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Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

GCSK
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.jpg
6th President of Mauritius
In office
5 June 2015 – 23 March 2018
Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth
Pravind Jugnauth
Vice President Monique Ohsan Bellepeau
Barlen Vyapoory
Preceded by Monique Ohsan Bellepeau (Acting)
Succeeded by Barlen Vyapoory (Acting)
Personal details
Born 17 October 1959 (1959-10-17) (age 62)
Plaine Magnien, Mauritius
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Anwar Fakim (1988–present)
Children 2
Residence State House
Alma mater University of Surrey
University of Exeter

Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim GCSK (born 17 October 1959) is a Mauritian politician and biodiversity scientist who served as the 6th President of Mauritius from 2015 to 2018. In December 2014, she was selected to be the presidential candidate of the Alliance Lepep. After Kailash Purryag resigned on 29 May 2015, both Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Leader of the Opposition Paul Berenger positively welcomed her nomination, which was unanimously approved in a vote in the National Assembly.

Gurib-Fakim is the first woman elected as president of the country and is the third woman to have served as Head of State following Queen Elizabeth II and Monique Ohsan Bellepeau, who acted as President in 2012 following the resignation of President Anerood Jugnauth, and again in 2015 following the resignation of President Kailash Purryag. She served as a 2019 keynote speaker of Cambridge University's conference "Africa Together: Which Way Forward?" hosted by the African Society of Cambridge University.

Early life and education

Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim was born in the village of Surinam on 17 October 1959, to parents Hassenjee Gurib and Firdaus Durgauhee. She grew up in Plaine Magnien and completed her studies at the primary school in Saint-Patrice. She then moved to Mahébourg Loreto Convent, finishing her Higher School Certificate at Loreto convent Quatre Bornes before flying to England for her undergraduate degree in chemistry. She graduated from the University of Surrey in 1983 with a BSc degree in chemistry. After obtaining her PhD degree in organic chemistry at Exeter University, she returned home in 1987 to take employment at the University of Mauritius.

Career

She worked as Managing Director of CIDP Research & Innovation (formerly Cephyr, Centre for Phytotherapy Research). Previously, she was a Professor with a personal chair in Organic Chemistry at the University of Mauritius (2001) and where she served successively as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Pro–Vice Chancellor (2004–2010). She also worked at the Mauritius Research Council as Manager for Research (1995–1997). She served as the Chairperson the International Council for Scientific Union – Regional Office for Africa (2011–2014). In 2015, her nomination for the Presidency of Mauritius, put forward by then-PM and fellow Militant Socialist Movement member Anerood Jugnauth, was unanimously approved by the Mauritian National Assembly. She resigned in 2018 amid a financial scandal during the prime ministership of Pravind Jugnauth. The office remains vacant as of June 2019; its powers are exercised by Acting President and incumbent Vice President Barlen Vyapoory, also a member of the Militant Socialist Movement.

Vice-chancellor appointment

In December 2013 Dr. Gurib-Fakim made a complaint to the Mauritian Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) alleging religious discrimination in the consideration of her application for Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius (UoM). The EOC investigation found that this was not the case, but noted shortcomings in the selection process. The report cited the lack of clear criteria and mark sheets for evaluating candidates. Similarly, the last word went to Professor Jugessur, then president of the Council of the UoM if tiebreak.

Gurib-Fakim eventually left her position as Professor at the University to open her own science center known as CIDP Research & Innovation where she is the Managing Director.

Personal life

In 1988, she married Dr. Anwar Fakim who is a surgeon. She has two children; a son and a daughter. She is currently resident of the town of Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius. She lives with her husband, children and her elderly parents.

Honours and awards

Honours

National honours

  •  Mauritius
    • Commander of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean
    • Grand Cross of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean

Foreign honours

  •  France: Member of the Order of Academic Palms, 3rd Class
  • Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Castroan Royal Family of Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I

Awards

Gurib-Fakim has also been the recipient of various international awards including the L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science (2007), Laureate for the National Economic and Social Council (2007), the CTA / NEPAD / AGRA / RUFORUM for ‘African Women in Science’ and the African Union Award for Women in Science. She was also made Commander of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean (CSK) by President Anerood Jugnauth in 2008 for her contribution in the education and the scientific sector. She was awarded the Order of the ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques’ by the Government of France in 2009. Upon becoming President, she was automatically elevated to the highest civilian award of Grand Commander of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean (GSCK).

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