4 March, 2013
Electoral Reform Forum - Political Parties Act
There has been some questions on the reasoning behind the proposal to increase the number of signatures required for the registration of a political party and on the requirement that a party must be registered for a minimum period of six months before being allowed to participate in an election. These comments are legitimate and the SNP feels that it should further elaborate.
In previous meetings of the Electoral Reform Forum(ERF), other aspects of the Elections Act, such as the Nomination Process was discussed. It was then agreed that registered political parties would not be required to seek signatures as sponsors for the candidates standing in an election. The reasoning being that political parties are recognized legal entities, having to fulfill certain requirements such as presenting audited accounts, providing information on the Executive Committee and party constitutional amendments to the Registrar of Political parties. Failing to accomplish these requirements may result in the party being struck off the register.
In the same set of proposals by the SNP, we have also stated that it would be appropriate for all registered political parties to receive basic funding from the consolidated fund in order to carry out their functions. That money would be given for specific headings and audited by the Auditor General to ensure it is being well spent. That amount given to all political parties would only be a percentage of the total amount of money made available to parties. The other part of the fund would be given to political parties on a proportional basis, based on the percentage obtained at a National Assembly election.
Following the above, the logic then was to ensure the country has serious political parties that would help enhance our democracy. The logic at all times is to ensure the participation of everyone or party in the democratic process. This remains the basis of the proposals.
Therefore the first logical requirement is to have serious political parties. Thus the requirement of increasing the number of signatures required to register a party. Presently it is 100, making it 4 persons per constituency. We feel that this is too low. Pushing it up to 500 would make it 20 persons per constituency. In our view this figure would still be low, but would show a larger support base. Some have even proposed that it should be increased to 1000.
The second point on which we have had comments is a limitation period of six months for a new party to participate in an election.
The point of having serious political parties is to have a strong democracy. If we want that democracy to be stable, then we need to eliminate pseudo political parties that are only clones of existing parties. The country has had that experience and this is why presently we have effectively a one-party National Assembly under the name democracy.
The point here is the following: The insistence that democracy must first be exercised within political parties. In order to qualify for state funding, the Registrar of political parties must ensure that a party is fulfilling certain obligations like having an annual convention, regular election of office bearers and the executive committee, presentation of audited accounts, etc…
The period of six months will give the new party the opportunity to organize itself internally, set up the appropriate structures, and present itself as a serious partner in building the democracy we all aspire to.
Remember that our laws provide many time restrictions that are necessary to protect various institutions. Even if two persons are in love and they want to get married, the law provides for a period of time between notification and the marriage.
We would welcome further comments on any aspect of our democratic structures that will ensure free participation of everyone and the respect of everyone’s rights at all times.
28 February 2013
The SNP deplores the uncertainty that reigns today in the country’s education policy. Over the past month the Ministry of Education has reintroduced two departments which were closed down two years ago.
The National Institutute of Education was closed with with the promise that the University of Seychelles would cater for the training of teachers and provide the country with highly qualified staff. The ministry has now gone back on its strategy and the plan is to open a teacher training facility, similar to the NIE, in order to cater for the training of teachers.
The other unit that has now been re-introduced caters for children with special needs. Once again, the ministry had completely abandoned these children in the state schools. When they did so, it was explained as being the modern way of integrating that category of children in the normal education system and that this would be the best way forward.
The announcement of the arrival of a specialist from Lampton School in the UK, has now officially marked the reintroduction of this scheme.
“These two announcements show the ministry going back on projects which they had abandoned. They clearly indicate that the government no longer has a clear education policy. It is no doubt the reason why standards are going down and we are getting poor results,” Mr. Ramkalawan commented. “In this modern era where education remains the key to sound development, it is high time this government comes up with a clear policy. The SNP has always specified in its programme that it will put emphasis on teacher training, accompanied by the right incentives to keep our best teachers. Our children need the best in order to produce the best results. That is what we stand for,” he concluded.
Less than a week after Mr. Michel declared that he would relaunch agriculture in our country, farmers affected by last month’s heavy rains on the eastern coast got the first taste of what the president meant.
Those farmers who lost everything were called to a meeting and told that government would help them with 40% of their claims. Government was insisting that they would be given requisites only. It was after the farmers insisted that they be given half that amount in cash to help them in other ways that government finally conceded to their request.
“In a situation where we are supposed to be encouraging agriculture, it would have been appropriate for the government to send a hopeful message by offering the farmers at least 50%, if not 60% of what they lost. In that way, the agricultural community would get a clear indication that they were not alone,” Mr. Nicolas Préa, the Secretary General of the SNP said.
Mr. Préa, who is in close contact with farmers has deplored the situation whereby most farms in the country have closed down, and farmers are struggling. “The SNP in its last election manifesto proposed that the government should subsidise many aspects of agriculture in order to encourage local production, which in turn would provide employment for our youth and cut on imports. The government decided otherwise and today, faced with tough competition, most farmers have given up. Imports have gone up, and sad to say, but we no longer know what we are consuming from overseas, and yet the ministry of health keeps reminding us that eating what we produce locally is the best.”
The SNP insists that local food production should be given top priority in our country.
During the last two weeks the Electoral Reform Forum have met to discuss the Political Parties Act.
The Alliance leaders, Mr. Volcère, Mr. Boullé and Mr. Ramkalwan have presented various proposals to the Electoral Commission. Among those are:
1. A higher number of required signatures for the registration of a political party
2. A change in the method of allocation of proportional seats
3. The requirement that a political party has to wait for a minimum period of 6 months after registration to be able to participate in an election
4. Political parties being able to form electoral alliances
5. That the amount allocated for Party Political Funding be set in the law with an appropriate mechanism for increasing the amount if the need arises
6. Registered political parties to receive funding for the running of their parties and a further proportional allocation based on the results of elections
7. That money from the consolidated fund to political parties be audited by the Auditor General to prevent abuse
8. That the law stipulates certain requirements for a party to be considered legal: eg. Annual convention, election of office bearers, presentation of accounts, etc..
