March 17 (UPI) -- Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Mauritius' first woman head of state, resigned her position over credit card fraud allegations and will leave office March 23.
The president of the Indian Ocean nation quit in the wake of a shopping expense scandal that led to a relationship breakdown with the prime minister.
Her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed told reporters Saturday she submitted her resignation "in the supreme interest of the country and that of the Mauritian population."
"She prefers to go," Mohamed said. "She does not want to see the population and economy suffer."
The allegations against Gurib-Fakim, who is also a renowned biologist, stem from her joining Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in 2015 to further develop the scientific field in Africa. In 2016, she received a credit card from PEI to pay for work-related travel and other expenses related to the organization.
Gurib-Fakim, 58, was accused of buying jewelry and clothing, spending $26,000 on the credit card for items not related to her work for PEI. She claims use of the card was accidental, saying she got the card mixed up with a personal credit card issued from the same bank.
The president said she paid back the money she owed PEI and also paid for other logistical expenses linked to her role. A statement from PEI confirmed she had paid back the money, which also said Gurib-Fakim had resigned from PEI.