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Politics of Seychelles

By 1963, political parties had developed in the Seychelles colony. Elections held that year were contested for the first time on party lines. The following year, two new parties, the Seychelles Democratic Party[?] (SDP) led by James Mancham[?], and the Seychelles People's Unity Party[?] (SPUP) led by France Albert Rene[?], replaced existing parties. In the November 1970 elections, the SDP won 10 seats, and the SPUP won five in the Legislative Assembly. Under the new constitution, Mancham became the chief minister of the colony.

During the April 1974 elections, the SDP increased its majority in the Legislative Assembly by three seats, gaining all but two of the 15 seats. Demarcation of constituencies was such that the SDP achieved this majority by winning only 52% of the popular vote.

The SDP and SPUP formed a coalition government in June 1975 to lead Seychelles to independence. The British Government was asked to appoint an electoral review commission so that divergent views on the electoral system and composition of the legislature could be reconciled. As a result, 10 seats were added to the Legislative Assembly, five to be nominated by each party. A cabinet of ministers also was formed consisting of eight members of the SDP and four of the SPUP, with Chief Minister Mancham becoming Prime Minister. With independence on June 29, 1976, Mancham assumed the office of president and Rene became Prime Minister.

Although the coalition appeared to operate smoothly, political divisions between the two parties continued. On June 5, 1977, during Mancham's absence at the London Commonwealth Conference[?], supporters of Prime Minister Rene overthrew Mancham in a smoothly executed coup and installed Rene as president. President Rene suspended the constitution and dismissed the parliament. The country was ruled by decree until June 1979, when a new constitution was adopted.

In November 1981, a group of mercenaries attempted to overthrow the Rene government but failed when they were detected at the airport and repelled. The government was threatened again by an army mutiny in August 1982, but it was quelled after two days when loyal troops, reinforced by Tanzanian forces, recaptured rebel-held installations.

After almost 16 years of one-party rule, President Rene announced a return to the multiparty system of government at an Extraordinary Congress[?] of the SPPF[?] on December 4, 1991. On December 27, 1991, the Constitution of Seychelles was amended to allow for the registration of political parties. Among the exiles returning to Seychelles was Mr. James Mancham, who returned in April 1992 to revive his party, the Democratic Party (DP). By the end of that month, eight political parties had registered to contest the first stage of the transition process: election to the Constitutional Commission, which took place on July 23-26, 1992.

The Constitutional Commission was made up of 22 elected members, 14 from the SPPF and eight from the DP. It commenced work on August 27, 1992 with both President Rene and Mr. Mancham calling for national reconciliation and consensus on a new democratic Constitution. A consensus text was agreed upon on May 7, 1993 and a referendum to approve it called for June 15-18. The draft was approved with 73.9% of the electorate in favor of it and 24.1% against.

July 23-26, 1993 saw the first multiparty presidential and legislative elections held under the new constitution, as well as a resounding victory for President Rene. Three political groups contested the elections -- the SPPF, the DP, and the United Opposition[?] (UO) -- a coalition of three smaller political parties, including Parti Seselwa. Two other smaller opposition parties threw in their lot with the DP. All participating parties and international observer groups accepted the results as "free and fair."

Three candidates again contested the 1998 presidential election -- Mr. Albert Rene, SPPF; Mr. James Mancham, DP; and Rev. Wavel Ramkalawan and once again President Rene and his SPPF party enjoyed a landslide victory. The President's popularity in March 20-22 elections jumped to 66.6% from 59.5% in 1993, while the SPPF garnered 61.7% of the total votes cast in the National Assembly election, compared to 56.5% in 1993.

Early elections originally set for 2003 were called in August/September 2001. The Government Party SPPF once again prevailed, although the main Opposition Party, Seychelles National Party[?] (previously known as the United Opposition Party[?]) headed by Rev. Wavel Ramkalawan[?], made a surprisingly strong showing and collected 46% of the total votes. The DP, headed by Mr. Mancham, did not take part in the elections.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Seychelles
conventional short form: Seychelles

Data code: SE

Government type: republic

Capital: Victoria

Administrative divisions: 23 administrative districts; Anse aux Pins, Anse Boileau, Anse Etoile, Anse Louis, Anse Royale, Baie Lazare, Baie Sainte Anne, Beau Vallon, Bel Air, Bel Ombre, Cascade, Glacis, Grand' Anse (on Mahe), Grand' Anse (on Praslin), La Digue, La Riviere Anglaise, Mont Buxton, Mont Fleuri, Plaisance, Pointe La Rue, Port Glaud, Saint Louis, Takamaka

Independence: 29 June 1976 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 18 June (1993) (adoption of the constitution)

Constitution: 18 June 1993

Legal system: based on English common law, French civil law, and customary law

Suffrage: 17 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President France Albert RENE (since 5 June 1977); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President France Albert RENE (since 5 June 1977); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 20-22 March 1998 (next to be held by NA 2003)
election results: France Albert RENE reelected president; percent of vote - France Albert RENE (SPPF) 66.7%, Wavel RAMKALAWAN (UO) 19.5%, Sir James MANCHAM (DP) 13.8%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (35 seats - 25 elected by popular vote, 10 allocated on a proportional basis to parties winning at least nine percent of the vote; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 20-22 March 1998 (next to be held by NA 2003)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party (elected) - SPPF 24, DP 1; seats by party (awarded) - SPPF 6, DP 1, UO 3
note: the 10 awarded seats are apportioned according to the share of each party in the total vote

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal, judges are appointed by the president; Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party or DP [leader NA]; New Democratic Party [Christopher GILL (former member of DP)]; Seychelles People's Progressive Front or SPPF [France Albert RENE] - the governing party; United Opposition or UO [Wavel RAMKALAWAN] - a coalition of the following parties: Seychelles Party or PS [Wavel RAMKALAWAN], Seychelles Democratic Movement or MSPD [Jacques HONDOUL], and Seychelles Liberal Party or SLP [Ogilvie BERLOUIS]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Roman Catholic Church; trade unions

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, C, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), NAM, OAU, OPCW, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Harold Walter GEISEL
chancery: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400C, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 972-1785
FAX: [1] (212) 972-1786

Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Seychelles; the ambassador to Mauritius is accredited to Seychelles

Flag description: five oblique bands of blue (hoist side), yellow, red, white, and green (bottom) radiating from the bottom of the hoist side

See also : Seychelles



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