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Bomb blast hits tourist bus near Egypt pyramids

A bomb blast hit a tourist bus near Egypt's famed Giza pyramids on Sunday, wounding some of them, including South Africans, in the latest blow to the country's tourism industry. The roadside bomb went off as the bus was being driven in Giza, also causing inj
Seychelles News Agency

Bomb blast hits tourist bus near Egypt pyramids

A bomb blast hit a tourist bus near Egypt's famed Giza pyramids on Sunday, wounding some of them, including South Africans, in the latest blow to the country's tourism industry. The roadside bomb went off as the bus was being driven in Giza, also causing injuries to Egyptians in a nearby car, medical and security sources said. Security and medical sources in Egypt said 17 people were injured, without giving a breakdown of their nationalities. No deaths were reported. South Africa said in a statement that the «bus explosion» injured three of its 28 citizens who were part of the tourist group. They would remain in hospital while the rest would return home on Monday, said the statement from the department of international relations. «A device exploded and smashed the windows of a bus carrying 25 people from South Africa and a private car carrying four Egyptians,» the security source said. Video footage captured by AFP showed the bus and car with broken windows on the side of the road. According to the security source, the wounded were being treated for scratches caused by the broken glass. Sunday's incident comes after three Vietnamese holidaymakers and their Egyptian guide were killed when a roadside bomb hit their bus as it travelled near the Giza pyramids outside Cairo in December. It also comes just little more than a month before the African Cup of Nations hosted by Egypt is to kick off. Egypt has been battling an insurgency that surged especially in the turbulent North Sinai region following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was replaced by former army general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against militants, focusing mainly on the North Sinai region. - Tourism recovery - Some 650 militants and around 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to separate statements by the armed forces. Since first being elected in 2014, Sisi has presented himself as a bulwark against terrorism, promising stability and increased security. Recently, the country's vital tourism industry has started to slowly rebound after suffering strong blows due to deadly attacks targeting tourists following the turmoil of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. Figures by the official statistics agency showed that tourist arrivals reached 8.3 million in 2017, compared with 5.3 million the previous year. Authorities have gone at great lengths to lure tourists back, touting a series of archaeological finds and a new museum next to the pyramids, as well as enhanced security at airports and around ancient sites. But that figure was still far short of the record influx of 2010 when more than 14 million visitors flocked to see the country's sites. © Agence France-Presse

More than half of Madagascar MPs suspected of corruption: enquiry

Madagascar's anti-corruption agency has begun legal action against more than half of the country's parliamentary deputies who are suspected of taking bribes, just two weeks ahead of legislative elections, a source said Friday. After a year-long enquiry, a do
Seychelles News Agency

More than half of Madagascar MPs suspected of corruption: enquiry

Madagascar's anti-corruption agency has begun legal action against more than half of the country's parliamentary deputies who are suspected of taking bribes, just two weeks ahead of legislative elections, a source said Friday. After a year-long enquiry, a dossier on 79 MPs was sent to the prosecutor's office this week «to begin legal action against the accused», the source told AFP. The prosecutor is now expected to examine the dossier and announce whether some or all of the parliamentarians involved will be charged. Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina has pledged to fight corruption in the Indian Ocean island nation, a former French colony. Graft affects every level of society in one of the world's poorest countries which ranks 155 out of 180 on Transparency International's corruption perception index. Critics say graft seeps into infrastructure projects, the judicial system and even the African nation's illicit rosewood trade as bureaucrats take their cut for services or from business deals. Last year the corruption problem came to a head when parliamentary deputies supportive of then president Hery Rajaonarimampianina put forward a bill to reform electoral law, just months ahead of last year's presidential election. The bill was criticised by Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana -- both former presidents who were running for the top office again -- who accused the head of state of attempting to change the rules in his own favour. The opposition accused some deputies of accepting the equivalent of 12,500 euros ($14,000) to vote for the law changes, during a secret meeting at a luxury hotel in a suburb of the capital Antananarivo. The anti-corruption body then opened an enquiry into the 79 deputies, out of the total of 151 in the national assembly, who voted in favour of the electoral reform. The constitutional court eventually annuled part of the new electoral changes amid a political crisis built up by two months of opposition protests. All those under suspicion are from Rajaonarimampianina's camp. If found guilty they face up to five years in jail for receiving unjustified remuneration in the exercise of their duties. Only a handful of those targeted are seeking a new mandate in the parliamentary election on May 27. Rajaonarimampianina was beaten in the first round of last year's presidential vote which Rajoelina won, beating Ravalomanana in the second-round vote. © Agence France-Presse

Two Seychellois have returned home after spending two years as missionaries in South Africa and Lesotho with the Operational Mobilisation (OM) team.

As part of their mission, Achille and Annielle Confiance had to conduct outreach programmes in different communities. The couple, who are from the Pentecostal Assembly of Seychelles, had to also train others who can help the less fortunate. “We had to g
Seychelles News Agency

Two Seychellois have returned home after spending two years as missionaries in South Africa and Lesotho with the Operational Mobilisation (OM) team.

As part of their mission, Achille and Annielle Confiance had to conduct outreach programmes in different communities. The couple, who are from the Pentecostal Assembly of Seychelles, had to also train others who can help the less fortunate. “We had to go into communities especially in those with the most in need. It was like a door to door exercise. Sometimes we had to stay with a family for weeks. We prayed with them and we helped them the way we could,” said Achille. Achille, Anielle and other volunteers from the Operational Mobilisation visited schools as well. (Achille Confiance) Photo License: CC-BY “One great experience was in Lesotho. The place is a bit like Seychelles long ago. We had to cook food using traditional ways such as getting wood for the fire and cutting down the chicken neck to use as utensils. We also had to use pit latrines. For us Seychellois, it was not a problem, but it was nice to see how the young Europeans were adapting to the situation,” said Achille. The couple also faced adversities that may have had cost them their lives. “There was a critical moment in Lesotho where we were faced with danger. I think it was a misunderstanding. We were in the street working and Annielle was taking pictures. A guy from her back raised a sharp tool to hit her, but luckily someone from our group saw the man and was able to remove Annielle out of harm’s way on time,” recounted Achille.  The couple spent time in different communities all over including in Limpopo - a northern province of South Africa. Achille said that he got involved in many physical activities such as digging trenches for sewerage to help the community. Achille and Annielle Confiance had to conduct outreach programmes in different communities (Achille Confiance) Photo License: CC-BY “Being a missionary you must take into account that you will be received in different ways by others,” said Annielle, who added that most of the time the people in South Africa were very welcoming. “I remember in Lesotho when we first arrived there, they were facing drought. A day after, it started to rain and they said that we had brought a blessing. They asked us to come and pray with and for them,” said Annielle.   Annielle said being a missionary is not easy. “You have to satisfy yourself every day with what you are provided with by other people through the will of God. We had even experienced moments where we had to return some commodities on the shelves while shopping. Despite the hardship, we had some interesting moments as well,” said Annielle. The Operational Mobilisation (OM) is an international Christian mission and has been working in South Africa since 1986. To date, there are approximately 6,000 volunteers with the organisation.

Mia, Extra Big named best artists in Seychelles at Takamaka Music Awards

Mia and Extra Big clinched the Best Female and Male Artists for 2018 at Friday’s Takamaka Music Awards held at the International Conference Centre in the country’s capital, Victoria. There were around 50 nominees vying for the prestigious awards in ten
Seychelles News Agency

Mia, Extra Big named best artists in Seychelles at Takamaka Music Awards

Mia and Extra Big clinched the Best Female and Male Artists for 2018 at Friday’s Takamaka Music Awards held at the International Conference Centre in the country’s capital, Victoria. There were around 50 nominees vying for the prestigious awards in ten categories during the red-carpet ceremony, which lasted nearly two hours. Mia, 32, whose real name is Mina Telemaque, a newcomer on the music scene, launched her first album ‘Prezan’ last year. It immediately made her a household name in the island nation. She was nominated in three categories: Best Collaboration, Best Female Artist and Best Song for 2018. Speaking to SNA after the event, an emotional Mia told SNA that winning the award was overwhelming. “It was a tough competition as there were well-established artists in this category. I worked so hard and was so committed and today I’m extremely pleased with my work,” said Mia. Mia said it took her two years to release her first album. Although she was discouraged at times, she persevered. Her advice to other young female artists who are trying to make it in the music business is “ to persevere, stay focused and work towards their goals.” For his part, Extra Big – a seasoned artist – released his 8th album, MP3, last year. Extra Big who was not present at the ceremony won the Best Male Artist award. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY It is this album that propelled him to the top in 2018, despite having released the album at the end of November, a month short of the deadline for the Takamaka award. Extra Big, whose real name is Herrence Etienne, was not present to accept his award and it was his colleague, Jahrimba who accepted the award on his behalf. Étienne is the owner of the music studio Extra Big Sound Seychelles. This is the second time he has won the Best Male Artist award.  In a telephone interview with SNA, Extra Big said he was very surprised. “I didn't expect this album to make such an impact in such a short time. I think being a producer myself has helped me a lot. I listen to what my fans say and what they want to hear from me and I give them just that,” he said. The singer, who is presently gearing up for a live performance on June 1, said he is still promoting his latest work and has thanked his loyal fans for believing in him and for their continued support. At Friday’s Takamaka Award ceremony, another renowned singer, Jahrimba, walked away with the Award for Best Song for 2018 –‘I kas Zot Leker.’ Jahrimba-- winner of the Best Song award. (Joe Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY Awards for Best New Male and Female Recording Artists went to VL (Louis Vidot) and Kiara respectively. Sandra, a two-time winner of the Airtel Music Award, won Best Interpretation for 2018 with her rendition of Joseph Louise’s ‘Mord Li’. Best Collaboration went to newcomer Dilivio with his single ‘In Tar La’ featuring popular local artist, Chicco Martino. Joseph Sinon won Best Traditional Album, while the Gospel Award went to Jean Ally. The Honorary Award which recognises an artist who has made a significant contribution towards music development in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, went to Celine Dine. Dine was popular in the 1990s with her hit song ‘En Roz I bezwen lapli’. There was also a People’s Choice Award which went to Nara. The ceremony’s organiser, Terry Carolla, said he was satisfied with the whole show. “I think it was well-executed and everything worked in our favour, despite having only two months to put the whole event together. I have a solid team with years of experience and I am proud of my team and what they delivered,” said Carolla. He said moving forward the Music Award Seychelles plans to add more categories to the ten existing ones to make it more interesting and to encompass all types of music produced in the island nation. Takamaka Award replaces the Airtel Music Award and is sponsored by local company Takamaka Rum.  SNA presents a selection of other award winners in the Takamaka Music Award. (Joe Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY  

Stop discrimination, seek treatment for HIV, Seychelles’ president says

That was the message from the Seychelles’ President Danny Faure on Friday at the launching of a national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis. “It is very sad to learn that people are still dying from HIV/AIDS in Seychelles. This epidemic is t
Seychelles News Agency

Stop discrimination, seek treatment for HIV, Seychelles’ president says

That was the message from the Seychelles’ President Danny Faure on Friday at the launching of a national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis. “It is very sad to learn that people are still dying from HIV/AIDS in Seychelles. This epidemic is touching our society as a whole. It is sadder to learn that those infected have died earlier because they have failed to take their treatment,” Faure said. The ceremony was held at the Savoy Hotel in the northern Mahe district of Beau Vallon. “We need to put more resources in place to fight against this epidemic. Everybody in Seychelles should get tested to know their status. If found positive, we should never be afraid to seek treatment as it is offered for free in Seychelles,” said Faure. The national strategic plan which will include monitoring and an evaluation framework for 2019-2023 is aimed at achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by 2020. This means 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90 percent of those who know their status getting treatment and 90 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed. HIV -- human immunodeficiency virus -- attacks the body’s natural defence system and as a result, the body cannot fight infection and disease. AIDS, which stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS. Through a pilot project, the health ministry is making available the OraQuick rapid HIV test which is self -administered allowing individuals to test themselves and know their status. (Marcello Casal JR/ABr, Wikipedia) Photo License: CC BY 3.0 br  In his address, the minister of health, Jean-Paul Adam, said that the plan is important for everyone as HIV/AIDS touches the lives of everyone. “I urge everyone this afternoon to join together to recommit ourselves to a Seychelles where there are no new HIV/AIDS cases, where everyone knows their status, where stigma is never tolerated, where treatment and counselling are available to all. These are the pillars on which this plan rest,” said Adam. The minister said that through a pilot project, the health ministry is making available self -administered tests allowing individuals to test themselves and know their status. An overview of the current HIV/AIDS situation in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, was given by the chief executive of the National AIDS Council, Anne Gabriel. “There has been an increase in the percentage of new cases as the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases stood at 112 for 2017. Another trend that we have noted is that in 2017, most cases stemmed from drug abuse, while in 2018, the majority of cases seem to be through sexual intercourse. In 2018 we also had 23 cases of AIDS which are in the advanced stage and there were 19 HIV and AIDS-related deaths in 2018,” said Gabriel. Gabriel added that there have been 18 HIV positive pregnant women giving birth and out of this number, three babies were infected. The Seychelles response to HIV/AIDS began 30 years ago. The first HIV infection was detected in 1987 while the first case of AIDS was reported in 1993. The HIV epidemic remains one of the major public health and development challenges in Seychelles. In 2018, there were 120 new cases reported.

