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Seychelles: Democracy Without Freedom

With a subservient media and an omniscient executive, free elections alone cannot ensure responsible government.
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Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles:

The islands of the Seychelles, scattered across the Indian Ocean to the north of Madagascar, are better known for their beauty than for their political culture. But beneath the surface a political battle is raging.

Elections for the presidency of the Seychelles will be held from May 19 - 21, 2011. A Commonwealth Expert Team has been sent to observe the poll. The opposition leader, Wavel Ramkalawan, told Think Africa Press that the Seychellois people are “ready for democracy” – a strange phrase to use in a country that has officially been a multi-party democracy since 1993 and whose last presidential election, in 2006, was called “credible” by the UN’s team of experts, albeit qualified with suggestions of further improvements. The Seychelles came second out of all African countries in the 2010 Imbrahim Index assessing good governance. The public is clearly passionate about politics. However, democracy requires more than political passion and the ability to vote. The most striking characteristic of the lead up to this presidential election is fear.

The current government has been in power since a military coup in the mid-70s overthrew then president, Sir James Mancham. In 1993 a new constitution was written forming the current multi-party system. James Michel is the second president under this system, and the second leader of the SPPF (Seychelles Peoples Progressive Front), now the Parti Lepep – succeeding Albert René in 2004.

In 18 years of multi-party democracy there has never been a change of government. This in itself raises questions about the depth of Seychellois democracy. There are more worrying signs: Think Africa Press has seen written evidence of a voter being bribed by the ruling party and of activists for the opposition party being arrested by the police in breach of procedural rules. The state has firm control over the nation’s one television station, as well as the main daily newspaper, Nation, which on April 16 featured six pictures of the current president in its first two pages. These various factors seem to contradict even the qualified UN declaration of credibility and the international image of the Seychelles as a beacon of democracy.

The continued success of the ruling party is not in itself an indictment of Seychellois democracy. There is considerable support for the SPPF/Parti Lepep, and good reason for the support as well. The Seychelles boasts free universal healthcare, and if a citizen can not be treated on the islands they are flown to another hospital in another country to be treated, care of the state. There is also a pension system which, while not amounting to complete support (providing 2,200 rupees - about $183 - per month), still provides the poorest a safety net. But there have been a number of presidential elections, and these have all been won by the same party with a reasonably small majority – the last was 46% to 54%. It is surprising, therefore, that the results have never gone the way of the opposition party. However, in a small majority political opposition stands out more starkly. It’s a small crowd to lose yourself in.

The fear of a watching and knowing state is compounded by individual cases of intimidation and bribery. Think Africa Press has seen evidence that two members of the opposition party, the SNP (Seychelles National Party), were arrested in March for harassment while campaigning. Not only were the activists dealt with by the Officer Commanding the Criminal Investigation Division of the Force, Superintendent Cecile, rather than the local police, as normal procedure would dictate, but the Superintendent also refused to tell the accused who had made the allegations, or any of the specifics of the claim of harassment. Both activists were warned by an intimidating national figure not to do something vague and undefined to unidentified people and then released. This clearly does little to avert fears of a 'big brother' state.

Added to intimidation are allegations of bribery. There are many rumours of bribery, and on both sides. However, Think Africa Press has specific evidence of a letter sent to a construction company with the heading “Presidential Election Campaign Sponsorship”, asking the company in question to send a considerable supply of building materials to an individual. It should be noted that building supplies are the usual way, according to hearsay, of bribing would-be supporters.

Allegations of corruption are not limited to James Michel’s party. But it seems clear that the party in government has the greatest opportunity to play on the fear of the electorate. Not only is the party in power far richer than the opposition, it also runs a public service system which stretches deep into Seychellois society providing employment to many people. People in these public jobs fear losing their positions or being refused promotion if they vote against the incumbent government. Moreover, the government has the ability to organise large-scale events functioning as self-promotion tools paid for with public money. An example of this can be seen in the recent Seychelles 2020 EXPO which marketed itself with the following description: “The Seychelles 2020 EXPO has been created to enlighten the Seychellois people, visitors, investors and the world at large on how the present work-in-progress AND planned and visionary activities will benefit them in the years to come.” It is evident from this description that the event was effectively a presentation of James Michel’s manifesto for the coming years, lavishly laid on and paid for with national funds.

The influence of the government is also increased by its dominance of the media. The only television channel is run by the state. Although officially SBC is an independent organisation, this is not evident in practice. It does not seem independent, for example, to run an hour-long documentary celebrating the seven years in power of the incumbent leader in the run-up to the presidential elections. There are similar issues with the national radio station. In his 2006 election manifesto Michel promised to “encourage national and private media practitioners to play an active and responsible role in our democracy”. However, in the same year legislation was submitted to the National Assembly by Michel’s government which made it more difficult for independent organisations to set up radio stations. A peaceful attempt to get a petition against this legislation signed was met by resistance from heavily armed paramilitary police which landed opposition leader, Wavel Ramkalawan, and then-editor of the opposition newspaper Regar, Jean Francois Ferrari, in hospital with head injuries and broken ribs. The government seems intent on maintaining an iron grip on its media dominance.

Nation centre pages 16 April 2011

(Centre-page spread from Seychelles Weekend, Nation on Saturday April 16, 2011)


This media dominance has several effects. The symbolic presence of Michel is huge in comparison to that of Ramkalawan. The six pictures of Michel in the first two pages of the national newspaper, alongside a centrefold spread launching his new book (see above), is typical. There were no pictures, and there was no mention, of Ramkalawan. But beyond the strong media presence of Michel, and the dearth of communication available to the opposition, the dominance of the media also denies the possibility of debate to the electorate – a fundamental requirement for democracy. If both points of view are not visible, no effective choice can be made.

This weakening of democracy does not arise from corruption, but is fixed in place by an institutional framework. Similarly there is a lack of transparency in campaign financing because the source of funds need not be declared, and the president can imprison voters thereby preventing them from voting (see Elections Act 1996 Part II 1.(1)(b)). This law may shortly be ruled unconstitutional in an ongoing case in the Seychelles Constitutional Court, although the constitution itself is a notoriously difficult document to get hold of.

The people of the Seychelles are passionately political. Until recently there were many demonstrations and rallies testifying to their engagement in political society and their willingness to stand up to those in power, as recorded in Seychelles: the Cry of a People by Alain St. Ange. Unfortunately the government no longer tolerates such demonstrations because, as one citizen told Think Africa Press, “they would be bad for tourism”. Recent peaceful attempts, like the 2006 petition signing and demonstrations against water pollution resulting from the building of President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa’s new palace, have been met by armed police.

These factors – allegations of intimidation, bribery, the apparent omniscience of the government effected by its media dominance compared to a seemingly powerless and invisible opposition, the lack of tolerance for demonstrations and dissent which are met by aggression and violence – have a deep impact. Individual instances such as a single arrest, bribery, television show, can be shrugged off and the system as a whole called “credible”, as was done by the UN experts. But this is a mistake. It is easy to see that, particularly in a small community, the cumulative effect of all of these various factors make a claim of democratic legitimacy difficult to sustain. For a democracy to function the citizens have to be able to make a free choice when they vote. If they are terrified this freedom is impaired.

Are Seychellois people scared? Well, almost every citizen refused to talk to Think Africa Press once the election was mentioned, although they were open about other aspects of society. Even the Electoral Commissioner, Hendrick Gappy, refused to speak to us. Wavel Ramkalawan, leader of the SNP, told Think Africa Press that “people should not fear politics” – a noble sentiment, but one which hinted at the problems which lie behind his earlier statement, “the Seychelles is ready for democracy”. The citizens may be ready, but James Michel is not.

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Comments

Well done Ben for the excellent article on Seychelles. It is encouraging to see a journalist who has not been dazzled by the glare of the Seychelles sun, sea and sand.

Articles such as this are precisely the reason I will never vote for Wavel again…..
The election is not even over yet and he is trying to find reasons to justify his defeat! All of us live in Seychelles and we all know that it is not perfect. We know the President likes to be on TV too much. We know that SBC needs to do more work to be more modern and open. But is the solution to this to have Wavel on our TVs? I don’t think so. Wavel seems to think that because he is the leader of the Opposition he should be on TV every time the President is on. He complains that he is not giving awards at the sportsman of the year.
I don’t know about all of you out there, but I certainly can’t name the leader of the opposition in the US, or France- two countries that have similar government systems to us. One of the key reasons I cant name them is that they are busy working in parliament for the people they represent and not just worrying about how much personal airtime they receive. Wavel should be less worried about how much airtime he receives and more concerned that the real issues receive airtime.
While I am one of the ones that thinks the President is on TV too much, there is no denying that when he is on TV he is talking about the issues that matter- whether it be piracy, housing, the hospital whatever. Wavel just seems to want to be on TV to prove that he is important.
And it is also important to note that wavel has had plenty of opportunity to present himself on national media- the President invited him (and all opposition Members of the national Assembly) to the meetings in the districts following the reform- They refused. The Presidnet instituted a monthly high level meeting with the leaders of the Assembly- inlcuding Wavel- and his invitation was snubbed.
And while the SNP is getting sidetracked with their own internal fractures, it is unfortunate that they must continue to resort to denigrating Seychelles left right and centre. What happened to the sense of patriotism and being proud to be Seychellois? The SNP seem continuously intent on portraying an image of Seychelles which suits there own interests. While they complain about SPPF acting unfairly, they just break every rule left right and centre- from SNP activists at Les Mammelles, Mont Fleuri or Bel Ombre dishing out money for 'Timen' to buy drugs to completely ignoring the cooling off period by actively sending out these proxy articles they have posted on the foreign media.
Sometimes I think that SNP need reminding that their real constituents are here in Seychelles- they are the ones that are fed up with the drug pushers at Mont Fleuri, they are the ones living in Seychelles and not the convenient critics of Hounslow who love to criticize without actually ever living here.
I live here- I live in Seychelles. And I will be ashamed the day that this band of demagogues led by Wavel ever get near to running our country. As shown by the recent resignation of David Pierre- the internal machinations of the party resemble a circus where Wavel is desperately trying to apply control. If the cabnt sort out teh finances of tehir own party how do they expect to run a country? if they cant run their party newspaper properly- how can they run the country?
They are only protecting their own sense of entitlement and don’t really have any solutions for ordinary Seychellois. There are many things where I don’t agree with james Michel, but I know someone who ever had the courage to do the reform that he did is someone who will always put his nation before himself.
Pass this on if you truly believe in Seychelles......