9. That documents of parties seeking registration be made public to ensure that they are bona fide parties
10. That civil servants from the rank of Director not be allowed to stand as office bearers in any political party.
The debate continues on the Act and the work of the Forum should be completed by the end of April.
The SNP, as a member of the Alliance insists that National Assembly elections be held at the end of the reform. This will remove Seychelles from the present state of embarassment and ensure that the Assembly is representative of the real political forces in the country. The party remains committed to seeing real reforms in our country’s electoral laws.
Welcome to the website of the
Seychelles National Party (SNP)
Independence Day Message
This year marks 36 years since our country became independent and saw the birth of a new nation, free to plan and decide its future. During those years our small nation has gone through so many experiences, of course both good and bad. We still have a lot to reflect on as a people, in order to see how we can welcome real progress while eliminating the hurdles along the way.
In 2012, we have to be honest and admit that the commemoration of our independence meets us at a time when we are more concerned about the many challenges facing us, instead of the joy of celebration.
Our people are living in difficult times, unsure of the future, struggling to make ends meet. The constant rise in the cost of living, making it difficult for families to make ends meet, is of utmost concern. In fact it is the main worry expressed by everyone one meets.
A large percentage of our youth have been turned into slaves of bad habits, leading to drug and alcohol addiction. This has led to the weakening of our country’s workforce and to further degradation in standards of morality. Prostitution, petty theft, abuse and other vices are now accepted norms within that group of our population.
Crime is now at a record high, with the police unable to cope. A woman having her chain snatched from her neck was thought to be an incident for the African continent. Unfortunately it is now a local daily occurrence, happening outside churches and in public places.
The increase in the number of attacks on tourists is now a looming threat to have Seychelles declared an ‘unsafe destination.’ All this is the doing of our people, and with an industry that is already facing hardships of its own, everyone is starting to doubt whether the mainstay of our economy will be able to sustain and fulfil its mission.
The economy of our country does not give any cause for celebration either. The promises of recovery do not seem to be materialising according to the plans set out in 2008. The country is yet to see real development and growth.
Another grave concern threatening our very existence as a nation is the continual sale of our country to foreigners, bringing many to the conclusion that the Seychellois will soon be the foreigners in this land, thus making our independence only an event with no real meaning.
With that mountain of challenges before us, we have to come together as a people to seize this moment, take control of our destiny and reaffirm our independence. As a nation, we are the ones who have to fight bondage, stand for what is right and claim what is good as the way forward.
Our strength, honesty and desire to rise to the occasion will guide us in creating the country of our dreams, where every Seychellois can indeed feel empowered and free to help in nation building. Success can only be achieved by shedding political discrimination, recognising everyone’s strength, promoting equality and encouraging hard work and honesty.
I invite every Seychellois to be attached to the truth that will free each one of us in order to make our independence a real occasion of national pride, coupled with the real desire to surrender ourselves to the guidance of our Creator.
May the Almighty bless our country and its people.
Happy Independence Day.
Wavel Ramkalawan June 28, 2012
New Public Assembly Act first piece of Electoral Reform to emerge
May 12, 2012
The first piece of legislation to emerge from the Electoral Reform process has now been sent to the Cabinet. This is a proposed Public Assembly Act, to replace the Public Order Act, which has been in existence since colonial days.
The Electoral Commission, which has the mandate for implementing the Electoral Reform process, has presented the new legislation to the parties in the Forum for Electoral Reform. It remains to be seen whether the Michel administration will live up to its pledge to undertake the reform as proposed by the Electoral Commission.
The proposed law meets the conditions for freedom of assembly which the SNP has sought for many years. It will allow political parties to hold public meetings upon giving five days notice to the Commissioner of Police instead of requiring his permission. It will do away with the Police Commissioner’s excuse that public meetings cannot be held in residential or tourist areas. The only places where the law stipulates they cannot be held are army camps, military installations and the grounds of State House.
The Commissioner of Police will have state specific reasons if he objects to any public meeting and political parties will have the right to seek prompt judicial review of any decision against a party’s intention to hold a public meeting.
In replacing the Public Order Act, the new law will begin to answer the call for several outdated statutes to be brought into line with the Constitution. The SNP has campaigned for years to have the Executive meet its obligation to update and modernise these laws to go with the Constitution guarantees for freedom of speech and assembly. It filed a case before the Constitutional Court in 2010 seeking to declare the Public Order Act unconstitutional. The SNP accepted the proposal of the Constitutional Court for the case to remain pending on the promise of the Attorney General that the law was being changed. But this promise has dragged on for several months and the Attorney-General has never been forthcoming with a new law.
The SNP calls on President Michel to ensure that the new law is brought to the National Assembly as proposed urgently to begin meeting the pledges for reform.
Political reform talks make slow progress
SNP doubts ruling party commitment
April 24, 2012
Talks on political and electoral reforms, in which all political parties are participating, are making only slow progress. Since the beginning of the discussions in the Electoral Reform Forum in February this year, parties have agreed to amendments in the Public Order Act and are now tackling the Elections Act. These are only two of the key pieces of legislation to which opposition parties are seeking changes, apart from new measures that can cover other contentious issues.
The talks being held under the chairmanship of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission are meant to address issues which opposition parties say need to be cleared up for a fairer and more acceptable political and electoral system. They were accepted after the main opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary elections in November last year, leading to a massive abstention and spoiled votes which discredited the results obtained by the ruling party, the Parti Lepep.