Trump lifts steel, aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a deal to lift US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico that had created friction between the neighbors and blocked a new North American free trade agreement. «I'm pleased to announce th
Seychelles News Agency

Trump lifts steel, aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a deal to lift US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico that had created friction between the neighbors and blocked a new North American free trade agreement. «I'm pleased to announce that we've just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico and will be selling our product into those countries, without the imposition of tariffs,» Trump said at an event in the US capital. His statement came moments after Canada released the text of the agreement between Ottawa and Washington in which they agreed to eliminate US tariffs on steel and aluminum, and Canada's retaliatory measures, within no more than two days. Mexico confirmed it had reached a similar agreement with the United States. «Trump's strategy has worked,» US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement, crediting the tariffs with reviving US steel and aluminum manufacturers. The steep US tariffs imposed last year -- 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum -- became a major stumbling block to ratifying a new North American trade pact negotiated last year by the three countries. Canada and Mexico initially were exempted from the tariffs Trump enforced using a national security argument, as part of his hardline trade tactics. Once America's neighbors were included, the levies drew retaliation with tariffs on a host of US products. Even after the governments agreed to a revised free trade deal -- the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA -- the tariffs remained in place, but officials in Ottawa and Mexico City said they would not sign unless Washington removed the metals duties. - Not making sense - Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was a shared recognition that «these tariffs were harming workers and consumers on both sides of the border» and «didn't make a lot of sense» in the context of a new free trade deal. «Obviously these continued tariffs on steel and aluminum and our countermeasures represented significant barriers to moving forward with the new NAFTA agreement,» he said, referring to the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. «Now that we've had a full lift on these tariffs we are going to work with the United States on timing for ratification but we're very optimistic we are going to be able to move forward well in the coming weeks,» Trudeau said. Mexican chief trade negotiator Jesus Seade likewise tweeted that the lifting of tariffs «clears the way towards ratification of USMCA.» Some key members of the US Congress had said they would not agree to vote for the three-country free trade pact unless the Trump's metals tariffs ended. «Hopefully Congress will approve it quickly,» said Trump. Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer applauded the decision to remove the metals tariffs, but said there are other concerns about the USMCA. «It is a good thing these tariffs will be lifted, and we should urge our allies to join us in preventing China's predatory practices,» Schumer said in a statement. However, «There are still many other issues that are outstanding before Democrats would support the USMCA.» According to the agreement, Canada and Mexico will withdraw all complaints lodged against the United States at the World Trade Organization. The two countries also agreed to monitor imports of steel and aluminum to ensure metals that are sold at «dumped prices» -- below the cost of production -- are not purchased in or shipped through Canada and Mexico. In addition, they agreed to a provision to reimpose steep duties if imports of the metals «surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes of trade over a period of time.» The US Trade Representative's office said the agreement «provides for aggressive monitoring and a mechanism to prevent surges in imports of steel and aluminum.» «This agreement is great news for American farmers that have been subject to retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico,» USTR said. US tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe remain in place, as does the EU retaliation. Some countries, including South Korea, accepted export quotas to avoid the tariffs. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles Post Office seeking community members to assist in mail delivery

The Seychelles Postal Service, in search of community representatives to assist with mail delivery, has embarked on a recruitment drive to get people to work on a part-time basis. The deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Postal Service, Alex Etienne, exp
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Post Office seeking community members to assist in mail delivery

The Seychelles Postal Service, in search of community representatives to assist with mail delivery, has embarked on a recruitment drive to get people to work on a part-time basis. The deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Postal Service, Alex Etienne, explained that this move is aimed at tackling the lack of staff to deliver mails on Mahe – the main island. “Currently, there are only 16 employees involved with mail delivery at the central post office here in Victoria. In addition, there are eight based at the southern post office at Anse Royale,” explained Etienne. The post also has offices on Praslin and La Digue – the second- and third-most populated islands of the western Indian Ocean archipelago. Nine people – including two on La Digue - are employed there, to deliver mails. Delivering mails in Seychelles is challenging due to the topography of the islands. The work is physically demanding with steep trails where there is no motor access. Coupled with the heat, dogs are also a menace faced by these workers. In addition, roads are not named except for those in the capital city and recently built housing estates. House numbers are also a challenge with most of the around 30,000 households having no identification. It is only on the manmade island of Perseverance that all houses have numbers facilitating the process of delivering mails. “Worldwide there is a tendency to see a decrease in the mails. These are those that get delivered to your doors. However for Seychelles this is not the case,” said Etienne. The deputy chief executive said this move is aimed at tackling the lack of staff to deliver mails on Mahe. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY According to Etienne, bills are the bulk of mails which are delivered. As the workload increases with the work not attracting newcomers, the postal service is now turning to members of the community to assist with mail delivery. “We are hoping that we can recruit others to be our community representatives to deliver mails in the community. Besides, they know their community better than us,” said Etienne. The postal services are seeking people who have clean police records, and who will have to abide by postal regulations. They will be working for two hours, three times a week. They will be expected to be delivering mails between eight in the morning and six in the evening. The community representatives are expected to earn $220 or more per month depending on the number of mails delivered. The community members will be working in the central and north region of Mahe. Perseverance as a new residential area is a major challenge with over 1,500 houses. “Beau Vallon - a highly dense and touristic area - is another big challenge where members of the community will be needed,” said Etienne, who added that part-timers will not be needed for the southern and western part of the main island. The Seychelles Postal Services is also looking at ways to minimise the number of mails that need to be delivered. These include the use of new software, delivering all mails to one's workplace as most people work in Victoria.  Another possibility is with permission of the recipient, the document is opened and scanned where the client receives a soft copy and the hard copy is then destroyed by the post office. 

New law in Seychelles protects dogs, seeks to prevent strays beginning in September

A new law to protect dogs and manage the stray population in Seychelles was assented to by the island nation’s President, Danny Faure, in a ceremony on Thursday at State House in Victoria. Under the law, dogs will have to be registered and micro-chipped
Seychelles News Agency

New law in Seychelles protects dogs, seeks to prevent strays beginning in September

A new law to protect dogs and manage the stray population in Seychelles was assented to by the island nation’s President, Danny Faure, in a ceremony on Thursday at State House in Victoria. Under the law, dogs will have to be registered and micro-chipped and receive their medallion. Owners will be fined if their dogs are found roaming or have been dumped in public areas. For the first time in Seychelles, the protection of dogs is included in the law, including how these pets are kept at home and if they are being well taken care of and receiving necessary care. “The new law identifies various actions and measures to effectively manage stray dogs, improve efficiency and sustainability of control measures as well as fulfil the biosecurity obligation,” Charles Bastienne, the Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, said at the ceremony. The Control and Protection of Dogs Act 2018 will come into force on September 1. “We are giving enough time to people to do the necessary. We will launch three camps during June, July and August at no cost where the public can have their dogs sterilised. By then our dog pound will be up and running, the microchips and medallions will be in the country and officers would have all been trained,” said Bastienne. Encouraging responsible dog ownership is a vital part of the newly assent Act. The Act clearly defines and outlines the roles and responsibilities of government agencies, public and private landowners and other community members in managing dogs in Seychelles. As part of the camps that will be organised in the next three months, there will be free sterilisation clinics. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY A series of regulations pertaining to the Act will go before the Cabinet of Ministers for approval. The regulation will state how many dogs a person can keep, the cost for registration and licence, requirements for keeping a dog and the breeds of dogs to be considered as dangerous among others. Bastienne said that the new Act “is a very important instrument and is evidence of the government's commitment to reduce the number of stray dogs in and around town, at tourism establishment and within our communities.” The preceding Act dated back to 1982 and the minister said that it did not adequately address the issues and nuisances associated with dogs in Seychelles and did not make provisions for the protection of dogs. “There was also the indiscriminate breeding or mixing of dangerous dogs haphazardly on one hand while natural breeding led to the overpopulation of dog. Furthermore, the abandonment of puppies and adults led to large populations of stray dogs and the spread of animal diseases by those dogs was a real threat to the society,” he added. The final draft of the proposed legislation was presented to the National Assembly where further debates and changes were made. The Act was approved by the legislative body in December 2018. Enforcement and implementation of the new law will be supported by the Animal Welfare Unit under the veterinary division of the National Biosecurity Agency. Private animal welfare organisations such as the Seychelles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), Pet Haven and Paw Links Veterinary Care services will also provide their support. Training will be provided to officers who will be enforcing the law and the government are making sure that certain required facilities will be put in place on Mahe and Praslin.  

President of Seychelles attending Blue Economy conference in Mozambique, presidential inauguration in South Africa

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, will travel to Mozambique on a state visit on Sunday, May 19, followed by a trip to South Africa to attend that nation's presidential inauguration, State House said. Faure is making the state visit at the invitatio
Seychelles News Agency

President of Seychelles attending Blue Economy conference in Mozambique, presidential inauguration in South Africa

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, will travel to Mozambique on a state visit on Sunday, May 19, followed by a trip to South Africa to attend that nation's presidential inauguration, State House said. Faure is making the state visit at the invitation of his Mozambican counterpart, Filipe Nyusi. The trip comes shortly after the coastal nation was hit by two major tropical storms. During the visit, Faure will participate in a May 23-24 conference on the Blue Economy which will take place in the Mozambican capital of Maputo May under the theme ‘Sustainable and Shared Exploitation of the Ocean’. According to the Club of Mozambique, an online news service, “Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario declared on Wednesday in Maputo that the planned conference on the Blue Economy, named “Growing Blue”, should serve as a platform for seeking knowledge and exchanging experiences about the preservation and increasingly sustainable use of the ocean.” Following the conference on the Blue Economy, the President of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will proceed to Pretoria, South Africa, to attend the inauguration of the sixth President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. A number of African heads of state are expected to attend the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa on 25 May. The inauguration which coincides with Africa Day follows the 2019 general elections on May 8. President Faure will be back in Seychelles on May 26. 

Saudi-led warplanes pound Yemen rebels after pipeline attack

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed Yemeni rebel targets including in the capital on Thursday following insurgent drone strikes on a key oil pipeline that Riyadh said were ordered by its arch-rival Tehran. The new bombardment came after the UN envoy, who ha
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Saudi-led warplanes pound Yemen rebels after pipeline attack

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed Yemeni rebel targets including in the capital on Thursday following insurgent drone strikes on a key oil pipeline that Riyadh said were ordered by its arch-rival Tehran. The new bombardment came after the UN envoy, who has been spearheading efforts to end more than four years of conflict in the Arab world's poorest country, warned against sparking further escalation. The Saudi deputy defence minister said that Tuesday's attack by Yemeni rebels on a major pipeline in his country was «tightening the noose» around peace efforts. The Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Huthi rebels since March 2015, confirmed that its warplanes were carrying out multiple strikes across rebel-held territory in Yemen. «We have begun to launch air strikes targeting sites operated by the Huthi militia, including in Sanaa,» a coalition official, who declined to be identified, told AFP. The coalition said it had hit «a number of legitimate military targets» that the rebels used to store munitions. The rebels' Al-Masirah television said the coalition carried out at least 19 strikes, 11 of them in the capital. A strike on one Sanaa neighbourhood killed six people and wounded 10, Dr Mokhtar Mohammed of the capital's Republic Hospital said. Aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that at least four people were killed and 48 injured in Sanaa in «several airstrikes» by the Saudi-led coalition. The UN's humanitarian office OCHA later said five children had been killed and 16 more had been wounded in the strikes. An AFP correspondent saw one residential building that had been reduced to rubble. Residents were using their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors. «Death to America, death to Israel,» they chanted, unsure whether a child they pulled out was still alive. The rebels said their attack on the Saudi pipeline was a response to «crimes» committed by Riyadh during its bloody air war in Yemen, which has been criticised repeatedly by the United Nations and human rights groups. The drone strikes further raised tensions in the region after the mysterious sabotage of several oil tankers and the US deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from Iran. The speaker of Kuwait's National Assembly said the risk of a war breaking out in the region was high. «The situation in the region is not reassuring and calls for preparing for all possibilities,» Marzuk al-Ghanem told reporters following a closed-door meeting. - 'Tightening noose' on peace - An official from state oil giant Aramco told AFP Thursday the pipeline had been reopened and was «fully operational». Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister, Khalid bin Salman, earlier accused Iran of ordering the pipeline attack. «The attack by the Iranian-backed Huthi militias against the two Aramco pumping stations proves that these militias are merely a tool that Iran's regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region,» he wrote on Twitter. Riyadh and its allies intervened in Yemen in 2015 to bolster the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis seized much of the country including the capital Sanaa. Coalition-backed forces have retaken much of the south but the capital and most of the populous central highlands remain in rebel hands. - 'Alarming signs' - A grinding war of attrition has set in, turning third city Taez and the vital Red Sea aid port of Hodeida into key battlegrounds. In December, UN mediators brokered hard-won truce deals for both cities during talks in Sweden but the hoped-for momentum in talks on a comprehensive peace has failed to materialise. On Tuesday, UN observers confirmed that rebel fighters had pulled out of three Red Sea ports including Hodeida. But the next day, three women were killed in clashes in the city, a doctor at Al-Thawra hospital told AFP. UN envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed the pullback, but warned the Security Council on Wednesday that the risks of a slide back into fighting remained high. «There are signs of hope,» he said, but there are also «alarming signs» of further violence. More than four years of conflict have triggered what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with over 24 million people, more than two-thirds of the population, in need of aid. © Agence France-Presse

