Mauritius to Relax Visa Requirements for 75 Countries

In an attempt to strengthen bonds by allowing for easier travel and trade, Mauritius has relaxed its visa requirements for 29 African countries, and 75 countries in total. According to tourism sources, the restrictive visas were “in part to blame in the past for less than expected travel from the African mainland to the island”.

According to one source regarding the change, ‘“We welcome this news as a good start, but it can only be a start. What we need to do is to emulate Seychelles where no visa [is] required at all. Their success in tourism is not just a result of the St.Ange factor. It is also a result of being able to tell potential visitors to just get on a plane and fly there, no visa, no hassle. I think if Seychelles has the mechanism to control visitors actually leaving at the end of their stay, we in Mauritius should be able to do that, too. We have a much larger population, of course, but the technology at the airport now takes pictures of visitors and if now tries to overstay they can easily be pinpointed. So ideally, one day soon, we should also abolish the visa altogether, because that will bring a boom of more visitors to Mauritius.”’

In order to stay competitive as one of the most visited islands in the Indian Ocean, this change will act as an effective counter to the rising popularity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

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Organization of Military Force Postpones Action in Mali

Mali military

Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press from NY Times

Since the uprising in northern Mali hundreds of thousands have sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Algeria, and Niger as the population braces the crackdown of the strict Islamist groups that have taken power in the region. The urgency of the matter is rapidly increasing as UN officials announce the rebel forces are compiling lists of unwed mothers, in order to continue their enforcement of their strict interpretation of Islamic code. Since taking power, reports from northern Mali of amputations, stoning, and executions have been commonplace. The risk of the radical fundamentalists maintaining their power and establishing a formidable ruling government is reason for great discomfort for governments in the region as well as around the globe.

In order to counter this growing threat, the Economic Community for West African States has requested UN Security Council approval to deploy forces to Mali. President Francois Hollande of France has ordered French surveillance drones to the region in order to assist the ECOWAS forces that will soon be on the offensive in north Mali. Many fear that the Sahel will become a training ground for terrorists much like Afghanistan in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

The rise of the radical Islamists in northern Mali has been attributed by many to the destabilization of Libya. This fear became all the more prevalent after the terrorist strike on the United States Embassy in Libya killing four Americans including the United States Ambassador Chris Stevens. Mali has been gaining increasing attention abroad, even mentioned in the October 22nd presidential debate by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Consideration has since been focused by the United States on providing West African nations and France with advisors while maintaining its belief that France must maintain the role of leadership in the operation.

Bringing together and coordinating a unified military force to deploy seems to the greatest challenge at this point, as military action is being postponed until mid-2013. The high cost as well as the complexity of organizing such a force has many worried that the Islamists in the north have too much time to strengthen their position and expand their influence in the region. In the time being, diplomatic actions are being taken to attempt to split the northern Islamists’ alliance and reduce the impact of the oppressive sharia law that has been implemented.


Mauritius and Rwanda to Strengthen Ties

Recently, President Purryag of Mauritius accepted the credentials of the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Mauritius, Vincent Karega. Both men complimented each other on the progress made in both countries, allowing for strengthened ties as well as for mutual, beneficial cooperation with one another in the future.

President Purryang “congratulated Rwanda for the rapid progress made after 1994 Genocide of Tutsi” while Karega “commended the Republic of Mauritius for significant progress in inclusive governance and investment promotion despite limited natural resources”.

Though both countries are small, Karega emphasizes that they are “determined for excellence”. Moreover, they have exchanged different types of expertise as a result of the two governments’ cooperation. However, Karega expressed that he would like to engage Mauritius into other frameworks of cooperation “by taking advantage of the bold process of reconciliation, reconstruction and institutional reforms for competitiveness in Rwanda”. Mauritius countered by acknowledging “the need to embark on a new journey of cooperation, investment and trade in a win-win set up”. These areas for a win-win set up included “agribusiness, tourism, air transport, education and health”.

Rwanda stands as a nation which can learn from the small island’s “experience and assets in tourism, aviation, ICT, skills development, investment promotion, excess in qualified medical doctors, [and] sugar production”.

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