The Seychelles National Party has questioned the good faith of the ruling party on the reform agenda because it has tried to backtrack on agreements which had been reached in the talks. Together with other opposition forces, the SNP has often exhorted the ruling party, in particular President James Michel, to stand by their pledges for the reforms.
One of the key aims of the reform talks is to review the laws applying to political participation to bring them in line with the multi-party constitution adopted in 1992. The Constitution placed a direct obligation on the Executive to review or update all existing laws but this has been ignored over the years.
Among the contentious issues that are still to be tackled by the Electoral Reform Forum is the independence of the state funded media, the use of state resources by the ruling party and the control of campaign finance. Such issues have given the ruling party an insurmountable and unfair advantage in elections and have been the subject of international observer mission reports in al elections since 1993.
New Year Message 2012
Let us face the challenges with courage and determination
In every culture, ours included, a new year is welcomed with much anticipation and celebration. As the end of a year brings a sense of fulfilment at what we have been able to achieve, the new brings a sense of excitement, with the expectation that what we failed to attain the previous year, we will endeavour to fulfil in the new one. Though we may not always succeed, the human spirit pushes us towards challenges that help us accomplish feats beyond our imagining.
As we embrace 2012, may we take time to ponder on the unfinished businesses of 2011 with the aim of completing these tasks during the time afforded us at the beginning of the New Year. May we also seek solutions to the obstacles that slowed us down and be more alert and ready to overcome anything that will cross our path in the coming months. We need to remember that learning from past mistakes is empowering as it enables us to set new targets using tested methods to climb higher.
May we push ourselves not to leave undone the things we can do or to postpone tasks that can be performed immediately. Let 2012 be a year of action with a sense of urgency attached to it. Let it be a year when no time is wasted in carrying out responsibilities that will help our families, communities and the motherland move forward and become more welcoming and successful.
The signs around us indicate that there is much uncertainty in the lives of so many people. The employees of Air Seychelles come to mind. They know that over 300 of them will be losing their jobs. This experience is without doubt a painful one, with the process of finding a new job and adapting to a new situation. I pray that the many friends you will meet along the way will facilitate the transition.
Other workers, both in government or private companies have also been advised that they may lose their jobs. Again there is much anxiety and in these times the family has to come together and offer the required support and advice. My thoughts go out to you.
The economic situation has already brought about a general increase in the price of commodities through a weakened rupee. The trend may continue and we may see a lot of families having to fend for themselves with diminished financial resources. Seeing a hungry child is painful. My wish is for this situation not to prevail in our country and to see us as a people surmount the many challenges that we face with courage and determination.
My thoughts go out to the youth of this land as many end their local studies and prepare for higher education. I wish you added determination to succeed and hope that you will have the right advice to guide you in the choices before you. The hopes of your parents and your country are on you to achieve the best grades possible and to turn into responsible and able adults.
Indeed, at the beginning of 2012, I pray that we may grow as a God-fearing nation knowing the difference and able to make the choice between good and bad, truth and lies and between what builds a peaceful society or destroys it. As our country undergoes the most important reform of our electoral system, may we come together as one people and unite our efforts to build a democracy that will be a model for the world.
Fellow citizens, I wish everyone, in whatever situation you may find yourselves, the very best for 2012. May you all have a blessed and prosperous 2012.
God bless you. God bless our country, Seychelles.
Wavel Ramkalawan December 29, 2011
Christmas 2011 Message from SNP Leader Wavel Ramkalawan
“WE NEED TO LIVE BY THE VALUES OF CHRISTMAS”
The yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus is an occasion for all believers to reflect on life and embrace positive values that will help build supportive homes, caring communities and tolerant societies. By following the key messages of hope, peace, joy and love, we are all being called to care for others.
The birth of the Christ was to be the beginning of a 33 year mission, marked by a life of giving, caring and saving. We are all being called to be part of that mission. The world has come to realise that without adopting these attributes, we will continue to walk the path of destruction.
I am reminded of the many tests we face as a country. We are engaged in changing lifestyles in order to undergo a moral transformation. The social ills that are destroying the hearts and lives of so many give leaders and believers alike new challenges in turning our country around to where human values will be appreciated and enjoyed.
Christ came to redeem humanity of its sin. From bondage he offered freedom, from sickness he brought health, and from rejection he wanted inclusion. Everyone is engaged in this same mission. We are all called upon to see ourselves in the task of transforming our communities and country. The strong have to take care of the weak.
I pray that Christmas will be an occasion of celebration while being at the same time a moment of renewing our commitment to the creation of a Christ-like society where light overcomes darkness, good defeats evil, truth shuns lies and freedom liberates everyone to fullfil what is positive and constructive. We need, as much as ever, to live by the values of Christmas, whoever we are and wherever we are. We need to make these values our way of life.
May we be blessed in abundance and may the child born in Bethlehem reside in every heart in our nation.
Have a blessed Christmas.
Wavel Ramkalawan December 22, 2011
DECISION OF COURT OF APPEAL IN PDM CASE REWRITES THE CONSTITUTION
The decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of the Popular Democratic Movement is devoid of legal justification and totally ignores the key provisions of the Constitution regarding the matter of the case. In this decision, the Judges of the Court of Appeal, JJ Macgregor, Twomey and Fernando, have not interpreted the Constitution as it exists, they have written their own. These Judges have decided that the wording of the Constitutional amendment is not suitable and they have made their own amendment.