Amnesty urges ICC to probe 'crimes against humanity' in Venezuela

Amnesty International said Tuesday it believes the Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown on anti-government protests, and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate. The rights group said President Nicola
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Amnesty urges ICC to probe 'crimes against humanity' in Venezuela

Amnesty International said Tuesday it believes the Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown on anti-government protests, and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate. The rights group said President Nicolas Maduro's government responded with «a systematic and widespread policy of repression» in late January, when anti-government protests swept the country after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president. Maduro opponents were tortured and killed during the protests, it said. «The nature of the attacks... the level of coordination by the security forces, as well as the signs of similar patterns in 2014 and 2017, leads Amnesty International to believe that the Venezuelan authorities committed crimes against humanity,» Amnesty said in a statement. Guaido is locked in a bitter power struggle with Maduro, who has presided over a spiraling political and economic crisis in Venezuela since taking over from late leftist leader Hugo Chavez in 2013. Maduro was re-elected to a second term in May 2018, in a vote boycotted by the opposition and rejected by much of the international community. Guaido, the leader of Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature, declared himself acting president on January 23, calling Maduro's re-election illegitimate. The opposition leader has since been recognized by more than 50 countries, led by the United States. Amnesty sent a fact-finding mission to the country in February to research the crackdown on the anti-government protests that preceded and followed Guaido's swearing-in. - Torture, executions - The London-based rights group said at least 47 people were killed during the protests from January 21 to 25. At least 33 were shot dead by the security forces, and six by government supporters. «Eleven of these deaths were extrajudicial executions,» said Erika Guevara, Americas director for Amnesty International, who presented the report in Mexico City. «State forces identified people who had been prominent in the protests in their communities, located them and shortly afterwards killed them.... Some of them were tortured before they were killed,» the report said. More than 900 people, including children, were arbitrarily detained over the same period, it said. It called on the UN Human Rights Council and International Criminal Court to investigate. Amnesty's team found that crimes and human rights violations were committed in «an attack planned and led by the security forces against individuals identified as or perceived to be opponents, particularly in impoverished areas.» Maduro himself «knew about these public and appalling acts and took no measures to either prevent or investigate them,» it said. Despite economic collapse and international isolation, Maduro has so far retained the support of Venezuela's powerful military. Guaido has meanwhile been fighting to keep up the pressure on the embattled socialist leader since the opposition's bid to spark a military uprising fizzled on April 30. © Agence France-Presse

Arrests, new curfews in Sri Lanka after anti-Muslim riots

Sri Lanka's police arrested over 100 suspects and reimposed night curfews in violence-prone areas Wednesday after anti-Muslim riots left one man dead and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and mosques. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said 78 peop
Seychelles News Agency

Arrests, new curfews in Sri Lanka after anti-Muslim riots

Sri Lanka's police arrested over 100 suspects and reimposed night curfews in violence-prone areas Wednesday after anti-Muslim riots left one man dead and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and mosques. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said 78 people arrested in the worst-affected North-Western Province (NWP) were remanded in custody Wednesday, while the rest were detained after a manhunt in other areas. Some 5,500 additional police were deployed in NWP to contain the violence that claimed the life of a Muslim man on Monday. Scores of private homes, Muslim-owned shops and businesses were destroyed, while several mosques were also vandalised. Muslims in Sri Lanka have been bracing for revenge attacks since three churches and three luxury hotels were bombed by local Islamist extremists on April 21, killing 258 people. Gunasekera said a night curfew was being reimposed in NWP, just north of the capital, as well as the adjoining Gampaha district, which shares a border with Colombo, as a measure to «maintain peace». However, a top police source said there will be no curfews elsewhere in the country. The entire country was under night curfews for two straight days after the violence escalated. The night curfew on Tuesday ensured there was no repeat of Monday's violence against Muslims, who make up some 10 percent of Sri Lanka's population of 21 million. «The situation is now totally under control,» said military spokesman Sumith Atapattu. «There were no incidents of violence overnight and we are arresting groups of people responsible for taking part in mob attacks.» Official sources said police deployed special teams to review CCTV camera footage to identify the perpetrators and carry out more arrests. More police and army units were seen deployed in the troubled areas as the authorities lifted the nationwide curfew on Wednesday morning. But Muslims in NWP remained nervous and stayed indoors Wednesday, after sword-wielding rioters killed one man late Monday while vandalising scores of shops and mosques. In Bingiriya, where some 2,000 people went on the rampage, Muslim cleric M.I.M. Siddeeque said the community was worried. «Our people are still afraid to go out,» he told AFP by telephone. Government spokesman Navin Dissanayake said the authorities had identified the leaders of the mobs and they were already in police custody. - Fear persists - Despite the extraordinary security measures, the minorities felt insecure, said Dissanayake, who is also a government minister. «People feel insecure and I acknowledge that,» Dissanayake told reporters in Colombo. «We have given the armed forces of this country... a complete free hand to tackle the security situation.» Among those detained was Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist Sinhalese community and on bail for his role in similar riots in March last year in the central Kandy district. Another was identified as Namal Kumara, a deserter from both the army and the air force. The police, meanwhile, also made several changes in the command structure by removing senior officers in the troubled areas after allegations officials did nothing to stop the rioters. The military released CCTV which showed a man in uniform apparently standing by while a mob pelted stones at a home, and sought public help to identify the individual. Parliamentary speaker Karu Jayasuriya condemned the violence and appealed for calm. «The attacks on mosques, the burning of houses and shops, the attacks on innocent people cannot be condoned in any way,» Jayasuriya said in a statement. The attacks came during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. A state of emergency has been in place since the Easter bombings and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects. Internet service providers said the telecoms regulator on Tuesday extended a social media ban to Twitter. Earlier, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram had been blocked to prevent the spread of messages inciting violence. © Agence France-Presse

6 shops in Seychelles that have remained open for decades

Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, represents at once both stability and progress. From its roots as a small village with a handful of people, it has become the bustling heart of the 115-island nation in the western Indian Ocean, buzzing with businesses. S
Seychelles News Agency

6 shops in Seychelles that have remained open for decades

Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, represents at once both stability and progress. From its roots as a small village with a handful of people, it has become the bustling heart of the 115-island nation in the western Indian Ocean, buzzing with businesses. SNA presents six businesses and services that through all of the city's developments have remained in the same location and still offer their services – some of which opened more than 100 years ago.   Seychelles Postal Services Right by the side of the city's famous clock tower, the post office has stood at the same location and offered its service to the growing population since it opened in 1861. The earliest known letter using this service on record was dated April 1865. Apart from renovations, the post office has remained in the same building but now sports new features in the form of bronze statues of the endemic coco de mer and of a giant land tortoise by well-known artist Ton Pa. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY   The Victoria market The Victoria market, officially known as Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke market, is the main market of the island nation. Built in 1840, the market was renovated in 1999. The market is the place to buy a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish among items including spices as well as arts and crafts. The place is a meeting point for locals and an attraction for visitors as it gives a feel for the Seychellois way of life. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY   Temooljee Supermarket The business - Temooljee and Company - ran by the Oliaji family was opened in 1901 and has remained in the same location ever since. Back then, Teemooljee as a grocery store specialised in canned food products. Before the opening of Barclays Bank in August 1959, Temooljee was also used as a bank. The once supermarket was redeveloped and nowadays is known as the Oliaji Trade Center, where the supermarket is still operating on the ground floor and has offices and businesses on the two upper levels. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY   Jivan Imports Jivan Imports was founded by well-loved Kantilal Jivan Shah. Shah, who passed away in 2011, was from India and a true Seychellois at heart. Being a businessman did not stop him from taking a strong interest in the Seychellois society. Located in a two-level colourful colonial shop bought by Shah in 1925, the shop trades in cloth and local souvenirs. The shop is located on the ground floor whilst Shah lived on the top floor. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY   Kim Koon shop Joseph Kim Koon arrived in Seychelles from China in 1921 at age 13. Kim Koon and his family established themselves in Seychelles as general merchants, then moved into bakery and soap production. Today, they are mostly known by residents as motor vehicle sellers and for their electronic shops which brought in the first National radios to the islands. The family has owned an old colonial style shop in Market Street opposite the market since 1956. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Uniset Shop – Victoria sports centre The shop, one specializing in sportswear and sporting equipment, was opened in the early 1970s. Owned by the Leong family from China, the shop was amongst the first sports shop on the island nation.   (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY

5 marine species to be farmed in Seychelles for first time when licences are issued in August

Five types of marine species are expected to be farmed in Seychelles for the first time with the issuing of licences as of August this year. According to a top official from the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), this process will officially launch aquacu
Seychelles News Agency

5 marine species to be farmed in Seychelles for first time when licences are issued in August

Five types of marine species are expected to be farmed in Seychelles for the first time with the issuing of licences as of August this year. According to a top official from the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), this process will officially launch aquaculture as an industry on the island nation. The principal aquaculture officer at SFA told SNA recently that all is in order now that the cabinet of Ministers has approved the aquaculture regulations. “The next step is to send same to the Attorney General for verifications to ensure that all is in order and that these regulations are not in conflict with other regulations,” explained Aubrey Lesperance. At the beginning of this new project, only Seychellois investors will be considered for the licenses. “We will issue a license for each species. And these will be for finfish such as red snapper and grouper, two subspecies of trevally as well as sea urchins," said Lesperance. An example of a fish farming activity. (Richard Gould/Flickr) Photo License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 According to Lesperance, the regulations were crucial for aquaculture, as this will be done on a commercial basis. “Now, we are in a better position to participate in different markets locally and internationally to actively advertise for investments whilst before we could only do education and promote the project,” said Lesperance. The broad term “aquaculture” refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. By August, SFA will also commission its broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility at Providence – an industrial zone on the east of the main island of Mahe. The facility which has been designed in alignment with international best-practice standards is located close to the Seychelles Fisheries Authority building. By August, SFA will also commission its broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility at Providence – an industrial zone on the east of the main island of Mahe. (Aubrey Lesperance) Photo License: CC-BY It is to ensure that mature breeding stock otherwise known as broodstock are well cared for, can adjust to captive conditions, spawn and produce good numbers of high-quality eggs, have fewer disease problems and greater longevity. According to SFA, each license will stipulate the distance offshore where the type of activity will happen as well as how much fish can be produced at that particular farm. “Gradually as the sector develops, next year we will explore farming of other species such as the mud crab, ornamental fishes for the aquarium as well as experimenting with growing of corals as some NGOs (non-governmental organisations) are already involved in coral replanting,” said Lesperance. SFA said that once categories opened for Seychellois only, are fully operational, then aquaculture will be opened to foreign investors. “Government is all for private and foreign direct investments in aquaculture. With the current moratorium on the development of big tourism establishments, we are hoping that foreign investments in aquaculture will boost up foreign income earnings for the country,” added Lesperance.

