Warm welcome for Pope Francis in Mauritius

Yasine Mohabuth

Port Louis, Mauritius

Pope Francis has arrived in Mauritius, the final stop of his three-nation tour of southern Africa.

Thousands of people have flocked to the capital, Port Louis, to catch a glimpse of the leader of the Catholic Chuch, including Solange who told the BBC she saw his predecessor Pope John Paul II 30 years ago:

"I still remember how we welcomed the Pope in 1989. With age, I am doubly emotional and his message of simplicity and humbleness is important to us."

Another spectator, Tamsheire Jagoo, snapped these photos of the Pope's arrival:

Maurtians greet Pope Francis
Tamsheire Jagoo
Maurtians greet Pope Francis
Tamsheire Jagoo
Maurtians greet Pope Francis
Tamsheire Jagoo

Pope Francis was met by Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, who had earlier said the pontiff would find a model of pluralism in the Indian Ocean island, a melting pot of religions and ethnic groups.

Mauritius is predominantly Hindu but about 30% of the population is Christian - mostly Catholic - and some 17% are Muslims.

"It will not be a visit of Pope Francis to Catholics, but to the people of Mauritius in all its religious diversity," Cardinal Maurice Piat, Bishop of Port Louis, told the media.

While in Madagascar on Sunday, the Pope issued a stinging denunciation of that country's failure to tackle environmental problems and inequality.

UAE deports Mauritian blogger

Shameem Korimbocus
Courtesy of Shameem Korimbocus
Shameem Korimbocus runs a popular Facebook page

Authorities in Dubai have deported a Mauritian blogger and his 11-year-old son with no official reason given for the decision.

"The police covered my head with a hood and I was taken to prison," said Shameem Korimbocus.

"Being detained in Al Awir Central Jail for three days gives you goosebumps. At one point in time I thought I would end like [murdered Saudi journalist] Jamal Khashoggi."

Mr Korimbocus' Facebook page is called The Inconvenient Truth ("La vérité ki pou dérange zot" in Mauritian Creole) and has almost 60,000 followers. His posts are often satirical and others, like the one below criticising the prevalence of drug trafficking in Mauritius, are openly critical of the government:

A screenshot from Shameem Korimbocus's Facebook page.
Shameem Korimbocus/Facebook

Mr Korimbocus, who had been living in Dubai for the past eight years, was not arrested on arrival in Mauritus.

Mauritius' Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has since told reporters: "If he [Shameem Korimbocus] said that there is a political motive behind this situation, he should be questioned about it, and not me. Besides, he had no problem when he returned home.

"I expect him to send me correspondence to explain to me what happened to him."

Western multinationals 'use Mauritius to avoid paying taxes'

Larry Madowo

BBC Africa business editor

A new investigation has shed light on how some of the poorest countries in Africa are losing out on millions of dollars in tax revenues from Western multinationals and wealthy individuals.

The report, from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, says companies and individuals use the Indian Ocean island nation, Mauritius, to legally avoid paying higher taxes in the countries where they make their money.

Mauritius denies any wrongdoing and says it is compliant with all relevant international laws.

The report is based on 200,000 confidential documents that show for the first time how one offshore law firm helped its international clients avoid millions of dollars in taxes.

The cache of confidential records, emails and filings, called the Mauritius Leaks, reveals the legal practices that divert tax revenues from poor African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries back to the pockets of Western corporations, with Mauritius taking its cut.

The documents have come from the Mauritius office of a Bermuda-based law firm Conyers, Dill & Pearman, and cover a period from the early 1990s until 2017.

The BBC has not independently reviewed the documents to confirm their authenticity.

The documents contain detailed accounts that implicate major multinationals and accounting firms in complex financial transactions designed to avoid paying taxes.

The investigation says the companies took advantage of 46 tax treaties Mauritius has with mostly poor countries, the absence of a capital gains tax and weak regulations, to register shell companies in the island nation even though they had no staff or operations there.

The law firm Conyers sold its Mauritius office to three former employees in 2017 and says it is regulated by the laws in the countries it operates in.

Mauritius has since tightened its laws for offshore companies but some tax experts still see it as a facade that allows tax evasion and avoidance.

Read more about an earlier cache of documents that raised questions about tax practices: