The Seychelles will host a regional ports security conference between May 26-28 this year in order to extensively discuss and devise strategies on how to better secure the sea lanes and offer shipping protection from the marauding ocean terrorists, aka Somali pirates.
There is lingering suspicion that the pirate ranks have been infiltrated by figures from the radical Islamic militias fighting in Somalia, adding a hidden agenda to their ordinary pirating on the open seas and a new dimension to the fight of the naval coalition members.
Participation will be global, as the members of the naval coalition will be represented, including representatives of the US Coast Guard, all of whom are already extending training and equipment support to the Seychelles coast guard and other security organizations dealing with the menace.
Meanwhile, calls were renewed in Eastern Africa for closer security cooperation among the EAC member states in regard of joint ocean patrols and better coordination of resources and activities, as the impact on trade and shipping for the East African ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam is becoming more evident. Cruise ship arrivals, compared with just two or three years ago, are said to be only half now, as more shipping lines are moving their vessels to safer cruise waters, but this has a severe impact on the respective tourism businesses in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and Kenya.
The EAC secretariat in Arusha has been called upon to create a platform for consultations and cooperation in this regard, also involving the International Maritime Organization, IGAD, the African Union, and relevant international bodies. It is expected that all of them will attend the Seychelles conference either as outright participants or in an observer capacity.
In closing, these added activities and measures further belie the article of the Independent of two weeks ago, which portrayed the holiday paradise of the Seychelles as a pirate paradise in their sensationalist article, but it was clearly thin on facts and full of negative speculation and smacked of a hidden agenda against the Seychelles.