Swiss to vote on tightening gun laws, with EU relations in the balance

The Swiss will vote Sunday on whether to bring the country's gun laws in line with EU legislation, with the government warning a 'no' could threaten relations with the bloc. A demand from the neighbouring European Union that Switzerland toughen its gun laws
Seychelles News Agency

Swiss to vote on tightening gun laws, with EU relations in the balance

The Swiss will vote Sunday on whether to bring the country's gun laws in line with EU legislation, with the government warning a 'no' could threaten relations with the bloc. A demand from the neighbouring European Union that Switzerland toughen its gun laws has prompted a rare national debate over firearm ownership in the wealthy Alpine nation, which has a deeply-rooted gun culture. While the government has cautioned that the new legislation is crucial to maintaining an array of treaties with the EU, the proposal sparked a fierce pushback from the gun lobby and shooting enthusiasts, who gathered enough signatures to trigger a vote under Switzerland's famous direct democratic system. Brussels changed its own weapons laws two years ago following a wave of deadly terrorist attacks across Europe, slapping bans on certain types of semi-automatic firearms. Switzerland is not an EU member, but it is bound to the bloc through an array of intricately connected bilateral agreements. Bern has cautioned that a «no» vote would entail Switzerland's exclusion from the visa-free Schengen travel region and the Dublin accords regulating Europe's asylum-seeking process. This would have far-reaching consequences for security, asylum and even tourism, and would cost the country «several billion Swiss francs each year,» it said. Most of the arguments for changing the law are economic, in a country that has rarely seen the kind of mass shootings that have happened in other countries. Philippe Miauton, of the chamber of commerce and industry in Vaud Canton, told the RTS broadcaster that turning down the law change could bring «many consequences that would be harmful». «Switzerland is not an island... We need the bilateral agreements, and that means making concessions,» he said. Voters appear to have heeded the warnings. According to the most recent gfs.bern poll, a full 65 percent of respondents supported the law change, compared to 34 percent who opposed it. - 'Completely useless' - The shooting enthusiasts behind Sunday's referendum say the government warnings are «exaggerated». Brussels has «no interest» in excluding Switzerland from Schengen's information-sharing system regarding criminality and terrorism, Olivia de Weck, a Swiss army capitan and the vice president of the ProTell gun lobby, told AFP. Changing the law would «erase the right to own weapons» in Switzerland and be «completely useless in confronting terrorism», said the campaign, which has the backing of the country's biggest political party, the populist rightwing Swiss People's Party (SVP). It is difficult to know exactly how many firearms are in circulation, since guns are registered regionally and there is no national registry. But according to a 2017 report by the Small Arms Survey, the country boasts the world's 16th highest rate of gun ownership, with some 2.3 million firearms in civilian hands -- nearly three for every 10 inhabitants. Under the new gun law, which has already been approved by legislators, semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines would be listed as «banned». Such weapons would still be available for purchase by collectors and sports shooters, as long as they obtain an «exceptional authorisation». Collectors and museums would also need to provide a full list of the «banned» weapons they own, and indicate their plan for safe storage. Sports shooters would also need to prove at regular intervals that they are still actively practising the sport to justify their need to own such weapons. Those opposed to the law change claim it amounts to an «EU dictate» and is reining in Swiss sovereignty. But Lisa Mazzone, vice president of the Green Party, said that to the contrary, the new law indicated that Switzerland was intent on gaining more control over the situation. It will allow «improvements in the tracing and the marking of firearms. In terms of security, it is obviously a good thing to have a better overview of what weapons are in circulation,» she told AFP. - Young shooters - The strong gun culture in Switzerland is partially tied to the country's tradition of national defence service. Most Swiss men undergo obligatory military service, consisting of three weeks of service each year between the ages of 18 and 30. They are allowed to keep their assigned weapon when they are done. Shooting clubs and competitions are also an integral part of life for many, and the country subsidises «young shooters» classes for any interested citizen between the ages of 15 and 20. Gregory Barthassat, an 18-year-old taking part in one of the classes in Geneva, says he comes from a family of gun-owners who like taking trips to the shooting range. He is practising with an FASS 90 -- an assault rifle issued by the Swiss army and a favourite among sports shooters. This one has the automatic function deactivated, as is required when the gun passes into civilian ownership. If the new law passes, people will still be permitted to hold onto their army-issued FASS 90 at the end of their military service without additional permit requirements. But if they want to pass on the weapon to a family member or sell it, it will be listed in the «banned» category. Barthassat told AFP he worries that «if this law passes, it will be much more difficult to buy weapons and to do sports shooting». © Agence France-Presse

Facebook to curb livestreaming amid pressure over Christchurch massacre

Facebook announced Wednesday it would tighten access to its livestreaming feature as New Zealand's premier Jacinda Ardern and French leader Emmanuel Macron prepared to launch the global «Christchurch Call» initiative to tackle the spread of extrem
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Facebook to curb livestreaming amid pressure over Christchurch massacre

Facebook announced Wednesday it would tighten access to its livestreaming feature as New Zealand's premier Jacinda Ardern and French leader Emmanuel Macron prepared to launch the global «Christchurch Call» initiative to tackle the spread of extremism online. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been under intense pressure since March when a self-described white supremacist used Facebook Live to stream his rampage at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which left 51 people dead. The California-based platform said it would ban Facebook Live users who shared extremist content and seek to reinforce its own internal controls to stop the spread of offensive videos. «Following the horrific recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand, we've been reviewing what more we can do to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate,» Facebook vice-president of integrity Guy Rosen said in a statement. Along with their counterparts from Britain, Canada, Norway, Jordan and Senegal, who will also be in Paris, Ardern and Macron will later issue the Christchurch Call to fight the spread of hateful and terror-related content. The largely symbolic initiative is intended to keep up the pressure on social media companies who face growing calls from politicians across the world to restrict the spread of extremism and disinformation on their platforms. Many countries have already tightened legislation to introduce fines for companies that fail to block offensive content, but experts say a new wave of regulation -- championed by France in particular -- could be looming. The political meeting in Paris will run in parallel to an initiative launched by Macron called «Tech for Good» which will bring together 80 tech chiefs to discuss how to harness technologies for the common good. The heads of Wikipedia, Uber, Twitter and Google will attend, but not Zuckerberg who held private one-to-one talks with Macron last week. The social network giant will instead be represented by its vice president for global affairs and communications Nick Clegg, the former British deputy premier. The Christchurch Call meeting is to get underway around 1400 GMT and finish with a press conference by Ardern and Macron at 1600 GMT. - 'Horrifying new trend' - In an opinion piece in The New York Times over the weekend, Ardern said the Christchurch massacre underlined «a horrifying new trend» in extremist atrocities. «It was designed to be broadcast on the internet. The entire event was livestreamed... the scale of this horrific video's reach was staggering,» she wrote. Ardern said Facebook removed 1.5 million copies of the video within 24 hours of the attack, but she still found herself among those who inadvertently saw the footage when it auto-played on their social media feeds. «(We're) asking both nations and private corporations to make changes to prevent the posting of terrorist content online, to ensure its efficient and fast removal and to prevent the use of livestreaming as a tool for broadcasting terrorist attacks,» she wrote in The Times. In Wednesday's statement, Facebook acknowledged the inadequacy of its own systems. «One of the challenges we faced in the days after the attack was a proliferation of many different variants of the video of the attack,» vice-president of integrity Rosen said. «People -- not always intentionally -- shared edited versions of the video which made it hard for our systems to detect.» New Zealand officials said Ardern found a natural partner for the fight against online extremism in Macron, who has repeatedly stated that the status quo is unacceptable. «Macron was one of the first leaders to call the prime minister after the attack, and he has long made removing hateful online content a priority,» New Zealand's ambassador to France, Jane Coombs, told journalists on Monday. «It's a global problem that requires a global response,» she said. A French presidential source said it was time for tech companies to «anticipate how their features will be exploited.» Firms themselves will be urged to come up with concrete measures, the source said, for example by reserving live broadcasting to social media accounts whose owners have been identified. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles joins international pact to better manage and reduce plastic waste

Seychelles is one of 187 countries that approved a United Nation’s plastic waste pact aimed at reducing pollution from plastic waste.  The legally binding framework is the result of a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 29 to May 10 to discuss
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles joins international pact to better manage and reduce plastic waste

Seychelles is one of 187 countries that approved a United Nation’s plastic waste pact aimed at reducing pollution from plastic waste.  The legally binding framework is the result of a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 29 to May 10 to discuss the UN Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.  Negotiations brought together 1,400 delegates. Seychellois Rolph Payet, of the United Nations Environment Programme, was part of the team leading the move. Payet called the agreement “historic” as it allows countries to monitor where plastic wastes go when they leave the border of each nation. Amendments were made to the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in the framework which will put in place a more accountable and transparent system for plastic waste trade, including recycling. This will also ensure that the management of plastic waste is safer for human health and the environment. Nanette Laure told SNA that in view that Seychelles has signed the Basel Convention, there are procedures in place that need to be followed prior to exporting. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  The Basel Convention uses the Prior Informed Consent procedure by which exporting countries can notify importing countries of their intention to export wastes. “If the importing country does not want the waste, then it can refuse to accept the waste under the convention. Countries are also encouraged to establish national legislation as well and will be expected to sort out and clean their plastic wastes before exporting,” said Payet. More measures are expected to be negotiated in future meetings, as this is the first step in tackling global plastic wastes making its way into oceans. The director general at the waste enforcement and permit division at the environment ministry, Nanette Laure, told SNA that in view that Seychelles has signed the Basel Convention, there are procedures in place that need to be followed prior to exporting. “Prior informed consent is also sought from the receiving authority of the particular country. The Environment Department needs to inspect any container prior to leaving the Seychelles so that formal approval is then given and the forms are endorsed,” said Laure. Seychelles currently has a recycling scheme in place for PET bottles where such are collected, redeemed and exported, mostly to Ukraine. The 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean imposed a ban on the importation of single-use plastic in 2017. The new provisions added to the convention will be enforced in a year from now and Payet noted that “industry is already reacting as this is a short time to put in place their own arrangements to comply.” Payet referred to plastic pollution as an “epidemic”, with “an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80 to 90 percent of which comes from land-based sources”. He commented that the pact is “sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world - to the private sector, to the consumer market - that we need to do something.” “Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground. No more dumping of plastics wastes, the need to find alternatives to single-use plastics and packaging, the need to improve design for better recycling and recovery of plastics,” elaborated Payet to SNA. On her part, Laure said that for the island nation the pact will provide guidance on how hazardous waste is to be managed and transported.

Sudan army rulers, protesters agree on 3-year transition period

Sudanese army rulers and protest leaders Wednesday agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration even as negotiations over a new sovereign ruling body remain unfinished. The protest movement is demanding a
Seychelles News Agency

Sudan army rulers, protesters agree on 3-year transition period

Sudanese army rulers and protest leaders Wednesday agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration even as negotiations over a new sovereign ruling body remain unfinished. The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition following 30 years of iron-fisted rule by now deposed president Omar al-Bashir, but the generals who toppled him have been holding onto a leadership role. Talks between the two sides resumed earlier in the week but were marred by violence when an army major and five protesters were killed by unidentified gunmen at a long-running sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum. The two sides announced early Wednesday that they had reached an agreement on the transition period. «We agreed on a transitional period of three years,» Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta, a member of the military council told reporters. Atta said a final agreement on the sharing of power, including the forming of the next ruling body -- the sovereign council -- will be signed with the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, within a day. «We vow to our people that the agreement will be completed fully within 24 hours in a way that it meets the people's aspirations,» Atta said. He said of the three-year transition period, the first six months will be allocated to signing peace accords with rebels in the country's war zones like Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. - US blames army rulers - The army generals had initially insisted on a two-year transition period, while the protest leaders wanted four years. The key negotiations however remain on the composition of the sovereign council, which the generals have insisted to be military led while the protest leaders want it to be majority civilian. After the forming of the sovereign council, which will replace the existing ruling body made up solely of generals, a new transitional civilian government would be formed to run the country's day-to-day affairs. That civilian government would work towards having the first post-Bashir elections after the end of the transition period. Atta said that during the transitional period the parliament will be composed of 300 members, of which 67 percent will be from the Alliance for Freedom and Change and the rest will be from other political groups. The Alliance for Freedom and Change meanwhile said the shootings on Monday were an attempt to «disturb the breakthrough» in talks. On Tuesday, the United States blamed the army itself for the deaths. They «were clearly the result of the Transitional Military Council trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks», the US embassy said on its Facebook page. «The decision for security forces to escalate the use of force, including the unnecessary use of tear gas, led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day that the TMC was unable to control,» it said. - 'Dividing the people '- Protest leaders, who on Monday had blamed the remnants of Bashir's regime and allied militias, changed their stand on Tuesday. «We put the whole responsibility on the military council for what happened yesterday because it's their direct responsibility to guard and protect the citizens,» Mohamed Naji al-Assam, a prominent figure in the movement, told reporters. The latest round of talks which opened on Monday come after a break in negotiations that saw protest leaders threaten «escalatory measures» to secure their central demand of civilian rule. The issue has kept thousands of protesters camped outside army headquarters around the clock ever since Bashir's overthrow. The sit-in has become the focal point for the protest movement, overtaking the near daily protests that had been held across Sudan while the veteran president remained in power. But on Tuesday, following the previous night's violence in and around the Khartoum sit-in, protesters vented their anger on the streets of the capital's twin city Omdurman. Protesters gathered in the Abbassiya and Al-Arbaa districts, just across the Nile from the capital, with many chanting slogans against the military council, witnesses told AFP. «Protect your homeland or prepare to die!» the protesters chanted. In Arbaa, some demonstrators blocked roads with burning tyres, a witness said, adding that troops deployed to the area. Hashim Ali Sayed, a protester at the sit-in, blamed the former regime for the «dirty work» on Monday. «They are playing the game of dividing the people in order to control the situation.» © Agence France-Presse

International Federation of the Red Cross congratulates Seychelles for its efforts to assist to those in need

Efforts to help fellow Africans in need carried out by the Red Cross Society of Seychelles were saluted by a high official of the International Federation of Red Cross on Tuesday. The director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescen
Seychelles News Agency

International Federation of the Red Cross congratulates Seychelles for its efforts to assist to those in need

Efforts to help fellow Africans in need carried out by the Red Cross Society of Seychelles were saluted by a high official of the International Federation of Red Cross on Tuesday. The director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for the African Region, Fatoumata Traore, spoke highly of Seychelles' Red Cross chapter during a courtesy call to President Danny Faure at State House, Victoria. Traore hailed the Red Cross Society of Seychelles for its achievements, especially through its help offered to foreign countries in times of difficulties. “I have seen that in solidarity with Mozambique, the national society has been trying to raise resources to show their support to fellow Africans and fellow humans that have been suffering from cyclones Idai and Kenneth,” said Traore. Earlier this month, the island nation’s Red Cross society started collecting monetary donations for Mozambique. Over 500,000 people were left without homes after the country was hit by two deadly cyclones only weeks apart. “To date, over $2,277 (SCR31,000] has been raised, expected to be transferred by the end of the week,” said Collette Servina, the secretary general of Red Cross Society of Seychelles. Traore added that “with climate change, we have to invest more in our Red Cross societies because we will be having those types of crises and disasters more and more with high magnitude, so we have to be organised and ready.” “Crises, disasters, and conflicts are everywhere so building social inclusion is critical for us and ensuring that we are having a resilient community everywhere, including in Seychelles, is also critical,” Traore said. Traore is visiting Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, to support the local branch of the society as part of the celebration for the 100th anniversary of the International Red Cross.  Seychelles' first-aiders in a simulation exercise for an emergency situation in March. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  She said that the Seychelles Red Cross is “doing a great job” on resilience building. “The entire work of the national society has been around saving lives and reducing suffering. This is being done by training people for first aid, dealing with community resilience building to ensure that when there is a shock, people can easily come out of it and be even stronger because of the experience they have and not waiting for anyone else to come and help them,” said Traore.   On May 11, the Red Cross Society of Seychelles (RCSS) re-elected Kisnan Tamatave as the president during the eleventh general assembly of the society. Six other members were elected on the committee in the assembly which Traore attended. Serving a three-year mandate, the newly elected national committee will work on drafting and implementing policies for the running of the society. Traore commented that “we are happy to see that here we have a professional team and that they are well committed, working day and night, being everywhere for people. We are lucky to have such a great national society with great leadership in Seychelles.”