In its decision, delivered on December 9, 2011, the Court of Appeal found that the PDM was entitled to a proportionally elected seat in the National Assembly from the result of the general election held on October 1, 2011 because it had obtained over 10% of ‘valid votes’. It thus reversed the majority decision of the Constitutional Court given by CJ Egonda-Ntende and J Gaswaga and of the Seychelles Electoral Commission that the Constitution allocates proportionally elected seats on the basis of total ‘votes cast’ . The decisions of these institutions could have been overturned only with clear Constitutional basis which the Court of Appeal has not been able to provide.
The Constitution makes very clear and specific distinction between the allocation of seats to directly elected members and to proportionally elected members.
Article 78 of the Constitution states without ambiguity that the allocation of proportionally elected seats shall be as “specified in schedule 4”.
This Schedule 4 carries the clear tile “Proportionally Elected Members” and deals only with such members. Thus the Constitution clearly sets different rules for the allocation of these seats. The Judges of the Court of Appeal have no basis for saying that the two must be the same.
This Schedule 4 contains the provision that has been quoted so often and which was the basis of the Judgement of JJ Egonda-Ntende and Gaswaga of the Constitutional Court.
“A political party which has nominated one or more candidates in a general election and has polled in respect of the candidates in aggregates 10% or more of the votes cast at the election may nominate a proportionally elected member for each 10% of the vote polled. “
As the two judges of the Constitutional Court stated in their decision, the Constitution has in several instances used the terms ‘votes cast’ and ‘valid votes’ and it is clear that there are two different meanings. ‘Votes cast’ as stated in Schedule 4 is different from ‘valid votes’.
Votes cast can only mean votes that are put in the box. As CJ Egonda-Ntende stated, this is the only possible interpretation. The action of casting the vote comes before any interpretation of the vote as being valid or not. If a vote is invalid, it does not alter the fact that it has been cast.
CAJ Fernando’s statement argues that the Constitution could not have intended to recognise that a person would not vote or would cast an invalid vote. But this is precisely what Schedule 4 does.
The principle of using total ‘votes cast’ may be misguided. If this is so, then we have to go back and change the Constitution. The Judges have no right to ignore what the Constitution says.
The Judges of the Court of Appeal have fallen back, as Judge Burhan did in the Constitutional Court Case, on the Elections Act, which prescribes a different method of tallying the votes. But it is very clear that the Elections Act does not apply to Proportionally Elected Seats.
This is how the Elections Act begins:
Short title and Application 1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Elections Act.
(2) This Act shall apply for the purposes of: -
(a) an election of the President
(b) an election of a directly elected member of the National Assembly
(c) a referendum.
The Act does not include ‘Proportionally Elected Members’ in its stated purpose and makes no mention of proportionally elected seats. In seeking to rest their judgement on it, the Judges are grasping thin air.
The decision of the Court of Appeal, being so weak in legal justification, undermines the credibility of the Judiciary as the guardian of the Constitution and the law. The decision has grave consequences for our democratic system because it allows the composition of a National Assembly that is not according to the Constitution and by that sets aside the wishes of the electorate.
The Court of Appeal has, in this ill-considered decision, diminished the credibility of the Constitutional Court, of Chief Justice Egenda-Ntende and of the Seychelles Electoral Commission.
Seychelles National Party December 9, 2011
NEW EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ELECTED AT SNP ANNUAL CONVENTION
RAMKALAWAN RE-ELECTED AS PARTY LEADER
Wavel Ramkalawan was re-elected Party Leader of the SNP, in the Annual Convention held on Sunday.
In the new executive committee, Nicholas Prea has taken over as Secretary-General and Bryan Julie as Treasurer. Two Deputies Secretary General are Sandy Arissol and Siana Bistoquet while Desheila Bastienne is the Deputy Treasurer.
Members of the Executive Committee elected are Aaron Bonnelame, Deborah Brioche, Francis Cupidon, Bernard Georges, Gervais Henrie, Gerald Julie, Lydia Jumeau, Norbert Loizeau, George Madeleine and Danny Sopha. (Picture : Executive Committee)
The gathering of members welcomed Mr. Ramkalawan’s re-election with enthusiasm. Many members expressed the view that he would assure clear and firm leadership of the party for the next three years.
Mr. Ramkalawan said he had been encouraged to continue by the support expressed by members and supporters, although he had earlier announced his intention of stepping down.
In his acceptance speech he said that a strong opposition party was the only safeguard of democracy. He expressed his determination to pursue the agenda for democratic reforms which the SNP had charted together with other opposition forces and which had been endorsed by a large part of the Seychellois population in the National Assembly elections.
November 22, 2011
SNP Women’s Organisation AGM
ENGAGING MORE WOMEN IN POLITICS
November 09, 2011
The SNP Women’s Organisation held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) last Saturday at the International Conference Center.
Some very fervent women supporters came to the meeting where three new committee members were elected. (Picture : SNP Women's Organisation Committee)
Mrs Ruby de Silva, who is new to the political scene, was elected as deputy chairperson of the Women’s Organisation.
Miss Deborah Brioche was elected the representative for the North region and Suzette Hermitte is now responsible for the East region.
Mrs Regina Alcindor, the chairperson of the SNP Women’s Organisation said that during her mandate she is making it a priority to get a maximum of women to engage in politics.
“I also want the SNP as a political party to meet the target set out by SADC so that by 2015, our party can have a 50% representation in its structures and in the National Assembly”, Mrs. Alcindor said.
In line with this, in September, the Organisation held a workshop for its women supporters under the banner “Engaging Women in Politics”. The workshop was organised with the financial help of the Inter Press Services (IPS) Africa’.
During the AGM, various presentations were made, mainly on the cost of living, social renaissance and women’s engagement in politics.
Mrs Alcindor said it has not been an easy task to get new women to come forward to join the party, but she has been impressed with the many that have been brave enough to join the fight to bring democracy in the country.