It is sad when people cannot recognise oppression for what it is. it will not happen to the likes of you cos you protect yourself with servitude to a rotten club, and you somehow manage to view the people's subservience to the same man-god as an educated concensus. The literacy rate in Seychelles IS NOT 90%. Les than 50% of our country has ever read a book cover to cover. And less than 50% have ever felt the pain of empathy cos most are too busy taking care of themselves.

Be real. stuff your misguided opinion where the sun don't shine, vote for your idol and hope he wins.Then watch as the houses of the rich grow higher and higher and wait for your brethren to enter their desert flats.

I agree with Zaklen Zoulou when he says the Seychelles' literacy rate is not 90%, in fact even if education is free and kids are forced to go through a system that hardly caters for their individual needs, many of them go through it not knowing how to read, write or count.

And I think its high time people who HAVE been luckier to grasp something during their school days, start using their brains. The government HAS to provide us with education, housing, health services and whatever other basic things we need, otherwise it would be a USELESS, the reason why we voted for them in the 1st place is so they would make our lives better.

Therefore, if things are not going as they should, due to reasons that we are ALL aware of (but that some close their eyes to),that government is not doing the job it is supposed to be doing.

I think the problem with some Seychellois is that they support a political party like one would support a football club; fan forever, no matter what happens. Not realising that a political party that they will put in power will affect their quality of life.

One other thing, if that political party buys your vote, what else is he buying(or selling for that matter)to make his life easier? And where is he getting the money from?

I think Seychelles needs external help to fix this broken system, for we cannot count on our own authorities to fix it since they are all corrupt. One is very very easily corrupted in this country, not so much with money as with fear...do this or lose your job...or the application for the house you need will "get lost"...or you'll never see that promotion...or you'll never get a raise...or your private company will suddenly go bankrupt...It also works wonders with false promises, do this and you'll get a new house(on the reclaimed land while a wealthy foreigner gets a beautiful piece of land on the mainland)you'll get a promotion(with conditions attached of course;such as spying on the others)you'll get a raise(of which half will be taken as tax)you'll get the scholarship to study abroad(with the condition of coming back to seychelles to work in unbearable conditions, where you're likely to die of a heart attack from stress)and the list is endless...

I repeat; we need external help to solve this disease of a problem. I'm no political expert, but I'm a citizen who is intelligent enough to see that what is going on is nowhere near legal or right.

Zaklen Zoulou, you said it all in such a short paragraph. Idiots will always be idiots no matter how much you train them. Its like monkeys will never stop eating bananas until you stop feeding them bananas.
We Seychellois need not only consume the political bull that are fed to us by the politicians. A good measure of the crap that's going on is a little wash of our eyes to see the disparity. Obviously Ben is smart enough to think outside the box. This week we saw the swearing in of the Electoral Commission. Most members looks credible until GAPPY is appointed by the President to lead it, again same crap different smell. Some people will do anything to protect their leader and so are the followers of Bin Laden, Gadhafi, Fidel, Hitler and many others. Fuck the rest of the people, as long as the leaders get their way, everyone should be happy. No matter how much we blog on here, unless we take our anger to the streets, no one will see or hear us. We Seychellois are cowards and opportunists. We are like parasites on the dog's skin. We would sell and kill our own for gains. we must unite and stand up for what we believe in.

Unfortunately this correspondent appears to be so single minded in the condemnation of one of the few persons ready to assist Seychellois with the fight for freedom that he has missed the bigger picture which is the liberation of our country from a corrupt ruthless government who are willing to do anything to retain power.

