An overview of President Ramkalawan’s one year in power |26 October 2021
Exactly one year ago to date, Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan of the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) opposition party claimed a historic landslide victory in the presidential elections, making him the fifth President of the Republic of Seychelles.
The opposition frontman who narrowly missed out on the 2015 elections by 193 votes, received 54.9 percent of valid votes, defeating main contender Danny Faure of the well-established ruling party United Seychelles (US), formerly Parti Lepep/ SPPF/ SPUP. Faure secured 43.5 percent of votes, cast in the elections held on October 22-24, 2020.
The presidential victory was the first for an opposition party, marking the beginning of a new chapter in Seychelles’ democracy, and at the same time, an end to the reign of the ruling party, who remained in power since the 1977 Coup.
In his first presidential address at the Electoral Commission of Seychelles, President Ramkalawan called on the nation to unite in peace and love, to look towards the future rather than dwell on the past and darker chapters of the small-island nation’s history.
President Ramkalawan’s five-year term officially commenced on Monday October 26, as he was inaugurated into the highest seat of the land, during a ceremony which had the world watching from the edge of their seats.
LDS absolute majority in the National Assembly
For the second consecutive time, LDS claimed majority seats in the legislative elections, this time, winning an absolute majority, meaning the party exercises power over both the executive and legislative arms of government.
In addition to consolidating all 15 districts which allowed the party to claim a simple majority in the 2016 legislative elections, LDS secured an additional five districts. Electorates in 20 of the 26 districts, namely, Anse Aux Pins, Anse Boileau, Anse Etoile, Au Cap, Baie Lazare, Beau Vallon, Bel Air, Bel Ombre, Cascade, English River, Glacis, Grand Anse Mahé, Grand Anse Praslin, Ile Perseverance, Les Mamelles, Mont Buxton, Mont Fleuri, Plaisance, Saint Louis and Takamaka gave their votes to LDS candidates to be their voice in the seventh National Assembly.
Elected members of the National Assembly representing LDS are: Clifford Andre (Anse Aux Pins), Phillip Arissol (Anse Boileau), Georges Romain (Anse Etoile), Kelly Samynadin (Au Cap), François Adelaide (Baie Lazare), John Hoareau (Beau Vallon), Norbert Loizeau (Bel Air), Sandy Arissol (Bel Ombre), Philip Monthy (Cascade), Andy Labonte (English River) Regina Esparon (Glacis), Waven William (Grand Anse Mahé), Wavel Woodcock (Grand Anse Praslin), Desheila Bastienne (Ile Perseverance), Bernard Georges (Les Mamelles), Gervais Henrie (Mont Buxton), Michel Roucou (Mont Fleuri), Richard Labrosse (Plaisance), Sathyanarayanan Naidu (Saint Louis) and Terrence Mondon (Takamaka).
For the second time since 1977, US failed to secure a majority, claiming only six seats from Anse Royale, Baie St Anne Praslin, Inner islands, Pointe Larue, Port Glaud and Roche Caiman, in addition to four proportional seats, and losing in many districts which were traditionally considered to be strongholds for the party.
The legislative elections were held conjointly with the presidential elections so as to consolidate funds and the process.
Despite strong opposition against the former ruling party and its leaders, the newly elected President was joined by former President Danny Faure at State House on October 27, to discuss with officials from key departments the peaceful and calm transition of power, in the interest of the country.
Vice-President Ahmed Afif also assumed office on the same day, as he was sworn in, in the presence of President Ramkalawan and other distinguished guests.
Ramkalawan’s 13-strong Cabinet was unveiled on November 4, 2020, in a special meet held at State House. Eleven members were sworn into office, in accordance with Article 69 (2) of the Constitution, namely, Designated Minister and Minister for Fisheries Jean-François Ferrari; Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade Naadir Hassan; Minister for Internal Affairs Errol Fonseka; Minister for Transport Antony Derjacques; Minister for Health Peggy Vidot; Minister for Youth, Sports and Family Marie-Celine Zialor; Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship & Industry Devika Vidot; Minister for Local Government and Community Affairs Rose-Marie Hoareau; Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment Flavien Joubert; Minister for Education Justin Valentin; and Minister for Employment and Social Affairs Patricia Francourt.