Regarding the SNP convention to be held on 20th November where leaders and office bearers of the party will be elected, Mrs Alcindor said she is lobbying women to support their counterparts who have been proposed for these posts.
Mrs Alcindor said next year the SNP Women’s Organisation will be going door to door to connect better with supporters and women in the country in general.
“The SNP Women’s Organisation is on the move, alive and well as more women are joining it because they want to make a contribution in their party and country. Our organisation is working towards a goal of gender balance, both internally and nationally. Be part of this movement,” is Mrs. Alcindor’s message to women in Seychelles.
Opposition Leaders Reject Road Map Without Consultations
The alliance of opposition political forces have declared that they cannot accept the road map for democratic reforms drawn up by the Electoral Commission without discussions or consultations with other political groups or vital stake-holders in the democratic process.
The leaders have declined today an invitation by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission to attend a presentation of the road map on the grounds that the first move towards reform is a step in a very wrong direction for the following reasons:-
1. The presentation by the Chairman of the road map to the President is a blatant act of subordination to the executive of what is meant to be an Independent Electoral Commission, giving the distinct impression that it is doing reforms not within its constitutional mandate but under the direction of the executive, with the dangerous inference that it will not implement the reforms if so directed by the executive.
2. The Electoral Commission can only be perceived as heeding the call for reform of only one Party Leader, i.e. the President acting as Party Leader of Parti Lepep on the day of the election results, having ignored for years the call of all other party leaders for reform, and then presenting the road map to the leader of Parti Lepep in whatever capacity, thus giving that party the priority of ownership of the report and relegating other parties to a role of submissive observance.
3. The Electoral Commission is itself a vital issue of democratic reform which must be subject to consultations for the purpose of establishing it as a Constitutional Commission completely independent of the executive and directly responsible to the people of Seychelles.
The opposition forces who have advocated and proposed democratic reforms for 18 years can only accept a process in which they are included and consulted before any preliminary steps are taken, be it for drafting of a road map or other moves towards reforms. To be credible, the process must be fully independent, impartial, transparent and accountable to the people of Seychelles. The leaders therefore call for an independent commission in which they will be represented to direct the process of reform.
Ralph Volcere, New Democratic Party
Wavel Ramkalawan, Seychelles National Party
Philippe Boullé, Independent Candidate
October 18, 2011
DERNYE NOUVO VIZYON VOL. 20 NO. 14 I AN-LINNY DAN SEKSYON MEDYA > NOUVO VIZYON
Opposition Leaders Call for Consultations to Set Seychelles Back on Democratisation Path
The leaders of the opposition alliance for a boycott of the National Assembly elections, namely Mr. Ralph Volcere of the New Democratic Party, Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party and independent candidate Phillipe Boullé, have called for meaningful consultations among all stakeholder parties to modernise electoral laws, conditions and practices.
The three leaders have said that the result of the National Assembly elections held on October 1, 2011, have categorically shown that a majority of the people of Seychelles have backed their call for electoral reform to create a system that ensures equitable, fair and credible conditions for participation.
Analysis of the results show that 25.69% of eligible voters did not vote in the elections and 32% of those who voted cast a spoilt ballot. The Parti Lepep have obtained a total monopoly of seats in the National Assembly with the support of only 44.79% of the eligible voters, making the National Assembly not credible. These figures are unequivocal support for the position taken by the leaders in calling for a boycott of the elections in order to press for electoral reforms.
The results represent a new opportunity to set Seychelles back on the path of democratisation which all parties have declared to be their goal. The leaders call on President Michel to put in place the mechanism for genuine consultations that will consider all the relevant issues to advance this goal.
Ralph Volcere Wavel Ramkalawan Phillipe Boullé
New Democratic Party Seychelles National Party Independent Presidential Candidate
October 2, 2011
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT FAILED TO DELIVER JUSTICE IN ASSEMBLY CASES
The Seychelles National Party (SNP) believes the Constitutional Court of Seychelles has erred in failing to protect the rights of minority political parties in the National Assembly against wilful actions of its proportionally elected members and manipulation by the majority party. The SNP believes that the Court’s interpretation of the Constitution in the judgement delivered on September 5, 2011 is flawed and only provides a means by which a proportionally elected member being replaced can exploit the situation unfairly to his or her advantage and at the detriment of the political party nominating proportionally elected members.
The SNP believes the Court erred in the following ways:
1. The Court declared that the letter issued by SNP Leader Wavel Ramkalawan on July 12, 2011 to the Speaker of the National Assembly notifying him that Ms. Jane Carpin had been removed as a proportionally elected member had not been valid because that letter had not named the member to replace Ms. Carpin in the seat. But the Court failed to recognise that the letter of July 13, 2011 naming Mr. Gerald Julie did precisely that, calling that letter “too little, too late”. Since the Court stated emphatically that it is the notification of the new member that gives validity to the replacement, then the Court has failed in doing justice by not recognising that the letter of July 13, 2011 fulfilled the Constitutional requirement in whole. Following its own logic, the Court should have recognised that the letter of July 13 naming Mr. Julie as a replacement fulfilled the Constitutional provision and therefore made the replacement of Jane Carpin valid. It is disturbing that the Court dismissed that letter without in any way substantiating its finding that it was “too little” and “too late”.
2. The Court accepted that the political party nominating proportionally elected members is not required to give any reason for the replacement of such a member. It confirmed that the mere notification to the Speaker of the replacement and the nomination of the new member is all that is necessary to make the removal and replacement valid.
Yet the Court failed to recognise that allowing a member who has been replaced to carry on as a member if he or she only expresses the intention of challenging the replacement creates a situation that can lead to absurdity. Since no reason for replacement needs to be given, there are no imaginable grounds for that member to challenge such a decision successfully. It follows therefore that any member challenging the decision to be replaced must fail.
