Seychelles



Air Seychelles to resume flights to Joburg, Mauritius, Tel Aviv on Nov. 1

Air Seychelles will resume limited passenger services to Johannesburg, Mauritius and Tel Aviv from November 1, the airline said on Wednesday. The Seychelles' national carrier will have weekly flights to Johannesburg as from November 1 and increase to three f
Seychelles News Agency

Air Seychelles to resume flights to Joburg, Mauritius, Tel Aviv on Nov. 1

Air Seychelles will resume limited passenger services to Johannesburg, Mauritius and Tel Aviv from November 1, the airline said on Wednesday. The Seychelles' national carrier will have weekly flights to Johannesburg as from November 1 and increase to three flights a week starting from December 1. Weekly flights will also be done to Mauritius from November 1, increasing to two flights a week starting from December 1. The airline will operate a twice per week service to Tel Aviv as from November 1. Travellers can view the schedule by visiting www.airseychelles.com to book their seats for travel from November 1 to March 31 next year. Remco Althuis, chief executive of Air Seychelles, said, «As we start to re-establish our network with the gradual re-opening of borders, to ensure that we operate safely we will continue to implement all the required measures at each destination where we operate, by working closely with all stakeholders to safeguard the health of our guests and employees.» He added that «due to the dynamism of the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers are advised to remain updated with the latest information regarding the procedure to be followed prior to and upon arrival at their country of destination. For those staying in the Seychelles please visit seychelles.govtas.com to submit the mandatory health travel authorisation prior to entering the country.» Air Seychelles said that all flights will be subjected to the approval of the government including regulatory approval as well as that of the health authorities at each destination. Meanwhile, the airline in collaboration with the High Commission of India in Seychelles will operate an additional flight from the island nation to Ahmedabad on Friday, October 2 following demand. The flights to Mumbai remain suspended due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in India. Air Seychelles will continue to operate charter flights to Mumbai and Ahmedabad on demand. The airline suspended flights to its regional network, namely Mumbai, Mauritius and Johannesburg, in late March following intensified travel advisories, national lockdowns and closures at ports of entry within the Indian Ocean, South Africa, India as well as in the Seychelles in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Xi Jinping Delivers an Important Speech at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly

On September 22, 2020, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, expounding China's position and propositions on enhancing global cooperation on fighting COVID-19
Seychelles News Agency

Xi Jinping Delivers an Important Speech at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly

On September 22, 2020, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, expounding China's position and propositions on enhancing global cooperation on fighting COVID-19, promoting the world economic recovery and supporting the causes of the United Nations. His speech showcased China's sense of responsibility as a major country to peace and development of mankind. President Xi stressed, facing the virus, we should put people and life first. No case should be missed and no patient should be left untreated. The spread of the virus must be contained; we should enhance solidarity and get through this together. We should give full play to the leading role of the World Health Organization and launch a joint international response to beat this pandemic; we should adopt comprehensive and long-term control measures. ' The major economies need to step up macro policy coordination. We should show concern for and accommodate the need of developing countries, especially African countries. The international community needs to take timely and robust measures to ensure the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. All these will inject strong impetus into the global anti-pandemic cooperation. President Xi shared his insights into the lessons the pandemic has taught the international community. He said that COVID-19 reminds us that we are living in an interconnected global village with a common stake. We should embrace the vision of a community with a shared future in which everyone is bound together. We should reject attempts to build blocs to keep others out and oppose a zero-sum approach. We should rise above ideological disputes and do not fall into the trap of «clash of civilizations»; economic globalization is an indisputable reality and a historical trend. No one can sever the ties between countries. We should pursue open and inclusive development, remain committed to building an open world economy and say no to unilateralism and protectionism; humankind should launch a green revolution and move faster to create a green way of development and life, preserve the environment and make Mother Earth a better place for all. We should achieve a green recovery of the world economy in the post-COVID era. The global governance system calls for reform and improvement. We should stay true to multilateralism. Global governance should be based on the principle of extensive consultation, joint cooperation and shared benefits. President Xi also announced a series of major measures to support the UN and promote world peace and development, which demonstrates China responsibly fulfilling its major-country role in upholding the values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom shared by all and building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.   Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China

Seychelles' outgoing Chief Justice proud of reducing case backlog, advancing equal rights

Seychelles' outgoing Chief Justice, Mathilda Twomey, said that clearing backlogs and bringing justice for all citizens have been the highlight of her tenure. Twomey, who was sworn in as Chief Justice in August 2015, is the first Seychellois woman to occupy th
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' outgoing Chief Justice proud of reducing case backlog, advancing equal rights

Seychelles' outgoing Chief Justice, Mathilda Twomey, said that clearing backlogs and bringing justice for all citizens have been the highlight of her tenure. Twomey, who was sworn in as Chief Justice in August 2015, is the first Seychellois woman to occupy the post. Twomey's last day in the office is Wednesday 30, and a ceremonial sitting was held for her at the Palais de Justice. «The one thing I am most proud of is the way we have administered cases and the court in general. The statistics speak for itself. By doing so, we have helped to bring justice at the doorstep of every citizen in Seychelles. It has always been my message that we are here to serve the people. Justice is not for us, but for everyone,» Twomey told a press conference on Monday. Twomey was educated at Regina Mundi Convent and Seychelles College and won a scholarship from the British Council to study law in Europe. She was conferred with a Diplome de Droit at the University of Paris-Sud, Sceaux in 1985 and got a BA in English and French Law at the University of Kent at Canterbury in 1986. She practised in Seychelles at the Ocean Gate Law Centre and then the Attorney-General's Chambers. In 1992, together with former Attorney General of Seychelles, Pesi Pardiwalla, she opened the law firm Pardiwalla and Twomey. She was a member of the Constitutional Commission which drafted the new Constitution of Seychelles in 1993. As part of her achievements, Twomey said that she has helped greatly in advocating for the rights of women in society. «They have equal rights as men and they have the right as well to stand up and defend those rights,» said Twomey. Her challenge was to clear the backlog of cases. A case is considered backlogged if filed three or more years prior to the current year. She said that «there was even a case pending for 19 years and this is unacceptable. It was a challenge to make judges and lawyers understand that the public is paying for a service and they deserve justice at all cost.»  Commenting on the backlog of the courts, the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Juliana Estico, said, there has been a reduction in the number of filed cases which allowed the team to further reduce the backlogged cases, in line with their strategic plan. In the Supreme Court, the average age of the cases on the Civil cause list is 389 days compared to 499 at the beginning of 2019. In the criminal division, it is 328 days while it was 427 in 2019. In 2019, 4,239 cases were filed and 4,043 were completed. The Senior Magistrate, Benjamin Vipin, said that the Chief Justice has helped to bring accountability within the judiciary. «Three marked areas of her contribution and upkeep apart from other areas of law, is in the field of civil law, the rights of child especially the sexual assault and the reformative approach to drug-dependent, personal users under the Misuse of Drugs Act,» said Vipin. He added that «on a personal note CJ has been an inspiration and fiercely dedicated to working and had a no nonsensical approach to work, her work speaks for herself, a person with grit and determination, but after work, she brought out her creole spirit, of laughter, dance and singing.» The library and archive manager, Kevin Etienne-Cummings, said that under the leadership of Twomey the judiciary has started the modernising process by setting up a library system where the public can at least see what legal resources are available online.

Guinea closes borders with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal ahead of vote

The West African country of Guinea, in the middle of a turbulent election campaign, has closed its land borders with Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, a senior government official said on Tuesday. The closure is for security reasons, the source in the Guinean capit
Seychelles News Agency

Guinea closes borders with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal ahead of vote

The West African country of Guinea, in the middle of a turbulent election campaign, has closed its land borders with Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, a senior government official said on Tuesday. The closure is for security reasons, the source in the Guinean capital Conakry said without elaborating. Guinea-Bissau's interior minister, Botche Cande, earlier told journalists that he had «received reports from border agents indicating that the frontier had been unilaterally closed since Sunday». Guinean Security Minister Albert Damantang Camara could not be reached by AFP for comment. The president of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, has tense relations with Guinean President Alpha Conde, who is seeking a controversial third term in office in the October 18 ballot. Conde has been heavily involved in diplomatic efforts to resolve Guinea-Bissau's repeated political crises. A Guinean representative was a notable absentee at ceremonies on September 24 to mark Guinea-Bissau's independence day. Sources in Bissau, the capital, say that Guineans living there had been recently trying to return home to vote after encountering difficulties in doing so at their country's consulate. Many of the expatriate community are Fulani, also called Peul -- an ethnic group considered likely to favour Conde's electoral rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo. Guinea, one of the poorest and most volatile countries in Africa, has been buffeted by political turbulence ahead of the vote. Conde is bidding for a third term in office, defying critics who say he forced through constitutional changes this year enabling him to sidestep two-term presidential limits. The 82-year-old, a former dissident, became Guinea's first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015. Protests against his suspected plan for a third term brought thousands of Guineans into the street in late 2019. Dozens people have been killed in clashes. On Tuesday, protesters opposing a Conde third term in the capital Conakry again clashed with security forces, which led to arrests, an AFP journalist saw. © Agence France-Presse

Lalyans Seselwa endorses United Seychelles (US) in presidential and legislative elections

The political party Lalyans Seselwa is throwing its weight behind the ruling party, United Seychelles, endorsing its slate of candidates in the presidential and legislative elections, party leader Patrick Pillay said Tuesday. Pillay said his endorsement for
Seychelles News Agency

Lalyans Seselwa endorses United Seychelles (US) in presidential and legislative elections

The political party Lalyans Seselwa is throwing its weight behind the ruling party, United Seychelles, endorsing its slate of candidates in the presidential and legislative elections, party leader Patrick Pillay said Tuesday. Pillay said his endorsement for the US – except in the three districts where his candidates are standing for the National Assembly -- is because of his admiration for the principles of late France Albert Rene, former president and the founder of US which at that time was the Seychelles Peoples United Party (SPUP). Pillay, who had hoped to run for president until his candidacy was found to have not met the legal requirements, said that back in 2015, his party joined the opposition alliance to form Linyon Demokratik Seselwa for one purpose and that was to remove former President James Michel from power, which happened when the latter relinquished power in October 2016. “I do not know which principle has changed since Mr Rene started his party. There may have been a change in leadership, there may have been treason by the very person whom Mr Rene handed power to, but the principles of equality in opportunity, the principles of democratization of education of which I was part of as this is my domain, allowing free health for all people of Seychelles, irrespective of your means whether you can pay or not, is still very much in vigour and robust policy of the current government. How can I support other people when this kind of opportunity has been given to each and every Seychellois and is now very much en vigeur as we say in French” explained Pillay. Pillay said that he had met with the party leaders of One Seychelles and of United Seychelles. The leader said that after consultation with his executive members he has decided to endorse the US. Lalyans Seselwa submitted its registration documents to the Electoral Commission as a new party in 2015, (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY “We want unity with a party which its principle we believe in. United Seychelles is preaching, peace, love and forgiveness and it is not preaching hatred, vengeance and violence. We go with United Seychelles and we continue on this political journey,” explained Pillay. The leader of the Lalyans Seslewa also said that he will not be proceeding with the legal process against his disqualification as a presidential candidate. “I have decided and have told my lawyers, it will be a distraction. Some people love going up and down in the courts but the courts are busy. There will be no legal action. Let the Seychellois decide who to vote for and let there be a strong presidency and a strong national assembly,” said Pillay. Pillay had said on September 17 that his lawyers were filing a petition for an injunction against the Electoral Commission's decision to disqualify his nomination as a presidential candidate for Lalyans Seselwa for the October election.

Global coronavirus death toll passes one million

More than one million people have died from coronavirus, according to an AFP toll, marking a grim milestone in the spread of the disease that has ravaged the world economy, inflamed diplomatic tensions and upended lives from Indian slums to New York City. I
Seychelles News Agency

Global coronavirus death toll passes one million

More than one million people have died from coronavirus, according to an AFP toll, marking a grim milestone in the spread of the disease that has ravaged the world economy, inflamed diplomatic tensions and upended lives from Indian slums to New York City. In the nine months since the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, schools, businesses, live entertainment, and international travel have been upended by strict stay-at-home measures designed to curb the contagion. Drastic controls that put half of humanity -- more than four billion people -- under some form of lockdown by April at first slowed the spread, but since restrictions were eased, infections have soared again. By 1600 GMT Monday, the disease had claimed 1,002,432 victims from 33,178,275 recorded infections, according to an AFP tally collected from official sources by journalists stationed around the world, and compiled by a dedicated team of data specialists. The United States has the highest death toll with more than 200,000 fatalities, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and Britain. Behind the figures lie millions of lives shattered by an illness that still holds many mysteries and which cannot yet be effectively treated or prevented, despite a global race to develop drugs and a vaccine. For Italian truck driver Carlo Chiodi, the global mortality statistics include both his parents, whom he lost within days of each other. «I saw my father walking out of the house, getting into the ambulance, and all I could say was 'goodbye',» Chiodi, 50, told AFP. «I regret not saying 'I love you' and I regret not hugging him.» - 'A crisis like no other' - With new cases again surging worldwide, governments have been forced into an uneasy balancing act: virus controls slow the spread of the disease, but they hurt already reeling economies and businesses. The IMF has warned that the economic upheaval could cause a «crisis like no other», though the Fund's outlook appears brighter now than it did in June. Europe, hit hard by the first wave, is now facing another surge, with Paris, London and Madrid all forced to introduce controls to slow infections threatening to overload hospitals. A million Madrid residents are under partial lockdown, with the city and the surrounding region at the epicentre of Spain's second wave. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman urged citizens to keep to strict hygiene measures. «The development of infection numbers is of great concern to us,» Steffen Seibert said. «We can see from some of our European friends where that could lead.» Masks and social distancing in shops, cafes and public transport are now part of everyday life in many cities around the world. Mid-September saw a record rise in cases in most regions and the World Health Organization has warned virus deaths could even double to two million without more global collective action. Infections in India, home to 1.3 billion people, surged past six million on Monday, but authorities pressed ahead with a reopening of the battered South Asian economy. The virus initially hit major metropolises including financial hub Mumbai and capital New Delhi, but has since spread to regional and rural areas where healthcare systems are even more fragile and patchy. Santosh, a student in Delhi, said the virus was now «part of our lives». «You cannot shut down every business, because the economy cannot collapse... Covid-19 is not going to pay the rent.» Currently, nine vaccine candidates are in last-stage clinical trials, with hopes some will be rolled out next year. - Waking up to Covid-19 - The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the illness known as Covid-19 made its first known appearance in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero of the outbreak. How it got there is still unclear but scientists think it originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. Wuhan was shut down in January as other countries looked on in disbelief at China's draconian controls, even as they went about their business as usual. By March 11, the virus had emerged in over 100 countries and the WHO declared a pandemic, expressing concern about the «alarming levels of inaction». The least privileged around the globe have been the hardest hit by the breakneck spread of the virus. Greek officials late Sunday announced the first coronavirus death of a migrant living in a camp there, a 61-year-old father-of-two from Afghanistan. The virus has also infected some among the powerful, rich and famous. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a week in hospital. Madonna and Tom Hanks also tested positive. The Tokyo Olympics, Rio's Carnival and the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca are among the major events postponed or disrupted by the pandemic. Some major sports tournaments have resumed but with empty stadiums -- such as Premier League football in England -- or highly restricted spectator counts. The French Open is limiting access to 1,000 tennis fans a day. As the restrictions tighten, protests and anger are rising as businesses worry about their survival and individuals grow concerned about their jobs and families in the face of another round of curbs. Authorities have clashed with anti-lockdown protesters around the world, while blame for the disease and its consequences has led to increased tensions between the United States and China in particular. Along with the turmoil, though, lies some hope, with Wuhan now appearing to have controlled the disease. «Life has returned to the kind of flavour we had before,» resident An An said. «Everyone living in Wuhan feels at ease.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles launches new manual on obtaining public information