Yes Wavel has his faults like all of us but lets not forget he and his family have sacrificed over 20 years for our freedom and now when many of us see staunch supporters of the cause being bought like puppies in a shop window by the ruling party we feel the futility which at times seems like Jim Jones in guyana that even we should take poison because thats what is the rational thing to do since everyone around us is doing it.Seychelles is corrupt and there is no other way of writing about it.

The writer perhaps has also not lived in seychelles since he has no inkling of the complete control the ruling party has held and continues to hold over the local media;even mr.Carson has got this right in his article so there must be someone who is wrong.The ruling party is so complete it even comes with its own chief electoral officer for helping to fix the destiny of our little country.

Concerning buying votes by SNP this person comes from cuckooland since he is describing the main complaint against the cheating Michel by all three candidates who opposed Michel and who do not accept the farcical nature and complete corruption exercised ruthlessly by the Party Lepep to retain power particularly during the cooling period and on the day of election itself.

The government even had a widely publicised drug crackdown in the abovementioned districts shortly before the elections just to identify who they would deal with and whose i.d. cards they would buy for drugs on the election day.

If you cannot see what is under your nose perhaps you should go and live in Hounslow where you can see the truth of people which this government has forcefully exiled there all those years ago.

Ben thanks for letting the rest of the world know our suffering , we are suffering a lot under this regime ,none of our media services can do that in seychelles , they only talk about the good thing we've got , but never tells the world the bad sides, they all afraid to do so ...hope to see more articles on seychelles politics soon.....

If we are so proud and so peacefull and have nothing to hide to the international world, why is it that "Kominike lapolis" from The Nation paper always in Kreol? Let's stop lying to ourselves.

Finally! an educated and unbiased view of what goes on in our country. So many of our fighters gave up such a long time ago. They either migrated overseas or simply lost hope. The UN is easily fooled by some few, well educated individuals with personal agendas. Now, this government is selling our valuable assets to overseas 'investors' in order to repay the large debt we as a nation, hold over our heads.

I've had many questions for many years that go unanswered. Why do we need a 'national' airline? Why do we not have an independent body that monitors anti-competitive activities within this country? I'm sure a well off individual in La Digue would be subject to an investigation! and yes, the obvious is the lack of transparency of all financial dealings members of parliament engage in. As an honest member of parliament, why would you object to declaring all your assets to the people that employ you and pay for your wages?

The Seychellois people need to realise that it is us that's in power. Not these monkeys that pretend to play politics by hiring and paying enormous amounts of money to expat political consultants to 'advise' them on the best way to manage our community. An Australian taxation model i'm sure fits in well for the Australians, but what does that have to do with the small Seychelles economy?

Enough said. I will let my vote count for my view at the election. Fingers crossed the true Creole character of never backing down comes out and puts to rest a very bad chapter in our colourful history.

A very interesting take on the underlying political issues in my country; Seychelles. The truth of the matter is multi-party democracy was put in place by a one-party state government that is finding it difficult to tolerant the concept of opposition. We therefore have the mindset of a one-party state apparatus that will do everything to stay in power whilst calling out to the world that Seychelles is a democracy, I am even reluctant to classify my country as a pseudo-democracy. The opposition in this country has been in the forefront in ensuring the check and balances, without them the emerging elements of democracy in Seychelles would not have existed.

I am also disappointed with the election observers coming here without a follow-up on the discrepancies observed in the last election. My family has received cash in envelopes, paint, we were promise corrugated iron and bricks but we did not get it so we got some more cash. My family took it; tax-payers money, I said to myself trying to justify my taking it whilst partaking in an act of corruption. I cannot imaging my family not taking those stuff because then they would be labeled and discriminated against. How can you then respect the presidency of this country; our president and our government. The sad thing is they will win and the election will be declared fair. I am happy though that they we have a strong opposition in this country albeit the odd stack against them.

I use my facebook Allen Gervais Comettant to voice out against the system. I think your story would have been great witth a little more research on the political playing feild in Seychelles.

There are some that are denied to exsit like a political party by the structure that is run by the government. So if our idea is too dramatic for their taste then they don't let you participate in the country's political life.

Mouvman Seselwa Rasin is such a movement that was blocked by the fake democracy that rule our homeland.

Power to all Freedom loving Seychellois! Seychelles for Seychellois!

