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Seychelles National Party (SNP)
Why is the Electoral Commission being difficult?
The members of the Electoral Commission(EC) are persons of high integrity. They are all professionals in their various fields and over the years the Seychellois nation have observed and respected them. They have done a great job in the electoral reform process, to the extent that they surprised everyone with the recommendations they presented to the government. I have stated on many occasions that if all these recommendations had been adopted, Seychelles would today stand as the country with the most democratic electoral laws and we would be the reference point as far as electoral laws are concerned.
However, the light that they shone has been obscured by some very dark clouds due to their own doing. And as this cloud continues to hang over them, we are now starting to note that there are many other matters that need to be challenged as they present doubts in the minds of our people and in the thinking of the key stakeholders, the political parties themselves.
The first reflection has to do with the EC meeting political parties. The only consultation this year was in May. Political parties were promised another meeting and regular consultations, but this is not happening. Why?
Let’s look at some issues that are surfacing.
The refusal of the EC to give political parties an electronic copy of the Voters Register was not a unanimous decision. However the Supreme Court resolved their dilemma by stating clearly that the view of the 3 members of the EC was not right. They were ordered to give all political parties a soft copy of the register. Why is it that they are refusing to do so? Why is it that the 3 members are so upset that they have decided, under the leadership of their chairperson, Mr. Hendrick Gappy, to appeal the decision as a delaying tactic? What is their problem? Is there vested interest in the matter?
The only conclusion that we can come to is that there is a difference between the electronic copy and the hard copy that is given to all political parties. Mind you, this conclusion is neither far fetched or a fiction of the imagination. Why?
Of late, political parties have been told they were not allowed to come to the polling station with the certified copy of the Voters Register that had been given to them by the Electoral Commission on Nomination Day. Polling agents were given a copy of the register by the officer in charge, but was then forced to return the same at the end of the voting. Why? Was that a special limited edition specially prepared by Mr. Gappy’s office for particular reasons best known to him alone?
There is now another petty issue that the EC is putting a lot of emphasis on. This has to do with identification documents. We all know that the two most reliable documents are the ID Card and the passport. They contain all the details of the individual. In fact the passport is even more credible as it is an international document that proves the identity of the holder and allows the person to enter into other countries.
The Electoral Commission now does not accept the passport as a document of identification from a person wishing to register as a voter or who seeks a transfer! Voters are also being told that they will not be able to use their passports on polling day. Again we ask why?
I remember when people were allowed to vote if two persons in the station could certify their identity. So why is it that the passport, which contains all the information of the voter as contained in the Voters Register, cannot be used? Is the Electoral Commission acting like a facilitator or an obstruction?
The actions of the EC are only helping to give them a bad name and they are bringing disrespect and suspicion upon themselves. And now many people are starting to say that the EC will bend over backwards to please Mr. Michel’s wishes as far as the date of the elections are concerned. They will abide to what he says and will not listen to others. We can only tell them that on this one, they will meet very angry politicians and to be prepared for a real fight.
Why should they be acting in this manner? Mr. Gappy knows that the next sitting of the Court of Appeal is in December. He, like us, also knows that Mr. Michel might call for early elections before the end of the year. His demand for a stay of execution on the Supreme Court’s judgement is set for the 7th October. Why is he and the Commission dragging their feet? Is that what they call free and fair?
I sincerely hope that the Electoral Commission will be found in contempt of court. I do not wish for any of them to spend 1 second in prison. I only want them to give all political parties an electronic copy of the Voters Register. So far this has proved to be a very difficult demand. I just hope it can be placed in the context of the change the people of Seychelles are seeking.
By: Wavel Ramkalawan