The main political target of the Militant Socialist Movement in recent weeks appears to be Richard Duval. The man who has long evolved in the shadow of his brother Xavier-Luc Duval is, for the first time, propelled to the forefront of the political scene.

While everything suggested that Navin Ramgoolam, Pravind Jugnauth's main rival for the post of Prime Minister, was the preferred target of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), the party directed its offensive towards someone else. In recent weeks, Richard Duval has become the new man to kill for the government.

For two consecutive weeks, the co-leader of New Democrats (ND) was targeted during Prime Minister's Question Time (PMQT) sessions by Ashley Ittoo, MP for constituency no. 16 (Vacoas/Floréal). During one of the PMQTs, Pravind Jugnauth addressed the case of Cindy Legallant, the dietician convicted of importing Subutex after her arrest in 2008. The twenty minutes devoted to the case, visibly with the aim of highlighting the alleged relationship between Richard Duval and Cindy Legallant, clearly demonstrated the government's desire to embarrass the MP.

A week later, it was again Ashley Ittoo who questioned Pravind Jugnauth about Richard Duval's interventions with the State Lounge to ask to facilitate access to “the terrace” for Cindy Legallant. A situation which even pushed the Prime Minister to hum the sega “Cousin Cousine” in the hemicycle, just to further underline the supposed proximity between Richard Duval and Cindy Legallant.

Financial Crimes Commission

Another notable point: if we expected Navin Ramgoolam to be the first politician targeted by investigations by the brand new Financial Crimes Commission (FCC), it was ultimately Richard Duval who was the first member of the opposition to subject to a preliminary investigation by this institution. Which proves, once again, how much attention is focused on him.

The big question now is what justifies all this relentlessness towards it on the part of the government and government institutions, like the FCC. Since his entry into politics, Richard Duval has always been considered a second knife, living in the shadow of his brother, Xavier-Luc Duval, leader of the Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD).

Several observers and collaborators of Richard Duval are of the opinion that he reached a new political milestone when he decided to separate from the PMSD to team up with the Labor Party (PTr) and the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM). Those close to him claim that he was one of the first, if not the very first, within the PMSD to alert several members of a possible rapprochement between the blues and the MSM.

The ammunition against Richard Duval is there. Nothing has been invented. We are in the electoral campaign and we must attack.”

Although this possibility has been perpetually denied by Xavier-Luc Duval and still continues to be denied, Richard Duval remains convinced that an alliance between the MSM and the PMSD will materialize sooner or later. “He has always been clear on the subject: working with the MSM is out of the question. He always said that it would be political suicide,” confides one of his collaborators.

New dynamic

According to this same source, it was Richard Duval who categorically refused to associate himself, directly or indirectly, with the MSM. This would have helped to create a new dynamic around him and to arouse increased interest in him. Other sources point out that this decision by Richard Duval was well received within the PMSD, which led several members to leave the party to create ND.
Beyond that, this refusal also but above all strengthened his influence with Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Bérenger, who quickly propelled him to the forefront. During the alliance's press conferences, it is Richard Duval who is found alongside these two leaders to speak.

A third important point to note to understand the interest aroused by Richard Duval lies in his decision to leave constituency no. 12 (Mahébourg/Plaine-Magnien) to migrate to no. 17 (Curepipe/Midlands). According to several political actors, both in the ranks of the government and those of the opposition, the welcome given to Richard Duval is remarkable. The latter, benefiting, according to them, from the aura of the surname Duval associated with the former leader Gaëtan Duval, considered a real pillar, seems to have integrated well into constituency no. 17.

A situation that both the PTr and the MMM as well as the MSM are closely observing. Within the opposition alliance, we are convinced that with the arrival of Richard Duval in Curepipe/Midlands, the opposition could win a 3-0 at No. 17, or even a 2-1 in its favor in the worst case.

During the last legislative elections, only the PTr managed to elect an opposition deputy in Curepipe with Michael Sik Yuen. Given the popularity of the latter who is seeking a fourth election, the PTr/MMM/ND alliance believes that the chances of the opposition at No. 17 have considerably increased with Richard Duval.

Direct danger

From another perspective, the arrival of the co-leader of ND at number 17 is perceived, within the MSM, as a direct danger for the current number 2 in the government, Steven Obeegadoo. “So it’s obvious why it’s important to discredit Richard Duval. It's politics. It's fair game. The ammunition against Richard Duval is there. Nothing has been invented. We are in the electoral campaign and we must attack,” underlines a source at Government House.

This Thursday, June 6, 2024, the official launch of ND is planned at No. 17, which will give new impetus not only to the party but also to Richard Duval. Given that the latter benefits from the political network of former PMSD members who have decided to lend him a helping hand, we could witness a real show of force that day. Will Richard Duval continue to be a source of concern for the ruling party? Everything will depend on the attitude that the government adopts towards it in the coming weeks…

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