Coinciding with International Day for Universal Access to Information on Monday, Seychelles has launched a manual highlighting the roles and responsibilities in accessing information from public domains. The How-To Manual publication of the Access to Informa
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles launches new manual on obtaining public information

Coinciding with International Day for Universal Access to Information on Monday, Seychelles has launched a manual highlighting the roles and responsibilities in accessing information from public domains. The How-To Manual publication of the Access to Information ACT 2018 is produced by the Information Commission. In a ceremony at State House on Monday, chief information commissioner John Richardson presented a copy of the How-to Manual to Vice President Vincent Meriton, who holds the portfolio for Information. Meriton said that the manual will help public bodies to manage and simplify the Access to Information Act which in itself is very complex to facilitate both the public service and the end users which is the public in general. «When the citizens use this facility, they are armed, they have information. When a citizen is informed, he or she can take part in running of public affairs and you have a more consensus approach from the part of the citizens which is critical in the running for government,» said Meriton. The vice president added that the act coming into force in 2018 put an end to unnecessary secrecy and brought about a new era of openness where citizens have the right to information. It was Meriton himself who initiated the idea of the manual and created a committee to work on the same as it is a requirement of the Act that the public knows about their right of access to information. «The How-To Manual is a response to this provision of the Act. It presents the rights and responsibilities of all parties, in the process be it the requester of information or the respective public entity,» explained Thereza Dogley, the chief executive officer of the Information Commission. Dogley stated and reminded all of what Article 28 of the Constitution of Seychelles says about the right to access to information,  «the state recognizes the right of access of every person to information relating to that person and held by a public authority which is performing a governmental function and the right to have that information rectified or otherwise amended, if inaccurate. The state recognises the right of access by the public to information held by a public body.»  Dogley explained that currently there are 120 public entities in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean -- and most do have full time information officers. The information officers are trained and are offered refresher training to assist them to keep abreast with what is expected of them concerning requests for information. Public relations officers in these organisations have also been worked with so that they can also share what is happening in their organisations. The chief executive of the Information Commission, Thereza Dogley, said that the head of these enterprises are liable in the event that information is not disseminated in the delay of time as prescribed by the law and information is withheld. Dogley stressed that same is an offence and is punishable with a fine or a five-year prison sentence. The «How-To Manual» is also available online and can be downloaded on www.infocom.sc

Macron promises Belarus mediation but Putin slams 'pressure'

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday promised to help with mediation in the political crisis in Belarus, but Russia's Vladimir Putin lashed out against «unprecedented external pressure». Macron spoke during a visit to Lithuania after meeti
Seychelles News Agency

Macron promises Belarus mediation but Putin slams 'pressure'

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday promised to help with mediation in the political crisis in Belarus, but Russia's Vladimir Putin lashed out against «unprecedented external pressure». Macron spoke during a visit to Lithuania after meeting with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya that was being seen as a major show of support for the activist. «We will do our best as Europeans to help mediate and we will come back to OSCE mediation in order to progress,» Macron told reporters, referring to an offer from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). «Our objective is for this mediation to begin in the next few days or weeks,» Macron said. «The aim is a peaceful transition, the release of people who are in prison for their political opinions and the holding of free elections under international observation,» he said. Belarus has been in upheaval since an August 9 presidential election in which Tikhanovskaya claimed victory against the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994. Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania in the aftermath of the election as mass protests in the streets of the former Soviet republic were met with a crackdown in which thousands were arrested. The European Union has refused to recognise the result of the presidential election and Macron on Sunday said that Lukashenko «has to go». - New elections this year? - Tuesday's meeting with Macron in Vilnius was Tikhanovskaya's most high-profile one so far. She has previously addressed the UN Human Rights Council and the European Parliament and has met with EU foreign ministers and the leaders of neighbouring Poland and Lithuania. Tikhanovskaya, a political novice whose blogger husband is in prison in Belarus accused of trying to overthrow the government, told AFP after the meeting that she had accepted an invitation to speak before the French parliament. She said the crisis should be resolved «as soon as possible» and new free and fair elections should be held before the end of the year. «(Macron) supports the idea of mediation because he understands that powerful countries need to be involved to begin negotiations with Lukashenko. He is ready to help with this. »I think he will speak with the Russian side about Belarus and will do everything possible to involve Russia in these negotiations,« she said. - 'External pressure' - Macron has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko's main ally, is favourable to mediation in the Belarus crisis by the OSCE. But Putin on Tuesday said in televised remarks that Belarus was in a »difficult situation« and was facing »unprecedented external pressure«. Addressing a forum on the Belarusian and Russian regions, the Kremlin chief said that Moscow was ready to stand by Minsk, describing ties as »timeless and all-weather". Putin has promised to provide Lukashenko with security assistance if the political crisis worsens and gave Belarus a loan of $1.5 billion. © Agence France-Presse

SNA interview: President says COVID catastrophe avoided, seeks national unity gov't

With Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - gearing up for its presidential and legislative elections from October 22-24, SNA is talking to the island nation's political leaders and presidential candidates about their campaigns, their plans
Seychelles News Agency

SNA interview: President says COVID catastrophe avoided, seeks national unity gov't

With Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - gearing up for its presidential and legislative elections from October 22-24, SNA is talking to the island nation's political leaders and presidential candidates about their campaigns, their plans as well as their take on pertinent issues in the country.  This is another interview in a series. Faure, 58, says his wish is to depoliticise the Seychellois society.   SNA: What are your expectations for the upcoming elections? DF: I believe it will be an interesting one. At the same time, it is important to note that it is being done at a time when Seychelles is dealing with the threat posed by COVID-19. The abnormal situation means a different approach to the traditional campaigning we are used to. I say it will be interesting because it will reflect the work I have done as president during the past four years. I believe that under my presidency, I brought about more respect for national institutions. People do not just criticize but there's self-criticism. I think people are now more open about matters that directly impact their lives. They analyse and pay close attention to what is happening in the country and I think they are in a better position to choose among the candidates who will be contesting the presidential and legislative elections. I am confident that the Seychellois people will choose wisely and make a choice that is in their interest and that of the country in general. SNA: Many political parties have expressed their intentions to take part in the elections. Do you see this as being to your advantage? DF: I look at it in a democratic way. I would not have liked it if there were only two political parties. The fact that there are more candidates including independent ones, show that our democracy continues to evolve.   SNA: Your party lost the legislative election for the first time in 2016. Have you been able to identify what went wrong? DF: I think that since losing its majority in the National Assembly, United Seychelles has done its homework. I believe that the candidates being proposed reflects the party's analysis. The party's approach has also changed. United Seychelles understands that the work I do as president should not contradict their political approach. The party has come forward to support my candidature because it saw that I was sincere in my approach when I called for harmony, respect, tolerance, and most importantly national unity. Faure and his running mate Maurice Loustau-Lalanne. (Seychelles News Agency)   SNA: At one point there were talks about the lack of unity within the party. Has the party been able to resolve this issue? DF: Yes. Initially, some people did not understand why I wanted to distance myself from the party to focus on the presidency and let politicians handle the party. When they see what I have done in the past four years, they now understand why I took such an approach. I told them that I will come back to the party at the appropriate time and stand as its candidate and I would prove that all the work I did as president were in the interest of the Seychellois people. It is on this basis that I want the party and its parliamentary candidates to accompany me in this upcoming elections. SNA: Isn't talking about COVID-19 all the time an exaggeration, especially when we talk of economic recovery next year? DF: If we don't talk about COVID-19, then we are not being honest. To be able to handle COVID-19, we must first as a country recognise that it is our worst invisible enemy. It is the cause of today's chaos as it brings a sense of uncertainty. Prior to reopening our borders, we set up a National Integrated Framework to ensure that each key stakeholder knows their role in the fight against this pandemic. Two months ago, before we reopened our airport, the tourism sector thought that tourists will be coming from our four main traditional markets – Germany, France, Italy and UK. Some suggested we should do it at the beginning or end of September. But the majority thought it should be done earlier to create demand in the market. I warned that we can only do our part, but we do not have control over what happens in those countries. It has already happened with France which was initially on the list of low-risk countries now being labelled a high-risk country following an upsurge in the number of cases there. So, we had to sit back down and come up with new ways to attract visitors from these four main countries. We now have specific criteria for these four markets. We understand that the situation in the market is dynamic, but we cannot change our minds incessantly as this may lead to instability in the tourism market. It is therefore important to have a national framework that allows us to consult and discuss. Another concern is the demand for foreign exchange on the domestic market. The Central Bank injects money into the local economy on a weekly basis to ensure our foreign exchange is not affected. Our reserve is for 18 months and so we must make it last that long. We cannot spend everything in 12 months because this will have a direct impact on foreign exchange, which in turn will affect the inflation rate and eventually the cost of living. Because of all these challenges, we need to make everyone understand that COVID-19 is real, and we must face it. People need to understand that this is our priority.   SNA: The measures you are implementing will be until December. What will be your plans after that? DF: I will give the details in my manifesto but the next two years will be dedicated to guaranteeing livelihoods. We must make sure our people are fed and that we secure employment. I have also asked our economists to establish a framework so that businesses that recover can be removed from the list gradually. Had I not taken the decision, things would have been different today with many people out of a job and a serious problem for the banks. We cannot leave people to fend for themselves. I believe we have avoided a catastrophic situation. Faure launched his campaign for the October election in January this year. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY    SNA: Do you think you have managed to save the economy, employment and the people? DF: Had I ignored the seriousness of the situation, like some other countries, we would have had a catastrophic result. I sprang into action when I was contacted by our Public Health Commissioner on March 14. I trusted our health professionals. I asked them to do their job and to communicate with the population at least twice weekly. And on Wednesdays, they are invited to our Cabinet meeting to discuss national policies and their implementation. That is how we saved lives. When we initially announced a three-month assistance between April and June, there were concerns about what would happen after July. I proposed that we set up a company – Seychelles Employee Transition Scheme (SETS) to train the employees who were going to be made redundant. The private sector thought SETS would be in direct competition with them and undermine their work. Now they understand the raison d'etre for having a company like SETS which is a success story.  The company has registered around 600 people who have been made redundant in the private sector. Now there is the opportunity to retrain them so they can be absorbed in the labour market.   SNA: If you are elected, will housing remain a priority for your government? DF: Housing remains one of our priorities because it is a contributor to social problems. However, it is costly. We must suspend other projects if we are to deliver houses to the population. With COVID-19, we must be conscious of what we call balance of payment. More construction will put pressure on our foreign exchange that we need for three main things - medicine, basic commodities, and fuel. We, therefore, need to find a balance between the amount of foreign exchange and the number of projects we have. Maybe we can also attract foreign direct investment.  It will be encouraging if we do but then again, the pace will be slower unlike when we had economic growth. SNA: The economy was good before COVID-19 ensuring stability in various sectors, so now what are you going to offer to the electorates? DF: Once elected I want to set up a government of national unity because I want to depoliticize the Seychellois society. Our constitution is very clear about civic responsibility and engagement of citizens at the national level. It does not mean that we must politicize everything. We need to empower our citizens and consolidate national institutions. We also need a Cabinet that reflects Seychelles' diversity, not one where all its members originate from one political party. I have already shown what type of government I want for Seychelles by choosing a running mate who is not affiliated to any political party.  The only thing is that he fully supports Seychelles. He has spent 45 years in the public service and I am counting on his years of experience. We will have other competent professionals and a few politicians – people that we need to tackle our number one priority which is to save our economy. By the time our economy starts to recover, I would have neared the end of my mandate and I will not stand again. Now the people will choose their president among the five candidates. I want Seychellois to look at me and my credentials and not to judge me by what my parents or grandparents did in the past. I am asking you to trust me, the person who is in the burning kitchen and who didn't run away from the house when it was engulfed in a fire, but rather stayed to make sure the fire did not spread into the bedroom where you are sleeping. Faure said «Once elected I want to set up a government of national unity because I want to depoliticize the Seychellois society.» (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY    SNA: How would you describe the past four years with an opposition majority in the National Assembly? DF: To be honest when the results were announced and subsequently former President Michel said he was stepping down, I expected to inherit something different. Our approach would have to be Seychelles above everything else. I was inspired by the concept that Seychelles is bigger than all of us and I have stood by this belief during the past four years and my presidency has been based on those profound words. When I addressed the National Assembly for the first time, two days after my inauguration, I sincerely felt that my opponents saw in me somebody who was reaching out. And I also felt they were also reaching out because two weeks later I chaired a meeting with the LDS leadership and their executive committee where they asked that we depart from the passing of power. I supported their request which I believed came as a shock to them. So I was prepared to have that kind of discussion. Cracks started to appear when former Speaker Patrick Pillay decided to step down and took to the street to call for my resignation. This was later followed by the whole LDS team taking to the streets and calling for 'Danny Out', and disrespecting the institution and the presidency. This was the start of the tension. I told my Cabinet that this was politics and we should not let it affect the work we were doing for the country. But they wanted to weaken the government as they did not have the two thirds majority to remove me from office. They needed three more people and they approached people on our sides. One subsequently left to join them.   Our work became more and more difficult. Appointment of new ministers was not supported.  I still believed that if I had been given all the ministers, I requested we would have accomplished far more as a country today. Unfortunately, this did not happen because their primary objective was to weaken the government, by frustrating the ministers, calling them in every week and applying pressure. What they did did not serve Seychelles. Luckily, we have some strong women and men who did not falter. That is why I said we have to depoliticise the country.   SNA: You also took the Speaker of the National Assembly to court and that was the first time this ever happened. Do you still feel it was the right decision? DF: I had to. Maybe I should not have been quick about it but rather take the administrative approach as I did afterwards to give public servants their allowance. But we proposed a law that I thought would receive the support of the National Assembly. Unfortunately, they did not support it but rather opted to politicize a regulation that had nothing to do with politics. I took it to court to prove what the government was doing was the right approach but unfortunately, the Judicial Review said the assembly can quash an SI. In the process, I learned a valuable lesson and took the administrative route to pay the public servants. However, we have not resolved this matter. We have created an anomaly in the country's financial structure. One that would have to be addressed soon by the seventh National Assembly. In real politics and leadership, you cannot postpone problems. You have to face it and handle it.   SNA: You once proposed that the Electoral Commission should organise a referendum on whether or not Seychellois living abroad should have the right to vote in national elections. This was later withdrawn. Would you say you are more mature now in your approach? DF: I am more experienced and mature and all these are good for Seychelles. My other advantage is that I have held many portfolios as a minister in the government. This is a huge advantage for a president. My predecessors, for example, France Albert Rene was a Prime Minister and lawyer and came to power in a completely different situation. He headed a revolution. Former President James Michel was a military person with the rank of colonel in the army. He was also the Chief of Staff and his minister of defence was Ogilvy Berlouis. So, he was a military person who became president. Apart from former President James Mancham I am the only one who is a civilian. I am the commander in chief but not military. So, my style of governing is different. I am not influenced by the military way of doing things. I have occupied posts in all the big ministries and I understand their work. I could just retire and relax or become a consultant and sell my ideas to other countries.  I am not prepared to do that because I am grateful to the country that made me who I am today. I'm prepared to give back to the country. I believe that Seychelles needs all its children, especially one who has been tested in all fires - big and small.   SNA: We see you dancing and singing from time to time. Are these the things you enjoy doing in your spare time? DF: My children and I love music. I love singing and dancing especially 'sega' and 'moutya'.   SNA: How important do you think a country's cultural heritage is? DF: It is very important. Seychelles should not become like some Caribbean countries which have been heavily influenced by American music. We do not want to lose our culture ... I feel we should be cautious about allowing other influences into our own music. Technology albeit good, may have a negative impact on our traditional music if we are not careful. So, we each have to play our role to promote our culture and ensure its survival. We must understand that visitors to our shores do not only want to enjoy our environment but our culture as well. A nation with rich culture is an educated nation. Visitors pay to appreciate a country's culture. So we should never destroy our cultural heritage.

