The former prime minister of Mauritius, Anerood Jugnauth, who is credited with steering the island nation’s economic transformation as its longest-serving leader, had died aged 91, the country’s president said.
“It is with deep sadness and greater regret that we announce the death of Sir Anerood Jugnauth on June 3 as a result of illness,” President Prithviraj Roopun announced Thursday evening.
His funeral and cremation will be held Saturday. Two days of mourning has been declared, with the nation’s flag lowered to half-maston all public buildings.
Elected prime minister for the first of six times in 1982, Jugnauth would also serve two terms in the ceremonial role of president.
He resigned in 2017 and handed the reins to his son Pravind, the country’s serving prime minister, who won a subsequent five-year term at the ballot box in 2019.
Born March 29, 1930, Jugnauth trained as a lawyer and entered politics in 1963 when he was elected to parliament.
In 1965, Jugnauth participated in a historic conference in London that paved the way for the adoption of a constitution in the then-British colony, and independence some three years later.
He always fiercely campaigned to have the Chagos Islands, a British overseas territory in the Indian Ocean that hosts a key US airbase, returned to Mauritius.
In the years under his rule, Mauritius developed from a poor, agriculture-based economy into one of Africa’s richest countries, a miracle often attributed to Jugnauth.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, a close friend in the region, hailed “the architect of modern Mauritius” in a condolence message following the passing of the “tall leader and statesman”.