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Mauritius Marks Anti-Slavery Day

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 2 February 2001

Port Louis, Mauritius - Mauritius Thursday marked the 166th anniversary of the abolition of slavery with several activities organised throughout the island.

Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth was at the Company's Gardens in Port Louis, where he addressed the population, harping on meritocracy and equality for all Mauritians.

"We said we'll redress our country. One way of doing it is to give equal chance to all Mauritians in all sectors of the economy," he said.

He assured that there would be no preferential treatment for anybody and that children should enjoy equal opportunities especially in education.

Everyone should have the right to work, and every family provided with decent houses, while health and public transport should be improved in the country, where the population should also feel secure.

"Let us join our efforts ...to achieve our ambition for our country. Let us create a new Mauritius together in peace and in harmony and live in unity as true Mauritians," Jugnauth emphasised.

According to him, slavery and forced labour were a "curse," on the history of the people of Mauritius.

"We will always remember the contribution of slaves and of indentured labourers in the development of our country. Without their sacrifice, Mauritius would never have achieved prosperity," he said.

For his part, Finance Minister Paul Berenger appealed for national unity.

He described Mauritius as a special place where every community should work to make the island a true example for the world.

Official delegations from Mozambique led by Culture Minister Miguel Costa Mkaima, and Seychelles, led by Information and Culture Minister Ronny Juneau, participated in the event.

Cultural troupes from the two countries joined local musicians to perform in several regions of the island.