Seychelles honours 8 pioneers of tourism, some with stories decades deep

Eight Seychellois who have made tremendous contributions in the island nation's tourism industry were honoured on Monday at the Seychelles Tourism Pioneer Park. Located at the entrance of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) at La Misere, the park was opene
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles honours 8 pioneers of tourism, some with stories decades deep

Eight Seychellois who have made tremendous contributions in the island nation's tourism industry were honoured on Monday at the Seychelles Tourism Pioneer Park. Located at the entrance of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) at La Misere, the park was opened in 2015 by former President James Michel to honour Seychellois who have dedicated their lives to the country's tourism industry. The location is also significant as it is where young people interested in the field are trained. Engraved on ceramic tiles displayed on concrete pillars at the park, the names of the fifth batch of pioneers were revealed during a short ceremony that brought together key figures in tourism, representatives and relatives of the pioneers. The unveiling of the plaque was the first activity lined up for the third edition of the Tourism Festival in Seychelles. Daniel Payet, Frank and Elodia Payet, Jessie and Carl Collie, Norman Medhurst Esslemont, David Joubert, Guy Sinon, William Woodcock and Julien Parcou were honoured for either setting up a tourism establishment or related services «The tourism week that we celebrate every year is a time when we take a glance in the rear mirror so as to understand the history of how tourism -- which has become today our biggest and most important economic activity -- started,» said the tourism minister, Didier Dogley. «There is no other way of understanding it than understanding the history and story of those who were there at the beginning, the pioneers who started setting up and developing the tourism industry,» he continued. The children of some of the pioneers honoured together key figures in tourism, representatives. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  Some of the pioneers honoured have paved the path for their sons, daughters, and grandchildren who have continued working in the industry. «My father started tourism on Praslin, La Digue and surrounding islands. At that time, there weren't many roads and he started with a motorbike. Also, back then, there wasn't an airport on Praslin, hence he started with the first cruise ship that went to Praslin,» said Daniella Payet-Alis, daughter of Daniel Payet. Payet-Allis' father opened the Britannia restaurant in 1963 which was extended to include four rooms in the early 1970s.  In 1972 he opened Dan Payet Tours where he worked closely with his daughter, Daniella who would conduct tours for and with him. Daniella is the founder of the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF) which strives to make Seychelles an international best practice example for sustainable tourism, and the secretary of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA). Two other local hoteliers -- Frank and Elodia Payet -- started their guesthouse Rose Cottage at Pointe aux Sel in 1969 and later moved to Praslin to establish Le Duc de Praslin at Côte D'Or. Their son, Robert Payet, who is today the owner of the establishment on Praslin, told SNA that he is «happy that they have been honoured for the hard work they did and for the foundation they built for me.» He asked the youth of Seychelles to persevere in the industry as it takes time to reach a high-level position in tourism. «There are very few Seychellois who are general managers in hotels in Seychelles. Most of them are foreigners and this is quite a shame. There is prospect and hope, however we need to take the time to get to where we want. It is a sector that requires time to get the necessary experience to attain certain positions,» said Robert Payet. Tourism is the top economic contributor for Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

Macron accuses Lebanon leaders of 'betrayal' over govt failure

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday upped the pressure on Lebanon's leaders to form a government in the wake of the Beirut port blast, saying their lack of progress represented a «collective betrayal». Lebanon remains mired in political ec
Seychelles News Agency

Macron accuses Lebanon leaders of 'betrayal' over govt failure

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday upped the pressure on Lebanon's leaders to form a government in the wake of the Beirut port blast, saying their lack of progress represented a «collective betrayal». Lebanon remains mired in political economic crisis with no end in sight after its premier-designate stepped down on Saturday following the failure of talks to form a government, despite intense international scrutiny. At a rare news conference devoted to Lebanon, Macron launched an extraordinary diatribe against a Lebanese political elite who he said had looked to their own selfish interests rather than those of their country. «They have decided to betray this commitment (to form a government),» Macron told reporters, declaring he was «ashamed» of the country's leaders. «I see that the Lebanese authorities and political forces chose to favour their partisan and individual interests to the detriment of the general interest of the country,» he added. Mustapha Adib's resignation on Saturday ended efforts to hammer out a reformist government in the wake of a colossal August 4 explosion in Beirut that killed 190 people, injured thousands and ravaged large parts of the capital. Political parties had pledged in early September, during a visit to Lebanon by Macron, to form within two weeks a cabinet of independent ministers tasked with ending the country's economic malaise. Macron has visited the former French protectorate twice since the blast, meeting Hezbollah representatives during his last trip as he sought to bring all political sides behind a roadmap to lift the country out of crisis. In August, he chaired a video conference that saw world leaders pledge more than 250 million euros ($295 million) for the country. - 'Collective betrayal' - Macron said none of the leaders of Lebanon -- where in the wake of the 1975-1990 civil war power is traditionally shared between Shiites, Sunnis and Christians -- had been up to the task. «All of them bet on the worst case scenario for the sake of saving themselves, the interests of their family or their clan,» he seethed. «I therefore have decided to take note of this collective betrayal and the refusal of Lebanese officials to engage in good faith.» In Washington, a State Department spokesperson expressed «disappointed in Lebanon's political class for not prioritising the people over petty politics... »Regrettably, notwithstanding the financial crisis and the port explosion, it remains business as usual in Beirut,« the spokesperson added. Under the Lebanese constitution, the president must now hold further talks to nominate another prime minister to form a government, but it is a process that risks dragging out and even failing. »I don't expect a government anytime soon,« Sami Atallah, who heads the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies, told AFP in Beirut. »There was a chance, there was a lot of pressure to form a government and it didn't happen,« he said. Adib's efforts were hampered by the claims of two Shiite formations, the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, and its ally Amal, led by parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who demanded the finance portfolio. According to observers, the Shiite allies dug in their heels after recent US sanctions were imposed on a minister of the Amal party and two companies affiliated with Hezbollah. In a warning to Hezbollah, Macron said the group should »not think it is more powerful than it is« »It must show that it respects all the Lebanese -- and in recent days, it has clearly shown the opposite,« said Macron. - 'Last chance' - The roadmap for political and economic reform set out on his last visit to Beirut on September 1 was still on the table, but time was running out, he added. »It is now up to Lebanese officials to seize this last chance themselves.« The UN envoy to Lebanon, Jan Kubis, on Saturday had reacted with disbelief to the failure to form a government: »Politicians, have you really scuppered this unique chance created by France?" Even before the devastating Beirut port blast, the country was mired in its worst economic crisis in decades, its entrenched political class facing widespread popular discontent. After Lebanon defaulted for the first time on its sovereign debt in March, it turned to the International Monetary Fund, but those talks soon stalled. Many fear the country is headed from bad to worse, with daily novel coronavirus infection figures on the rise and increasing security incidents reported in recent weeks. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles now has Marine Spatial Plan policy to guide development, conservation

Seychelles now has its own Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) policy that will provide a road map for marine planning and the guiding principles to inform the decision-making process for development and conservation. Prior to its endorsement by Seychelles' cabinet o
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles now has Marine Spatial Plan policy to guide development, conservation

Seychelles now has its own Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) policy that will provide a road map for marine planning and the guiding principles to inform the decision-making process for development and conservation. Prior to its endorsement by Seychelles' cabinet of ministers this week, the draft of the policy, which was completed in 2019, went through an international peer review by people experienced in MSP governance and marine policy, Helena Sims – the project manager - told SNA. Sims said the comments from the review have been addressed by the MSP Steering committee.    Seychelles’ Marine Spatial Plan is a government-led initiative following the award-winning debt-for-nature swap, which was formalised through the creation of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust in 2016.   MSP is the first comprehensive marine plan in the western Indian Ocean and is being facilitated by the Nature Conservancy which provided funding, technical design and leadership.     Sims added that although there are various existing laws, international agreements, and regulations governing the management of all waters in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, “there has previously not been a comprehensive, public, and participatory process to plan for sustainable development and integrate large-scale marine conservation in the context of a changing climate that will also ensure ecological protection for years to come.”   As of March, this year the island nation has legally designated 30 percent of its territorial waters as marine protected areas.   “The Marine plan is for the entire EEZ. The stakeholder discussions for Zone 3 – multiple-use areas that is the remaining 70 percent of the EEZ and management plans for Zone 1 and 2 are postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; notice will be provided on when meetings will resume,” Sims told SNA.   The new protected areas are split into two zones. There are High Biodiversity Protection Areas (Zone 1) where almost no extractive human activities are allowed. These Zone 1 areas include one of the world’s most ecologically important habitats, the waters around the Aldabra Group – a UNESCO Heritage site.   This is home to the Indian Ocean’s only dugongs, the world’s second-largest raised atoll, regionally significant populations of seabirds, and critically-endangered turtles. It is on migratory routes for calving Southern Ocean humpback whales and includes the highest fish densities in Seychelles.   There are also Medium Biodiversity Protection and Sustainable Use Areas (Zone 2), designed to conserve natural ecosystems while allowing some economic activities, including fishing, tourism charters, renewable energy, and others. Significant new conditions will regulate businesses operating in these areas. Activities are allowed so that those economically important enterprises continue to have the marine resources they rely on.   The designation of the Marine Protection Areas and the drafting of ‘allowable activities’ is being seen as what can be considered as the most comprehensive process of consultation of its kind in the country with over 50 workshops. This was to ensure the largest number and diversity of people, businesses, and institutions provided information and input, and ultimately their support, to the planning.  