The views expressed by this article are taken but fails to address a number of realities of living on our islands.
We are a multiple racial society of less than 90,000 inhabitants that strikingly is classless, tolerant and void of racism.
Now name me any other country in our wider geographical sphere that can boast this ? Well simply none, not even Mauritius because of the political divide there between Hindi and the non Hindi speaking minorities.
The politicians in Seychelles will want to take credit for this fact and that is debatable.
The population is highly literate ( high 90's ) and irrespective of what is said we have no shortage of divergence when it comes to media, opinions etc..
In my family I have family members who support opposing political parties. My spouse and I also differ in political views. And you know what? We live happily and are a united family. This is political maturity and tolerance. The ballot box is the ultimate choice and no one can question the fact that this is free and fair. As a person I vote for the man and not the party he or she belongs to. Many of us have voted differently in legislative and presidential elections. This can be seen in the ballot results.
Where we have not reached political maturity is in the i behaviour of some of our politicians and the political press.
The fact that the same political party has won all elections since multiple party elections does not measure the level of democracy. It is simply the choice of us Seychellois, an educated , free , non violent people who vote for who we believe is the best choice out of the lot running for office. However it is true that the choice is limited because mostly the better individuals do not participate actively in politics. Even the opposition are loathe to change their leaders even wnem they repeatedly fail.
This election is no contest because Michel has delivered largely on his promises. The opposition bring nothing new and are on a negative campaign platform .
Michel also knows that he will have to make tough choices if this coming term will be a good one for the country.
The war will be an economic one and we need a lot more FDI foreign direct investment. The people who have the dough are the Arabs and the opposition have played on the fact that we are selling out to them. Corruption in Seychelles is at it's infancy and will have to be checked. Comparing Seychelles to other countries is a joke. How many Seychellois own lavish properties overseas? How many have million dollar boats and very expensive cars. Knowing my own countrymen when they have money they flout it and spend it. All I see is a lot of Kia and Hyundai cars. Check out the houses they live in in Seychelles itself and the story is told. Get real people!
So Ben be balanced and understand the reality. For a young democracy we have done very well and far better than practically all other African states. There is room for improvement we all agree but there is far more good than bad. I and the majority of Seychellois will vote for the man who is going to offer us the best deal.

You want a copy of the Seychelles constitution that is so difficult to get, just go online my friend, i believe you have the resources to do so.

Two weeks ago, Le Nouveau Seychelles Weekly carried an article I wrote on the subject of Freedom and Fear in Seychelles. It is in that respect interesting to note that others share the analysis that those two factors need further attention to move Seychelles forward. I must note however, that the situation is slightly more nuanced than presented in Ben Carson’s article. The Seychelles has seen the creation of various (government) institutions in the last years which aim to strengthen democracy and civil rights in the country. The problem though, is that to date, the implementation of those institutions and rights have not been able to convince the other half of the nation. At this exceptional time in its history, Seychelles will need to redefine how it does politics. The rifts need to be healed. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections, Parti Lepep and its leadership will remain a key determinant in creating an all inclusive Seychelles.

i find it uncharacteristically strange to have an article written about democracy and seychelles when no indepth research has taken place. it makes me wonder if someone criticise the system because there have not been a change of government, then he is termed as non biase. give me a break. this article to say the least is full of incorrect information.

just a few examples

is it wrong for the better-offs in one's party contribute and share part of their wealth to the more needy at times of election? this is exactly what happened. there is no public funds being used( as IMF would have cried foul long time back) but donations from companies/individuals who are philantropic in their doings and would like to assist others. all the ruling party MNA also contribute towards a fund that is used specifically for this purpose throughout the years. what is wrong with this?

secondly, what is wrong if the people have found that the ruling party better serve their causes and have a better plan where Maslow hierarchy of needs is concern. we have a large majority of christian on the island and by this we are caring and also grateful for good deeds. the population of seychelles in the majority have also benefited in a way or another unlike most african let alone european countries that does not have a working welfare system.

having studied ( first degree) in the uk and done my mastered there aswell i often wondered how lucky the seychellois kids are to have their government sponsoring their full or partial scholarship to the amazement of my other brits, where the latter got only grants etc.. which their parents are burdened with . i would invite mr carson to come more often to seychelles and spend at least a year with us and he will surely find the answers to his one-sided report and i am pretty sure he will agree with the majority of seychellois that when something ain't broken, you do not fix it but just maintain and ensure that it keeps working successfully for you.

tq

I find hard to believe that a government who hands out things for free and have such "beneficial" social services for its populous can be considered sinister or "evil". But when you take into account the same way the The Nazis influenced voters and the German Population during the 1930s and early 40s I'm not surprised.

These items are describes above are merely tools to beat the unwitting victim in submission to the state, The PL hands these scholarships out on basis or "no trouble-makers or pro-government supporters" but if its alleged that the recipient is considered an independent or anti-government opinionated, He/she then has NO ACCESS TO THESE SERVICES, therefore being devoid-ed from their rights as citizens.

The Educational system (state)in my country doesn't encourage debate or "thinking outside the box", mostly teachers are restricted in the levels of education by a myriad or censorships and quasi-historical interpretations by the PL government (who has full control on decision making).

Further more I can my stars and parents for earning enough to send me to a private school , while not considered part of the national education standards does encourage a varying degree of free-thought, interpretations and debate on subjects, we have dedicated teachers who are used to the freedoms that the Americo-European democratic makeup allow.

