Wednesday, June 3, 2015


For most Seychellois, the 5th of June 1977 and the days immediately after, were lived in close proximity to an MW radio and through the broadcasts of the national radio station. In those days there was no television, mobile phones and internet. This is for the purpose of the younger generation of what was actually broadcasted.  Let’s take it chronologically:

President James Michel during 5th of June 1977 Coup D`etat against a democratically elected Government
5th June 1977

First there was the communiqué from the putschists read over the radio at 06h30 on that Sunday morning of June 5th 1977, to the effect that, a group of some 200 persons had carried out a coup d’etat during the preceding evening.

There then  followed the announcement that there is a national curfew, that is to say, everyone was to stay at home and no one must be on the public road.

A few hours later, came the justifications for the coup d’etat:

a) Mr Mancham (the President of the country) wanted to postpone national elections for 7 years instead of holding it in 1979 as was due.

b) Mr Mancham spent his time travelling overseas rather than attending to matters of state. Apparently he had not spent 3 consecutive months in the country since Independence. Each day that he spent outside the country, cost the country the equivalent of 3 months’ salary of the average worker.

c) Mr Mancham was more interested in foreigners than in Seychellois.
Some hours yet later, the radio read the announcement that the ‘putshists’ had ‘offered Mr. Albert Rene (the Prime Minister) to govern the country, but Mr Rene had asked for some time to reflect over the offer and to consult members of his party. Note: James Michel has since admitted in his book Distant Horizons that Rene was the architect and always the boss.

Later the radio announced that Mr Rene had accepted the offer on the condition that:

1.  Are respected:
i) Ministers of the ousted government and their families.
ii) Members of the now-defunct National Assembly and their families.
iii) Agreements signed with foreign countries.

2. There be a committee to prepare new elections according to the constitution. (The constitution under reference, the result of the 1975 inter-party consensus following national elections in 1974, would be abolished and a new one promulgated to usher in single party rule)!
The radio further announced that the putschists having accepted these conditions, the Prime Minister was therefore the new President!

Further on in the day, the radio broadcasted the following announcements:
1. Until further notice, sale of alcohol was prohibited.
2. Anyone found breaking and looting will be arrested.
3.  Some foreign nationals, mainly from England and who were working with the Police have been arrested and were to be deported by the Air France flight later in the evening.
Finally, the new President came on the air to repeat much of the former justifications given earlier for the coup d’état with the added twist that the former president had also wanted to be President for Life.

He also requested that everyone obey and abide by the new orders and decrees.
The coup plotters with President James Michel holding AK47

6th June 1977

On the next day, 6th June, two ministers of the deposed government, Mr Philip Moulinié and Mr Justin Pragassen came on the air to request that the people obey the new laws and decrees.
Then the radio announced one of the new decrees, which required that anyone in possession of firearms were to surrender these to the nearest police station. (Basically some ageing .22 and 303s to bring down a few bats for the curry pot!)

During the afternoon, there was a broadcast of the funeral from the cemetery of Anse Louis, of one of the putschists (the only casualty from their ranks)

In the early evening of Monday 6th June, the new President addressed the nation over the radio to announce his government and politics.

The new 7-member cabinet was announced.

As was abolition of housing tax to encourage house construction (a later policy in the form of the Tenant's Rights Act, would come in to effect to stop anyone with any sense from building a house to rent out! This latter Act was apparently only repealed in the late 1990s!)
As was the statement on the necessity for the country to develop all its natural resources, including Agriculture.

The radio then announced partial lift of curfew for the 7th June to be from 08h00 to 16h00 in order to allow families to do their shopping.

7th June 1977

On the 7th June 1977, the radio announced:
a) The nomination of Mr James Pillay as the new Commissioner of Police.
b) A message sent to HM Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee.
c) That there will henceforth no longer be ‘nennenn’ (nanny) in the country. They will be called Domestic Workers!
d) Another partial lift of curfew for the 8th June to be from 08h00 to 016h00.
e) A statement from the new government that henceforth, the government is there to serve the people and not vice versa as before.

In his book Distant Horizon; President James Michel admits that his predecessor Albert Rene was the chief architect of the darkest day in Seychelles history.
8th June 1977

On the 8th June 1977, the radio announced that the new President had held a press conference where local and foreign journalists had been invited. And where the new president answered all questions that were put forward. (The catch word here is ‘invited’!)
During the day, the radio also announced that the 9th of  June being Corpus Christi (also public holiday) the curfew would be lifted from 06h00. There would not however, be the customary religious procession. There followed a request for SPUP supporters not to harass those who did not share their political views, because there was not to be any more discrimination in the country, and that this was a promise. (Then of course discrimination came along)

 9th June 1977

On the following day, the 9th of June, the radio announced that the former President had telegrammed the UN Secretary general to allege foreign involvement in the coup d’état and requesting that the matter be put to the UN General Assembly. It was then reported that after the UN Secretary General had conferred with the Chairman of the UN Security Council, it was resolved that the UN would not give any follow-up to the telegram from the former President.

The radio later in the day also reported that:

a) The Commonwealth Conference being held in London had refused both Seychelles representation by the delegation from the former Seychelles regime, already in the country.
b) The new President did not want the honorary title ‘Your Excellency”
c) Curfew would be lifted for 10th June to be from 18h00 to 06h00 so that people could resume work.
There followed another radio address by the new President where he:
i) Called on the people to create a new society.
ii) Announced the creation of a public complaints bureau.
iii) Announced the creation of a ‘People’s Militia’ comprising anyone from 16 to 60 years, to help defend the country against mercenaries that the former President and his rich friends were recruiting.

iv)The setting up of a fund to collect money to help the families of the persons who died during the putsch.