The next presidential election in Seychelles will take place between September and November next year, according to the Elections Act, said the chairperson of the Electoral Commission.
Danny Lucas told SNA that the official date is expected to be announced in August 2020.
In anticipation of next year's election, the Commission is liaising with the government to have the election budget prepared in advance. This is separate from the regular three-year budget of SCR7.5 million ($550,000).
"Once an election is called, we have to work within three months to conduct the whole process. We know there will definitely be an election next year, so this time around we are proposing that the elections budget is disbursed earlier so that we can make some prior preparations," he said.
Lucas, who took up the post in April 2019, said the Commission's priority in the coming year is to ensure the secretariat is fully functional in time for the presidential elections.
Presently, the secretariat does not have a Chief Electoral Officer. The amendment to the Elections Act 2018 makes provision for a permanent Chief Electoral Officer.
"We are interviewing potential candidates and we are confident that we will have a person in the post by the end of September," said Lucas.
He added that contrary to people's belief that the Commission has been neglecting this important task, the members "were being thorough to ensure we have the right candidate for the job, one who has experience in running an election."
Lucas also confirmed that the Commission is presently running an intensive recruitment drive to fill in key posts within the secretariat including that of the chief registration officer, finance manager as well as an Information Technology manager.
The chairperson of the Electoral Commission said another huge task is the setting up of its electronic voter registration. The system which was initially managed by the Department of Information, Communications Technology is being migrated to the Commission.
"We need to have this system up and ready before the elections and for this we need to invest financially. However not having the system in place right now will not prevent us from conducting an election if one was to be called tomorrow let's say, but its best we have it in place as soon as possible," Lucas told SNA.
The voter register is also a contentious issue with some political parties accusing the former Commission of not having a credible register.
"Since taking over in April, I have challenged anyone who feels there might be issues and anomalies with the register to come forward and make their complaints. We are always open to comments that would help us make this process fair and transparent," Lucas said.
With regard to concerns that some political parties were not active and had not submitted their financial and administrative reports, Lucas says so far "we haven't had any reason to deregister a political party based on that. As far as we know, their books are in order. We constantly verify this information and we will increase our monitoring once the secretariat is fully functional."
There are presently 12 political parties registered in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Only two parties have so far made known their intentions to take part in the presidential election.
The United Seychelles party endorsed its candidate, the incumbent president Danny Faure, last Saturday, while the main opposition bloc -- Linyon Demokratik Seselwa -- has started the process to register potential candidates ahead of its convention in September.