This Population's mindset is focused on personal survival and short term benefits, and this elections prove that people are willing to sacrifice the future and society for their newer generations for petty gifts and ambitions.

The Welfare system doesn't even a match to the fluctuating levels of living costs, in fact pension funds are spent into construction projects that may even not result in revenues that many hope to expect,

lastly I am Amazed of how the Anonymous above suggest how lucky the youth are in Seychelles , a higher percentage before are 'drop-outs', rejects and slowly receding into the dark underbelly of crime and drugs in Seychelles. We are not lucky, a fraction of graduates make it to university level an 8th to a 10th from the entire student population and thats counting thousands.

And to you sir or madam , you may have taken your Masters. But I fail to see common sense reverberate from your argument, business models do not reflect the reality on the ground in Seychelles, in fact business wise we need a change in management. nearly 34 years of the same people and yet nothing substantial so Seychelles is in the black rather than the red ink of our budget books.

Mr Carson is welcomed to Seychelles, if he's wary of the situation that is occurring. I was a first time voter and I'm not happy thank you.

The man , James Michel and his predecessor and cronies are criminals who should be tried for their crimes, of torture murder,(we have a FB page for remembering our people that were murdered, tortured and made to disappear: "BannsSselwa Martyrise" )embezzlement ..intimidation.. We need for them to face trial and for our country to have new beginning..Too many of us are in exile..cannot go back home because of them.. enough already.The international Community who have enjoyed the beauty of our what should be our paradise on earth, should be made aware of the situation.. the Royal couple for e.g..Do they realise that that the money they paid for their honeymoon will not even be seen in Seychelles but remain in some foreign account somewhere, maybe hidden in some offshore account,(Seychelles is an offshore haven for those wishing to hide their money for whatever reason), that we are losing our country to foreigners through shady real estate deals ? that we do not have access to a,lot of our beaches and tourist establishments? and so much more .The truth needs to come out!

Overall your article reflects what going on in Seychelles; and I live here, I live in Seychelles!!!!!

It has been implied that somehow and without evidence that Wavel is responsible for this article, getting someone to write by proxy. I can understand someone trying to put him on the same level as James Michel considering that the guy didn't right any of this own books. James Michel having the courage to undertake the reforms we find ourselves in? I think that's what distinguishes the two main political parties in this country; we are in this current reform because the government had no choice, no choice!! We used the world economic crisis that stem from the US as an excuse, we had no foreign exchange reserves and we were running this country on loans, loans, loans!! Now we are running it on donations and capital gained from the selling of land. When will this country run on its own money?

And yes! The national broadcasting cooperation is the government mouth piece; it should be named MBC after Michel. Wait the Mauritius commercial bank has the same initial; wait he could kick them out like he did to the USAIM (university of Seychelles/medicine), they are suing the government now. You see this is what the current government does; this situation reflects its politics. Get rid of competition. Burn the cars and properties of the opposition supporters; sack them from their job if they speak against the government.

I will be proud when the opposition comes into power in this country because freedom will be re-instated for all, not only SNP supporters but all!! We will get a job, a house, a civil service promotion, a voice to speak for or against an SNP government because we will be free Seychellois, this will not occur today nor in the next five years if under an SPPF/Parti lepep government. I will be proud because it will be been done through the ballot box and not through the barrel of guns. No one will be killed, because that's what it took for the current government to be where they are and they will do anything to stay in powerful. They have been corrupted and think that this country belongs to them; they will grind us to the ground, like Mugabe to his people. By the way as exemplified by a few responses to this article money and resources are given to people during this election time; I think in the future those sources and resources should be declared. I am appalled by certain respondent in justifying that it is normal to distribute such to people: it is corruption.

I completely agree with the above which has put down the reality very succinctly for all the horrors and mental torture that this regime has dragged us through all these years.

Now we say enough is enough but unfortunately a party without scruples vision and brainpower must now find a way to get out of this one by the usual methods of hook or by crook.

A few things you can investigate the missing millions i.e the inviduals who had siphoned money over the years form public funds, of which IMF won't release the names. the missing millions paid by Minister Joel Morgan to a dubai company for the housing project and the money just disappeared in thin air. The missing millions incurred by Air Seychelles within a year. Sepec the governement paratstal which never got aufited for over 10 years. We can also go back o the days of monies missinf from the Children Funds stolen by James Michel predecessor Albert Rene.

ELECTIONS SEYCHELLES STYLE – IT TRULY IS ‘ANOTHER WORLD’
(Uganda based Journalist)

The slogan used by the Seychelles Tourist Board ‘Seychelles – Another World’ immediately sprung to mind when observing the elections on Saturday at the main island of Mahe, where this correspondent managed to visit about a dozen polling stations across the island and throughout the day, which were open from 07.00 hrs until 19.00 hrs, where voting remains not compulsory, but a mere civic duty for those above 18 years of age.