Entretien avec le vice-président Meriton: United Seychelles a pris du recul pour reconstruire

Alors que les Seychelles se préparent à l'élection présidentielle de l'année prochaine, la SNA cherchera à connaître le point de vue des dirigeants politiques de la nation insulaire. Notre deuxième interview de la série réalisée par courrier élec
Seychelles News Agency

Entretien avec le vice-président Meriton: United Seychelles a pris du recul pour reconstruire

Alors que les Seychelles se préparent à l'élection présidentielle de l'année prochaine, la SNA cherchera à connaître le point de vue des dirigeants politiques de la nation insulaire. Notre deuxième interview de la série réalisée par courrier électronique est avec Vincent Meriton, vice-président des Seychelles et chef du parti United Seychelles. SNA: Cela fait presque deux ans que vous avez été élu président du Parti Lepep / United Seychelles. Qu'avez-vous fait pour revitaliser le parti après avoir perdu lors des élections législatives de 2016? VM: Depuis les élections législatives de 2016, nous avons fait quelques pas en arrière pour reconstruire. C'est quelque chose qui n'est pas nouveau dans notre parti, mais peut-être que cette fois-ci, les gens y ont accordé plus d'attention. Notre parti sait à quel moment se renouveler et quand amener un nouveau leadership, adopter de nouvelles idées et s'adapter aux nouvelles réalités socio-économiques et aux circonstances politiques. Le changement le plus important et le plus significatif aujourd'hui est que nous avons une nouvelle constitution pour notre parti. J'inviterais tout le monde à le lire. Si les gens veulent savoir ce pour quoi SPUP (Parti uni du peuple des Seychelles), le Front progressiste du peuple des Seychelles (SPPF) et le Parti Lepep se sont battus et ont abouti aux Seychelles, lisez le préambule. S'ils veulent connaître l'avenir et ce que United Seychelles représente dans le paysage politique d'aujourd'hui, lisez nos valeurs et nos principes directeurs. Chaque époque produit ses propres défis et opportunités. Et pour chaque époque, vous avez besoin des bons leaders avec le bon message pour répondre aux aspirations et aux rêves de la population. Nous pensons que le défi de notre génération est de créer des Seychelles Unies et notre parti est déterminé à jouer son rôle dans la construction de ces Seychelles plus grandes et plus unies. SNA: Beaucoup de hauts fonctionnaires ont quitté le parti. Avez-vous pu regrouper et remplacer ces membres? VM: Quelques membres du Comité central (CC) ont quitté leurs postes et d'autres membres ont rejoint le groupe. Je connais un ancien membre du CC qui a rejoint un autre parti politique. SNA: De nouveaux partis rejoignent la scène politique. Pensez-vous que cela divisera l’opposition ou United Seychelles? VM: Je ne peux pas prédire ce qui va arriver. Mais je pense qu'il est normal dans toute démocratie que les citoyens exercent leur droit de s'organiser en un groupe politique ou de choisir qui suivre. Nous traitons tous les autres partis politiques comme des adversaires et non comme des ennemis. Nous continuerons à identifier des domaines communs sur lesquels nous pouvons nous mettre d'accord pour le plus grand intérêt national des Seychelles. En fin de compte, ce sont les citoyens qui décideront en qui ils peuvent avoir confiance pour construire des Seychelles prospère, stable et unie. SNA: Le parti envisage d'élire son nouveau Comité central au mois de juillet. Êtes-vous candidat au poste de président du parti? VM: La réponse à cette question viendra au bon moment. SNA: Le chef du parti sera-t-il le prochain candidat à l'élection présidentielle de l'année prochaine? VM: C’est une question qui sera réglée lors du congrès du parti concerné. Nous suivrons le processus démocratique requis par la Constitution. Mais permettez-moi de vous rappeler que le président Faure s'est présenté sous la bannière de notre parti aux dernières élections. Rien ne l’empêche de demander au parti de l’endosser lors de la prochaine élection. Et rien n’empêche également le parti de le nommer et de l’appuyer comme candidat à la présidentielle le moment venu. Je peux comprendre pourquoi vous posez cette question et c’est là que United Seychelles est en train de transformer la scène politique des Seychelles et de montrer le chemin. Les gens ont besoin de savoir que la politique est dynamique. Et la politique a changé aux Seychelles, notre démocratie a mûri. Nous avons maintenant des institutions plus fortes et beaucoup plus indépendantes qui fonctionnent selon un système de freins et de contrepoids. Dans ce type d'environnement, un leadership politique responsable consiste à trouver le bon équilibre pour permettre à d'autres acteurs de coexister et de travailler ensemble pour l'intérêt commun. M. Meriton lors d'une réunion avec les membres de son parti (Rassin Vannier)  Photo License: CC-BY  SNA: Les membres du parti comprennent-ils l'idée que le parti peut soutenir un candidat qui n'est pas le président du parti? VM: Nos partisans et le peuple des Seychelles sont plus intelligents et plus matures que beaucoup veulent nous faire croire. Ils comprennent parfaitement ce qui se passe aux Seychelles et dans le monde. Le président Faure n'est pas celui qui a inventé le concept de président qui n'est pas le chef du parti politique auquel il appartient. Obama était-il le chef du parti démocrate? Donald Trump est-il le chef du parti républicain? Et voici où nous devons éduquer notre population et pour nous en tant que parti politique, nos partisans. De nombreuses personnes ont rapidement exploité cette déclaration du président Faure lorsqu'il a déclaré qu'il prenait ses distances par rapport à la direction du parti. Mais ce que les gens ne mentionnent pas, c'est que le président Faure n'a jamais renoncé à son appartenance au parti. Le président Faure reste un membre inscrit de United Seychelles. Donc rien n'a changé sur ce point. Ce qui a changé, c’est que le président Faure a le sentiment que, à l’ère de la politique des Seychelles, où pour la première fois on a une opposition qui contrôle le législatif, un leader responsable doit changer et s’adapter. Lorsque votre parti contrôle à la fois les pouvoirs exécutif et législatif du gouvernement, il est également plus facile d’être un dirigeant de votre parti. Mais ce n'est plus le cas. Nous avons besoin de dirigeants, en particulier d’un président disposé à travailler avec l’autre partie et le président Faure a montré à maintes reprises qu’il était disposé à le faire. En effet, le président Faure a placé les Seychelles avant tout en renonçant à la direction de son parti, car il a choisi de renforcer les capacités des Seychelles et de tous les Seychellois. Cela lui a peut-être coûté du capital politique. Mais nous n’avons pas besoin d’un politicien à State House. Nous avons besoin d'un président qui est également un homme d'État et je suis convaincu que l'action du président Faure lui a valu le respect de tous les Seychellois. SNA: Que pensez-vous du désaccord entre l'exécutif et le législatif sur l'augmentation des salaires de la fonction publique? VM: Je pense que notre position sur cette question a été claire et cohérente depuis le début. Il est regrettable qu’à un moment où nous parlons tous de réduire le coût de la vie, nous ne sommes pas d’accord sur la manière de le faire. Le gouvernement n'a jamais eu l'intention de se battre avec l'opposition sur cette question. Il s’agissait simplement de voter selon ce qui avait été convenu dans le budget. Mais cette impasse est normale dans un système démocratique où un parti contrôle l'exécutif et un autre le législatif. Les gens doivent comprendre et être préparés à ce genre de politique. Dans certains pays, ils appellent cela l’impasse, tandis que d’autres le qualifient de talon d’Achille de la démocratie, car cela entraîne la paralysie du gouvernement et, entre-temps, comme nous l’avons vu ici, nous voyons des politiciens opposer un groupe à un autre alors qu’il faut faire passer l'intérêt national en premier. Encore une fois, c’est la raison pour laquelle le geste du président Faure est si significatif et pourquoi nous avons choisi United Seychelles comme nom de notre parti. C'est une nouvelle Seychelles avec un nouveau paysage politique. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre de nous battre entre nous. Nous devons aller au-delà de la politique des années 80 et 90. Ces temps sont passés. Les dirigeants de cette époque sont partis. Nous n’avons plus besoin de ce genre de politique et ceux qui veulent jouer ce genre de politique ne comprennent pas la dynamique d’aujourd’hui. Malheureusement, certains dirigeants politiques sont définis de manière particulière et pensent vivre en 1977 et combattre Albert René. Cette époque est partie. Les Seychellois sont fatigués de ce genre de politique conflictuelle et amère. Ils veulent savoir ce que nous allons faire pour eux et non ce que nous allons faire pour punir ceux qui n’ont pas répondus aux attentes de certains. Ils veulent des politiciens qui puissent s'unir et non diviser ce pays. Je crois fermement que United Seychelles est la meilleure option pour tous les Seychellois.  

Britain, NZ failing on children's rights: global survey

Britain and New Zealand are failing on children's rights, scoring lower than war-torn Syria and North Korea relative to their wealth in rankings released Tuesday by a children's group. «Appalling» discrimination against migrant children and a lac
Seychelles News Agency

Britain, NZ failing on children's rights: global survey

Britain and New Zealand are failing on children's rights, scoring lower than war-torn Syria and North Korea relative to their wealth in rankings released Tuesday by a children's group. «Appalling» discrimination against migrant children and a lack of legal protection for poorer youths in New Zealand and the UK put them near the bottom of the annual survey by Dutch NGO KidsRights. «It's a shame that countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand are really at the lowest ranks of this index,» Marc Dulleart, founder and chairman of KidsRights, told AFP. Britain ranked 170 and New Zealand 169 in the survey of 181 countries. Iceland was top followed by Portugal, Switzerland, Finland and Germany. Afghanistan was worst, followed by Sierra Leone, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic. The annual KidsRights rankings, compiled with the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam, use UN data to measure how countries measure up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. «Of course the situation in the UK is far better than in Afghanistan or Syria, but it's relative to their position,» Dulleart said. «The message is that, considering their economic status and it is a democracy and it is a country not in war, then it is appalling in such a rich developed country that the score on the basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the lowest score.» Booming economic growth in countries such as China, India and Myanmar is meanwhile failing to translate into better rights for children, the group said. - 'Old-fashioned mindset' - However Thailand and Tunisia ranked surprisingly highly, at 14th and 15th, because with the «limited resources they have, they put everything into the next generation», said Dullaert. The group said giving children around the world a bigger say was crucial. It cited the examples of youth movements such as teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's school marches and US rallies for gun control after school shootings. «We are still underestimating the power of these movements,» said Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, who founded the Missing Chapter Foundation to install boards of children in companies, and has worked with KidsRights. «We need to get rid of this old fashioned mindset that we the adults have all the answers,» added the princess, who is the sister-in-law of Dutch King Willem-Alexander. She also urged governments to invest in children now to reap future benefits -- citing the example of Dutch football team Ajax, whose young team stunned Europe by making the semi-finals of the Champions League this year. «It's a bit like 'why is Ajax playing so well' - and we're incredibly proud of them by the way - it's because 10 years ago they had the right strategy, investing in youth. Then it shows up later that we have stars.» KidsRights also presents an annual international children's peace prize whose previous winners include Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. © Agence France-Presse

'Don't Waste, Eat!" programme delivers 200 kg of food to 35 families in Seychelles

Over 200 kg of food was distributed to around 35 families in the Seychelles’ eastern Mahe district of Roche Caiman on Sunday as part of the “Don’t Waste, Eat!“ food waste reduction programme’. Families received vegetables, fruits and other food p
Seychelles News Agency