Health matters on the agenda
Despite no evidence of community transmission of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the Head of State in a meeting with senior members of the department of health on November 5, urged that each person take responsibility by observing and respecting the various guidelines set by the department. The department’s spending was also scrutinized, with the President committing to further negotiations to cut spending, especially regarding the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort which was being used as a quarantine facility at a cost of R800 per room even if unoccupied.
2021 budget preparations
It was in the same month that the leader confirmed that the 2021 budget will be presented to the National Assembly in January 2021, instead of the usual end of year, to afford technical experts of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Trade enough time for preparations, a task made more challenging with the Covid-19 pandemic and downturn in the domestic economy.
Appointment of Chief Justice Rony Govinden
Justice Rony James Govinden was on November 10 sworn into office as the new Chief Justice, taking up the mantle from recently retired former Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey. Justice Govinden was appointed by President Ramkalawan in line with Article 127 of the Constitution following recommendations of the Constitutional Appointments Authority (CAA).
President’s first National Assembly address
In his first address to the National Assembly on Tuesday November 17, 2020, the President issued a plea to public servants to improve efficiency and efficacy of public administration, and for each employee to be as productive as possible.
“In a few words, let me tell you that the Seychelles economy is really in the red,” President Ramkalawan stated, as he announced the cancellation of the regional council elections scheduled for January 2021, on account that with the continuous devaluation of the Rupee and economic decline, the country cannot afford to organise the elections at a cost amounting to over R38 million.
Outlining the state of the economy then, President Ramkalawan strongly iterated the need for government to push towards cutting costs, eliminating unnecessary expenditure and to do more with less resources so as to kick-start the road to recovery. As such, it will be necessary that his administration revise the Financial Assistance for Job Retention (FA4JR) scheme, Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS), My First Job and the Seychelles Employee Transition Scheme (SETS), all of which were established by the previous administration. In addition to a revision of the schemes, the President also announced the scrapping of thirteenth month salary payments to the public sector, at an estimated R541 million.
The general cost of living was also on the agenda, as he unveiled part of the administration’s plans to restructure the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) to better deliver on its mandate.
Legal and cabinet affairs
President Ramkalawan assented to the Civil Code of Seychelles Act 2020, the first piece of legislation that he assents to, and which he had the opportunity to debate on as a member of the National Assembly, on November 23, during a brief ceremony at the State House. The new code created one body of laws, setting out the rights and responsibilities of citizens from birth to death, including their rights as a child and adult, marriage and divorce, purchase of sale property rights and obligations, and rights to distribute property.
A supplementary budget for 2020 was approved in an extra-ordinary Cabinet meeting on November 25.
November 26 saw the appointment of Brenda Morin as the new chief executive of the Agency for Social Protection (ASP).
Cost-cutting measures in health sector
On the morning of November 29, the President and his delegation conducted a visit to the Anse Royale Hospital, whereby he announced a series of cost-cutting measures within the health sector. Firstly, he instructed that all health services offered at the Arc Royale rented facility, while the Anse Royale Hospital was used as a Covid-19 back-up isolation centre and PCR Testing station, be returned to the hospital, thus eliminating the payment of rental fees amounting to R400,000.
The President also announced that the discontinuation of the renting of tents used at various health centres as screening stations, to be replaced by a new batch of 35 tents being donated, hence a cost savings of approximately R2 million per month. Furthermore, he informed the press and public of the relocation of the Quarantine Centre currently at Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay to be transferred to Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resort, which is generously being offered at no cost. This will allow for a substantial saving of R4.4 million which alternatively will now go towards improving the standards of medical care for the benefit of Seychellois citizens.