Had it not been for the election posters, on electricity poles, in front gardens and on large banners one could be fooled to think it was just ‘Another Day in Paradise’ and while it was a public holiday on the occasion, life on the island continued almost as normal, or so it appeared for the tourists, had it not been for the closure of banks and the less than usual Saturday traffic in and out of the capital Victoria.
Elections in Africa have in many countries become the bane of tourism, due to the tension between the ruling parties and the opposition, and are now wary to have a holiday in destinations with a ‘reputation’ for pre-election and post-election violence, as most recently seen in Uganda where a minute, and in terms of numbers almost insignificant number of people, spurred on by opposition (mis)-leaders – punt fully intended – took to the streets to the joy of international media vultures who were swift to portray our capital city as a war zone, dealing tourism a crushing blow in the process.

Yet, here in the Seychelles the people seem content, almost happy and as witnessed they patiently queued in long lines early in the morning to discharge their duty as citizens to elect their president. In fact, several couples were observed strolling hand in hand towards the polling stations to cast their votes in what must be one of the most unique ways to conduct elections, walking to the polls and back home in the warm sunshine of a Seychelles morning. From many conversations with voters leaving the polling stations it was soon evident that the campaign had been peaceful too, no scuffles and no fire spitting rhetoric either, with the opposition almost perceived as running a lackluster campaign.

This surely is a lesson for Africa, seeing free and fair elections being organized in a fellow African country, and several SADC election observers freely admitted on condition of anonymity – there were not authorized to speak to the media – that they had not seen such a well organized and almost leisurely conduct of elections in many of the other African countries they had been to for the same purpose.
Election results will be in after midnight, and will be broadcast live on Seychelles TV, and going by the words of a staff of the hotel this correspondent spoke with before leaving for the ‘observer duty’ it will be ‘life goes on tomorrow as normal and if my candidate loses we will try again in 5 years time. But we will accept. There is no point in protesting because the elections will have a result and when that is clear we just move on. The Seychellois people are very peaceful by nature, we do not like to fight and politics is not worth fighting over like you do on the continent.’

Passengers on the flight as well as tourists in hotels, or met on the streets of Victoria, too spoke up when asked their opinion, with most of them however professing that apart from the elections posters they had no idea that Seychelles was holding elections while they were on holiday and adding ‘so what, we are here for a holiday and one does not even realize they are in election mode here’ while one in particular strenuously denied that Seychelles was even part of Africa – so much for Geography lessons made in America.

Wise words for many a politician to heed ahead of the next election campaign on the African continent, especially in those parts of Eastern Africa where some deluded individuals still seem to think they can capture government by violence. Not in the Seychelles for sure and no longer wanted at home either.

Watch this space tomorrow for election results and related updates.

Yes it was just another day in paradise as you say with most people going down quietly to carry out their civic duty.Unfortunately not all Seychellois were of the same frame of mind for this eventful day.Unfortunately most opposition and international observers in the country for the election were caught completely off guard by the unscrupulous massive dishonesty, corruption and payment for votes and other tactics of the govrnment candidate.I call the latter that because he used all means of government at his disposal to influence the result including the single media of our country.

Here is the result of that peaceful day in paradise.

Joint Statement by Presidential Candidates Wavel Ramkalawan, Phillipe Boullé and Ralph Volcere on Campaign Violations and Illegitimacy of Results

We, candidates in the presidential election held on 19-21 May 2011, condemn the violations of the law and the Electoral Code of Conduct which have occurred during the electoral process.

We consider the process to have been seriously flawed owing to abuses by the Parti Lepep and deficiencies on the part of the Election authority, and we therefore unconditionally reject the result.

We feel that the whole democratic structure of the country was compromised by the manner in which the elections were conducted and the results they produced.

We comment here on three main areas.

a. Vote buying and funding

b. Use of state resources by the Parti Lepep

c. Inability of the Electoral Commissioner to stop abuses and violations

Vote buying and funding

There has been a systematic use of money to influence the vote by the Parti Lepep which has included the gifts of large amounts of construction materials, other goods and cash disbursements which have occurred before and during the campaign period. These practices became even more widespread and intense during the cooling-off period and on polling day when many illegal assembly points were operated where money was given in return for voting for the Parti Lepep or not voting for another candidate. The use of money to buy votes had a direct bearing on the outcome of the elections.

The Parti Lepep massively outfunded other candidates in the campaign. So long as money is disproportionately used by one candidate over the others, any result has to be seen as determined by financial considerations.

Use of state resources

The state-funded media, Seychelles Nation and SBC, were monopolised throughout the campaign by the government, giving a clear advantage to the incumbent candidate. Both media showed a clear reluctance to be fair and missed no opportunity to give coverage to the President and government initiatives in clear breach of their constitutional and legal obligations. Reporting calculated to influence the outcome of elections continued up to polling day.

