National Assembly Election: A telescopic view of Seychelles

The South African Development Community (SADC) has officially launched its observer mission for the legislative election which will be held in Seychelles from September 8-10, 2016.

National  Assembly Election: A telescopic view of Seychelles

The South African Development Community (SADC) has officially launched its observer mission for the legislative election which will be held in Seychelles from September 8-10, 2016.

Before the current mission which consists of 19 observers from eight of the organization’s 15 member states, SADC had already sent a preparatory mission from its Advisory Council.

The Seychelles, an Island nation with less than 100,000 registered voters is not difference from a nation like the United States. Like in any free country, the outcome lies in the hands of the people.

Also, like in many democratic countries, hot debates and insults are exchanging across party lines.

Sir James, the founding president of the Republic of the Seychelles contributed his recently written opinion article to eTurboNews. It’s entitled.

‘A telescopic view of Seychelles beyond the September National
Assembly Election.

The founding president writes:I have before me the 20th page of Thursdays Seychelles NATION newspaper, dedicated to ‘World News’.

After reading this page, I have become perturbed concerning the future of our country beyond the National Assembly election following a long campaign of different parties in an atmosphere of relative tension which is scheduled to take place on the 8th, 9th and 10th September, 2016. The national mood is rather controversial with different players engaged in personal insults. My prayer is that we come out of it less divided as a nation and more committed to the national interest but I am not too optimistic considering what is going on in the wider world today.

The first article on that page is headed, ‘Maldives issues arrest warrant for ex-President Nasheed.’ I still remember well in December 2005 when I received an invitation from the Maldivian Democratic Party to deliver a keynote address at the Party’s congress in Malé. At that time, Abdul Gayoom had ruled the Maldives as President for three decades. But soon after the introduction of multi-party democracy, the archipelago’s new Democratic Party leader Mohamed Nasheed was placed under house arrest.

Personally committed to respect for the Structure of State, as established, I had a meeting with the then Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Patrick Pillay, in order to officially inform the Government of President Gayoom that I had accepted the invitation to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic Party’s congress, but I was mindful, first of all, to pay a courtesy call on President Gayoom.
On the day I arrived in Malé, I was greeted by the Chief Protocol Officer of the Government as well as a delegation representing the Maldivian Democratic Party. That day I learned that President Gayoom had agreed to meet with me before the convention and that the organizers of the convention wanted me to intervene on their behalf for Gayoom to allow Nasheed to attend the opening ceremony of his Party’s congress although he was under ‘house arrest.’ As a matter of fact, Gayoom agreed to my plea and Nasheed was allowed to attend and to speak at his Party’s congress.

Several months later, I unexpectedly received an invitation from Nasheed to attend his swearing in ceremony in Malé as the first democratically-elected President of the Maldives. Sadly, I was otherwise committed and therefore not able to attend this historic event.

In the year 2009, I was invited to pay an official visit to the Maldives and this time, I was accompanied by Maître Philippe Boulle who was particularly interested to study the Maldivian offshore banking system and to meet Maldivian bankers and lawyers who had specialized in this area.

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That was the last time that I visited the Maldives but I did meet with President Nasheed when he and his delegation paid an official visit to Seychelles in 2011, when invited by President James Michel to be the official guest at the 8th edition of the Indian Ocean Island Games.
Well, much water has gone under the bridge of the Maldivian politics since President Nasheed came here. His opponents impeached him for sois-disant ‘illegally terminating the service of a judge of the High Court.’ Subsequently, an election which was supposedly fair, saw the actual President Abdulla Yameen, who happens to be the half brother of former strongman Abdul Gayoom who ruled the Maldives dictatorially for many years, elected in office. Over recent months, Nasheed was granted political asylum in Britain and now Abdalla Yameen is calling upon the Government of Sri Lanka to arrest former President Nasheed who had flown to Colombo from the United Kingdom to meet his supporters and allegedly to organize a coup to topple Yameen – all very, very confusing – all very, very messy!

The next article on this page entitled, ‘Gabon’s election results disputed as incumbent Ali Bongo is named victor.’ It is stated that Ali Bongo had won another term of office as President with 49.85 per cent of the votes and Monsieur Jean Ping had narrowly lost the election with 48.16 per cent after a fraught election which according to observers was likely to result into violence.

Well, whilst I have never met Ali Bongo, I have indeed met with his father, Omar Bongo on several occasions when he attended meetings of La Francophonie as the ruler of this oil-rich rich African nation. As for Monsieur Jean Ping, he was until a few years ago the Secretary-General of the African Union (AU). In fact, it was he who nominated me to represent the African Union as a witness to the Egyptian Presidential elections after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. That was the election won by President Mohamed Morsi of the Islamic Brotherhood Movement. President Morsi did not last long as President. Soon he found himself at loggerheads with the military and was deposed by the Egyptian Armed Forces in a coup d’etat on the 3rd of July, 2013, following massive protests calling for his resignation.

His successor, as acting President, Adly Mansour was the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt. On the 8th of June, 2014, the military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became President following the Presidential elections which had taken place on the 26-28th May, 2014. Today Mohamed Morsi is in a prison cell with some of his opponents calling for his execution – well this is just another example of the political ‘messiness’ characterizing many nations in Africa today.
However, political messiness is today the order of the day all over the world. Just let us consider the political saga taking place in the USA between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Let us look at Latin America where the people of Venezuela is calling for a new government and in Brazil where an hostile Senate has impeached the first lady President. Let us get closer to home and take notice to what is going on in the political world of Mauritius, Madagascar and the Comoros. Let us not forget about the mess in the Middle-East generally and in Syria in particular. Let us not overlook the attempt of a group of military officers in Turkey to take over the country by force. Let us think about what is happening in the Philippines where President Rodrigo Duterte has summarily executed over 1,000 drug addicts and drug pushers with several thousand of these now overcrowding the jails of Manila and other cities. Not to forget to reflect on the recent elections in South Africa and the turmoil which is brewing down there.

Well, against this background of political messiness prevailing in our world today – we can only hope and pray that beyond our National Assembly elections 2016, that our leaders and political figures will find the goodwill to solve the problems of wounded pride and to actively engage the population in drying the water in which hate swim today. Dialogue and engagement are the only possible way to success, however impossible it may seem. Let us all be determined to move forward not with instruments of external power but with the instruments of internal power – i.e. love, unselfishness and a passion for the people of Seychelles to enjoy a future of happiness, peace and prosperity. After all, does not our national anthem proclaim –

“Seychelles, our only motherland
Where we live in harmony
Happiness, love and peace
We give thanks to God……
Live forever in unity
Raise our flag
Together for all eternity
Join together all Seychellois.”
Let us be determined to put into practice what we preach.
Room for very, very, very serious thoughts.
James R. Mancham

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