President Ramkalawan’s first state visit to Mauritius
The head of state undertook his first State Visit to Mauritius on November 29, with the aim of further consolidating bilateral ties that exist between the two island nations. He was accompanied by First Lady Linda Ramkalawan, and a delegation. During the visit, the President engaged in a tête-à-tête with the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, followed by working sessions, discussions and visits.
Seychelles and Mauritius signed two agreements during the state visit, the first pertaining to security and crime combatting. The signees were Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde, and the Commissioner of Police of Mauritius, Khemraj Servansin. The second memorandum of understanding (MoU) on information and communication technology was once again signed by Radegonde, and Deepak Balgobin, the Mauritian Minister for Information Technology, Communication and Innovation. It seeks to allow cooperation between the two countries through the sharing of information, capacity building as well as collaboration in cybercrimes among others.
Thirteenth-month pay suspension legislation signed
President Ramkalawan on Friday December 11, assented to the Suspension of Thirteenth Month Pay and End of Year Gratuity Act, 2020, in line with announcement made before the National Assembly in November. In solidarity with Seychellois workers who were to be missing out on their thirteenth month pay, and the constitutional appointees who will not be eligible for their end-of-year gratuity following the enactment of the Suspension of Thirteenth Month Pay and End of Year Gratuity Act, 2020, the Office of the President announced on December 14, that he, and Vice-President Afif will both voluntarily forego their end-of-year gratuity.
The non-payment of the end of year gratuity legally applies only to the vice-president, the ministers, and the members of the National Assembly, including the Speaker, deputy Speaker, leader of the opposition and the leader of government business.
President embarks on state visit to UAE
On Saturday December 12, 2020, President Ramkalawan departed on his second working visit, this time to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to further discuss ways to strengthen cooperation for the benefit of both nations.
The President was over the course of five days accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde, Ambassador Jean Claude Adrienne, and the 3rd Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Jonathan Pool. On behalf of the country he conveyed appreciation for the support of the UAE government, and their pledge to donate Seychelles’ first batch of vaccines against Covid-19, in the form of 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines. While there, the President met with the President of AMSA Renal Care Abdullah Ajmal, where he successfully negotiated a reduction in the cost of treatment for renal dialysis treatment in Seychelles from (USD) $250 and $175 per patient. The agreement is expected to result in cost savings of around R46 million for the year 2021.
President Ramkalawan also met with former Seychelles President James Michel during the visit.
First consignment of vaccines arrive
Just a few days after the visit, the consignment of vaccines reached Seychelles, on the evening of December 22. Health authorities were at the time finalising the details of the national vaccination campaign and its rollout.
Committee established to review names of roads linked to 1977 Coup
December 21 saw the establishment of a new committee to review the names of all roads in Victoria, linked to the 1977 Coup D’etat. The committee is tasked with proposing new names for the roads and submit them to the President, for further consideration by the Cabinet of Ministers.
First cases of Covid-19 community transmission confirmed
As the first cases of Covid-19 community transmission were confirmed towards the end of the month, the President on Tuesday December 29, in a live televised address, announced a series of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 infection. The strict measures were to be applicable for 14 days, including restrictions on all public gatherings. Among other measures were; all schools, from crèche to post-secondary were to remain closed, no religious ceremonies to be held, bars, casinos, spas, gyms and cinemas were to remain closed, inclusive of leisure activities, all competitive sports were to be held without spectators. All places of work were being requested to encourage employees to work from home. The airport was to remain open to inbound visitors, under existing entry conditions.
Organisations step up in national Covid-19 fight
The year ended somewhat on a good note, with a donation of Covid-19 vaccines from the fisheries sector. The donation amounting to R3,200,000 was jointly given by local shipping agent Seaward Company (Pty) Limited and two international commercial companies, Albacora, S.A. and Inpesca, S.A, and was accepted by President Ramkalawan, at State House.
President Ramkalawan promotes SPDF officials
As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Ramkalawan on New Year’s Day hosted a special ceremony, in which Colonel Michael Rosette was promoted to Chief of the Defence Forces, while Colonel Simon Dine was appointed the new Chief of Staff of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF). During the same ceremony, other officials were commissioned, and promoted within the force.