'Don't Waste, Eat!" programme delivers 200 kg of food to 35 families in Seychelles

Over 200 kg of food was distributed to around 35 families in the Seychelles’ eastern Mahe district of Roche Caiman on Sunday as part of the “Don’t Waste, Eat!“ food waste reduction programme’. Families received vegetables, fruits and other food products which included pastries, cakes and bread. The donations were made by SPAR supermarket and a number of hotels which are members of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association such as Alphonse Island Lodge, Constance Ephelia, Bravo Restaurant, H Resort and Kempinski Seychelles Resort. “Though a lot of the products are buffet leftovers or had reached their best before date, they are still good for consumption,” said the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation Project Officer, Rosetta Alcindor. The “Don’t Waste Eat!” food waste reduction programme was launched in July 2018 by the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation, (SSTF) in cooperation with Betterfly Tourism --a software publisher for tourism profession. The programme serves to equip staff with necessary skills to measure and monitor food waste, provide hotels with a platform that facilitates monitoring of cost savings and food waste reduction. This was the second edition of the food donation fair in the programme. Over 200 kg of food was distributed to around 35 families in the district of Roche Caiman. (Marivel Media) Photo License: CC-BY "There is more to a food donation than what we usually think. We are not only providing food for the community and diverting good food from the landfill, but we are also putting smiles on families’ faces,” Alcindor told SNA. A pilot study conducted by SSTF and Betterfly Tourism showed that every year at least 2,664 tonnes of food coming from hotels and restaurants ends up on the landfill. “As the food is donated, it reduces the demand for importation of food products on the market as families now consume what they were donated, hence avoiding CO2 emissions along the supply chain,” said Alcindor. According to a study done by Sustainability for Seychelles (S4S) a not-for-profit organisation, 48 percent of what goes to the landfill of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is organic waste. This includes green waste and food waste. The SSTF aims to steer interest in the development of policies that would give liability protection for food donation, monitoring of food donations, create food safety guidance for food donation and creation of tax incentives where donors and organisations feel encouraged to donate for the wellbeing of our community and our planet.  

Vice President Meriton interview: United Seychelles has taken steps back in order to rebuild

As Seychelles gets ready for a presidential election next year, SNA will be seeking the views of the island nation's political leaders. Our second interview in the series done via email is with Vincent Meriton, the Seychelles’ Vice President and the leade
Seychelles News Agency

Vice President Meriton interview: United Seychelles has taken steps back in order to rebuild

As Seychelles gets ready for a presidential election next year, SNA will be seeking the views of the island nation's political leaders. Our second interview in the series done via email is with Vincent Meriton, the Seychelles’ Vice President and the leader of the United Seychelles party.   SNA: It is almost two years since you were elected president of Parti Lepep/United Seychelles. What have you done to revitalise the party after losing in the parliamentary elections of 2016? VM: Since the parliamentary elections of 2016, we have taken a few steps backwards in order to rebuild. This is something that is not new in our party but perhaps this time people have been paying more attention. Our party knows when to renew itself when to bring in new leadership, new ideas and adapt to new socio-economic realities and political circumstances. The greatest and most significant change today is that we have a new Constitution for our party. I would invite everyone to read it. If people want to know what the SPUP (Seychelles People United Party), SPPF (Seychelles People’s Progressive Front) and Parti Lepep fought for and achieved in Seychelles, then read the preamble. If they want to know about the future and what United Seychelles represents in today’s political landscape, then read our values and guiding principles. Every era produces its own unique challenges and opportunities. And for every era, you need the right leaders with the right message to respond to the aspirations and dreams of the people. We believe that a United Seychelles is our generation’s challenge and our party is determined to play its part in building this greater and more United Seychelles.   SNA: Many top officials have left the party. Have you been able to regroup and replace those members? VM: A few members of the Central Committee (CC) have relinquished their posts and other members have joined. I know of one former CC member who has joined another political party.   SNA: There are new parties joining the political scene. Do you think this will divide the opposition or United Seychelles? VM: I cannot predict what will happen. But I think it is normal in any democracy for people to exercise their rights to organise themselves in a political grouping or choose who to follow.  We treat all other political parties as adversaries and not as our enemies. We will continue to identify common areas where we can agree on for the greater national interest of Seychelles. At the end of the day, it is the people who will decide who they can trust with building a prosperous, stable and united Seychelles.   SNA: The party plans to elect its new Central Committee in July. Are you a candidate for the post of president of the party? VM: The answer to this question will come at the right time.   SNA: Will the leader of the party be the next candidate for the presidential elections next year? VM: This is a matter that will be decided at the relevant party’s congress. We will follow the democratic process that is required by the Constitution. But may I remind you that President Faure stood on our party’s ticket at the last election. There is nothing preventing him from requesting the endorsement of the party to be its next candidate at the next election. And there is also nothing preventing the party from nominating and endorsing him as our presidential candidate when the time comes. I can understand why you ask this question and this is where again United Seychelles is transforming Seychelles' politics and leading the way. People need to know that politics is dynamic. And politics have changed in Seychelles, our democracy has matured. We now have stronger and far more independent institutions operating in a system of checks and balances. In this kind of environment, responsible political leadership is about finding the right balance to allow other actors to co-exist and work together for the common interest.  Meriton in a meeting with his party members. (Rassin Vannier)  Photo License: CC-BY   SNA: Do members of the party grasp the concept that the party can support a candidate that is not the president of the party? VM: Our supporters and the people of Seychelles are more intelligent and mature than many want us to believe. They understand perfectly what is going on in Seychelles and what goes on in the world. President Faure was not the one who invented the concept of being a president who is not the leader of the political party he belongs to. Was Obama the leader of the Democratic Party? Is Donald Trump the leader of the Republican Party? And here is where we need to educate our population and for us as a political party, our supporters. Many people have been quick to exploit this declaration by President Faure when he said he was distancing himself from the leadership of the party. But what people do not mention is that President Faure never gave up his membership of the party. President Faure remains a registered member of United Seychelles. So nothing has changed there. What has changed is that President Faure feels that in this era where you have for the first time in Seychelles’ politics, an opposition that is in control of the legislative, a responsible leader has to change and adapt. When your party is in control of both executive and legislative branches of the government, it is easier to be a leader of your party also. But this is no longer the case. We need leaders, especially a president who is willing to work with the other side and President Faure has demonstrated on many occasions that he is willing to do that. Indeed, President Faure has put Seychelles above all else by giving up the leadership of his party because he chose to lead in a greater capacity for Seychelles and all Seychellois. This may have cost him some political capital. But we don’t need a politician only at State House. We need a President who is also a Statesman and I am confident that the action of President Faure has earned him the respect of all Seychellois.   SNA: What are your views on the disagreement between the executive and legislative over the public service salary increase? VM: I believe that our position on this issue has been clear and consistent all along. It is unfortunate that at a time when we are all talking about reducing the cost of living, we are disagreeing about how to do it. It was never the intention of the government to start a battle with the opposition over this issue. It was a simple matter of voting in what was agreed in the budget. But this stalemate is normal in a democratic system where a party controls the executive and another the legislative. People have to understand and be prepared for this kind of politics. In some countries they call this gridlock while other people refer to this as the Achilles heel of democracy because it leads to paralysis in government and in the meantime just like we have seen here, we see politicians pitting one group against another when in fact we should be putting the national interest first. Again, this is why President Faure’s move is so significant and why we have chosen United Seychelles as the name of our party. This is a new Seychelles with a new political landscape. We cannot afford to be fighting among ourselves. We need to move beyond the politics of the 80s and 90s. These times are gone. The leaders of that time are gone. We don’t need that kind of politics anymore and those who want to play that kind of politics do not understand today’s political dynamic. Unfortunately, there are some political leaders who are set in a particular way and think they are living in 1977 and fighting Albert Rene. This era is gone. Seychellois are tired of this kind of divisive and bitter politics. They want to know what we are going to do for them not what we are going to do to punish those who have fallen short. They want politicians who can unite not divide this country. I firmly believe that United Seychelles is the best option for all Seychellois.  

Saudi oil tankers hit by 'sabotage attacks' as Gulf tensions soar

Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were damaged in «sabotage attacks» in the Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran. It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped
Seychelles News Agency

Saudi oil tankers hit by 'sabotage attacks' as Gulf tensions soar

Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were damaged in «sabotage attacks» in the Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran. It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran. Tehran called for an investigation into the «alarming» attacks and warned of «adventurism» by foreign players to disrupt maritime security. The United States has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats. Saudi Arabia, the Islamic republic's regional arch-rival, condemned «the acts of sabotage which targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates,» a foreign ministry source said. «This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and international peace and security,» the source added. The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the two tankers suffered «significant damage» but there were no casualties or any oil spill. «Two Saudi oil tankers were subjected to a sabotage attack in the exclusive economic zone of the United Arab Emirates, off the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah, while on their way to cross into the Arabian Gulf,» the SPA state news agency quoted Falih as saying. Fujairah port is the only terminal in the UAE located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the United States. One of the two tankers that was attacked was on its way to be loaded with crude oil from a Saudi oil terminal for customers in the United States, Falih said. - 'Serious development' - The UAE did not accuse anyone of responsibility but warned that «carrying out acts of sabotage on commercial and civilian vessels and threatening the safety and lives of those on board is a serious development». No one was hurt and Abu Dhabi called on world powers to help keep maritime traffic safe. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi expressed concern over the incident and its possible consequences. «The incidents in the Sea of Oman are alarming and regrettable,» Mousavi said in an English-language statement on the ministry's website. He also «warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security» and «called for the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements», the statement added. Almost all the oil exports of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran itself, at least 15 million barrels per day, are shipped through the Strait of Hormuz. The Saudi minister denounced the attack on the vessels, saying it «aims to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world.» He also urged the international community to «protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets, and the danger they pose to the global economy.» The UAE had earlier categorically denied reported on social media of massive explosions in oil tankers in the emirate. The Pentagon said Friday that it was deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to bolster an aircraft carrier force sent to counter alleged Iranian threats. The increasing tensions come after Tehran said Wednesday it had stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers. Iran said it was responding to the sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington has reimposed since it quit the agreement one year ago, which have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy. Pompeo revised his travel plans to include a visit to Brussels on Monday to hold talks with French, British and German officials on «pressing matters» including Iran, a State Department official said As a result, the top US diplomat is scrapping a stop expected on Monday in Moscow, but will still head to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday to meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. © Agence France-Presse

New movement in Seychelles is defending Creole identity

‘Mouvman Kreol Seselwa’ - a new movement in Seychelles - wants to empower, protect and preserve the Seychellois Creole identity. The movement, as it is referred to, said that overall it seeks to promote the welfare and socio-economic wellbeing of the Se
Seychelles News Agency

New movement in Seychelles is defending Creole identity

‘Mouvman Kreol Seselwa’ - a new movement in Seychelles - wants to empower, protect and preserve the Seychellois Creole identity. The movement, as it is referred to, said that overall it seeks to promote the welfare and socio-economic wellbeing of the Seychellois Creoles by uplifting them in all spheres of life. Cyril Lau Tee, the chair of the group, explained that ‘Mouvman Kreol Seselwa’ – which is a movement and not a political party - was registered in March this year. “We also want to promote, preserve and foster the Creole culture, values and identity without prejudice to other cultures,” said Lau Tee.  According to Lau Tee the Creoles - as the natives of the islands are referred to - are disadvantaged in some areas, particularly in the economic sector. “Look at retailers for example. Where are the Seychellois? We find Indians and Chinese controlling the sector. We also see very few Seychellois working in their shops.« Lau Tee added that hardware stores are another example. »In days gone by these were run by Seychellois but nowadays it’s all Chinese.” Lau Tee said that foreigners in Seychelles need to integrate more with the locals as one of the aims of the movement is to promote harmony among all ethnic communities. “Look at the Indians. Long ago they integrated and mixed with the locals. Look at Srinivasan, Deenu, Adam Moosa and the rest, they have been here a long long time and have integrated and mixed well within our culture.” The chair reiterated that the movement is not against expatriate workers but “wants fair and equal opportunities for Creoles to participate in the business and economic sectors.” Another issue which the movement said is high on their agenda is Seychellois citizenship. “We are not racist. But we feel it is too easy to gain Seychelles citizenship. Our passport is ranked amongst the top in the world and we feel that this is being given freely,« elaborated Gilbert Victor –executive member of the movement. Victor said: »We are not against foreigners living and working here but we feel they should not be given our passport.”  The logo of the Mouvman Kreol Seselwa. (Cyril Lau-Tee, Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY To substantiate this, Mouvman Kreol Seselwa has sent a request to the Immigration department to know exactly how many people were given citizenship of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – from 2015 to date. Victor added that «the movement wants to “stop the process of naturalisation through peaceful means.” The movement wants to lobby and sensitise the public on the plight of the Seychellois Creoles. Mobilising and organising the creoles into a coherent organisation able to influence national decisions is another aim of the group. Mouvman Kreol Seselwa feels that these are ways to ensure Seychellois – who are born and bred on the island nation - are put and remain at the forefront of the country. According to Lau Tee and Victor, the first activity of the movement is a public meeting and all Seychellois sharing their vision are invited to join the group. “This group is a forum for discussions and recommendations of persons who share the conviction that Seychelles must remain a society based on Creole values,» said Lau Tee. The chair concluded by saying that the Creoles must exercise their right to self-determination.” 