European airlines cutting fares to woo back passengers

With the coronavirus crisis putting a chill on travel, European airlines are reducing fares to attract passengers and fill the planes that are still flying. Travel restrictions adopted by many countries to stem the spread of the disease have clobbered airlin
Seychelles News Agency

European airlines cutting fares to woo back passengers

With the coronavirus crisis putting a chill on travel, European airlines are reducing fares to attract passengers and fill the planes that are still flying. Travel restrictions adopted by many countries to stem the spread of the disease have clobbered airlines, bringing air traffic to a near halt in the spring. And while traffic picked up during the summer, it is now falling off again. According to Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic in Europe, traffic has been slowing over the past couple of weeks, and is now 54 percent below its comparable level last year. A European airline trade association has put August traffic even lower, at just 30 percent of 2019 levels. Eurocontrol is now more pessimistic about a recovery for the sector. In the spring it had expected traffic to be 30 percent below 2019 levels in October, but it now sees a 57-percent drop. While the pandemic has left airlines starved for cash, they have begun to cut fare prices. According to ForwardKeys, a company which analyses the tourism market, airlines trimmed fares from Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands to destinations in southern Europe by 15 percent in August compared with the same period last year. In a study released Thursday it found that prices on some routes were down by more than one third. - 'Entice travellers' - «You have to entice travellers to return to flying and price is a factor,» said Reginald Otten, deputy managing director for France at budget airline easyJet. He said the airline had managed to reopen some routes during the summer and the planes it flew were nearly full. «But we are nevertheless around 30 percent of capacity, which is a very, very low figure, and the summer is the most important, most popular (time) for people to travel,» he told AFP. Lower prices also stimulate traffic, according to Eddie Wilson, head of Ryanair DAC, one of the two firms which operate flights under the Ryanair brand. Ryanair, which has used a low-cost model to become one of Europe's biggest airlines, this week launched a brief buy-one-get-one-free promotion. «At some stage you can't sit there and look out of the window and hope that things will be alright and wait for the politicians to do something,» he said. Beyond cutting prices, airlines can and are focusing on their most profitable routes. But the reimposition of travel restrictions and tighter quarantine and testing measures could quickly undo their planning and efforts. European airlines earlier this month urged national capitals to coordinate measures to limit the spread of the virus, saying the current patchwork of restrictions is hobbling a return to regular travel around the EU. Airlines are responding to the drop in demand for travel «with the tools they have in hand: reducing capacity and promotional offers, but they have no control over the evolution of the pandemic and policies on restricting travel,» said Oliver Ponti, vice president of ForwardKeys. «The effect of low prices will thus be limited, especially as consumers remain worried about their plans being disrupted and rapid reimbursement of their tickets in case of cancellation,» he added. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' rare coco de mer nut on sale to help struggling park system

The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) plans to hold several sales of coco de mer to generate revenue now that income from the tourism sector has decreased due to COVID-19, said a top official. The first sale took place recently at the Botanical Gard
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' rare coco de mer nut on sale to help struggling park system

The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) plans to hold several sales of coco de mer to generate revenue now that income from the tourism sector has decreased due to COVID-19, said a top official. The first sale took place recently at the Botanical Gardens where around 100 coco de mer nuts, which ate endemic to Seychelles, were on display. The next sale will take place in October. Speaking to SNA, the chief executive of SNPA, Selby Remy, said travel restrictions between March and July greatly affected business and that national parks, such as Curieuse and Veuve Reserve on La Digue, had to remain close as they both depend on foreign visitors. Despite the reopening of the airport on August 1, travel is yet to pick up and currently there are fewer visitors and flights coming to Seychelles than normal. «Although we are not getting revenues from tourism, we still need to fund other operations, so we decided to look at other ways to raise money to compensate for the loss of revenue from tourism,» said Remy. The Authority which is responsible for all the marine and terrestrial national parks of Seychelles also wanted to make the nuts accessible to the public. Remy said having a nut on display in a Seychellois home «is considered a luxury and part of our heritage so we want everybody to get a chance to buy one.» (File photo: Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY «The coco de mer nuts are quite expensive and you can rarely find one that is less than SCR2,500 ($139) on the local market. We wanted to make it more affordable, so our prices range between SCR1,800 ($100) and SCR4,000 ($223),» explained Remy. He said having a nut on display in a Seychellois home «is considered a luxury and part of our heritage so we want everybody to get a chance to buy one.» The damaged nuts which were selling at lower prices are used for crafts. The nuts on sale were collected from the Praslin national park and Curieuse island, which are managed by the SNPA. The authority had planned to raise around an SCR 100,000 ($5,582) in their first sale but only collected around SCR70,000 ($3,900). The coco de mer, otherwise known as Lodoicea, is the world's largest nut and endemic to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The species is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species The nut grows naturally in the Vallee de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage located on Praslin, the second-most populated island which is managed by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF). It also grows on neighbouring Curieuse Island.

Cage of rocks makes a sturdy wall, Seychelles Institute for Technology students learn

The technology of the gabion - a cage, cylinder, or box filled with rocks, concrete, sand or soil for use in civil engineering, road building, and landscaping – can be taught at the Seychelles Institute for Technology (SIT) should the demand be there. The
Seychelles News Agency

Cage of rocks makes a sturdy wall, Seychelles Institute for Technology students learn

The technology of the gabion - a cage, cylinder, or box filled with rocks, concrete, sand or soil for use in civil engineering, road building, and landscaping – can be taught at the Seychelles Institute for Technology (SIT) should the demand be there. The director of the institute told SNA on Wednesday that this form of technology introduced in Seychelles two years ago by the Eco Based Adaptation (EBA) Project is proving its worth with students studying construction at the SIT. «In future, these students are aiming for a career in the field of construction either by becoming a mason or a contractor and the gabion technology is the way forward as it has proven to be a cost-effective, durable and ecofriendly method,» said Barbe. Around 40 students have benefited under the project which is now building its third water reservoir using the gabion technique. Barbe said now that the project is proving to be a solution that adapts well to water issues in the islands, he hopes that people and the authority realises the benefits of the gabion which can also be used to build retaining walls. «We are willing to introduce this technology as a unit in our construction programme currently being taught at the school if the demand is there,» explained Barbe. The director said that in past visits to Reunion – a French department in the Indian Ocean – he had seen many projects using gabion. These on-site training are seen as a way to build local capacity in constructing gabion rock barrage as an ecosystem-based approach to water storage in Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Johan Mendez, the consultant of the project said the agreement between the project and the institute is proving to be a fruitful one. A first-ever gabion rock barrage was constructed at the Bougainville wetland in the district of Takamaka. (EBA project)  Photo License: CC-BY  «We agreed to offer an outdoor classroom to the masonry students so they can have a practical experience in gabion mounting and assembling. Students, once they know what is the purpose and the final product of the construction, they are enthusiastic about the project and the gabion alternative,» explained Mendez. Mendez added that since 2018, EBA has restored two wetlands and is now undertaking the third one in the southern district of Baie Lazare on the main island.  The areas where the water barrages are constructed are designated for agriculture including livestock production. «The project aims to rehabilitate the upland wetland to enhance our water resources storage capacity. Those were discovered during a mapping exercise in 2016 and at that time eight wetlands were identified for rehabilitation,» said Mendez. According to him, the restorations are normally done during the drought season, and the third restoration is expected to complete by November. Once completed the capacity of the wetland will reach around 15,000 m3 (15 million litres) of water. Mendez said that the new gabion barrages around the wetlands are ensuring constant availability of water in these areas. «Those filtering dams increase our storage capacity but they also play an important role by harnessing the resource instead of letting the water flow down to the sea. The water is used for infiltration in the soil which then regulates the river flow downstream guaranteeing a constant water supply for the river users in the area,» said the consultant. An SIT student at the site of the third barrage that SNA spoke to, Shaun Fanchette, said that he is enthusiastic to learn this new technology which he did not know about. «I am a second-year student and studying to be a mason. This is something that does not use cement and will be cheaper, and when you look at the end product it looks very strong,» said Fanchette, adding that it will be at the students' advantage if this is taught at the institute.

African court requests I.Coast ex-president Gbagbo be added to electoral roll

Ivory Coast should allow former president Laurent Gbagbo, who has been barred from running in next month's key presidential election, to vote in the poll, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights said Friday. The court, established by African Union mem
Seychelles News Agency

African court requests I.Coast ex-president Gbagbo be added to electoral roll

Ivory Coast should allow former president Laurent Gbagbo, who has been barred from running in next month's key presidential election, to vote in the poll, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights said Friday. The court, established by African Union members in 2004, asked Ivory Coast to «take all necessary steps to immediately remove all obstacles» preventing Gbagbo from being added to the electoral roll. Ivory Coast withdrew its recognition of the court's jurisdiction in April this year. Gbagbo, who was president from 2000 to 2010, is not on the electoral roll which was updated this year, and thus cannot vote or be a candidate in the October 31 election. The Constitutional Council, Ivory Coast's top court, has rejected 40 of 44 applications to contest the election, which is taking place against a backdrop of extreme tension. Those barred include Gbagbo, 75, and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, 47, both of whom played key roles in the crisis that engulfed the country after disputed elections in 2010. The Ivorian court, however, accepted an application by President Alassane Ouattara, 78, who is seeking a third term despite criticism that this sidesteps constitutional limits. Gbagbo was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague after he was cleared in January 2019 of crimes against humanity. He is living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against the ICC ruling. - 'Provocation' - His candidacy was rejected by the Constitutional Council on the grounds that he was handed a 20-year jail term by an Ivorian court last November over the looting of the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the post-election crisis. The African Court, based in Arusha in Tanzania, also said Gbagbo's conviction should not be included on his judicial record until it had time to deliver a full judgement. On September 15, the African Court handed down a verdict in Soro's favour, saying Ivory Coast should also «immediately remove all obstacles» preventing him from competing in the ballot. Soro provided military help that enabled Ouattara to come to power after a civil war that erupted when Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in the 2010 election. More than 3,000 people died in the fighting. Soro, who lives today in France, was barred from contesting the election on the grounds of a 20-year sentence, also in absentia, for alleged embezzlement of public funds, handed down in April. Ouattara, has blasted attempts by Gbagbo and Soro to contest the presidential election as «provocation» and said one of them belongs behind bars. «Soro, like Gbagbo, was excluded because he has a criminal record,» Ouattara told the French magazine Paris Match. «Each of them are perfectly aware that their candidacies are based on provocation... Guillaume Soro doesn't deserve to be on the campaign trail but in prison,» he said. «This young man, drunk on money and power, has simply lost his head.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles to amend financial sector laws that put it on the EU's taxation blacklist

Seychelles will soon send to the National Assembly for approval amended laws governing the financial sector with the aim to have the island nation removed from the European Union (EU) taxation blacklist, said a top government official. The Secretary of Stat
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles to amend financial sector laws that put it on the EU's taxation blacklist

Seychelles will soon send to the National Assembly for approval amended laws governing the financial sector with the aim to have the island nation removed from the European Union (EU) taxation blacklist, said a top government official. The Secretary of State for Finance, Patrick Payet, told a press conference on Friday that Seychelles anticipated being removed from the taxation blacklist by February. «However, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was released in April and it downgraded Seychelles from being largely compliant to partially compliant on four subjects,» said Payet. He said that the authorities «have spoken to OECD and we made them aware that we have been told by EU that as long as we are a partially compliant country, Seychelles will not be removed on its taxation blacklist as the two organisations are working together.» Seychelles has asked OECD to conduct a supplementary review on the reform done in its financial sector before the end of the year to get a new placement. The archipelago in the western Indian Ocean was included on the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions among 12 nations because of concern that its policy environment supports tax fraud or evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering. The list was first established in December 2017 and offers guidance on European investment and funding in other countries. Payet said that Seychelles has already corrected some of the existing deficiencies following the enactment of the new Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, 2020 and Beneficial Ownership (BO) Act, 2020 in March. «There were still two issues that remained to be addressed and this had to do with the cooperativeness to share our tax and accounting information to other tax offices requesting it,» he added. The island nation did not have a unit set up specifically within the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) to share the information in a timely manner and since 2016, requests for information by other tax institutions have increased. Subsequently, the Seychelles' government decided to amend the laws governing the financial sector, which include the Limited Partnership Act, the Foundations Act, the International Business Companies Act and a new Trust Bill. «Under the new amendments, the tax information should be kept in Seychelles and should be readily available when requested. Secondly, we have added a provision that will allow the financial service authority to monitor and prevent companies which have been removed or dissolved to operate under the name Seychelles,» said Payet.  The EU decision follows that of France, which recently added Seychelles to its own list for not providing adequate information on some French offshore entities operating in the island nation's jurisdiction. That provoked alarm among financial authorities in the island. The inclusion of Seychelles registered companies on the US sanctions list due to links with Iran has also raised alarms. «We see the new amendments as a positive step in addressing the issues raised by our colleagues and as an instrument that will allow us to take a comprehensive and unified approach to positively address our deficiencies,» Payet said. The new regulations will be presented before the Seychelles National Assembly for approval when it resumes after the legislative election in October.