Permitting that person to carry on as a member during the 30 days allowed to bring a petition to the Constitutional Court and for any amount of time that it takes for the Court to determine on the challenge creates a situation in which a member can simply extend his or her position and privileges despite a Constitutionally proper replacement. This effectively denies the political party nominating the proportionally elected member the right to replace that member in a timely and efficacious manner and places that political party at the mercy of the member who has been replaced. The case of Jane Carpin proves that this situation can be exploited to the serious detriment of the political party.
The SNP believes that the Constitutional Court should have given more importance to the interpretation of article 81 (6) (a) and (b) which provide that the seat of the member being replaced is vacant unless
(a) “the person makes an application under article 82 to the Constitutional Court..., and (b) the Constitutional Court determines that the person is still a member of the National Assembly”.
Where the Constitutional Court cannot find that the person remained a member, that person will have been acting without status in the National Assembly.
The SNP believes that the two arguments outlined above substantiate its case that Jane Carpin’s seat in the National Assembly became vacant on July 13, 2011 and that her vote on the dissolution of the National Assembly on July 19, 2011 was null and void.
The SNP believes that the majority Parti Lepep has wilfully manipulated the dissatisfaction of proportionally elected member Jane Carpin and exploited the situation to dissolve the National Assembly with her support. The Constitutional Court has, in its decision, failed to protect the balance of rights in the democratic process and in this case it is the minority party, the SNP, which has suffered an injustice.
SNP Secretariat September 6, 2011
The Seychelles National Party has announced that it will not take part in the National Assembly elections which have been announced for September 1, 2011. The SNP has taken the decision together with the candidates in the Presidential election held in May 2011, namely Mr. Ralph Volcere of the New Democratic Party and Mr. Phillipe Boullé, independent candidate. They have also been joined by Mr. Viral Dhanjee, whose candidacy for the presidential election was not accepted by the Electoral Commissioner’s office.
A joint statement has been issued by the parties involved which explains the reasons for the decision and re-affirms the call already made in several instances for electoral reforms.
The Joint Statement is posted under Media > Press Releases on this site.
SNP ASKS COURT TO HEAR ASSEMBLY CASES URGENTLY
Since the cases have crucial impact on the interpretation of the Constitution, the Court should decide on them before elections are held.
The SNP has this week filed motions asking the Constitutional Court to urgently hear the two cases it brought to challenge the dissolution of the National Assembly. The SNP believes the Court should give its ruling on the critical points raised in these cases before the country proceeds with any elections for the National Assembly.
The two petitions were filed by lawyer Bernard Georges on 20 July. One was by Party Leader Wavel Ramkalawan asking the court to declare that, following his replacement of Mrs Carpin as proportionately elected member, all her subsequent actions as a member of the Assembly were illegal. The other was by MNA Nicholas Prea challenging the form of the motion for dissolution filed to achieve the second dissolution of the Assembly.
Both cases have a direct impact on the forthcoming National Assembly elections. If Mr Prea’s case succeeds, then the second dissolution of the Assembly will have been as unconstitutional as the first and the Assembly will have to be dissolved again. If Mr Ramkalawan’s case succeeds, then Mrs Carpin’s crucial vote on the dissolution – without which the Assembly could not be dissolved – will be discounted and the Assembly will have to be dissolved again in a different manner. In both cases, this will mean postponing the forthcoming elections.
These matters were brought to the attention of the court when another case brought by Mrs Carpin challenging her replacement was mentioned for the first time on 26 July 2011, but the court refused to hear the cases early. The argument that constitutional cases are given priority by the constitution was not accepted by the court.
Common sense should have dictated to the court that any meritorious case brought which might have an adverse impact on elections to be held should be disposed of speedily so that the elections can be held without any doubt about their validity.
In the motions brought now, the SNP is asking the court to hear the cases urgently. The SNP has made it clear that it has no problem with the dissolution of the National Assembly and the holding of fresh elections. As a responsible party which has always stood for the application of the law, the SNP believes that rulings on the status of proportionately elected members of the Assembly after they have been replaced and on the proper method of dissolving the Assembly are matters in the interest of the proper functioning of a democracy. Since the cases can have an adverse impact on the forthcoming elections, there is no option but to ask the court to deal with them prior to the polls.
SNP WINS COURT CASE ANULLING ASSEMBLY DISSOLUTION
The Constitutional Court of Seychelles has declared the dissolution of the National Assembly on July 12, 2011, unconstitutional and ordered Speaker Patrick Herminie to proceed forthwith with reconvening the Assembly.
In an urgent session on Monday July 18, a three-member Court with Judges Karunakaran, Renaud and Dodin took the petition filed by SNP legal counsel Bernard Georges in the name of two members, Nicholas Prea and Jean-François Ferrari. The petition averred that the dissolution was illegal because a critical provision of the Constitution, Article 111, had not been followed. This article required that a motion for dissolution of the Assembly could only be taken up in a meeting specially called for the purpose. The petition filed by Mr. Georges submitted that the motion had been taken as part of the ordinary session on Tuesday, and that members had not been informed beforehand that the matter was to be considered.
At the same time, the Court took up a similar petition filed by Parti Lepep MNA Clifford André, seeking the same declaration. This totally unprecedented move by a Parti Lepep MNA against an action by his own party had obviously been brought to take some attention away from the SNP petition. Clifford André had himself voted in favour of dissolution, together with all other members of his party. His decision to file a petition against the decision shows a complete contradiction and confusion of the members of Parti Lepep.
