Sunday, 19 June 2011

NEW SEYCHELLES: CLEAN UP WHEREVER NECESSARY

Press Release: Office of the President

President James Michel has pledged to clean up corruption in government and the private sector, drug trafficking and abuse, as well as areas of inefficiency of the public service. The statements were made during the President’s during his National Day address at Stad Linite this evening. The National Day Parade was attended by the President of Tanzania Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, and Mrs. Salma Kikwete as the guests of honour.

“Eighteen years ago, we adopted a new Constitution, new national symbols, new institutional structures, both legal and administrative, which have transformed us into what we are today: a modern, democratic, far-sighted State.  We have undertaken this journey together.  We cradled the Third Republic in its infancy.  We have guided it through its adolescence.  And we have brought it to maturity.  We can be proud of the fruits of our labour.  The results are here.  This New Seychelles requires even more work.  It requires excellence.  I shall continue to dedicate myself to this New Seychelles, with all my courage and all my determination.  I shall continue to remain at the service of the people for as long as they need me.  I shall always be the President of all Seychellois,” said the President in his address.

The President spoke about the importance of hard work, determination and commitment in working to improve living conditions, the public service and communities.

There is no magic wand to help us overcome the challenges we face. We have to do it through our own sweat. God has given us the courage, strength and intelligence to do it. We can do it through our work. Let us do it so that Seychelles can improve and become better. Let us do it together, with a sense of patriotism, in the spirit of national unity, with innovation, for the New Seychelles.”

The President spoke about several priority areas of his new mandate, of which below are a selection of topics.

Corruption and xenophobia

The President spoke about the need to eliminate all bad practices which can hold us back the development of the country, and which can damage its international image.

The President said that he will take ‘harsh measures against xenophobia and systematic propaganda which sow hatred in the name of freedom of expression.’

He also said that he would target corruption.

“I say it loudly that corruption in the New Seychelles, in both the public and private sectors, will not be tolerated.  It is not a phenomenon that is widespread in our administration and our country in general, but I will cut its head off once and for all if and where it exists. Firm action, without pity, will be taken where we hear there is corruption undermining us, and where we have proof of it.”

Drug trafficking and abuse

The President spoke about the devastating impact of crime in communities, where drug trafficking and drug abuse are often the reason for crime.

The President said that in the context of the government’s policy of zero tolerance, preparation are taking place for a  new initiative which will target traffickers and consumers.

“We will be harsh and pitiless against traffickers. We will show compassion towards consumers and give them the opportunity to rehabilitate. The Police, NDEA, FIU, Judiciary and of course our communities in general, are all included in this new initiative. It consists of several components such as education and public sensitization, increased financing, more resources, additional training for the law and order agencies, the detention of traffickers on an outlying island, amendments to the laws to reinforce and speed up prosecution, the confiscation of the proceeds of crime, and a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for consumers in a special centre where they will also receive help to undergo detoxication and reintegration into society.”

The President said that he is proposing that one or two judges are appointed to deal specifically with drugs cases rapidly, as he believes that it is not acceptable that hundreds of persons who have been arrested for drug trafficking and possession ‘remain free and continue with their business of poisoning our nation.’

National dialogue for a social revolution

The President announced that he will launch a national dialogue soon which will include the participation of representatives of all districts and communities.

“We will hold debates and find the cure to the diseases gnawing away at our communities. This national debate is the first priority on my agenda for the next five years. It will provide the basis for all the decisions that government will take to enable all of us together to find strategies to fight the social ills in our country.”

The President said that the national dialogue will also address the health service in order to address concerns of service delivery and re-establish confidence in the health system.

“Where it is necessary to eliminate weaknesses, we shall do so.  Where it is necessary to strengthen or replace existing structures, we shall do so.  We must, in particular, put in place a new management system for the health service.  But we also have to assume our personal responsibility for our own health.”

Public service efficiency

The President said that the public service must aim for excellence in the context of a “New Seychelles”.

“I will not tolerate mediocrity and laissez-faire. It is important that we undertake positive changes that address public concerns. In the New Seychelles, we shall clean up wherever it is necessary. I have always said that I do not work for election only, rather all my decisions are based on what is good for Seychelles and the Seychellois people.” 

The President said that in his first meeting with the Cabinet of Ministers, he gave instructions that each Ministry should undertake an evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and challenges that it faces. The Ministries are expected to presents these analyses and an implementation plan to improve services and eliminate bad practice.

The President announced that public service professionals will be given appropriate schemes of service in order to ensure that they stay within the public service. The Department of Public Administration has been instructed to start preparing the schemes.

The President said that there will be  major changes in the public service early next year and that such an exercise necessitates the allocation of a budget, changes in certain regulations and policy, in order to put in place facilities to guarantee the change in the public service.