Covid-19 measures stepped up
Just under a week after the imposition of certain measures against the spread of Covid-19, the President on January 3,announced the yet stricter measures, in a bid to break the chain of transmission within the community. At the time at least four clusters had been identified by the health department. As per the Public Health order drafted by the Attorney General, the following conditions were applicable for 10 days, until January 13; All standalone restaurants were ordered to remain closed. Restaurants associated with hotels and guesthouses were to be used only by clients being accommodated in such facilities. All mobile catering vans and takeaway outlets were to remain closed, although they were permitted to prepare and sell food on an order basis. All sporting activities were suspended, and stores other than grocery stores ordered to remain closed. Also applicable then was the limitation of movement between islands, and stricter conditions for inbound visitors.
Seychelles also registered its first mortality from Covid-19 during the first few days of the year. Mr Vincent Pillay, who was hospitalised at the Isolation and Treatment Centre in Perseverance, sadly succumbed to the illness.
The President urged individual responsibility, and the importance of members of the public to adhere to all the safety guidelines and hygiene measures issued by the health authorities, such as good hygiene practices, wearing of masks and social distancing in order to ensure their own safety and that of communities.
President Ramkalawan kicks off National Covid-19 immunisation campaign
Well ahead of many other countries around the globe, the accelerated national immunisation campaign against the coronavirus officially kicked off on Sunday January 10, with the President as the first person to be administered the vaccine.
At the launch of the campaign, the President noted that Seychelles aims to be the first country in the world to vaccinate at least 70 percent of its over-18 population, to allow for the reopening of the economy.
President Ramkalawan also commended the Seychellois population for the strong sense of solidarity, calling on private donors and citizens wishing to make their contributions towards the vaccination campaign to do so with the set-up of the new Covid-19 Relief Fund with the Central Bank of Seychelles.
Donations pour in towards combatting the spread of Covid-19
Different organisations and individuals stepped up to support the government and health sector in its efforts to combat against the surge into the new year. Among them were three Chinese businesses operating in Seychelles, namely, GBC Company, NJ Pty Limited and AAA Trading who made a donation of 100 thousand face masks at State House on January 7. The masks were distributed for use by officials of the Ministry of Health, as well as the police department whereby a batch were to be reserved to share with people in public places without masks. Numerous other organisations and donors stepped forward to contribute towards the Covid-19 Relief fund over the course of the month.
Covishield vaccines from Government of India arrive
A total of 50,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine arrived in the country aboard Indian Navy Aircraft ‘Boeing P8I’ on January 23, a further boost to the immunisation campaign. The donation from the government of India followed a donation of urgent medicine supplies during the first half of 2020 when Seychelles recorded its first Covid-19 outbreak.
President’s first State of the Nation address
On January 23, the leader announced in his first State of the Nation address that the Seychelles is making great strides in its vaccination campaign, and was ranked second worldwide behind Israel, in terms of countries who had administered the most jabs against Covid-19, thanks to the UAE donation.
With regards to employment, he called for Seychellois to be prioritised, and announced stricter conditions for approval and renewal of Gainful Occupation Permits (GOPs). It was then that he also unveiled government’s plans to scrap the FA4JR scheme by April, on account that it is unsustainable.
The President proceeded to list numerous areas of government spending that will be significantly cut back in the 2021 budget appropriation, noting significant government expenses, namely, R125 million in housing rent for expatriates, R187 million in office rentals, R195 million in security services for government institutions, three budget headings that amount to R507 million annually, and which the country cannot afford with the economic downturn.
In a bid to address the economic situation, the 2021 budget appropriation is much leaner than previous budgets, the President said, going further to state that some parastatal organisations and institutions will as from next month close their doors. A significant proportion of the existing 108 boards that oversee government and parastatal entities to a sum of R36 million annually will also be cut back.
Further measures enforced to curb Covid-19 spread
With the surge in infections and cases of Covid-19 rapidly on the rise, President Ramkalawan chaired the Platinum Covid-19 committee meeting on January 23, where new measures to further control the spread were announced.