In a unanimous decision, the Court was categorical that the Constitutional requirement for dissolution had not been followed and the resolution had to be reversed immediately.
The Court ruling shows that Speaker Patrick Herminie to have been entirely in the wrong in allowing the motion for dissolution brought by Leader of Government Business Marie-Louise Potter. Herminie has repeatedly shown poor judgement and a lack of understanding of his role as Speaker.
The SNP has now called for his resignation as Speaker.
July 18, 2011
The 2011 Presidential Elections and their Impact on the Future of Democracy in Seychelles, by Bernard Georges
See Media > Election Publications
SNP CHALLENGES ASSEMBLY DISSOLUTION
The SNP has decided to challenge in the Constitutional Court the dissolution of the National Assembly on Tuesday 12 July. This is not because the SNP believes that the Assembly should be kept in session. It does not. Since the Presidential Elections last May, it has become clear that the National Assembly is only a farce not worthy of its name. The whole institution is under the control of the executive and has lost its real vocation as a democratic institution. This was brought home to the people of Seychelles in a stark way last Tuesday. The SNP is bringing the challenge to the dissolution because, as a responsible party which has always fought for respect of the law, it has a duty to ensure that everyone follows the law.
The dissolution of the National Assembly was sneaked through at the end of the business day on Tuesday, without notice. It is obvious that Parti Lepep wanted to take advantage of the presence of Hon Jane Carpin, who had voted with the majority the same morning to enable the sixth amendment to the Constitution to pass, to enable it to dissolve the Assembly. In its haste, the government failed to heed the provisions of article 111 of the Constitution, under which the resolution to dissolve was brought. This article is clear. It requires that a resolution for dissolution of the Assembly by the Assembly itself can only occur at a meeting of the Assembly convened for that purpose. In other words, a resolution for dissolution cannot be brought unless prior notice has been given to members. As dissolution of the Assembly is such an important event, this is to enable all members interested to attend the sitting and either support or object to the motion. Dissolution cannot be added onto the business of the day without notice, as the Parti Lepep members did on Tuesday. In all, the Order Paper for the sitting of 12 July was amended twice after being issued so that new business could be added. The resolution for dissolution never appeared on the Order Paper at all, not even on the final amended one in the afternoon of the day.
The SNP has given instructions to lawyer Bernard Georges, a member of the party executive and of the Assembly, to prepare and file a petition to the Constitutional Court seeking a declaration that the dissolution contravened the Constitution and should be cancelled. The petition was filed yesterday.
SNP CONDENMS ILLEGAL DISSOLUTION OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The Seychelles National Party condemns the illegal dissolution of the National Assembly in the session of Tuesday July 12, 2011, and the blatant disregard for the Constitution which this maoeuvre represents.
Article 111 of the Constitution, under which the Assembly has been declared dissolved, states clearly that dissolution can only be tabled at a meeting “summoned for the purpose”. This obviously calls for a special meeting, with the motion for dissolution indicated on the Order Paper for the meeting. The intention of the article is clearly to give notice to all members that dissolution is to be considered, and to give all members the right to speak and vote on the motion. The resolution in an ordinary session without notice of the motion makes the dissolution unconstitutional and illegal.
The participation of the Ms. Jane Carpin in the vote for dissolution is also illegal because Ms. Carpin had already been removed as a Member of the National Assembly by Opposition Leader Wavel Ramkalawan. The notification of Ms. Carpin’s dismissal was communicated to the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Patrick Herminie, immediately after Ms. Carpin had voted for the Constitutional Amendment tabled in the morning session. The vote therefore did not have the requisite two-thirds majority of members of the Assembly. In the matter of dissolution of the Assembly, Speaker Herminie has deliberately manipulated the presentation of the motion and acted without regard for Assembly procedures.
SNP STATEMENT ON REVISED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT - July 05, 2011
Following the publication of a second set of proposed amendments to the Constitution for the purpose of setting up an Electoral Commission, the SNP wishes to state its position clearly.
The revised amendment proposes that the Electoral Commission shall be made up of 5 persons to be appointed by the President from a list of 7 proposed by the Constitutional Appointments Authority (CAA).
The SNP finds that this is worse than the first proposed amendment, which was withdrawn, in the sense that the President, a political figure, the leader of a political party and in all probability a candidate in the future elections, will have the sole authority to name the Electoral Commission. This process cannot ensure independence and is very likely to lead to a Commission which is under the control of the President and therefore cannot be acceptable.
The appointment of other Boards by the President, for example the SBC Board, has not given any example of fairness and balance meeting the requirements of democracy. The SNP therefore seeks the necessary safeguards for an Electoral Commission to be truly independent and to have all the means to undertake the mandate of organising free and fair elections effectively.
The whole process as proposed, from advertisement, applications from interested persons and nominations will be meaningless without a non-political method of appointment to ensure a Commission in which the interests of all political parties will be taken into account.
The SNP deplores the manner in which the Constitutional Amendment has been brought, withdrawn, revised and presented again without any attempt at consultation and reflecting the wishes of only one political party.
The appointment of an Independent Electoral Commission is only one of the issues that need to be considered in establishing a fair electoral process. Among other issues which are of utmost importance are the independence of the state-funded media, the control of campaign financing and the prevention of abuse of state offices and resources.
The SNP does not accept that these issues will be left to the Electoral Commission to consider after its appointment. It believes that there should be an agreed program of electoral reform which will encompass all the requirements for the democratic conduct of elections.
The SNP believes there should be a process of consultation involving the existing political parties as the principal stake-holders together with representatives of civil society. It reiterates its proposal for the formation of an Electoral Reform Commission comprising of representatives of political parties, religious organisations, civic society and international organisations concerned to discuss the various issues and set out a program of reform.