Social corporate responsibility

The President called on the private sector, both Seychellois and foreign-owned companies, tpo  play a greater role in supporting the communities, buy contributing to their development.

“ Our country has given you the opportunities to succeed and thrive, so do  not let Government alone shoulder the burden of supporting communities.  Let us assume our responsibilities.  For example, adopt a school in the district.  Adopt a playground.  Adopt a clinic.  Get more involved in the community.  In our New Seychelles, everyone has to make a contribution.  And we count on you.”

The role of the Opposition

The President spoke about the need to have a constructive Opposition and its role in society in criticizing the government. The President said that he is willing to work with the Opposition if it adopts patriotic values.

“As for me, my arms are wide open.  My heart is open.  We need all the sons and daughters of Seychelles – without exception – in building this great enterprise.  Let us, in this New Seychelles, promote more dialogue and consultation.  There is no place for hatred, contempt, xenophobia, violence and insults.”

Devolution of power to the communities

The President said that he aims to put more power in the hands of our communities, and announced that he intends to create District Councils which will be elected by the inhabitants of each district.

“It is the elected representatives who will solve the problems that people bring to them.  This too, will be addressed by the national dialogue which will decide on how to proceed with this proposal.  We feel the great need to decentralize services.  We have already made some starts towards decentralization.  We have started, but we must ensure its efficiency.”

Recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee

The President said that several recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee Report of 2009 would be implemented soon. This includes the creation of an Electoral Commission as well as the amendment of the Public Order Act. 

The President announced that the Ministry of Finance and Trade will be reducing the licence fees for the operation of private radio and television stations.  He said that their activities will continue to be governed by law.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Cabinet presents amendments to the Constitution and amendments to the Elections Act

Press Release – Office of the President             16.06.2011

CABINET RESOLUTION

The Cabinet of Ministers has resolved to present the amendments to the Constitution and amendments to the Elections Act to the National Assembly in order to create an Electoral Commission. The amendments will be debated in the National Assembly on 28th June.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives provisions to Article 115 for the creation of an Electoral Commission of three members, of which one is a Chairman.

The Commission would be appointed in the same manner as the Constitutional Appointments Authority in order to ensure its independence and the fairness in appointment of members.

Therefore one member is appointed by the President of the Republic, one member is appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, and these two members jointly appoint the third member who becomes the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission.

The Cabinet of Ministers consulted the 2009 Constitutional Review Report for the inclusion views from the members of the Constitutional Review Committee, which were;

Mr Francis CHANG-SAM, Attorney-At-Law Chairman

Mrs Marie-Louise POTTER, Leader of Government Business Member

(or designated representative: Mr. William Herminie)

Mr Wavel RAMKALAWAN, Leader of the Opposition Member

(or designated representative: Mr. Bernard Georges)

Mr Anthony FERNANDO, Attorney General Member

Mr Jeremie BONNELAME, Chairman, Constitutional Appointment

Authority Member

Mr Gustave DODIN, Ombudsman Member and Chairman of the Human Rights Commission

Mr Albert PAYET, Chairman SCCI Member

Mr Philippe BOULLE, Attorney-At-Law Member

Mr Bernard ELIZABETH, Chairman, Lungos Member

Ms Cheryl VENGADASAMY, Speaker, National Youth Assembly Member

Ms Elizabeth CHARLES, Director International Cooperation, Ministry

of Finance Secretary

The Committee made the following recommendation;

Article 115(Electoral Commissioner)

The Committee recommends the establishment of an Electoral Commission in place of the present Electoral Commissioner. The Committee proposes that the Commission be composed of three members, appointed on the recommendation of the Constitutional Appointments Authority. As a result throughout articles 115 and 116 Electoral Commissioner should be replaced by electoral Commission.”

The Cabinet noted this recommendation, however it proposed that a more direct system of appointment would be more effective, whereby the views of the President and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly would be clearly exhibited in endorsing the Electoral Commission, and thereby ensuring political stability in this process.

The Cabinet also noted the Seychelles National Party’s motion to create an Electoral Reform Commission by the National Assembly this week.

The Cabinet is of the view that the Constitutional Review Committee had already discussed the pertinent issues in detail and made their recommendations. Therefore, to create an Electoral Reform Commission as proposed by the SNP would duplicate and unnecessarily delay the development of the democratic process in Seychelles. The 6th Amendment of the Constitution would allow the establishment of an Electoral Commission, whose powers would allow it to address all the issues at stake in an all inclusive manner.

President James Michel has asked members of the National Assembly to work together for the consolidation of democracy, and  he reiterated his call for everyone to work in the spirit of national unity.