Whale rescuers face grim task in Australia mass stranding

After days wading through chilly waters, surrounded by the pained cries of hundreds of stranded whales on Australia's south coast, rescuers faced the grim task Friday of disposing of the carcasses. In «one hell of an effort», a crew of around 10
Seychelles News Agency

Whale rescuers face grim task in Australia mass stranding

After days wading through chilly waters, surrounded by the pained cries of hundreds of stranded whales on Australia's south coast, rescuers faced the grim task Friday of disposing of the carcasses. In «one hell of an effort», a crew of around 100 conservationists and skilled volunteers saved 94 of the 470 animals stranded on Tasmania's rugged western seaboard -- Australia's largest-ever mass stranding, Tasmanian environment department marine biologist Kris Carlyon told media. «With this one, we are dealing with something unique, we haven't dealt with a stranding of this type before,» Carlyon said, adding the offshore rescue of such a large number was particularly unusual. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife lowered its estimate of the death toll from 380 to 350 on Friday, and rescuers remained hopeful they could save up to 20 more of the creatures. But the focus was shifting to how to dispose of the carcasses as quickly as possible over fears the decomposing corpses could damage the environment in Macquarie Harbour, drift into the paths of boats or attract sharks. Several methods were being trialled for moving the dead whales -- including towing them out to sea before cutting them loose to sink in deeper water. «They're hard moments, when there's so much to go and it just feels defeating, it feels never-ending,» Wildcare volunteer Josh Gourlay told AFP. «When you see what it looked like before and what it is now and you think -- actually... we've done really well.» With rescuers braving relentless rains, strong winds and cold waters for hours daily to try and save the struggling animals, he admitted the effort had taken its toll on him. «You almost need a whale's thick skin to be out there as well.» - 'We can't save them all' - Pilot whales -- which can grow up to six metres (20 feet) long and weigh a tonne -- are known to be highly social. Some animals have resisted rescue or tried to return to their family after being freed, becoming beached for a second time. The causes of mass strandings remain unknown despite scientists studying the phenomenon for decades. Despite some restrandings, there were hopes the surviving whales would recover from the stressful event, Carlyon said. «Ideally, they will regroup, they will reform those bonds, and they'll get on with things.» Gourlay and his fiancee, Corey Young, said crews were still positive despite the physical and emotional burden of the rescue. «Hearing the crying, that is probably the most distressing part,» he said, adding that the anguished noises from calves separated from their mothers were hard to shake. But Young said the teams, mostly made up of people accustomed to helping animals in tragic circumstances, were rallying around each other. «We can't save them all, that's for sure... you've got to be positive.» © Agence France-Presse

Filling tourist void, students aid scientific studies on Seychelles' Aride island

Seychelles' remote Aride island is using more students as volunteers to continue its scientific monitoring programmes which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Island Conservation Society (ICS) which manages Aride, a nature reserve, said in a pr
Seychelles News Agency

Filling tourist void, students aid scientific studies on Seychelles' Aride island

Seychelles' remote Aride island is using more students as volunteers to continue its scientific monitoring programmes which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Island Conservation Society (ICS) which manages Aride, a nature reserve, said in a press release that the island is struggling with a loss of tourist revenue and the departure of many volunteers. «One positive to arise, however, is the expansion of an internship programme between ICS and Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA),» said the Society. When Aride lost a majority of its volunteers, professor Michael Barbe of the Maritime Academy «responded to the call for assistance and began sending more students than in previous years. Thanks to this collaborative internship program, Aride's scientific monitoring programs have been able to continue,» added the Society. Aride Island is the northernmost granitic island in the Seychelles. Over 1.2 million seabirds regularly breed on the island including the world's largest colony of lesser noddy, the largest Seychelles population of roseate tern and the world's largest colony of tropical shearwater.   Bhageerutty together with Lesperance arrived on Aride in August. (Island Conservation Society) Photo License: CC-BY  Two volunteers under the internship, Kiran Bhageerutty and Jean-Yves Lesperance, arrived on Aride in August and both are working towards an Advanced Certificate in Fishery Science and Fish Technology. Some of the work that Bhageerutty and Lesperance have been involved in includes monitoring Aride's population of Seychelles Magpie Robin, analysing invertebrate pitfall traps, patrolling the beach for nesting sea turtles, and cleaning up beach debris. Bhageerutty says that he «enjoyed monitoring the Seychelles Magpie Robins as well as rescuing seabirds from Pisonia grandis seeds. These seeds are very sticky and when a bird accidentally gets entangled, it cannot free itself and will die if left unassisted. This phenomenon has earned this tree the nickname bird-catcher tree.» Lesperance's interest in conservation comes from seeing what happens when conservation is not a priority and how an area can thrive with proper management. «This experience has provided a hands-on opportunity to see what it takes to work in the field,» he said. Aride island is an important source of biodiversity and consequently the wildlife needs to be monitored and demographic trends analyzed and researched to understand the health of the island ecosystem. The most important work on the island is the monitoring of species and populations of birds, marine life, vegetation, and wildlife in general that can make ecosystem dynamics understandable. 

Zimbabwe leader tells UN that sanctions hurt development

Zimbabwe's leader on Thursday appealed at the United Nations for support to end Western sanctions, saying that they set back development goals. In an address to the UN General Assembly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pointed to a recent UN report that found a
Seychelles News Agency

Zimbabwe leader tells UN that sanctions hurt development

Zimbabwe's leader on Thursday appealed at the United Nations for support to end Western sanctions, saying that they set back development goals. In an address to the UN General Assembly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pointed to a recent UN report that found a negative impact from sanctions on Zimbabwe as a whole. «These are a breach of international law and compromise Zimbabwe's capacity to implement and achieve Sustainable Development Goals,» including eradication of hunger, he said. «We therefore call on the General Assembly to strongly pronounce itself against these unilateral illegal sanctions,» he said. Zimbabwe has faced Western sanctions since the early 2000s but they have been focused primarily on the leaders, accusing them of corruption and gross mismanagement of an economy that has seen eye-boggling inflation rates. But a report in November by the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, said that sanctions contributed to a poor climate for business and investment. «These economic sanctions worsen the existing inequalities and do not have any actual impact on their supposed targets,» she wrote in the report, which found that 60 percent of Zimbabweans were food insecure. Mnangagwa took over in 2017 following the ouster of veteran leader Robert Mugabe -- who was known for his caustic denunciations of the West in fora such as the UN General Assembly. But brief hopes for an improvement of relations subsided as Zimbabwean authorities under Mnangagwa have violently suppressed protests. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles rescinds recent ban on red snapper exports

Seychelles will not ban the exportation of red snapper, a measure that had been considered to make the species more affordable for locals, a top government official said on Thursday. The Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Charles Bastienne, told a press
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles rescinds recent ban on red snapper exports

Seychelles will not ban the exportation of red snapper, a measure that had been considered to make the species more affordable for locals, a top government official said on Thursday. The Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Charles Bastienne, told a press conference that with the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the fisheries sector and the Seychelles' economy it was important to review certain decisions made. The export ban was announced by President Danny Faure in February and was to take effect in April. «At that point when the decision was made many businesses like hotels and restaurants were still functioning and they were the main buyers. With a drop in the number of tourists visiting Seychelles since March and with many of these businesses closed down due to COVID-19, our market to sell the fish has reduced,» said Bastienne. Red snapper -- called 'bourzwa' in Creole -- is considered a delicacy in local Creole food and overfishing of the species over the last decade has gradually pushed the price up to its current state as one of the most prized fish in Seychelles.  According to the Ministry of Fisheries, there are about 50 tonnes of red snapper being exported annually. Bastienne said that the authorities will look into implementing a quota for the exportation of this species. Although the ban had not come into force, the Minister said that there was no exportation of red snapper after the proposed due date of date April 15. «We know that because to export, you need to be issued with a catch certificate from the Seychelles Fishing Authority. And we have checked and no certificate has been given since then,» said Bastienne. He added that although the doors for export have re-opened, it doesn't mean that it will go back as it was before. «We feel that it will take time due to complications in other countries. We have also observed that there is a limitation in cargo flights, thus, hindering export,» he added. Meanwhile, the fisheries authorities in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, is working on regulation to ensure the protection of the species. 

Mauritius takes stock of oil spill two months later

On July 25, a cargo ship loaded with thousands of tonnes of fuel ran aground off Mauritius, leading to the worst environmental disaster ever witnessed in the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago. Two months later, Mauritius is still taking stock of the damage, afte
Seychelles News Agency

Mauritius takes stock of oil spill two months later

On July 25, a cargo ship loaded with thousands of tonnes of fuel ran aground off Mauritius, leading to the worst environmental disaster ever witnessed in the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago. Two months later, Mauritius is still taking stock of the damage, after its rich fishing grounds and sensitive marine habitats were befouled with oil. - How bad was the spill? - The MV Wakashio, a Japanese-owned but Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier, was sailing from Singapore to Brazil with 3,800 tonnes of fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel onboard when it struck a reef off the southeast coast of Mauritius. More than 1,000 tonnes of oil seeped from a gash in the hull before it was announced on August 13 that salvage crews had removed all the remaining fuel from tankers beneath the hold. «Relatively speaking, it was not a big oil spill,» said Sue Ware, a marine scientist from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, a UK research institute. By comparison the ABT Summer, a Liberian-registered tanker, was carrying 260,000 tonnes of crude when it exploded off the coast of Angola in 1991, burning for three days before sinking with its cargo. «The amount of oil is relatively small but in Mauritius it's a very key area for biodiversity,» Ware said. The accident occurred near two ecologically-critical sites: Blue Bay, known for its coral gardens and Pointe D'Esny, which hosts a fragile mangrove forest critical in the fight against global warming. Also a short distance away is Ile Aux Aigrettes, a nature reserve home to endemic bird and reptile species. About 50 melon-headed whales washed up dead off Mauritius at the end of August, infuriating the public, but a link with the spill has not been established. - Will there be long-term damage? - Conservationists are particularly concerned about the long-term ecological damage to the island's marine ecosystems. «There is visible pollution, and invisible pollution. Some of the oil doesn't float but dissolves in the sea. The fish eat it, the coral absorbs it, it goes into the ecosystems,» environmental expert Sunil Dowarkasing said. The oil itself is known as VLSFO -- a fuel oil less viscous and lower in sulphur than conventional fuel oils. But this newer generation oil is poorly understood in terms of its environmental impact, said Ware. «They are quite new to us, compared to the heavy fuel oils that we mostly used to deal with... That is why we need to study this, and this will certainly help for future oil spills elsewhere.» - How is the clean-up progressing? - Thousands of volunteers marshalled along the coast in the early days wearing rubber boots and gloves, scrubbing the shoreline clean and stringing together makeshift cordons to contain the oily tide. Since then the government has identified 26 affected sites around the coastline and commissioned the clean-up operation to French company Le Floch Depollution and Greek outfit Polyeco SA. «The work is progressing satisfactorily, but it is a very delicate clean-up operation, we must make sure that it is done in a methodical and systematic way,» Environment Minister Kavydass Ramano said. The clean-up is divided into four phases, and some sites are already in the second or third stage. The ship eventually split in two and the bow and hull of the wreck were towed 15 kilometres (nine miles) offshore and sunk. The stern remains on the reef and the government expects to announce a contract to remove it within days, Ramano said. - What is the impact on tourism? - Mauritius is an ecotourism hotspot but the immediate impact of the oil spill on this sector has been difficult to establish as its borders have been closed since March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic. «It is absolutely necessary that this region is restored so that (tourist) operators and villagers are not the victims,» Ramano said. The island nation of 1.3 million people plans to reopen its borders in phases from October 1. - What of the political fallout? - On August 29, between 50,000 and 75,000 people protested the government's response to the disaster -- numbers not seen on the country's streets since 1982. A second rally on September 12 brought another 20,000 people out to Mahebourg, a fishing village near the spill site. Frustration over the handling of the oil spill has heaped pressure on Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, whose administration has been dogged by allegations of corruption and nepotism. «There is a general feeling of dissatisfaction, and Wakashio was the last straw,» said Dowarkasing, a former MP. © Agence France-Presse

Madagascar's lemurs take a breather as tourism struggles

Perched on a branch, the lemur blinks back intently at a group of gawking tourists disrupting a coronavirus-induced spell of tranquillity outside Madagascar's Andasibe national park. The rainforest and animals thrived during five months of movement restricti
Seychelles News Agency

Madagascar's lemurs take a breather as tourism struggles

Perched on a branch, the lemur blinks back intently at a group of gawking tourists disrupting a coronavirus-induced spell of tranquillity outside Madagascar's Andasibe national park. The rainforest and animals thrived during five months of movement restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the Indian Ocean island nation. But struggling tourist facilities breathed a small sigh of relief at the start of September when local nature-lovers were finally allowed to travel to the reserve, a four-hour drive east of the capital Antananarivo. They now eagerly await the resumption of international flights, which bring visitors from across the world eager to catch a glimpse of the island's emblematic primates. In the meantime, Malagasy families are using new-found freedoms to escape the city smog and admire their natural heritage. «During lockdown, I really felt like leaving the capital and thought we should seize the opportunity to visit new places,» says Linda Maminiaina, 22, admiring the lemurs with her parents and siblings. A black and white Indri Indri, the largest known lemur, shrieked in the background. The species is critically endangered and a rare sighting. «These lemurs are not in a cage but in their natural habitat,» Linda's 20-year-old sister Prisca exclaims. While the family gasps and points excitedly at the animals, French hotel owner Anouk Izouard still deplores the lack of visitors. «The season is usually in full swing by now and we should be 90 percent booked,» says Izouard, who also manages a restaurant and a small private reserve. Local visitors are only using five to 10 percent of the facilities, she added. Most of her 100-odd employees remain out of work. Coronavirus and its economic impact have also caused damage to the rainforest itself. Ranger Pascal Pierre says local communities had started chopping down trees and selling them as firewood to make ends meet. It is the first time he has ever come across this in over 30 years as head of the Andasibe forest guide association. «Some also cut wood for construction, they are illegally exploiting the forest to earn money,» Pierre lamented. Logging could destroy the natural habitat of lemurs and other unique fauna Madagascar has to offer. The country is a biodiversity hotspot and preservation of its fragile ecosystem is mainly funded by tourism, which accounts for around seven percent of economic activity. Almost all of Madagascar's 100-odd lemur species are red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), threatened mainly by deforestation and hunting. Over 30 are classed as «critically endangered», the IUCN's last category before «extinction». © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' election by the numbers: 3 presidential, 75 National Assembly candidates

The presidential and legislative elections in Seychelles will take place October 22-24. Three candidates will contest the presidential elections and 75 candidates are vying for 26 seats in the National Assembly. SNA presents a summary of the candidates, thei
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' election by the numbers: 3 presidential, 75 National Assembly candidates