First phase of public service restructuring announced
Exactly 99 days since his administration assumed power, President Ramkalawan announced the first phase of government restructuring in a televised address on February 1.
In regards to different boards, President Ramkalawan noted that the existing boards was costing the government R36.2 million whereby with the elimination of some, and restructuring, there will be a reduction of R12.2 million. Among the changes were the abolishing of the posts of special advisors, and changes relating to posts and entities under the Office of the Vice-President, Office of the Designated Minister, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Trade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Ministry of Transport. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Family, the Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment also underwent some form of restructuring in the first phase.
Nassim Onezime deported
Kenyan national Nassim Onezime, who had settled in Seychelles, was in the early hours of Monday February 1 deported onboard an Island Development Company (IDC) aircraft, accompanied by the deputy commissioner of police, Ted Barbé, and four other individuals among them police officers.
According to President Ramkalawan, Ms Onezime was arrested in an operation conducted by the Seychelles Police Force, and subsequently deported, in relation to drug-related activities.
“There was an operation last night (Sunday night) and an individual involved in drug trafficking was arrested and has been deported from the country. This is the work of the police. They have to explain to foreigners that they should not be involved in such acts when in Seychelles and if they persist, they will have to leave the country… (..) We will take action. I am following closely the work being done by the police and I will give them my full support,” President Ramkalawan said of the case.
Russia commits to Sputnik V vaccine donation
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Seychelles, Artyom Kozhin, committed to a donation of Russian-manufactured Sputnik V vaccines, during a courtesy call on President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on February 17.
In addition to the vaccines, Ambassador Kozhin said the Russian business community will also assist with financial aid, in donating USD ($) 500,000 towards the Covid-19 Relief Fund.
President Ramkalawan undertakes overseas mission in UAE
President Ramkalawan proceeded on an overseas mission to the UAE on Friday 19, returning on Monday February 22.
Upon return, he noted successful negotiation in relation to the Air Seychelles and Etihad partnership agreement, stating that no payment will be effected this year and further negotiations are ongoing in regards to the mode of payment for the debt accumulated, and for the return of the Etihad shares in order to reinstate the country’s national carrier as a fully Seychellois owned entity.
With the visit, the UAE government confirmed the provision of specialist infrastructure support to Seychelles through a team of technicians to review two major upcoming projects, namely, the La Digue Hospital project, and the Drug Rehabilitation Centre currently proposed for relocation.
The President, through his interactions with private investors and businesses interested in business opportunities in Seychelles, also managed to secure 25,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine.
** March 2021**
President Ramkalawan addresses nation in relation to Covid-19 surge
In a televised address on March 18, President Ramkalawan sent out a message of solidarity to all families who have lost a loved one to Covid-19, calling on each citizen to act responsibly, to stop the spread of Covid-19 within the community.
“Seychelles has really been blessed, with vaccines from countries who support us. Today, we are first in the world in terms of administering vaccines per head. Already, over 62,000 people have taken their vaccines, and we need to reach at least 65,000 to attain the community protection that we want,” President Ramkalwan noted at the time, urging citizens to get their jabs.
President undertakes official visit to Qatar
President Ramkalawan undertook an official visit to the State of Qatar at the invitation of His Highness, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, from March 20 to 23, 2021. He was accompanied by a delegation comprising First Lady Linda Ramkalawan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde, Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade Naadir Hassan and the Chief of Defence Forces Colonel Michael Rosette.
Minister Radegonde signed two new cooperation agreements in the fields of military and sports, signalling a new era in bilateral relations between the two states, the President said upon his return.
** April 2021**
Government launches La Digue Hospital Fund
With the planning phase of the new La Digue hospital almost complete, government on April 5, 2021 launched the La Digue Hospital Fund, seeking donations from individuals and organisations alike to realise the project.
It was revealed on April 29 that the fund had accumulated a total of R2,088,411.13, while the total donations to the Covid-19 Relief Fund were at R78,258,764.17.
