An open clash between the Government of Mauritius and the left-wing Mauritius Militant Movement led on Thursday (Dec 16th) to the government declaring a state of emergency on the island.
GV & SV Coffin being carried into church
SV Security police around land rovers
SV PAN Mr. Ramgoolam up-stairs of building
SCU & SV Mr. Ramgoolam chatting
SV PAN British troops in truck
CU British soldiers
SV Troops out of lorry (2 shots)
GV & CU Soldiers march down street
GV Sign Grand Port Ocean Terminus
GV & SV Oil tanks
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Background: An open clash between the Government of Mauritius and the left-wing Mauritius Militant Movement led on Thursday (Dec 16th) to the government declaring a state of emergency on the island.
The present crisis began when an agent of the Mauritius Militant Movement was shot dead in the street late last month.
This prompted a dock strike -- which in turn led to the government passing new legislation which demands 14 days notice of any stoppage in "essential services".
The new law was strongly criticised by the Mauritius Militant Movement, and electricity, municipal and transport workers were called out to join the port workers on strike.
A second issue contributing to the crisis was the recent government decision not to sell refuelling installations on the island to a subsidiary of the Kuwait Oil Company.
The Kuwait company had intended to lease the facilities to the Soviet Union -- a move seen by Britain as counter to the Anglo-Mauritius Defence Agreement.
When the government announced it would not sell the installation, the Mauritian Militant Movement loudly condemned the decision as "yielding to British pressure".
SYNOPSIS: A political assassination in Port Louis last month sparked off a political crisis still gripping the island of Mauritius. The shooting of an agent of the Mauritius Militant Movement caused widespread anger in left-wing circles. Huge crowds turned out for the funeral -- and units of the island's security force kept watch nearby.
The government of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam -- seen here in London three years ago -- acted swiftly. It pushed through new legislation demanding 14 days notice of any stoppage affecting an essential service. The Mauritius Militant Movement hit back by calling transport, urban and electricity workers out on strike as well. The Government's response came on Thursday from the Prime Minister: he declared a state of emergency -- amid rumours that British troops may be summoned to the island.
If they come -- it won't be the first time. In 1965 -- and again in 1968, British soldiers were flown in to restores order when racial fighting broke out between the Indian Creole communities on the island. On previous visits the British troops have carried out their duties alongside the local defence force.
Should Mauritius call on British troops it will do so under the Anglo-Mauritius Defence Agreement, which has been in existence since Mauritius won independence in 1968.
Another cause of the crisis on the island -- these oil tanks. The Government has refused to sell the tanks to the Kuwait Oil Company -- which would lease them to the Soviet Union. Britain made it clear it would view such a sale as counter to the Anglo-Mauritius Defence Agreement. When the government announced its refusal to sell, the Mauritius Militant Movement accused it of "yielding to British pressure".