Wednesday, January 14, 2015


The registration of voters for the next elections opened yesterday amid controversy. The exercise will close on 29 January.The amended Electoral Act 2014 has barely been enacted than it has been broken and by none other than the Electoral Commission.

 This comes as the Voters Register- the bible for the holding of elections -, opens for consultations and changes for this year. According to the amended law the register should remain open at all times, but the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Hendrick Gappy has said that this will not be the case this year.

Mr Gappy told the SBC that due to a lack of resources it will not be possible for the register to remain open in the districts throughout the year, but will only be available in their constituencies to the public for consultation and changes for the usual two weeks.

 In a press release, Mr Gappy pointed out that the National Voter Registration exercise for 2015 will be conducted under existing laws whilst structures are put in place to facilitate implementation of the Elections (Amendment) 2014”.

The Electoral Commission is now operating without its Chief Electoral Officer since the retirement of Jenny Adrienne. The Commission is in the process of finding a suitable candidate to replace her and has advertised the post. According to Mr Gappy, leaving the register open all year round will entail hiring officers to provide that service in the districts as well as other logistics which are not in place currently.

However, he has not explained why the register cannot remain opened at the Office of the Electoral Commission itself, as many feel this would have provided a means of complying with the stipulations of the Electoral Act, instead of just ignoring them altogether.

 Maintaining an open voters’ register had been one of the cornerstones of the recommendations of the electoral reform consultations and one which all parties had agreed to. In a press conference held last week to announce its participation in the elections due early 2016, the Seychelles National Party had hailed the inclusion of this measure in the amended law as one of the achievements of the consultations.

The announcement by Hendrick Gappy that the Commission will in effect be disregarding the law, has raised criticisms.

“This is a slap in the face of those who worked hard to get this included in the reforms. It means that no matter what the law says, the Commission can still do what it wants!” one man wishing to remain anonymous commented.

“There is no reason why they cannot leave it open at their offices. Anyway it is available for inspection there, so all they needed to do was to allow for changes to be made during the year until they are ready to go to the districts. What is the use of having laws if anyone can flaunt them like this?” another asked.

While the Chief Electoral Commissioner has said that the register will not immediately remain open after the 14 day period set for its inspection, he did say that this situation will last until they can set up later during the year. However there was no time frame given for this to happen.

Even if the elections are scheduled to take place by February next year, it remains possible that they could be brought forward and be held towards the end of this year.

“If we have an election this year, we cannot have a minus mark in its preparations so early on. I hope the Electoral Commission will revise its position on this matter,” Frank D, a young stated..

Source: Today