President undertakes expedition to outer islands
The President undertook a visit to the outer islands from April 9 to 12 along with members of the diplomatic community, as a symbolic gesture of appreciation for the continuous support their respective countries have extended to Seychelles, especially during this ongoing global pandemic.
The tour included a visit to the Unesco World Heritage site, Aldabra Atoll followed by brief stops to other outer islands including Alphonse, Assumption, Astove, Farquhar and Desroches. President Ramkalawan also during the visit inaugurated the solar plants on Astove and Farquhar.
R11 billion budget approved for 2021
Following intense debates, the National Assembly on April 13 voted to approve the R11,013,648,296 budget proposed by the Appropriations Bill, 2021, which was tabled before the assembly by Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade Naadir Hassan.
The 2021 appropriation has two main objectives, Minister Hassan noted at the time: (i) towards sustainability within government, and (ii) emphasis on relaunching the economy after the hard hit resulting from the pandemic.
Changes within ministries, departments and agencies
Further changes to ministries, departments and agencies and certain posts within the entities, were announced by President Ramkalawan during an address on April 26. Changes were announced to the Ministry of Tourism and Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), within the ministries responsible for education and environment, as well as different posts.
The President also noted changes within the Ministry of Local Government, particularly with regard to the appointment of district administrators (DA). He announced that DAs will from then be appointment following an application and interview process.
President congratulates defence and police teams for major drug seizure
On Saturday May 22, the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces, comprising Seychelles Air Force, Seychelles Coast guards, the Seychelles Police and the National Information Sharing and Coordination Centre (NISCC) successfully intercepted the BABA ALI fishing vessel bearing number SZ1419, leading to subsequent seizure of a consignment of suspected illegal drugs estimated to be worth around R20 million in Seychelles waters.
President Ramkalawan conveyed special congratulations to the forces, once again reiterating government’s no tolerance policy towards drug-related activities.
Saudi discusses assistance to Seychelles under USD ($)1 million Development Fund
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for African Affairs Ahmed Abul Aziz Kattan during a meeting with President Wavel Ramkalawan and other key government officials at State House on June 10, said Seychelles could possibly access finance under the $1 billion Saudi Arabia Development Fund, at the disposal of countries on the African continent, for key community projects.
Commissioner of Police Ted Barbe sworn in
New Police Commissioner Ted Barbe was officially sworn in a ceremony held at State House on June 17, in accordance with Article 160 (2) of the Constitution.
President reiterates call for solidarity, peace and unity on National Day
On the occasion of National Day and the 45th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Seychelles from Britain, President reiterated his call to the nation for solidarity and unity.
“We are presently in the process of trying to return our country to one which is normal. I mentioned that there is no space for hate, no space for division. Our country was in a situation in December, whereby it was going through a big problem. Our country was sinking, whether you accept it or not. If we had not taken the decision to give our people vaccines, whether Sinopharm, Covishield or Sputnik 3, Seychelles would be on its knees,” the President said.
“Let us show our solidarity, this is what June 29 demands of us. That we show solidarity towards our brothers and sisters, and that we, together, combat against Covid-19 so we can do much better,” President Ramkalawan said.
The momentous occasion was celebrated through a ceremony held at State House, featuring a scaled-down military parade, on account of the pandemic.
President undertakes official visit to Austria
President Ramkalawan arrived in Austria for a working visit on June 30, at the invitation of Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.
Upon arriving in Vienna, the President engaged in a tête à tête, followed by a working lunch hosted by President Bellen. Members of the delegation comprised the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Ambassador Sylvestre Radegonde and Ralph Agrippine, acting chargé d’affaires at the Seychelles embassy in Paris, France.
The President on July 1 attended the high-level forum of the fifth Austrian World Summit, the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative themed ‘Healthy Planet ‒ Healthy People’, where he told the forum of the disadvantage that small island states face in relation to the environment and climate change, being at the receiving end of the impacts on industrial developments.
The President also attended a dinner hosted by former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will be co-chairing the Austria Summit with President Van der Bellen.
