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Mauritius starts counting votes after parliamentary election

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PORTLOUIS (Reuters) – Mauritius electoral authorities began counting votes on Friday after a parliamentary election dominated by calls for a fairer distribution of wealth on the prosperous Indian Ocean island.

The election, which will decide who runs the government for the next five years, was the first since Pravind Kumar Jugnauth succeeded his father in 2017 as prime minister when the elder Jugnauth stepped down.

Both the ruling Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and its main rivals the Labour Party and the Mauritian Militant Movement(MMM) campaigned on strengthening the welfare state and on distributing wealth more equally in one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous economies.

Results were expected later on Friday evening, Electoral Commissioner Irfan Rahman said.

Some 723,660 voters, 76.84 percent of those eligible, turned out for the ballot, electoral officials said. The turnout was 2% higher than in the last election.

Mauritius expects its economy, which is dependent on tourism and financial services, to expand by 4.1% next year, up from a forecast of 3.8% this year. Analysts expect economic diversification to proceed regardless of who wins the election.

The challenger parties, arguing that the Jugnauth family’s rule has been marked by nepotism and corruption, appealed to voters to choose change.

(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Mark Heinrich)

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