The presidential and legislative elections in Seychelles will take place October 22-24. Three candidates will contest the presidential elections and 75 candidates are vying for 26 seats in the National Assembly. SNA presents a summary of the candidates, their party and their districts. Each National Assembly district has at least two candidates, and two -- English River and Au Cap -- have four candidates.   Presidential Candidates Wavel Ramkalawan – Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) Danny Faure – United Seychelles (US) Alain St Ange – One Seychelles (Seychelles News Agency/Wikipedia) Photo License: CC-BY     Candidates for the National Assembly   Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) Anse Aux Pins Clifford Andre Anse Boileau ARISSOL, Philip, Michael       Anse Etoile ROMAIN, Georges, Yvon Anse Royale LARUE, Flory, Alice Au Cap SAMYNADIN, Huguette, Kelly           Baie Lazare ADELAIDE, Francois, Benjamin Baie Ste Anne Praslin PORICE,Barbara, Doyace, Dill Beau Vallon HOAREAU, John, Michel Bel Air LOIZEAU, Norbert, Francis Bel Ombre ARISSOL, Sandy, John Cascade MONTHY, Philip, Constantin English River LABONTE, Andy, Michel Glacis ESPARON, Regina, Lucia Grand Anse Mahe  WILLIAM, Winslow, Waven Grand Anse Praslin  WOODCOCK, Wavel, Joseph Inner Islands     MICOCK, Loncey, Louis          Les Mamelles    GEORGES, Victor, Derek, Errol, Bernard Mont Buxton HENRIE, Gervais Mont Fleuri ROUCOU, Michel, Michael Perseverance BASTIENNE, Desheila, Andrine Plaisance LABROSSE, Richard, Marc       Pointe Larue BISTOQUET, Rosie, Anne Port Glaud HERMITTE, Godfra, Henry Roche Caiman   LETOURDI, Therese, Jany St. Louis NAIDU, Sudharsan, Sathyanarayanan Takamaka MONDON, Michel, Terence, Hugues   (Linyon Demokratik Seselwa) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   One Seychelles Anse Aux Pins ST. ANGE, Joella, Cherylle, Veronique Anse Boileau  VIDOT, Lucia, Dorina, Merose Anse Etoile  ERNESTA, Ralph, Joseph Anse Royale ALPHONSE, Randy, Keneth Au Cap ANTHONY, Andre, Hervey  Baie Ste Anne Praslin  PADAYACHI, Kumarakannan, B-Thabani  Bel Air   DENIS, Steve, Michel  Cascade  MELLY, Theophane,Pascal  English River FINESSE, Delroy, Elvin Glacis DUGASSE, Dieter, Erroll Grand Anse Praslin  ESTHER, Jean-Baptiste, Yvon Inner Islands ETIENNE, Elna, Marie-Noel Mont Buxton ALLY, Jean-Yves, Gionvanni, Nicolas Perseverance ST. ANGE, Jules, Bernard Plaisance CHADSTONE, Mike, Morris Pointe Larue  MARIE, Maryline, Zita  Roche Caiman    VOLCERE, Ralph, Maxime, Gerald  Takamaka MARIA, Mike, Alex (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY     Lalyans Seselwa Au Cap KILINDO, Neville, Archange English River WIRTZ, Weston Les Mamelles    CADEAU, William, Jean-Baptiste (Lalyans Seselwa) Photo License: All Rights Reserve   United Seychelles Anse Aux Pins  RAFORME, Veronica, Dothy Anse Boileau  ALPHONSE, Roger France Anse Etoile  CREA, Terence, Daniel Anse Royale LEMIEL, Sylvanne, Lydie Au Cap CHARLES, Michel Baie Lazare FREMINO, Johnny, Wilfred Baie Ste Anne   GILL, Churchill, Patrick Beau Vallon ROSE, James, Steven Bel Air VOLCERE, Ronny, Davis Kenneth Bel Ombre LOUISE, Sheril, Bradline,Maria Cascade FELIX, Michael, Ron, Nicol English River    HERMINIE, Wilbert, Ernest Glacis BONTE, France, Gonsalves  Grand Anse Praslin  GRANDCOURT, Louis, Alvin, Mohamed Inner Islands EMILE, Julie Jill Mont Buxton DAVID, Robert, Roy Francois Mont Fleuri  CESAR, Lindy, Maria Perseverance CETOUPE, Flavie, Judith Plaisance EDMOND, Therese, Mary, Ivy Pointe Larue GABRIEL, Yven, Conrad Port Glaud VIDOT, Audrey, Maryona St. Louis JOSEPH, Rachel Joyceline Takamaka ERNESTA, Paul, Volbert (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY     Independent Candidates Beau Vallon ANDRE, Keith, Hubert, Garvin St. Louis JEAN, Holbert, John   (Seychelles Nation/Joe Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY    

Guinea election a 'war,' says president

Guinean President Alpha Conde has urged his base to rally behind him in next month's election, where he is controversially seeking a third term, referring to a «war» between his government and the embattled opposition. Voters go to the polls on O
Seychelles News Agency

Guinea election a 'war,' says president

Guinean President Alpha Conde has urged his base to rally behind him in next month's election, where he is controversially seeking a third term, referring to a «war» between his government and the embattled opposition. Voters go to the polls on October 18, where 11 candidates are contesting Conde's leadership of the West African state. The 82-year-old president is also running, after having this year pushed through a constitutional referendum allowing him to reset the two-term presidential limit to zero. In a speech broadcast Tuesday evening, Conde warned that «this election is not just an election, it's as if we were at war». «The other candidates have formed a bloc to fight me,» he said in the Malinke language, referring to an agreement between opposition candidates to highlight credibility issues in the election. The speech comes amid suspicions about the credibility of Guinea's electoral roll, which opposition figures have suggested includes an inflated number of registered voters in Conde strongholds in the east. It also comes after the president made an apparent appeal for ethnic support, in a similar campaign speech broadcast on Saturday. He warned voters not to back an opposition Malinke candidate, for example, arguing that this would amount to a vote for Cellou Dalein Diallo, from the leading opposition party UFDG. Guinea's politics are mostly drawn along ethnic lines. President Conde's party is largely backed by Malinke people, and the UFDG by Fulani people, although both insist that they are pluralist. «You haven't forgotten what happened after the death of Sekou Toure,» Conde said on Saturday, referring to instability following the death of Guinea's first president in 1984, when looters targeted Malinke homes. Rights groups accuse Conde -- who is a former opposition figure himself -- of drifting into authoritarianism. Several dozen people were killed during a crackdown on protests against the president running for a third term, which erupted in October last year, for example. © Agence France-Presse

'Our home, your sanctuary' - new tourism campaign touts Seychelles as safe destination

A new campaign with the tagline 'Experience Seychelles; our home, your sanctuary' launched by the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) on Tuesday aims at boosting visitor confidence in the island nation as a safe destination. The board revealed that the campaign,
Seychelles News Agency

'Our home, your sanctuary' - new tourism campaign touts Seychelles as safe destination

A new campaign with the tagline 'Experience Seychelles; our home, your sanctuary' launched by the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) on Tuesday aims at boosting visitor confidence in the island nation as a safe destination. The board revealed that the campaign, amidst times of uncertainty, aims to give travellers worldwide hope and the prospect of escaping the harsh COVID-19 realities by calling them to submerge themselves in the natural allure of Seychelles as a pristine paradise.  'Experience Seychelles; our home, your sanctuary' - highlighted in a series of videos - follows STB's digital campaign 'Dream now, Experience Seychelles Later' launched in April this year. STB's chief executive Sherin Francis told a press conference that the campaign is paving the way for the destination to present various markets and segments with other marketing initiatives that are to come. «We are aware that in these uncertain times and in a competitive environment, the conversion of this campaign to actual sales of holidays will not be immediate. This is why we feel it is important for us to remain visible to our potential clients.» Seychelles and its economy has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and global travel downturn, but not by the virus itself. Seychelles has seen no deaths from the virus  and for now there are seven active cases. According to Francis the timing for the release of the campaign has been chosen purposely as it is focusing on a long-term visibility strategy to reboot travel in the islands.    The hotelier explained the word sanctuary offers visitors a safe place to come and where they can extend their stay up to three months and work as well while waiting for things to improve.  (Fregate Island Private) Photo License: All Rights Reserved «After much preparation with the help of our government and local industry partners, we have seen that the destination is ready to welcome visitors to our islands. Whilst the campaign's main aim is to remind visitors that there is a secluded paradise awaiting their arrival, it also highlights the safety measures and procedures were taken by tourism establishments to ensure travellers can experience Seychelles without worries» added Francis.  Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association chairperson (SHTA), Sybille Cardon, said that the association and the private sector have welcomed and supported this new campaign.  «It is important like the CEO has said that Europe, in general, does not forget Seychelles. If they want to, they can dream they can always see images, the beaches and all that we have here, which makes them want to come and take refuge here in Seychelles,» said Cordon. The hotelier explained the word sanctuary offers visitors a safe place to come and where they can extend their stay up to three months and work as well while waiting for things to improve. «We are working together to see what kind of packages we can offer, as here there are schools as well, there is the International School as well as the French School,» added Cardon, «Our home your sanctuary, comes together and can become your homes as well.» Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – reopened its borders on June 1, for leisure boats, chartered and private flights. Two months later on August 1, the airport reopened for commercial flights to restart the tourism industry. Since then up to the first week of September, some 2,600 tourists have travelled to Seychelles. But this is a far cry to what the islands were used to before COVID -19 when this was the daily number of visitors who arrived here.

Seychelles' President tells virtual UN: collective effort needed to overcome pain of COVID

The painful lessons learned from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the urgent need for continued collective approaches, Seychelles' President Danny Faure told heads of state and government in a virtual session of the United Nations General Ass
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' President tells virtual UN: collective effort needed to overcome pain of COVID

The painful lessons learned from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the urgent need for continued collective approaches, Seychelles' President Danny Faure told heads of state and government in a virtual session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday. According to State House, Faure said that «rarely have the United Nations and multilateralism been tested as they are being tested during this year of the U.N.'s 75th anniversary, the year where the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.» The 75th session of the UNGA opened September 15, with the high level debates taking place this week under the theme, «The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action.» «To be effective, our joint efforts need to be coordinated and delivered through a revitalised and more inclusive multilateral system, comprising of the voices of all stakeholders, including the youth, civil society and the private sector to ensure a global all-of-society approach,» he said. The Seychelles' head of state talked about how the island nation in the western Indian Ocean stepped up to the challenge despite being faced with an economy crippled by the collapse of tourism, the top economic contributor. «We introduced a series of unprecedented measures to save the lives of our people and mitigate the economic destruction, minimising unemployment and securing workers' incomes,» said Faure. He said that everything Seychelles has done to minimise the impact of COVID-19 will not be sustainable in the longterm because of the depletion in the country's foreign exchange reserves. «We estimate it will take at least five years for Seychelles to return to where we were before COVID-19, assuming the world gets a vaccine that ensures the novel coronavirus is no longer a global public health threat,» said the president. He added that «the ultimate test of multilateralism lies in the way we assist vulnerable economies today, for it ultimately decides whether we attain the future we want.» Faure said that the massive global economic restructuring now underway presents the world with a unique opportunity to pursue a holistic and transformational approach to address the numerous escalating global crises. «We cannot have a healthy recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic if we do not heal our poor relationship with our natural environment. As the saying goes human health depends on nature's health... We understand this well in Seychelles where the two main pillars of our economy, tourism and fishing, depend on the state of our natural environment, and especially our ocean,» said Faure. Seychelles has taken measures to protect nearly one third of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which covers 1.4 million square kilometres, for ocean conservation and all actions taken shows that responses to the health and financial crisis caused by COVID-19 do not need to be at the expense of nature and climate.

Mali junta chief demands end to economic sanctions

Mali's military junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, on Tuesday demanded an end to potentially crippling economic sanctions imposed after last month's coup in the poor Sahel state. Addressing reporters during a ceremony marking 60 years of Malian independence
Seychelles News Agency

Mali junta chief demands end to economic sanctions

Mali's military junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, on Tuesday demanded an end to potentially crippling economic sanctions imposed after last month's coup in the poor Sahel state. Addressing reporters during a ceremony marking 60 years of Malian independence, Goita said the recent nomination of a civilian as interim president meant that West African leaders must end their trade embargo. The 15-nation West Africa bloc ECOWAS has yet to comment but France, which has troops stationed in Mali, welcomed the appointment of former defence minister Bah Ndaw and other interim leaders as «an encouraging step.» The French foreign ministry said this «must lead to the election of legitimate authorities.» ECOWAS shuttered Mali's borders and imposed trade restrictions after Malian military officers ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18. Last week, the trade bloc also insisted it would maintain the measures unless Mali's ruling officers appoint civilian leaders swiftly. «The international community is watching us... which is why we accepted the ECOWAS principles,» Goita said on Tuesday. «In the coming days ECOWAS must remove these sanctions for the happiness of the Malian people,» he added. The demand comes after a group of officials selected by the junta chose retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president on Monday. The 70-year-old will lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before staging national elections, according to a plan endorsed by the junta. But it remains unclear how West African leaders will react to Ndaw's nomination. Hauled back from retirement, the former defence minister spent his career in Mali's military, where he occupied a series of senior positions. Goita himself will remain as vice president of the transition government. ECOWAS' mediator in Mali's crisis, former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, is expected in the capital Bamako on Wednesday. - 'Total embargo' - Mali's neighbours are anxious to avoid the fragile nation of some 19 million people slipping into chaos. Swathes of the vast country already lie outside of government control, due to a lethal jihadist insurgency that first emerged in 2012 and has also inflamed ethnic tensions. Last week, ECOWAS took a hard line and threatened a «total embargo» on the country should the junta install military leaders of an interim government. Current restrictions ban commercial trade and financial flows, but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity. Heavy sanctions could bite in the poor country already facing a severe economic downturn, aggravated by the jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence. It was frustrations over this intractable conflict -- plus economic concerns and perceived corruption -- which pushed anti-Keita protesters onto the streets this year, provoking tensions which culminated in last month's coup. Goita on Tuesday urged citizens to form a «sacred union around Mali» and support the security forces. «Today is an opportunity for me to congratulate and encourage them for all their efforts to bring security and peace to Mali,» he said of the troops. The junta leader also called on Malians to support the «partner forces» of France and the United Nations present in the country, which are often a target of popular anger. France has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel as part of its anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane. There are also 13,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali. French President Emmanuel Macron told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that «the second these states wish us to leave or consider that they can fight terrorism alone, we will withdraw.» © Agence France-Presse