India and France hold biggest naval exercises -- with one eye on China

With the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle at the centre, France and India on Friday stepped up their biggest naval exercises as the Indian Ocean's strategic shipping lanes draw ever more envious eyes. Without naming the Asian giant, India and France worry
Seychelles News Agency

India and France hold biggest naval exercises -- with one eye on China

With the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle at the centre, France and India on Friday stepped up their biggest naval exercises as the Indian Ocean's strategic shipping lanes draw ever more envious eyes. Without naming the Asian giant, India and France worry about China's growing economic clout and its territorial claims that have caused tensions in the South China Sea. «We think we can bring more stability to a region that is strategic, that has huge stakes, notably for international trade,» said Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas, who commands the French fleet that includes its only aircraft carrier. The vast majority of trade between Asia and Europe and the Middle East -- particularly oil -- is carried across the ocean, while internet-communications cables straddle the seabed that is rich with its own oil and gas fields. The 42,000 tonne Charles de Gaulle is one of 12 warships and submarines -- six from each country -- taking part in the 17th annual exercises off the coast of the Indian resort state of Goa. French authorities say they are the biggest ever since the exercises started in 2001. And the presence of the aircraft carrier, which has just undergone an 18-month refit, is no accident. - Power games - Row after row of Rafale fighter jets were launched to deafening roars off the carrier's 261 metre (860 feet) runway. India's traditional dominance in the Indian Ocean faces a growing Chinese shadow with the deployment of warships and submarines along shipping lanes and the construction of a giant network of commercial infrastructure through its Belt and Road initiative, which India strongly opposes. «China is not an aggressive country» in the Indian Ocean, said Rear Admiral Didier Maleterre, the head of French maritime forces in the region. «What you see in the sea around China, the reclamation of land on islands in the Spratleys or Paracels, you do not see that in the Indian Ocean,» he said. The top officer said President Xi Xinping's building of new Silk Road trade routes, which includes the Indian Ocean, «is a strategy being put in place that is mainly economic, with perhaps a dual purpose.» Malterre did not specify what other purpose, but added that there are «scenarios» in the next 10 to 15 years, «certainly not as big as in the sea off China, but that clearly could lead to tensions.» France annoyed China last month by sending a warship into the Taiwan Straits. The ship was intercepted by the Chinese navy and Beijing made an official protest, while France insisted it was exercising «freedom of navigation». French diplomats insist there is no link between that incident and the Indian Ocean exercises. The links between India and France «are certainly not a partnership aimed against any country in the region or any power in the world,» said Alexandre Ziegler, French ambassador to India. The Charles de Gaulle is being used again as a projection of French power however. In March, it took part in international operations in the Mediterranean against the Islamic State group. From these exercises, the carrier is to go on to Singapore. © Agence France-Presse

10 tonnes of waste -- mostly from other countries -- collected in massive beach clean-up in Seychelles

Environmental volunteers collected over 10 tonnes of waste that washed ashore on eight remote islands of Seychelles in the first-ever-large-scale clean-up of the Indian Ocean nation's outer isles, an effort that showed that large portions of the trash emanat
Seychelles News Agency

10 tonnes of waste -- mostly from other countries -- collected in massive beach clean-up in Seychelles

Environmental volunteers collected over 10 tonnes of waste that washed ashore on eight remote islands of Seychelles in the first-ever-large-scale clean-up of the Indian Ocean nation's outer isles, an effort that showed that large portions of the trash emanated from foreign countries.  Litter was collected over 10 days across the islands of Astove, Alphonse, Farquar, Desroches, Poivre, Remire, Coetivy, and Platte. The waste weighed a total of 10,627 kg. The cleanup was organised by Islands Development Company (IDC) in collaboration with The Ocean Project Seychelles, a local non-profit organisation created to raise awareness on the dangers of plastic waste.  The chairperson of the IDC board of directors, Patrick Berlouis, who was leading the team of volunteers on Coetivy described as saddening that people in some parts of the world are using the ocean to dispose of their rubbish.   “We hope that this exercise is just a small step which will hopefully go a long way in educating people about the ocean and the need to protect it,” said Berlouis. According to the Ocean Project Seychelles, litter was collected on both the beaches and the vegetation lying behind the shorelines. Volunteers collected litters on beaches and shorelines. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY The most common items of waste collected include plastic drink bottles, flip flops, along with ropes and fishing nets. The Ocean Project Seychelles added that a significant portion of the litter emanated outside of Seychelles based on the original use of the items, brands/barcodes observed. Around 22 percent of the barcodes originated from Indonesia and the other countries identified were South Africa, Tanzania, Mauritius, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Seychelles. A count was conducted on Alphonse on the number of recurring brand names. The top four brands collected were Krating Daeng manufactured in Thailand, Coca Cola, YouC100 and Aqua-Danone made in Indonesia. A significant portion of the litter emanated outside of Seychelles based on the items, brands/barcodes observed. (Marivel Media) Photo License: CC-BY The highest amount of waste -- 3,712 kg-- was collected on Coetivy. The coral island located 290 kilometres from the main island of Mahe had since 2012 been used for a rehabilitation programme for convicted drug offenders. The facility was closed in January. Farquhar atoll had the second most waste collected at 2,753 kg followed by Astove with 1,940 kg. The cleanup initiative from March 18-31 which had the participation of 40 volunteers for a period of 10 days was aimed at raising awareness on the dangers of plastic waste. The Ocean Project Seychelles will be using the data collected to establish where the plastic pollution hotspots are, how much is arriving annually and how this varies between the inner islands and outer islands. A presentation of the data and an award ceremony for the volunteers will be held on Tuesday, May 14 at the Savoy Hotel, where government representatives and other organisations are expected to learn more about the next steps in fighting plastic pollution. As far as possible, rubbish collected as part of the outer islands cleanup exercise will be recycled. The outer island cleanup was launched while a similar five-week cleanup took place on the remote Aldabra atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage site, by 12 volunteers from Seychelles and England. Around 25 tonnes of waste, including some 50,000 flip flops, were collected and shipped back to the main island of Mahe. 

UN kicks off major climate change effort

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls it the defining issue of our time: climate change is moving to the center stage at the United Nations, three years after the Paris agreement went into force. A major UN push for progress on climate change kicks of
Seychelles News Agency

UN kicks off major climate change effort

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls it the defining issue of our time: climate change is moving to the center stage at the United Nations, three years after the Paris agreement went into force. A major UN push for progress on climate change kicks off next week when Guterres travels to New Zealand and several Pacific islands, where rising sea levels are threatening the very existence of those small countries. The stepped-up diplomacy will culminate with a climate action summit at the United Nations in September, an event billed as a last chance to prevent irreversible climate change. «We are still losing the battle,» Guterres told reporters last week. «Climate change is still running faster than we are, and if we don't reverse this trend, it will be a tragedy for the whole world.» In Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Guterres will meet with families whose lives have been upended by cyclones, flooding and other extreme weather events. Pacific island countries face an especially dire risk from climate change because of sea level rise. In some cases, low-lying countries could disappear completely. Fiji is working to build a coalition of more than 90 countries from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia facing climate crisis. «We hope that the secretary-general will draw far more inspiration from his first visit to go further, faster and deeper with the climate summit,» Fiji's UN Ambassador Satyendra Prasad told AFP. «We are very hopeful that the climate summit will mark a turning point.» - China: climate power - The UN push on climate change is shaping up amid geopolitical shifts: the United States under Donald Trump has decided to pull out of the Paris agreement to combat global warming, giving China more space to assert its views. «The Trump administration's disdain for climate diplomacy has left China looking like the main guarantor of the Paris agreement,» said Richard Gowan, UN director for the International Crisis Group. «While China is increasingly active across the UN, other states are suspicious of its stances on human rights and development. But it is the indispensable power in climate talks now.» Trump announced in 2017 that the United States would exit the Paris agreement, but under the terms of the deal the withdrawal will only become effective in 2020. The US administration is not taking part in summit preparations but has not said it will skip the event, according to UN officials. Guterres' mission may also be further complicated by Trump's nomination of Kelly Knight Craft as UN ambassador. Craft, who is married to a major coal magnate, raised eyebrows for declaring that she believed «both sides» of climate science, indicating she may well be out of sync with the UN on the issue. - Plans, not speeches - Guterres has told leaders to bring plans, not speeches, to the summit to be held in New York on September 23 during the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. The summit is seen as critical because of US resistance to discuss climate change at other forums including the G7 and G20, and again last week at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland. «What people are looking for is countries to commit to major ambition increases in 2025 and 2030 at the summit or in 2020,» said Nick Mabey, head of the E3G climate think tank. This should include legally binding targets for countries to phase out coal, become climate neutral and invest in climate resilience, especially for the poorest countries, he added. A string of apocalyptic reports on the state of the planet is bringing home the need for concrete steps. One million species are on the brink of extinction. Carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, pushing targets from the Paris accord further out of reach. UN climate envoy Luis Alfonso de Alba told AFP on Friday that he was optimistic about prospects for a breakthrough on climate, saying the dire predictions were having a galvanizing effect. «The situation worldwide is quite different from what it was five to 10 years ago. Five to 10 years ago, countries were looking at their neighbors before acting,» he said. «Today, everybody has full conscience of the urgency to act, and they are not going to wait for their neighbors to act.» © Agence France-Presse

Discovery of new paradise flycatcher nest lifts spirits of those protecting Seychelles' critically endangered bird

The discovery of a new nest of the Seychelles’ critically endangered bird, the paradise flycatcher, in an unusual tree is a positive sign that the species is recovering, said the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA). For the first time, a new nest bu
Seychelles News Agency

Discovery of new paradise flycatcher nest lifts spirits of those protecting Seychelles' critically endangered bird

The discovery of a new nest of the Seychelles’ critically endangered bird, the paradise flycatcher, in an unusual tree is a positive sign that the species is recovering, said the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA). For the first time, a new nest built by a pair of paradise flycatchers, known as veuve, was spotted in a morinda citrifolia tree (bwa torti in Creole) which produces the noni fruit in the Veuve Special Reserve on La Digue, the third-most populated island. According to SNPA ranger Josianna Rose, the discovery will have major ramifications for conservation practice of the paradise flycatcher. “It’s a major positive since it widens the habitat potential for the veuve. We can now add more bwa torti in the reserve, and at about two metres from the ground level, they will be more accessible for us to monitor,” she said.   Flycatchers typically nest more commonly in takamaka and badamier trees which are seen in plenty in the Veuve Reserve’s coastal woodlands, as well as bwa kafoul and bwa blan. Rose said that as the species is clawing back from the brink of extinction, nesting and breeding patterns have to be closely monitored to ensure the environment is as favourable as possible toward its recovery. The paradise flycatchers found only in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, are currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list of critically endangered species. This species has an extremely small range and probably only one viable population persisting on an island where there has been a continuing decline in habitat. Rats and the destruction of habitat brought the species close to extinction until the creation of the Veuve Reserve in 1991 on La Digue. The Reserve was at one point the species last sanctuary. Careful monitoring, conservation practices and translocation to other islands -- Denis in 2008 and Curieuse 2018 -- have helped the bird to recover. Veuve Special Reserve on La Digue was once the species last sanctuary. (Gerard Laurence, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY In an interview on the birds’ translocation to Curieuse last year, the director general for biodiversity conservation and management in the environment ministry, Marie-May Muzungaile said, “There is continuous stress on the species as their main habitat is on La Digue. It is not to our advantage to have the population only on one site. The first transfer was a learning process for us. Ten years on we feel that we are ready for the next step.” Meanwhile, SNPA continues to improve the habitat of the paradise flycatchers in the reserve on La Digue. “Just last month, a series of leaf-shaped bird baths were installed to provide additional water during the dry season. The last drought was tough on the birds and we had some fibreglass baths made,” Rose said. The SNPA is also planning a major upgrade to the facilities at the Veuve Special Reserve, which will include a refurbished visitor information centre. The Seychelles National Parks Authority is entrusted with the protection and management of all marine and terrestrial national parks in the island nation. 

