2].
HEAD OF STATE The President is Head of State, is elected by Parliament, and is assisted by a Vice-President. The President and Vice-President hold office for five years, but are eligible for reelection without restriction[3].
EXECUTIVE Executive power is exercised by the President through the Prime Minister, who is appointed to form a government by the President. The President appoints the Member of Parliament whom he believes will have the majority support in the National Assembly; it is to the National Assembly that the Prime Minister is ultimately answerable[4]. The rest of the Cabinet minister and the Deputy prime Minister are appointed and removed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister[5].
LEGISLATURE Legislative power is a lodged with a unicameral Parliament consisting of the President and the National Assembly[6]. Sixty-two of the up to 70 members of the National Assembly are elected by universal adult suffrage in a secret ballot from multi-member constituencies by a plurality[7]. Up to 8 seats are allocated by the Electoral Supervisory Commission according to a complex formula to "best losers" to ensure "a fair and adequate representation of each community"[8]. Members serve a five year term.
JUDICIARY The Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice, is the highest judicial authority but right of appeal to the Privy Council (UK) has been retained[9]. The Supreme Court also has special jurisdiction to protect the constitutional rights of citizens[10]. The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by president, in the case of the Chief Justice on the advice of the Prime Minister, in the case of the Senior Puisne Judge on the advice of the Chief Justice and in the case of the other judges on the advice of the the Judicial and Legal Services Commission[11]. Judges may only be removed for incompetence or misconduct by the President on the advice of the a tribunal[12]. Lower courts include District Courts, the Intermediate Court and the Industrial Court.
AMENDMENT[13] In general amendments require the votes of two-thirds of all the members of the National Assembly.
The votes of three-quarters of all the members of the National Assembly are required to amend Sections 28-31, 37-47, 56-58 other than 57(2), 64-65, 71-72, 108, 47, Chapters II, VII, VIII, IX and the First Schedule (These cover, among other things, fundimental rights, the judiciary, executive and legislature, electoral system, service commissions and the Ombudsman).
To amend Sections 1 (sovereign democratic State) and 57(2) (term of Parliament) a referendum is required with three-quarters of the electorate apporoving the measure and all votes of all the members of the National Assembly
DEMOCRACY PROTECTION AGENCIES The Ombudsman investigates any action taken by any officer or authority in any case in which injustice is sustained in consequence of maladministration (see also National Human Rights Commission)[14]

Footnotes

[1] Constitution 1968.
[2] Constitution 1968, Article 1.
[3] Constitution 1968, Article 28(1), (2), 29(1), (2).
[4] Constitution 1968, Article 58-60.
[5] Constitution 1968, Article 59(3), 60(4).
[6] Constitution 1968, Article 31(1).
[7] Constitution 1968, Article 31(2), First Schedule Article 1. Mauritius is divided into 21 Constituencies, each of which returns three members to the Assembly, except for the island of Rodrigues which returns two (First Schedule, Article 1(1)). Each voter has three votes and all three votes must be marked on the ballot sheet for the elector' choice to be valid. In the case of Rodrigues the voter has two votes (First Schedule Article 1(3)).
[8] Constitution 1968, Article 31(2), First Schedule Article 5. For a succinct description of the allocation of the "best loser" seats see Jørgen Elklit 2005.
[9] Constitution 1968, Article 76, 81.
[10] Constitution 1968, Article 84.
[11] Constitution 1968, Article 77(1)-(3).
[12] Constitution 1968, Article 78(2)-(4).
[13] Constitution 1968, Article 47.
[14] Constitution 1968, Articles 96-102.

Reference

CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MAURITIUS 1968, [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/AssemblySite/menuitem.ee3d58b2c32c60451251701065c521ca/ [opens new window] (accessed 22 Feb 2010).

ELKLIT, J 2005 Electoral system for Parliament in Mauritius.