Seychelles and IMF reach staff-level agreement
The Seychelles authorities and International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached a staff-level agreement on a USD107 million arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), to help Seychelles undergo economic reforms, it was announced on July 7.
President Ramkalawan promotes Lieutenant Colonel Jean Attala as Commander of Seychelles Coast Guard, and Brassel Adeline and David Esparon as Supreme Court judges
Former deputy Attorney General and state counsel David Esparon and former Registrar of the Supreme Court Brassel Adeline were sworn in as Supreme Court judges before the President on July 29.
Lieutenant Colonel Jean Attala was promoted to the rank of Commander of the Seychelles Coast Guard, at State House on July 30.
The President was out of the country on a private visit from August 6 to 9, 2021.
High level committee appointed to handle Air Seychelles negotiations
In a special meeting with the board of directors of Air Seychelles on August 27, President Ramkalawan chaired an open discussion on the way forward, following a recent petition filed by APEX Corporate Trustees (UK) before the Supreme Court of Seychelles, to declare the national carrier insolvent, and to wind up its operations.
Upon the conclusion of discussions, the President gave instructions for the creation of a new high-level committee led by Designated Minister Jean-François Ferrari, Minister for Finance, Economic planning and Trade Naadir Hassan, Minister for Transport Antony Derjacques, and four directors nominated by the board of Air Seychelles, tasking them with the responsibility of engaging in discussions and negotiations with representatives of the Bond Holders, Apex Corporate Trustees (UK).
Francis Songoire and Roy Bonnelame appointed Deputy Commissioners of Police
President Ramkalawan in consultation with the Commissioner of Police appointed to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Francis Songoire and Ron Bonnelame, in accordance with Section 8 (1) of the Police Force Act. The appointments took effect as of September 1, 2021.
Pfizer vaccines donated by US arrive, President reveals he has taken two booster shots
The first batch of 35,000 Pfizer vaccines arrived in the country on the morning of September 8, 2021, a donation from the United States (US) government, under the COVAX scheme.
The arrival of the vaccines is a boost to the national immunisation campaign, the vaccination campaign for the adolescent population of 12-17 year olds and other vulnerable target groups in the population.
Making the announcement at State House on September 7, President Ramkalawan went on to note the arrival of a second consignment of 30,000 doses later on during the month, with the objective of administering booster doses to the population. The second consignment of the American-manufactured jab was donated to the state by a generous donor.
It was then that the head of state seized the opportunity to inform the population that he has since received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine himself while abroad, after undergoing a test which indicated that the level of antibodies had dropped, resulting in a lowered level of protection. With his Pfizer vaccine certificate, it will be easier for the head of state to enter Scotland to attend the Conference of Parties (COP) 26, to be held in Glasgow, United Kingdom (UK) from November 1 to 12, 2021.
The President further announced that through another donation, Seychelles will also receive a second consignment of 30,000 doses of the Pfizer Vaccine before the end of September.
Scheme to return land opens
Government on October 1 launched a scheme for the return of land acquired by government between 1977 and 1993 and which was forcibly sold to government under private agreements. The land will be returned subject to certain conditions.
The scheme was established following the subsequent volume of land claims before the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC), and in the spirit of reconciliation and national unity.
Seychelles removed from EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions
Seychelles was on October 5 removed from the European Union list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, along with Anguilla and Dominica.
President assents to Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 2021
President Wavel Ramkalawan has assented to the Penal Code Amendment Act (2021), which was approved by the National Assembly on October 6, 2021.
The Act has two main objectives, the main one being the removal of criminal defamation from the law, by removing Sections 184 up to Section 191 from Chapter 19 of the Seychelles Penal Code. Criminal defamation is an outdated concept, and is inconsistent with the norms and practices of international agreements which Seychelles has signed, including Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which condone the limitations of criminal defamation on freedom of expression.
The President said he is especially satisfied to have signed the legislation, in the interests of journalists and the local media.
Compiled by Laura Pillay