Anti-Boko Haram militia frees 900 children in Nigeria: UN

Nearly 900 children held by a pro-government militia force fighting Boko Haram insurgents in northeastern Nigeria were freed on Friday, the UN said. The 894 children, including 106 girls, had been in the ranks of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task For
Seychelles News Agency

Anti-Boko Haram militia frees 900 children in Nigeria: UN

Nearly 900 children held by a pro-government militia force fighting Boko Haram insurgents in northeastern Nigeria were freed on Friday, the UN said. The 894 children, including 106 girls, had been in the ranks of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a local militia which supports regular soldiers battling the Islamist insurgents. At a ceremony in the northeastern town of Maiduguri, they were released as part of the CJTF's «commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children,» the UN children's agency (UNICEF) said. «Children of north-east Nigeria have borne the brunt of this conflict,» said UNICEF chief in Nigeria Mohamed Fall. «They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence.» The CJTF is a militia formed in 2013 to protect communities from attack, but it has also recruited hundreds of children. In 2017, the militia signed a promise to stop recruiting child soldiers and release the ones they hold. The children freed on Friday bring the total released since then to 1,727 children, UNICEF said. It was not clear how many children remain in its ranks, but the UN welcomed the news on Friday. «Any commitment for children that is matched with action is a step in the right direction for the protection of children's rights, and must be recognised and encouraged,» Fall said. The freed children will be enrolled into a reintegration programme with education and training to help them return to civilian life. Boko Haram's decade-long uprising to establish a hardline Islamic state in Nigeria's northeast has spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The jihadis have also recruited thousands of children to fight in their ranks. «We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria,» Fall said, noting that children «have been abducted, maimed, raped and killed.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles hosts regional African island states to examine Blue Economy ahead of UN climate change summit

Representatives from Seychelles and other African states shared experiences and identified challenges and opportunities in the Blue Economy in a regional conference hosted by the island nation for the first time. The regional African island state conference
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles hosts regional African island states to examine Blue Economy ahead of UN climate change summit

Representatives from Seychelles and other African states shared experiences and identified challenges and opportunities in the Blue Economy in a regional conference hosted by the island nation for the first time. The regional African island state conference organised from May 7-9 was hosted under the theme ‘Creating a sustainable future of work and just transition towards the blue economy.’ Addressing participants on Thursday, the Minister of Employment, Immigration and Civil Status, Myriam Telemaque, said that the meeting was an opportunity for the African island states to learn from each other and engage in areas of cooperation. Telemaque said that the government of Seychelles is also pledging its commitment to developing programmes of actions to implement the outcomes of the conference at national, regional and international level with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). “The outcome of this conference also means that each time Seychelles is represented at events on the topic of the Blue Economy, it will be at the forefront to move this initiative forward,” she added. The outcome of the three-day discussions will be presented at the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change summit in September and the 14th Africa Regional Meeting in December.  Participants shared experiences and identified challenges and opportunities in the Blue Economy. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY At the opening on Tuesday, Seychelles’ Vice President, Vincent Meriton, said, “This meeting is a prime opportunity to bolster the socio-economic initiatives for the future of all our African island states, particularly in the domain of the Blue Economy and adaptation to climate change.” Meriton said that for Seychelles, “the Blue Economy represents our model for a sustainable future, one which will generate a new wave of employment opportunities and economic growth.” ‘’Working in these sectors is not new for Seychelles and a large number of jobs is created by the tourism and fisheries industries, contributing 25 percent and 8 percent respectively to the nation’s GDP. These statistics show that the link between the environment, the economy and employment is real,” he added. Tourism and fisheries are the top two contributors to the economy of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Seychelles has made a lot of progress in its commitment to promoting a good working environment. These include the introduction of the 13th month of pay, an unemployment relief scheme for vulnerable groups and an increase in maternity leave from 14 to 16 weeks. As of January next year annual leave will increase from 21 to 24 days. On her side, the ILO’s assistant director-general and regional director for Africa, Cynthia Samuel-Olunjuwon, said, “Island states of Africa should continue to explore ways to use the opportunities provided by the Blue Economy to build a brighter future of work.” Samuel-Olunjuwon expressed the hope that this week’s deliberations will translate into concrete and tangible outcomes for the participating island states. “The ILO is supporting Africa in hosting for the first time the global youth employment forum to take place in Abuja, Nigeria in August of which one of the areas of focus will be the opportunities for decent work for young people in the Blue Economy. The outcome of this week’s meeting in Seychelles will be incorporated in the forum,” she added. The ILO is a UN agency dealing with labour issues. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.

Seychelles studying rules to govern mobile money, cryptocurrency, internet banking

Seychelles expects to have a national strategy that will guide the implementation of financial technology by the end of the year, said a top official of the Central Bank. To pave the way for the formulation of the strategy, a three-day working session was or
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles studying rules to govern mobile money, cryptocurrency, internet banking

Seychelles expects to have a national strategy that will guide the implementation of financial technology by the end of the year, said a top official of the Central Bank. To pave the way for the formulation of the strategy, a three-day working session was organised this week under the theme ‘Building a Fintech Platform for Seychelles – Opportunities and Challenges.’ The aim of the session was to explore the potential of Financial Technology as well as the implications that such innovations can have on the local financial sector. FinTech is used to describe new technology that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. ​​​It is used to help companies, business owners and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes and lives by utilising specialised software and algorithms. In Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, such services include debit cards, internet banking, mobile money and investment in bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies, which are relatively new. Airtel money allows people to store any money they have on their mobile phones to pay for goods and services. (Airtel/Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY FinTech is rapidly changing the global economic and financial landscape and has the potential to be the driving force of several initiatives outlined in the Seychelles’ financial sector development, Vice President Vincent Meriton said in his address. These included “the development of the national payment system and other financial infrastructures, improving access to credit for small and medium enterprises, fostering capital market developments, the enhancement of competition and innovation, and the promotion of greater financial stability,” said Meriton. This was echoed by the governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), Caroline Abel, who said that Seychelles recognises the importance of FinTech which is transforming the financial industry into a dynamic and vibrant network. Abel told SNA that it was for this reason that three years ago, CBS started to look at FinTech closely and attended various international fora to look at how Seychelles could make use of the new technologies. A CBS delegation was in Hong Kong last year to look at the innovative technologies used in the financial sector and how these could be used locally to improve access and facilitate the broader digital transformation of the Seychelles economy. Abel said it was important to have dialogues among the implementers of FinTech Solutions, policymakers and the regulators so that there is a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities and challenges of such developments. “As a regulator, we are aware of the risks which exist in regards to financial consumer protection, data protection, cybersecurity, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism,” she said. “Our mandate is to ensure that payments done in our jurisdiction are effected in a safe, sound, efficient and reliable manner, regardless of the changes in the payments landscape. It is for these very reasons that the embracing of the new opportunities needs to be accompanied by sound policies and guidelines,” Abel added. Abel said the outcomes of the workshop will pave the way for the formulation of a national strategy “that will guide the implementation of the Financial Technology sector and outline the roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder, guide the overall coordination of efforts in the building and implementation of Fintech and build awareness and education of Fintech in the financial sector and the country as a whole.” Some 150 participants representing policymakers, regulators, industry stakeholders, private sector representatives, and the media, among others took part in the workshop.

Seychelles’ Supreme Court refers case between President, speaker on salary dispute to Constitutional Court

The Seychelles’ Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the case brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly will be referred to the Constitutional Court.  The case is in relation to a disagreement between the government an
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ Supreme Court refers case between President, speaker on salary dispute to Constitutional Court

The Seychelles’ Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the case brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly will be referred to the Constitutional Court.  The case is in relation to a disagreement between the government and the National Assembly concerning a salary increase for government employees. President Faure, in his capacity as Minister responsible for Public Administration, filed a case requesting that the Court exercise supervisory jurisdiction in relation to the quashing by the National Assembly of S.I. 18 of 2019. In his ruling, the presiding judge, Melchior Vidot, said that as the case is a constitutional issue since it pits the Seychelles’ executive branch against the legislative, he would refer the matter to the Constitutional Court. President Faure filed the case on April 12, over a disagreement concerning a salary increase for government employees. It is the first time in the history of the third republic of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, that a Speaker is being held accountable for the decision taken by the National Assembly. On March 19, the government presented the Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019 to the National Assembly for approval. The bill included a five percent increase across the board for government workers. The opposition members in the National Assembly objected and said the budgeted amount should be shared equally with employees who qualify to get the same amount of increase. In a special sitting, the opposition members voted to quash the regulation brought as a Statutory Instrument (S.I), a form of delegated legislation which may allow the government to bypass the parliament.  Faure’s legal team made two applications to the Supreme Court - that the case be heard as a matter of urgency and an application for leave. The legal team of Nicholas Prea, the Speaker of the National Assembly, did not object to the first application that the case is heard as a matter of urgency. However, lawyer Joel Camille objected to the Application for Leave on four grounds. He challenged the fact that the petitioner (the executive) had attached uncertified documents such as order papers to the petition, which he claimed was grounds for non-compliance. Camille also challenged the affidavit of the chief secretary of public administration, Jessie Esparon, claiming it to be defective, bad in law and unreliable. When giving his ruling on Friday, Justice Vidot said the grounds for objections did not stand and ordered the respondent’s team to submit all documents from the National Assembly related to the S.I. in a week’s time. Vidot said that because of the Constitutional issue, where “there was a doctrine of separation of powers” he would not hear the case until the matter is heard by the Constitutional Court. “If this case proceeds, it may directly or indirectly affect our Constitution and the doctrine of the separation of powers,” he said. Seychelles has three branches of government, the executive, legislative and judiciary. 

Goal of Truth, Reconciliation Commission is national unity, not a witch-hunt, says Attorney General

The members of the newly set up Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity commission in Seychelles were sworn in at State House in Victoria on Thursday. The commission which was set up last year following the approval of the National Assembly will provide th
Seychelles News Agency

Goal of Truth, Reconciliation Commission is national unity, not a witch-hunt, says Attorney General

The members of the newly set up Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity commission in Seychelles were sworn in at State House in Victoria on Thursday. The commission which was set up last year following the approval of the National Assembly will provide the public with the opportunity to settle past political divisions and grievances that began with the 1977 coup d’état. In his opening remarks at the ceremony, Attorney General Frank Ally noted that the work of the Commission’s is to create national unity rather than to start a witch hunt and that meetings they hold will be opened to the public as and when necessary. The appointments of the members followed recommendations made by the Constitutional Appointment Authority in Seychelles after receiving applications from interested parties. The members of the Commission were appointed following recommendations of the CAA. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY Australian lawyer Gabrielle Louise McIntyre, who was appointed by the Seychelles’ President, Danny Faure, is the chairperson of the commission. Speaking to the press, McIntyre said, “I am not from here and I have no vested interest in any of the outcomes so this means I will be objective in my decision making.” “This is usually why Commissions will appoint foreign chairpersons or commissioners, to ensure that the person has no personal interests in any way and for a small place like Seychelles this makes sense,” she added. McIntyre is a leading legal expert on international criminal law procedure and the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). She has contributed as a transitional justice expert in countries such as Rwanda, Kosovo, Congo and Uganda. She will be based full time in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. However, one member of the commission, Mauritian Pierre Rosario Domingue, will travel to Seychelles when the commission needs him. Domingue is the chief executive of the Law Reform Commission of Mauritius since 2006. He is an experienced lecturer on human rights and headed the Department of Law at the University of Mauritius. Other members of the Commission who were sworn in as commissioners are Marie-Thérèse Purvis, Michael Green, Jacques Koui Gbilimou, Archbishop James Wong and Marie May Leon. Archbishop James Wong and Marie May Leon were not present for the ceremony. 

Seychelles’ men face steep climb vs. Botswana in African football tourney Saturday

The Seychelles’ national football team will face Botswana in the African nation’s championship (CHAN) at Stad Linite on Saturday. The Seychelles Pirates will go into the match with a two-goal deficit after losing to the south-western African side nickna
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ men face steep climb vs. Botswana in African football tourney Saturday

The Seychelles’ national football team will face Botswana in the African nation’s championship (CHAN) at Stad Linite on Saturday. The Seychelles Pirates will go into the match with a two-goal deficit after losing to the south-western African side nicknamed ‘The Zebras’ in the leg match last month. Coach Gavin Jeanne told SNA that after losing 2-0 the second leg match will be complicated for his side. “It will be complicated for us because while we will have to try not to concede any more goals since we are already behind we will at the same time have to try and score,” he said. Jeanne said another problem he has encountered is regarding the preparation of the team for the match.   “It’s going to be a tough match because Botswana is fully prepared while on our side, I have not really been able to work with the full team because of release difficulties. Which is why in the away match we wanted to score at least one goal to give us a better advantage but that did not happen,” Gavin told SNA. Jeanne will be making some slight changes to the squad for the Saturday’s match. “We will have players who were not able to make the trip to Botswana while some players will be absent because of injuries.” Meanwhile, Seychelles has been drawn once again in the same group as Mozambique in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament in Durban, South Africa scheduled for May 25 to June 8. The Seychelles Pirates are in Group B which includes Mozambique, Namibia and Malawi. The side from Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, had a chance at moving to the next round last year after two draws -- 1-1 against Comoros and 1-1 against Madagascar. In their third match, the Seychelles Pirates needed a victory to progress but lost 2-1 against Mozambique. All 14 members of the Cosafa are competing in the annual tournament. The first week of the competition will be the group stage where each team plays three games in their pools. In the Cosafa tournament, the teams are seeded based on the results attained by the countries in previous Cosafa tournaments only. The format of the game is that after the group stage, six teams are eliminated. Another six top-seeded teams come in for the quarter-final stage and these will be defending champion Zimbabwe, last year’s runner-up Zambia, host country South Africa, Uganda, Botswana and Lesotho. The Seychelles’ men’s national team has been competing in the Cosafa cup since 2005. 

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