15 September 2016

Seychelles: Opposition Wins Seychelles Parliamentary Elections

The people of Seychelles voted peacefully in a historic parliamentary election on 8-10 September that saw an opposition coalition - for the first time in the history of the island nation - winning the majority seats in parliament.

According to final results released by the Electoral Commission of Seychelles (ECS), the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) coalition garnered 15 directly elected seats and four proportionate seats while the ruling Parti Lepep won 10 directly elected seats and four proportionate seats.

The Seychelles Patriotic Movement, which was the other party that took part in the parliamentary elections, garnered zero seats.

The LDS coalition is made of four parties - the main opposition Seychelles National Party, the Lalyans Seselwa (Seychellois Alliance), the Seychelles Party for Social Justice and Democracy and the Seychelles United Party.

The result means that the sixth National Assembly will have 19 members from the LDS and 14 from Parti Lepep.

In the last parliamentary elections held in 2011, Parti Lepep held all the 25 directly elected seats and a further seven proportionate seats.

The National Assembly in Seychelles is made up of 25 directly elected seats and eight proportional seats.

A total of 62,939 people, out of 71,932 registered voters, cast votes in the historic elections in August, representing a voter turnout of more than 87 percent. Seychelles has a population of around 93,000.

As is the case with all elections in Seychelles, voters in the so-called "outer islands" voted on the first two days, followed by the "inner islands" of Mahe, Grand' Anse and La Digue Islands which are home to more than 90 percent of the Seychellois population.

This voting set-up makes it easy for the voting to be completed on time and ensures that ballots from outer islands are delivered back to the main island of Mahe, where the tallying of the votes and final result announcement take place.

The archipelago nation is made up of 115 islands, some as far as 1,000 kilometres from the main island of Mahe.

The election results released by the ECS mean that the ruling Parti Lepep has lost an election for the first time since the country re-introduced multiparty politics in 1993. The party has been in power for over 23 years.

In December 2015, the party's presidential candidate, James Michel, was forced into a run-off after no candidate amassed enough votes to be declared outright winner following presidential elections rescheduled in the same month instead of the original date of 2016.

Some analysts viewed the rescheduling of elections to December 2015 as a ploy by President Michel to manage instability within the party as some members of his party had openly expressed discomfort with his policies.

The December 2015 run-off was the first in the history of the island nation. In previous elections, the ruling party comfortably won every presidential election in the first round.

The disunity within the ruling party may be part of the reason behind the victory by the opposition coalition in the just-ended parliamentary elections.

LDS leader, Roger Mancienne said the result marks "a historic step" in the development of the country.

"It is historic because it's the first time that we have a transition of power in one of the branches of government - the legislature," he said, adding that the transition has also occurred in a peaceful and orderly manner.

President Michel conceded defeat in the elections, saying he is ready to work with the new members of parliament.

"The people have spoken, the people have decided and the people's decision is supreme and my party respects the people's opinion," he said.

In line with standard practice, regional and international election observers were deployed in Seychelles to observe the elections.

These included the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observer Mission (SEOM) and the African Union (AU) Observer Mission.

The SEOM was launched on 2 September and was headed by the Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Augustine Mahiga.

SEOM said it was happy with the country's level of preparedness for the 2016 National Assembly elections.

As per tradition, the SEOM is expected to produce a detailed report on the conduct of the polls.

The expectations of the SEOM will be guided and measured mainly against provisions and requirements of the Seychelles Constitution, as well as the SADC Treaty, the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation"..

The AU deployed an all-women observer mission led by Ambassador Fatuma Ndangiza of Rwanda, a former chairperson of the African Peer Review Panel of Eminent Persons.

Ambassador Ndangiza said the deployment of the women-only election observation mission was in line with the AU's commemoration of the "African Year of Human Rights with a Special Focus on the Rights of Women".

Parliamentary elections in Seychelles are held every five years, and the next one is set for 2021. sardc.net

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