24 hotels identified as transit facilities to help welcome visitors to Seychelles safely

The Ministry of Tourism has identified 24 hotels to use as transit facilities that will welcome visitors from leading tourist markets even if their COVID-19 infection rate changes, said a top official on Tuesday. The tourism minister, Didier Dogley, who chai
Seychelles News Agency

24 hotels identified as transit facilities to help welcome visitors to Seychelles safely

The Ministry of Tourism has identified 24 hotels to use as transit facilities that will welcome visitors from leading tourist markets even if their COVID-19 infection rate changes, said a top official on Tuesday. The tourism minister, Didier Dogley, who chairs a task force set up to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, told reporters that the transit hotels are part of two special conditions being put in place on October 1.  Dogley is part of a high-level forum responsible for the implementation of the National Integrated Framework for the opening of Seychelles to commercial flights. The transit hotels are being set up as a response to the negative repercussions Seychelles faced when the COVID-19 situation changed in France and the United Kingdom. He said that «there was a lot of cancellation of bookings not only for September but also for October and November. We understood that we had to look at another system.» To be approved as a transit hotel, an establishment cannot be located in a densely populated area or in a place where the visitor can leave the premises whenever they want. The visitor will be allowed to use all facilities located within the boundary of the establishment. «Visitors to these hotels will not be allowed out of their establishments for the first four days of their stay. On the fifth day, the Public Health Authority will carry out a PCR test and if their tests are negative, the persons will be allowed to spend their stay in another establishment in Seychelles,» said Dogley.  The high-level forum chaired by President Danny Faure is responsible for the implementation of the National Integrated Framework for the opening of Seychelles to commercial flights. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  Also discussed was a new Special Status category that the key markets for Seychelles' tourism industry will fall under and these are Italy, France, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Austria and the United Arab Emirates. Visitors will still be able to come to Seychelles from those countries even if their COVID-10 situation changes but will need to meet stringent criteria prior to and following entry into the country to ensure greater safety of citizens. The taskforce team also discussed a new visitor management platform that will enable authorities to run rapid and efficient vetting procedures on information provided by incoming travellers in a bid to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. «The new system is favourable. The only issue that was being expressed with the new system is what the technician called an expression fee. There was a surcharge that was being applied for late submission. And this was put in place to prevent people from creating pressure on the system as it takes time for the doctors to go over the documents,» he added. Dolgey said that the ministry decided to review this fee -- $50 in most cases -- which was considered by businesses in general as a deterrent to the tourism industry. Another point that was discussed by the taskforce team was the possibility of opening flights between Israel and Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. «We were expecting to have some flights in October which coincide with the Jewish festival of Sukkot celebrated in Israel. At this time of the year, Israelis love to travel. But now they are experiencing a spike in cases of COVID-19,» said Dogley. Tourism is the top contributor to Seychelles' economy and since the closure of its borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has been badly affected.

Sri Lanka unveils controversial bill handing more power to president

Sri Lanka's ruling party Tuesday unveiled a constitutional amendment handing unprecedented power to the president, prompting protests in parliament and opposition claims of a power-grab. The bill proposes the removal of legal and legislative oversight of Pre
Seychelles News Agency

Sri Lanka unveils controversial bill handing more power to president

Sri Lanka's ruling party Tuesday unveiled a constitutional amendment handing unprecedented power to the president, prompting protests in parliament and opposition claims of a power-grab. The bill proposes the removal of legal and legislative oversight of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on human rights and government spending, and awards the head of state the right to appoint Supreme Court judges. It also re-instates the power of the president to sack parliament after it completes just one year of its five-year term and reverses legislation ensuring the judiciary, police, civil service and election commission remain independent branches of the government. Gotabaya, a defence official during his elder brother Mahinda's decade-long term as president, was elected president in November and swiftly appointed Mahinda as prime minister. The brothers are hugely popular among Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority for crushing Tamil separatists in a no-holds-barred offensive in 2009, bringing an end to decades of bloody civil war. But they have also attracted criticism from the international community, with the security services they controlled accused of committing war crimes in the final months of the conflict. Neither Gotabaya or his brother commented on the bill Tuesday, but the president said two weeks ago that it would «remove the obstacles imposed» by the reforms of the previous administration. The Rajapaksas' party enjoys a two thirds majority in parliament, and the bill is likely to be passed. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said this would result in «an elected dictatorship in this country» «The parliament will become a puppet... This is the darkest day for democracy in the country,» he told parliament as opposition legislators wore black armbands in protest. The powerful Rajapaksa clan has held sway over the island nation's politics since 2005, as well as having a major influence in key state institutions such as the national airline and state corporations. The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet last week called for «renewed attention» to increasing intimidation of journalists, lawyers and rights activists in Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa has meanwhile threatened to pull Sri Lanka out of the UN's human rights council if it persists in accusing Colombo of war crimes, including the killing of 40,000 Tamil civilians while crushing the rebels in 2009. © Agence France-Presse

Rescue under way to save 180 stranded whales in Australia

Up to 90 whales have died and a 180 more are still stranded in a remote bay in southern Australia as a «challenging» rescue operation began Tuesday. Scientists said two large pods of long-finned pilot whales became stuck on sandbars in Macquarie
Seychelles News Agency

Rescue under way to save 180 stranded whales in Australia

Up to 90 whales have died and a 180 more are still stranded in a remote bay in southern Australia as a «challenging» rescue operation began Tuesday. Scientists said two large pods of long-finned pilot whales became stuck on sandbars in Macquarie Harbour, on Tasmania's rugged and sparsely populated west coast. Images from the scene showed shallow water thick with scores of the large slick-black mammals manoeuvering for space. Government marine biologist Kris Carlyon said «about a third» of the animals were dead by late Monday and rescuing survivors would be «challenging» task likely to take several days. Though mass whale strandings occur relatively often in Tasmania, such a large group has not been seen in the area for more than a decade. The animals are only accessible by boat, limiting the number of rescuers who can reach them. About 60 people -- including volunteers and local fish farm workers -- are involved in the rescue attempt. They are battling cold, wet conditions as well as the harbour's unusual tides which are dictated by barometric pressure. «In terms of mass whale strandings in Tasmania, this is up there with the trickiest,» Carlyon told reporters in the nearby town of Strahan. However, Carlyon said many of the partially submerged whales should be able to survive for the several days it would take his team to complete the task, in part due to the inclement weather. «It's pretty ugly for people on the ground but as far as the whales go its ideal -- it's keeping them wet, it's keeping them cool,» he said. Carlyon said rescuers would still have to «triage» the whales, prioritising the healthiest and most accessible. Most of a 30-strong group on a nearby beach were found dead Monday, while about 60 other whales on the sandbars are also believed to have since died. Once the whales are returned to the water, Carlyon said, the biggest challenge will be herding the social creatures out of the sandbar-riddled harbour and back into the open ocean. Scientists said it was unclear what caused the latest stranding, but have suggested the pod may have gone off track after feeding close to the shoreline or by following one or two whales that strayed. © Agence France-Presse

SNA Interview: Ramkalawan makes final presidential run; wants direct trade to lower costs

Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - is gearing up for its presidential and legislative elections October 22-24. SNA is talking to the island nation's political leaders and presidential candidates about their campaigns, their plans as wel
Seychelles News Agency

SNA Interview: Ramkalawan makes final presidential run; wants direct trade to lower costs

Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - is gearing up for its presidential and legislative elections October 22-24. SNA is talking to the island nation's political leaders and presidential candidates about their campaigns, their plans as well as their take on pertinent issues in the country. Wavel Ramkalawan, a seasoned politician and opposition leader, says his stubbornness is leading him to make another bid for the presidency.    SNA: After having failed five times as a candidate for president, why did you present yourself as a candidate again? Wasn't it time to let someone else take over? WR: I like that you have asked this question as some people say that I am stubborn and I think that I am the only man for the job. That is not the case at all. In 1998, I stood as a presidential candidate and a candidate for the National Assembly, which at the time was allowed. I did this because our party was still small and I knew that I didn't stand a chance to win the presidential election. However, I knew that I would win for the National Assembly election in St Louis. One of the reasons why I have presented my presidential candidacy this many times is because there wasn't anyone else to stand. I get asked this question a lot as to why I do not give the chance to someone else. It needs to be understood that LDS as a party went through a procedure, inviting all member to suggest their names as candidates but when the time came, I was the only one who submitted my name. During the last election, I lost by 193 votes. In another country, there wouldn't have been peace in the country, but this is not something that I believe in. I believe that the stability of the country comes first. People who know me know that I am the same man I was. I have reached great heights and my position has never had an influence on me. We need to think about the presidency as a position in which the population places you to serve them, not to impose your authority. Yes, I am standing as a candidate again but I believe in what I have always stood for. Many of the things that I stand for have materialised in the country and hence I am happy to have made a contribution to the development of the country. LDS has chosen the theme 'Sesel pour tou son zanfan' for this year's election. (LDS/Facebook)  Photo license: All Rights Reserved   SNA: Will you stand again should you lose this election? WR: No, I think that there always comes a time when someone has to retire. I'm now 59 years old and will be close to 65 in five years. It has been a life dedicated entirely to the people of Seychelles. I became a priest at the age of 23, and I didn't have a window where I did nothing. As a priest, my life was entirely dedicated to my congregation and the people. Politic has also been a very interesting journey. There are many things that I have always wanted to do but didn't have the chance to because of my obligations. I had to make a lot of sacrifices, especially my relationship with my family. However, whatever happens in the future, it needs to be clear that I will be here to encourage the younger generation to engage themselves in politics and the future of their country. I will be here to mentor those who want to go in that direction.   SNA: Do you feel that other candidates are seeing you as the main competition? WR: Yes, this is the observation that I have made, that I am the main target for other candidates. I feel that is such because LDS is a party that has performed and that people love and appreciate. They like the way that we have worked in the assembly and our honesty. Through this, our popularity has increased and we have seen other people from other parties joining us. Some people do not like this and I feel, through their conversation, that I am the target. This does not affect me. On the contrary, this makes me realise that I am doing something right. There are more leaders targeting me, but their own followers are coming to stand by me. There will be the presidential debate and I know that I will be attacked but I can tell you that I have grown beyond this type of politics.  When I pray, I do not ask God to make me the president of Seychelles. I ask him for wisdom so that if He wants me to lead this country, I will be able to do so with wisdom.   SNA: Some LDS followers say they do not approve of the decision to have Waven William, an ex Parti Lepep candidate, stand as an MNA for LDS. Could you explain why you made that choice? WR: There are certain political strategies that need to be recognised. When you have someone who was in a prominent position decide to join you, you need to look at how you can welcome this person. When Waven William expressed his interest, we received him with open arms. It is however normal for some people to feel the way they do. I am happy that the Grand Anse LDS committee has received him with open arms and he is doing a good job alongside the committee. First and foremost, for me, Waven William is a Seychellois who has made contributions to his country and who wants to make some more. He believed in our principles and finding what is good. Now that we have chosen the theme 'Sesel pour tou son zanfan' for this election, I am not interested to look at the history of a person. I can say with great pride today that LDS is the only political party in the upcoming election that has Catholic Christians, Anglican Christians, Pentecostal Christians, Muslim and Hindu candidates. We have a great diversification and this for me represents Seychelles' majority and minority groups.   SNA: For the first time in Seychelles, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there won't be any rallies, which usually lead up to the election. How are you going to get around this? WR: There is a frustration among people as they really want a rally to be organised. The motorcade that we were allowed to have turned out to be the biggest motorcade that ever happened in Seychelles. Though a rally is not a possibility at the moment, I communicate with my followers through social media. When we do door to door we talk to the people, and of course, there will be the presidential debate and party political broadcasts through which we will outline our programme before the people. This interview we are doing is also another way to make people understand what we are looking for. Today the energy among our activists is extraordinary. For example, when we went to Anse Etoile for a blitz, we covered more than 150 houses with a group of about 200 activists. LDS launched its election campaign with a motorcade early August.  (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY    SNA: Should you win the election how do you envision the transition the country will have to make from one party to the other in terms of leadership? WR: The only thing that is in the constitution is that the newly elected president will be sworn in the day following the announcement of the results. I would like to ask, where we stand today, that Mr. Faure together with his party along with all other candidates, we can sit and discuss the type of transition our country has. We can look at two scenarios for the outcome of the election. If the current president is re-elected, this is what needs to be done. If another candidate wins, the agenda of what needs to be done and places he needs to visit is clearly outlined. There needs to be a programme as to how things should go. I compare this to England - the person who wins the election knows that he or she will receive a call from the Queen, asking the person to come see her. This needs to be clearly outlined here in Seychelles so that we know how things will go and what to expect. We have asked the Electoral Commission to work on a transition plan, but they said that this is not part of their responsibility. However, I feel that this subject needs to be addressed for our democracy. I always talk about how we need to restructure politics. We are talking about having a fixed date for elections, have certain conditions where an incumbent government does not have the right to put in place new policies three months before an election. This is because I would like to see a transformation take place in Seychelles' political scene. It won't be based on personalities - this person's private life.  The debate will be about what needs to be done for the country to improve our education, health, security among other things.    SNA: What are you proposing to electorates for this election in your party's manifesto? WR: Firstly, we need to deal with the COVID situation. COVID-19 is as much of an economic problem as much as it is a medical condition. We will look at how we will relaunch the economy. We are talking in terms of investment to encourage and give more importance to Seychellois. We need to make sure that the foreign exchange that we have does not leave Seychelles too fast. For example, the Electoral Commission has taken to print the ballot papers overseas, where there will be a lot of dollars leaving the country, whereas we have industries here where we could have printed the ballot papers. If we are to touch on tourism, we need to look at the percentage of money that is going to leave the country. In our plan to keep this money in the country and develop our economy, there is also the element of having a dialogue. Seychelles at the moment has helped businesses by paying their staffs so it is important for a business, with most of the hotels being international chains, to look at how they can in return help us so that we can sustain ourselves. At the same time, when we are looking at how we give more encouragement to Seychellois owned businesses, especially the small ones. Without becoming discriminatory or targeting foreigners, we need to look at how to encourage Seychellois to start a business as simple as cleaning a swimming pool. Looking at agriculture - it is easy to import products into the country, but shouldn't we be looking at ways to subsidise some farmers so that they can produce more locally, cutting on importation. We have spoken lengthy about STC (Seychelles Trading Company) in the National Assembly. My disappointment is that STC has not taken the necessary actions to bring down its costs and hence passing them onto the clients. When we talk about STC, we want to see a company that will give Seychellois the best. That is why I was urging the company to sell more wholesale so that people can buy things at a cheaper price. There are also too many middlemen involved. We need to be frank and direct and remember that it is the consumers who come first. LDS held its annual convention on September 5 under the theme 'Transition to the new Seychelles; Sesel pour tou son zanfan’.   (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY    SNA: Tourism, the number one pillar of the country's economy, has received the hardest blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you intend to revamp the economy to ensure Seychelles makes it out of this crisis? WR: In line with our ways of thinking, the country shouldn't have a Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture. These are two sectors that need to be emphasised, hence there is the need to have two different ministries for these sectors. We want these two sectors to receive the necessary attention that they truly need. The person who is in charge of agriculture will have to think only about agriculture, farmers and consumers. The same applies as we develop the fisheries sector. We all agree that the fisheries sector needs to undergo more development as this is our equivalent of a diamond mine. We need to look at how we can use this resource in a sustainable manner, getting the best price out of it and in a way that the Seychelles population will truly benefit. This will help improve the lives of people, trickling down to the improvement of our children's education as there will be more possibilities. As the wealth of the country increases a Seychellois student overseas will not have to come back to Seychelles after receiving their first degree, work for two years so as to be able to later do their master's degree. There is a need to also look at the small industries. We could have a factory that produces certain parts that we can later export. This can be parts for different things such as computers. What is stopping us from prepping SIT student to think in this manner? Then there will be the need to market ourselves. It is true that we cannot mass produce because of our size and all, but I believe that Seychellois has the entrepreneurship spirit in them and we will need to give them the encouragement. Along the same line of technology, a person can sit at home and do a lot of things such as develop programmes, however, this is not encouraged right now. These are ways to 'import' foreign exchange and this is key.   SNA: The cost of living is a subject that LDS has spoken loudly about in the National Assembly. How will you address this subject should you head the country? WR: COVID has a direct impact on the cost of living in the country. At the moment the value of the salary that people are getting has gone down by more than 30 percent. We need to look at how we can bring down the cost of living. We are looking into entering into a partnership with the private sector where Seychelles can have its own cargo boat. Why do commodities have to go through Dubai? They get most of their commodities from India. What we are proposing is to import directly from India. We would like to have direct links with producers. And this is where the role of STC needs to be reviewed. As a company, STC will be importing commodities on board the cargo vessel and we can negotiate with India to link us with different markets directly. Both India and South Africa are close by which is a plus for Seychelles. It will take fewer days for the cargo boat to get to Seychelles. By doing this, the money that people have in hand will have more value. When this happens, we want to encourage and develop a culture of saving. We want to emphasize on individual responsibilities and if we can move into this direction, Seychellois will reach greater heights. We want the country to run like it is a business. What does this mean? Imagine you are a civil servant for the government. When a letter is addressed to you, you need to treat it as if you are operating a business - if you do not reply, you will lose a client. By sending a reply, the other person will know where they stand and not have to wait a long time or wrote to the minister or president. It is not only about achieving a goal but also being recognised for your ability and the system will be based on meritocracy - If I deserve something, I will get it. We want people to put politics aside when doing their job. We want civil servants to be empowered. We want to divide politics form civil service - there needs to be a sense of permanence within the civil service.   SNA: What is your view on issues such as safe abortion, same-sex marriage, and the use of marijuana? WR: This is a huge debate, one that society needs to have. At the same time, I feel that our society is hypocritical because we know that there are people with different sexual orientations and they are living together. Despite that, once talks start about legalisation, some people start objecting to the idea, thinking that if certain activities are decriminalised, the whole population will follow the same tendency. That is not the case and we need to move away from this mindset. I have participated and know about the debate that surrounds marijuana. We need to look at where we are today as a country - we have 6,000 people who are addicted to heroin and cocaine. We have a big problem. What do we do? I would say that my priority is to fight against the importation of heroin and the likes of it. We need to put an end to it. Let's give treatment to those who are using heroin. Let us give them a programme that will truly get them off this poison so that they can have a normal life. On our side, we have a packed programme against heroin and cocaine under which border control will need to become an absolute priority. On the other side, we will give them the required treatment to the users. At the same time, society will have a talk about the use of recreational marijuana. I am here to say to our youth - «You do not need drugs to have a good life, so try to find a way to live life without using cannabis so as to get high and be happy. You can be happy and normal without these things.» I am a person who respects others. I know that we each have our tendencies. I am married and I'm heterosexual but there are people who are gay or have other sexual orientations. I am here to respect their sexual orientation. I look at the person as an individual as well as their personality.

