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Mauritius president says to quit, re-enter politics

MYT 3:50:01 PM

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mauritian President Anerood Jugnauth said on Friday he would step down from his ceremonial position and return to party politics to challenge current Prime Minister Navinchndra Ramgoolam and his governing coalition.

Jugnauth said his resignation was effective Saturday, and it could rock the usually placid political arena in one of Africa's most stable democracies. Ramgoolam's coalition has accused Jugnauth of meddling in the running of the Indian Ocean island.

Mauritius' President Anerood Jugnauth (R) stands with his wife Sarojini Jugnauth in front of statues made of broken bangles at the Rock Garden in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh December 16, 2007. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

"I have said that if the country needed me I wouldn't hesitate to leave the State House and to embark on a new fight," Jugnauth said in a statement. "The future is bleak and the country is waiting for a renewal."

Jugnauth is a political dinosaur in Mauritian public life now mandated to serve as a ceremonial figurehead. His return to party politics has stoked expectations of a political showdown with the coalition.

While the row over his alleged interference in governance has so far left markets in the prosperous economy unscathed, a prolonged spat risks unsettling investors at a time economic growth is already slowing due mainly to external shocks.

(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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