During his May 24th inaugural address, the President said:

“We need men and women of goodwill to overcomes the challenges that lie ahead.  We need to put aside our political and ideological differences so that we can progress as a people.  It is time for us to stop mixing politics with everything that we do.  It is time for us to consider our brothers and sisters who may not share the same opinions as we do, not as our enemies, but as Seychellois who are also contributing to the future of our country, even if we remain political adversaries.  Adversaries where it concerns certain things, but also as colleagues with whom we can work; a brother or sister Seychellois with whom we can share much and who can work with us for the good of our country.  We must, all of us, in the spirit of national unity and solidarity, put shoulder to shoulder and work towards one goal: a better future for this New Seychelles.”

Editor’s Note

Examples of appointments of electoral commissions/committees around the world:

· In India, the world’s largest democracy, the President appoints the 3 members of Electoral Commission (Chief Election Commission and two Election Commissioners).

· In South Africa, the Independent Electoral Commission is made up of 5 members that are appointed by President on recommendation of National Assembly based on nominations by an inter-party committee.

· In Mauritius, the Electoral Supervisory Commission consists of a Chairperson and seven members. The President makes the appointments, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, after the latter has consulted with the Leader of the Opposition.

· In Norway, which is ranked no. 1 in democracy on the world Democracy Index of 2010 by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the 5 members of the National Electoral Committee are appointed by the King.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

President meets talent show contestants

‘Youths are making the most of opportunities’
Seychellois youths are making the most of opportunities available to them, and our country is proud of their achievements, President James Michel said yesterday.

The contestants in a souvenir photograph with President Michel

He was speaking at State House when meeting contestants of this year’s edition of the Sesel i annan talan show.

This song contest – the third of its kind -- was organised by the Jj Spirit Foundation, of which Mr Michel is the patron.

Yesterday’s gathering at State House was also attended by Vice-President Danny Faure, the foundation’s chairperson Lise Bastienne and its executive director Eddie Charles.

Patrick Victor, the show’s artistic director, was also present as well as other local artists and musicians.

Mr Michel said through the platform Sesel i annan talan, the youths have shown that they have a lot to offer.

He added that the foundation will continue to organise such events “to promote our youths and to give them the opportunity to shine”.

He said next year he will ensure that the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) television not only airs the final of this show live but also the semi and quarter finals.

“Seychelles as a country believes in its people and most importantly in the progress of its youngsters.”

In the near future the foundation will have its own building and also look into the possibilities of hosting other events, where the youths will have the chance to reveal their creativity with their own compositions.

Mr Victor thanked all those who have helped to make the show a success.Mrs Bastienne presents an ipod to winner Roland Andre

“The contestants showed confidence and resilience – these are some of the best of qualities,” he said.

He encouraged those who are interested in singing to take it up as a profession.

A contestant, Judith Hoareau, thanked Mr Michel and Mrs Bastienne for this contest and their support.

“All contestants had the opportunity to show their talents in the spirit of competition,” she said.

And she called on prospective talents to take part in the next edition.

During the ceremony Mrs Bastienne presented an ipod to one first prize winner of the competition, Roland Andre, as a symbolic gesture. Other contestants will also get their ipods soon.

Seychelles Nation - 15.06.2011

Monday, 13 June 2011

Russian medal for Designated Minister Meriton


Designated Minister Vincent Meriton was on Friday awarded the Pushkin Medal for promoting the Russian language and friendship between Russia and Seychelles.

It was given to him by Russian ambassador Mikhail Kalinin during a ceremony held at the Mr Kalinin presents Mr Meriton with the Pushkin Medal

Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay resort, organised to mark the National Day of Russia.

Among those present were former president James Mancham, president of the Court of Appeal Francis MacGregor, ministers, members of the democratic corps and of the National Assembly.

Mr Mancham was recognised for his contribution to global conservation efforts and in particular for taking part in the 4th Nevski Ecological Congress in St Petersbury recently.

Mr Kalinin said Mr Meriton ¬– who is also the Minister for Community Development Youth and Sports and heads the Russian Graduates Association – has been very helpful in setting up the association.

“By the degree of the President of the Russian Federation Mr Meriton has been awarded the state decoration of Russia, the Pushkin Medal,” said Mr Kalinin.

He said Alexander Pushkin was and still is the greatest Russian poet who came from Ethiopia in Africa.

“Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has authorised me as his plenipotentiary envoy to solemnly present on his behalf this decoration to Mr Meriton and I am very honoured to do this duty now,” he said.

Mr Meriton – who spoke extensively in fluent Russian –  said it was an honour to get the medal which he “received on behalf of all those who play an active role in promoting the friendly relations between the two countries”.

Seychelles Nation - 13.06.2011

Faith reps applaud all for election conduct


Representatives of the main religions have commended all Seychellois in general for their peaceful conduct during the campaign leading to, and the May 19-21 presidential election.