Landfill fire's toxic fumes force the closure of 8 schools and industrial estate on Seychelles' main island

A raging landfill fire that produced thick fumes from burning tyres forced the closure of eight schools and the Providence Industrial Estate on Monday as smoke affected wide areas of Seychelles' main island. Authorities said it may take days or even weeks to
Seychelles News Agency

Landfill fire's toxic fumes force the closure of 8 schools and industrial estate on Seychelles' main island

A raging landfill fire that produced thick fumes from burning tyres forced the closure of eight schools and the Providence Industrial Estate on Monday as smoke affected wide areas of Seychelles' main island. Authorities said it may take days or even weeks to bring it under full control. The flames had burned 85 percent of both landfill 1 and landfill 2 on the eastern coast of Providence on the main island of Mahe as of mid-day Monday, the chief executive of the landfill told SNA. The closure of the schools – two private, six public, including two training centres – and the industrial estate was due to the health risk posed by the fumes. Authorities said that rain early Monday had not put out the fire and produced more smoke. The wind direction was pushing the smoke inland and affecting areas in the central and north of Mahe. The chief executive of the Landscape and Waste Management Agency responsible for the landfill said officials' priority was to by Wednesday at the latest control and manage the smoke emissions so that the industrial estate and other facilities in the area can reopen. Joubert said the priority is to control and manage the smoke emissions. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  «We are now in the process of entering the landfill, clearing all scrap metals and making space for excavators to create a buffer.  Sand and coral fill have been brought in for backfill to eliminate the risk of fire to private property,» explained Flavien Joubert. Authorities have said extinguishing the fire in its totality will take weeks. The Providence Industrial Estate is the largest industrial estate in Seychelles and the second most important area after Victoria – the capital city. The area located on reclaimed land on the east coast of Mahe offers a variety of financial services, has many businesses, shops, auto dealers, workshops for mechanics, carpentry, other metal works as well as other enterprises involved in manufacturing. According to the Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency (SFRSA), the call relating to the fire came through on Saturday evening, around 7.30 and authorities are not clear on how it started. The annual clean-up the world campaign was launched in the 115-island archipelago on Friday and increased activity on the landfill to dump waste. According to the public relations officer Jones Madeliene «it could have been someone smoking, all these are risks especially now that it is extremely hot.» Madeleine explained that the fire first started at landfill 1 and firefighters along with key agencies involved were not able to contain the fire because of many challenges. «We have had problems with water, machines, everything. On Saturday evening, our water pump burst and our machine used to cover fires, to make it easier to control, broke down. All of these coincidences have stopped us from doing our job properly,» said Madeleine.  The raging fire which started in landfill 1 quickly spread to the second landfill. (SBC YouTube) Photo license: All Rights Reserved The firefighter added «it is not that we were unprepared, it's the stage in which the fire had reached. If it's a small fire, we can always manage it but this is a fire that has escaped us,» he added. The fire quickly spread to the second landfill and the responders used seawater and foam to fight the flames. The fire extinguishing effort was also assisted by construction companies UCPS and Vijay, which lent their excavators to cover the flames with soil. Vijay Construction also bought in its dredger to pump water from the sea. During Sunday, helicopters from the local company Zil Air were brought in to drop water on the flames. Daniel Cetoupe from Department of Risk and Disaster Manager, coordinating the response on site said on Sunday «our greatest concern is that the fire has already reached the zone where tires are dumped and which is causing the black smoke. Tires, rubber in general, are harder to put under control hence all efforts are being put in containing.» As precautions as the fumes is still an issue, on Monday afternoon the Ministry for Education announced that 13 of its schools and creches will close on Tuesday, including the four that were closed on Monday. 

I. Coast tensions flare as candidate urges 'civil disobedience'

Tensions ratcheted up over Ivory Coast's presidential race on Sunday when former president Konan Bedie called for «civil disobedience» in response to Alassane Ouattara's bid for a third term at the helm of the West African country.«In the fa
Seychelles News Agency

I. Coast tensions flare as candidate urges 'civil disobedience'

Tensions ratcheted up over Ivory Coast's presidential race on Sunday when former president Konan Bedie called for «civil disobedience» in response to Alassane Ouattara's bid for a third term at the helm of the West African country.«In the face of abuse of authority, there is only one watchword: civil disobedience,» he said to thunderous applause at a meeting of the country's main opposition parties.«We are here to express our fierce opposition to this violation of the constitution,» added Bedie, the flagbearer of the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI).He did not elaborate on the form the civil disobedience should take and there was no call for an opposition boycott of the October 31 presidential election -- an option that had been mooted previously.Bedie, 86, is one of only three challengers to Ouattara after the electoral commission excluded 40 other would-be candidates.Among those excluded are two leading opposition figures, former president Laurent Gbagbo, 75, and former prime minister and onetime rebel leader Guillaume Soro, 47.Gbagbo and Soro, both in exile in Europe, were represented by surrogates at the meeting.Ouattara, 78, had said in March that he would not seek a third term but made a U-turn just four months later when his preferred successor, prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack.The argument behind his bid turns on modifications to the constitution in 2016 which supporters say reset the two-term limits to zero, entitling him to run again.The government has imposed a ban on demonstrations until September 30.Violent protests against Ouattara's candidacy left around 15 dead last month, reviving memories of post-election bloodshed nearly a decade ago in the former French colony.Some observers fear a return to the levels of violence that claimed 3,000 lives following the 2010 presidential vote.The conflict was sparked when Gbagbo, then president, refused to cede to the victor Ouattara, upending Ivory Coast's reputation as a bastion of democracy in the region.- 'Dictatorship' -Last Wednesday, Gbagbo supporters called for mass protests against what they called Ouattara's «dictatorship».Gbagbo's candidacy was rejected on the grounds that he was handed a 20-year jail term in absentia by an Ivorian court last November over the looting of the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the post-election crisis.He was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague after he was cleared in January 2019 of crimes against humanity.The former president is living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against the ICC ruling. Soro too saw his election application rejected because of a 20-year sentence, also in absentia, for the embezzlement of public funds handed down in April.Soro provided military help that enabled Ouattara to come to power after the conflict, but the two men fell out in early 2019.Bedie, Gbagbo and Ouattara have dominated Ivorian politics for a quarter of a century.Their advanced age -- none is under 75 -- contrasts with the extreme youth of the population in Ivory Coast, where 40 percent of the population is under 15.© Agence France-Presse

Authorities in Seychelles to issue health and catch certificates for export of fish above 20 kg

The Seychelles' government will soon make it obligatory for health and catch certificates to be issued for the export of fish exceeding 20 kg as local authorities look at closing a loophole within the industry, a top official said on Thursday. The principal
Seychelles News Agency

Authorities in Seychelles to issue health and catch certificates for export of fish above 20 kg

The Seychelles' government will soon make it obligatory for health and catch certificates to be issued for the export of fish exceeding 20 kg as local authorities look at closing a loophole within the industry, a top official said on Thursday. The principal secretary for fisheries, Jude Talma, told SNA that the purpose of a health certificate is for phytosanitary reasons, whereas a catch certificate is for traceability and to certify that the fish has been caught legally. «For some time now, we have been getting a lot of complaints about certain practices where, especially in the tourism industry, boats or tourists who charter boats in Seychelles are leaving the country with all the fish that they have caught. This has created a huge information gap for the SFA (Seychelles Fishing Authority). The number of fish being exported in this manner was worrisome and we had no way to monitor this, so we had to close this loophole,» said Talma. He explained this is a problem as the fishing authority relies heavily on the collection of data to put in place adequate species management regulations. Currently both certificates are being issued, however, it depends on the country of destination if it is a requirement or not. The health certificate is issued by the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Unit at the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS), whereas the catch certificate is issued by SFA. «We want to have a national catch certificate, which will cover more than the fish exported through unaccompanied luggage; it will cover all fish that is being exported,» said Talma. The catch certificate will include information on the exporter, the amount of fish being exported, where it was bought, which vessel caught the fish as well as the area of fishing. It also lists the state in which the fish is being exported - if it is frozen, chilled, has been gutted, or beheaded. Talma outlined that weight restrictions on non-commercial export of certain species such as sea cucumber and shells remain in place. The director general at the trade division, Ashik Hassan, told SNA that the government «decided that for any amount of fish exceeding 20kg, it will be deemed as a commercial export which will require a permit.» He said that anything below 20kg that a passenger can leave with as part of their baggage, will not require the export permit. Hassan said that application for the export certificated needs to be done through the trade's division, which is then processed at the competent authority. Once approval is given, a letter of approval is issued by the trade department. «This doesn't take too long, as long as there is no delay on the side of the competent authority. Within two days maximum, it is issued unless there is a lack of information,» continued Hassan. The move which was endorsed by the Cabinet of Ministers will also apply additional controls on the «non-commercial» exports of fish and fisheries products. Work will be done with the Attorney General's office before a date can be set for its implementation.

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