Thursday, July 31, 2014

Deception unmasked, the true story behind the Seychelles electoral reform process

Following the boycott of the last parliamentary elections by the main opposition parties, politics in Seychelles had reached a stalemate. President James Michel, humiliated in the eyes of the international community after more than 30% of the electorate had spoilt their ballot papers, promised electoral reforms and vowed to modernise the laws in accordance with best practices. His dilemma was how to get the main opposition parties to participate in the process. He turned to his chief diplomat, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean Paul Adam who established informal contacts with the main opposition parties.

Foreign diplomats, namely the former French Ambassador Delacroix and British High Commissioner Forbes added their goodwill to the effort and engaged the political leaders. Initially, the informal meetings were held at the National Library building where several undertakings were given by Minister Jean Paul Adam on behalf of government. The undertakings were straightforward and simple. Parliamentary elections will be held once the reforms are complete and the commitment of government to the process would be total.
As a result of a series of meetings between the foreign diplomats, government and the political leaders, the Electoral Reform Commission (ERC) came into being and started deliberations at the National House. The Electoral Commission received the expert advice of Earl Simpson, the Commonwealth representative who assisted in drafting the recommendations. The first series of recommendations was the Public Assemblies Bill. At the end of the deliberations of the ERC, the Commonwealth representative, in an interview on SBC commented that the set of recommended laws were in accordance with international norms and should be implemented by government without amendment and in case of amendment, it should be returned to the ERC for further discussion.

The photo depicts President James Michel of Seychelles protesting and demonstrating during the Cable and Wireless strike in 1971. The question one must ask; would this type of protest and demonstration be able to take place under the new public order act today?

 All the recommendations received the unanimous approval of all political parties including Parti Lepep represented by Lawyer William Herminie, Mr. Simon Gill and Ralph Agrippine.

 The repealed Public Order Act assented to by the President has come as a blow to the Electoral Reform process; an affront to the international partners and all those who have given the best of themselves to provide Seychelles with the best laws. It is deception of the highest order.