Members of the committee in discussion with President Michel after they had presented him with a copy of the declaration

The members of the Seychelles Interfaith Committee laud the people in a common, signed declaration they are giving to the candidates who took part in the election.

Yesterday they handed President James Michel a copy and congratulated him on his re-election.

On Monday the religious leaders hope to give one to Ralph Volcère, the only candidate they said they had not met.

The other candidates were Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles National Party who polled 41% of the votes and Philippe Boullé who stood as an independent candidate and got 1.6%.

President Michel stood on a Parti Lepep ticket and got 55% while Mr Volcère of the New Democratic Party won 1.4%
The religious leaders say God challenges us to work towards unity and brotherly love, in their declaration written under the motto:

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity.”

The leaders say they “wish to congratulate the people of Seychelles for the generally peaceful election” and “growing maturity” shown during the time.

They pledge to continue to pray for peace and tranquility in our country.
The leaders also thank the candidates and all those who took part in the ecumenical prayers that were organised before the election.

“We wish to express our thanks and appreciation to the international electoral observers for their presence.

“We strongly recommend that their valuable contributions to the election be considered and implemented to further improve the transparency of our electoral laws and processes.  This can help to address the concerns and allegations voiced by all parties before and after the elections,” said the declaration.

The committee said “it is wise for all political leaders of our small country to find the strength and courage to consult each other in a spirit of love and respect”.

“In our present socio-political situation, we need to find common grounds and solutions to work together for the betterment of the people of Seychelles.

“We urge everyone to rise above partisan and confrontational politics,” they say.

“Dear brothers and sisters, in a democratic state each one of us is entitled to our own political conviction and affiliation, nevertheless we are all Seychellois.  Regardless of our diversity, God challenges us to work towards unity and brotherly love.  God bless us all,” says the declaration.

The leaders who met Mr Michel are Bishop Denis Wiehe of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop James Wong of the Anglican Church, Robert Moumou of the Grace & Peace Baptist Church, Pravin Darad of the Hindu Council, Pastor Gordon Robert of the Pentecostal Church, Pastor Abel Ntep Ntep of the Seventh Day Adventist Mission and Vincent Bastienne of the Islamic Society of Seychelles.

Seychelles Nation - 11.06.2011

Saturday, 11 June 2011

All set for events to mark National Day

10.06.2011
Preparations for events being organised to mark National Day on June 18 are going well, member of the National Celebrations Committee Gerard Lafortune told Nation yesterday.

Over 80 artists, dancers and singers from the three main islands will take part in the event at which President James Michel’s speech and a military parade will be the main highlights.

The military parade will be among the highlights of the National Day celebrations

He said events will start at Stad Linite at 5.30pm where guests will be able to listen to the speech and watch the parade that will be mounted by 14 platoons including two from friendly nations.

These will be followed by a cultural show after which there will be a night fair that will end at 2am.

Public buses will start taking people free of charge from the districts from 2am and drive straight to the sports complex.

Passengers will not have to pay any fares as the committee will pay the Seychelles Public Transport Company for the service.

Given the many other events there have been, this year, the National Agricultural and Horticultural Show will take a rest but be back next year, he said.

Source: Nation

Friday, 10 June 2011

INTER-FAITH COMMITTEE CONGRATULATES PRESIDENT MICHEL

 

An Inter-Faith Committee, representing seven faiths in Seychelles, has presented its “Post Election Common Declaration” to President James Michel and has congratulated him on his re-election has President of the Republic.

Bishop Denis Wiehe of the Roman Catholic Church handed over the document to the President this morning accompanied by the committee members, and they engaged in a discussion on the outcome of the election as well as the future steps to be undertaken to consolidate democracy in Seychelles.

President Michel thanked the Committee for their support of the democratic process and said that he welcomed the statement they have issued concerning the post-election period.

“I fully support the Inter-Faith Committee position following the election and I believe we should all work together to find common ground for the common good of the people of Seychelles. It is something  I have been advocating throughout my last mandate, and will continue to work with this principle, more so now as we move into the New Seychelles,” said President Michel during the meeting.

The President said that he is encouraged by the work of the Inter-Faith Committee to promote unity, peace and tolerance in society.

Editor’s Note

· The Inter Faith declaration is attached.

· The Inter-Faith Committee that came to see the President consisted of the following representatives;

1. Bishop Denis Wiehe                            Roman Catholic Church

2. Bishop James Wong                            Anglican Church

3. Mr. Pravin Darad                                  Hindu Council

4. Mr Robert Moumou                           Grace & Peace Baptist Church

5. Pastor Gordon Robert                         Pentecostal Church

6. Pastor Abel Ntep Ntep                        Seventh Day Adventist

7. Mr. Vincent Bastienne                                    Islamic Society of Seychelles

· The Baha’i faith member was absent during the meeting.