SNP REJECTS PARTI LEPEP PROPOSAL FOR ELECTORAL COMMISSION
The SNP cannot accept the proposal for an Electoral Commission made by Parti Lepep. It will not support the Constitutional Amendment brought to the Assembly to create the Commission in the form that has been proposed.
An Electoral Commission is necessary for fair elections and democracy. But it must be independent and established with the guarantee that it will be able to do its job effectively. The proposal for a Commission on the model of the Constitutional Appointments Authority is not acceptable because it will leave control of the body in the hands of the President, who will have the power to appoint the Chairman.
The statement that the Electoral Commission is according to the recommendations in the report of the Constitutional Review Committee made in 2009 is proof that President Michel and the Parti Lepep are not sincere. Since 2009, no effort has been made to implement the recommendations of the Committee until now, when Mr. Michel finds it advantageous to implement one item. These recommendations also covered a number of issues relevant to elections and to the democratic process which are not being addressed. The elections of 2011 brought out a number of weaknesses in the management of elections and gaps in the laws and regulations which need to be considered.
The SNP has called for consultations to include political parties and civil society on reforms that will ensure fairness in the political and electoral processes.
SEE KOMINKIE SNP - 20 ZEN 2011 : REFORM ELEKTORAL in Media > Press Releases
SNP STANDS FOR COMPREHENSIVE ELECTORAL REFORM
The Seychelles National Party (SNP) considers that the Constitutional Amendment to establish an Electoral Commission is a necessary and important step towards meaningful democracy. The proposal for an independent Electoral Commission to manage elections has been a key demand of the SNP since 2001 and its acceptance by the ruling party is belated. However, the establishment of an Electoral Commission will be worthwhile only if it is done properly and fulfils the aspirations of the Seychellois people for more democratic governance, an aspiration recognised by President James Michel.
The manner in which the Constitutional Amendment is being undertaken is disappointing and does not reflect a genuine desire to bring about the changes that are necessary to ensure fair electoral and political processes.
The Bills for the amendment to the Constitution and the Elections Act have been brought to the Assembly without any attempt at prior consultation and reflect only the wishes of the ruling party. The SNP is the principal stakeholder in the process and believes that it should be consulted in all the matters that need to be dealt with, beginning with these amendments. But moreover, it is not only the political parties that are concerned with democratisation. It would be desirable for other stakeholders, represented by civil society, to be involved as well. The shaping of the Constitution over time should take into account not only the wishes of current political contenders but must also strive to meet the aspirations of all the people of Seychelles for the present and in the future.
The setting-up of the Electoral Commission as proposed, on the model of the Constitutional Appointments Authority (CAA), is unsatisfactory. It will leave the control of the Commission entirely in the hands of the President, which has been the case with the CAA. It holds no guarantee that an independent body will be created. Other options for the composition and manner of appointment of the members and the Chairman must be considered.
Electoral reform that is piecemeal and superficial will not serve the cause of democracy in Seychelles. We will be failing our nation and generations to come if we do not undertake reforms that are comprehensive and meaningful.
The Electoral Commission by itself is only one of the issues that we need to address. Without the comprehensive and proper legal framework we will be falling once again in a situation where electoral processes can be manipulated. The setting up of the Commission must be undertaken as part of a broader process which tackles such issues as the role of the public-funded national media, the use of state offices and resources, and election funding.
The SNP has proposed the formation of an Electoral Reform Commission, with the participation of all important stake-holders, to consider all the pertinent issues and to arrive at comprehensive and meaningful reform. This vital task cannot be undertaken successfully without broad and genuine consultation. The SNP remains open to consider any means by which it can be achieved but can only take part in work that can lead to reliable democratic processes and fair and equitable conditions for political and electoral participation.
SNP Secretariat June 14, 2011
REPORT ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2011
REPORT ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2011
The 2011 presidential elections have revealed themselves to be meaningless as an exercise in democracy. Owing to prevailing deficiencies in the law and the office of the Electoral Commissioner, the process is open to abuse and the result of any election does not fairly reflect the freely expressed wishes of the majority of the electorate. In the final analysis the outcome is dictated by considerations other than a free choice of leadership for the country. The president invested is chosen not by a majority of free-thinking electors but by persons who are influenced principally by money.
An Observer's View of the Political Situation in Seychelles
A website called Think Africa Press has published an incisive article on the political situation in Seychelles. Called 'Seychelles: Democracy Without Freedom', it has been written by Ben Carson, its head of Communications and Public Relations, after a visit to the country last month.
The article observes that Seychelles enjoys the recognition of being a democracy but remains short in some key areas. A subservient media and ominiscient executive may allow free elections but does not ensure responsible government, it says. "The most striking characteristic of the lead up to this presidential election is fear", the article notes.
For the whole article: Click this link: 'Seychelles - Democracy Without Freedom'.
New Mission for Leadership from State House
SNP Presidential candidate Wavel Ramkalawan has said that the SNP vision for Government included a new mission for leadership. State House will have a different role, he said.
SNP Leader outlines Vision for Government in State of Nation reply
SNP leader Wavel Ramkalawan opened the National Assembly debate on the State of the Nation on Tuesday, March 1, 2011.
The State of the Nation reply is one of the rare occasions when the Leader of the Opposition can address the people of Seychelles on state funded national media. The privilege is one that President Michel enjoys and makes use of to the full but which has been denied to the other side of the political field.
SNP Leader To Ask on AirSey Future
SNP Leader Wavel Ramkalawan is calling for the Government to clarify the situation regarding Air Seychelles. In a Private Notice Question (PNQ) to Vice-President Danny Faure as Minister of Finance, Mr. Ramkalawan will ask about the financial situation of the airline and future plans.