The incumbent candidate conducted his campaign from State House using Government resources, including the Presidential Standard for campaign broadcasts. On polling day itself, Government resources were used on behalf of Parti Lepep, such as the use of the clinic at Glacis and an ambulance to transport voters to the polling station.

Inability of the Electoral Commissioner to stop abuses

The Electoral Commissioner was unable or unwilling to deal with campaign abuses and violations which were reported. The police was likewise unwilling or ineffective in dealing with complaints.

The most common violations during the campaign period were in relation to campaign posters and boards but most serious were the operation of assembly stations and checkpoints on polling day which were used to influence voters. Numerous instances of interference with voters were reported in various districts but there was no effective action to correct the situation. The widespread abuses were allowed to be conducted with impunity giving the Parti Lepep candidate an unfair advantage in the process.

Conclusion

These abuses and violations have made the 2011 Presidential Election a sham. Unless they can be corrected with clear laws and regulations, in particular regarding the use of money or other material incentives and effective control by an independent election authority and the police, elections are meaningless.

We therefore reject the result of the election as announced by the Electoral Commissioner and call on the Election Observers, the Churches and Religious Organisations, Civil Society and the people of Seychelles to join us in condemning this affront to the democratic process and the abuses of an incumbent president to retain power by the use of his privileges and state institutions under his control and the exploitation of the weak and the poor through financial means.

Wavel Ramkalawan Philippe Boullé Ralph Volcere

Seychelles National Party Independent Candidate New Democratic Party

May 23, 2011

This effectively a one party state, observers were there for a vacation..we all know that..look from where they came from.they landed in paradise ..Same regime for 34 and now will be 39 years!
Does anyone talk about those tortured, killed, and made to disappear..
Do not be fooled.. Remember before the Arab Spring.. the us and Europe were quite happy to support all those countries now demanding democracy/. You have to have lived in Seychelles the last 34 years.Lived through the coup and watch with horror as innocent people were murdered in cold blood and then more throughout the rest 34 years, talk to those still in exile ,still being persecuted.This election was a farce and a sham. The truth needs to come out.SOON .Our people are tired of living under dictatorships.. People are afraid but it is changing more people are speaking out through FB , people lose their jobs if they do not support James Michel, This is not Democracy and the international community needs to also come out and acknowledge that . Our donor countries need to face facts and quit giving aid to dictators.it goes in their pockets and in the pockets of a select few. Time for the pretense to end.

Ben as a follow up to your article, here is a nice piece for you, all the opposition candidates are contesting the manner in which the election was carried out; primarily the buying of votes outside the polling station and the inability of the electoral commissioner to enforce the electoral law. This reflects some of the comments in the article about what was going on before the election.

It also undermines the international observers credibility because they only observe what's going on in the polling station, which is good however, the main discrepancies is the violation outside the polling station.

There have been many attempts to influence voting through money or allurement, the activists from the main political party sit by the road side with clips boards and tick the names of individuals as they go to the polling station. This serves as a form of intimidation to voters, as discrimination against political divergence is rife. Government provides soft loans as a pretext for people to repair their houses an amount of 2000 pounds payable in 5 years (the question is why only during election time), repair can be done anytime. People are given house appliances and construction materials as well; there is nothing wrong with using money for campaigning but not like this.

Ruling party use there authority and power to create an extremely uneven playing field to the extent of contravening the election act of Seychelles 1996.

I have read your article about democracy in my so- called paradise. This is the true situation of democracy a la James Michel style. My kids and I are all victims of victimisation in our country. This May 2011 election has been one of the worst I have ever experienced in my whole life. Millions of rupees have been distributed left, right and centre in the country, voters have been intimidated, their identity cards have been taken from and that they are not able to vote, drugs have been distributed to youths by high officials from the ruling partyso that they sleep the whole day and do not vote.Just imagine a smalll population like ours, almost 12000 people who are legible to vote do not go to polls on polling day, is not that strange?

Here we go again, same shit, different day. When will they learn. It might be nice to get a few blocks and some new sheeting for the roof, but…
Yes, this goes on at every election. I've been and seen and been told what was given to those and who to vote for. Sheep.
Free and fair elections, my arse!

Democratic in the form of a voting democracy means the people choose who presides over their system of society and government. It does not mean everyone is entitled to take from others. That has nothing to do with democracy.Democracy and self rule allows all to determine their own fate and in the process each may benefit in the process by providing products or services of value in exchange for other products and services for value. The idea that we are entitled to benefits by taking without contributing is absurd and appeals to that element of us that fosters an environment of mediocrity and scarcity.

Hey Ben,Nice to meet you the other day.  This is a really interesting article, I'll keep my eye out for more.  Good luck with the website, hope it all goes well!