Thursday, September 10, 2015


Far from rejoicing at the news of Cabinet’s decision, the Seychelles National Party (SNP), Lalyans Seselwa (LS) and Seychelles Party for Social Justice and Democracy (SPSD) all told TODAY that the crux of the issue – the thousands of “phantom voters” on the voters list – remains to be addressed. A statement issued by State House yesterday afternoon declared that Cabinet had approved the EC’s proposed amendments to the Elections Act allowing for the submission of softcopies of the register to political parties “with the provision that the electronic copies should be provided in a secured unalterable format as determined by the Electoral Commission. This would also apply for the list of verified applications for registration as voters, or for transfer of voters to another district, or any claims or objections about entries in the Register, which are published every month by the Electoral Commission”.

The Obstructers 
These amendments will presumably be submitted for approval after the National Assembly resumes for its third term on September 15. But notwithstanding the timing of the changes to the Elections Act, the three opposition parties TODAY spoke to were similarly unimpressed by Cabinet’s decision considering that the Supreme Court had already ordered the EC to submit a softcopy of the register. “This is exactly what the court ordered. It said that the EC should provide an electoral copy and that the law provides for this. The EC did not have to go to Cabinet. It’s a case of passing the buck; it’s not serious”, opined the leader of the SNP, Wavel Ramkalawan, comparing the situation to the about-turn which led to the Public Order Act being repealed in favour of a Public Assembly Bill. For him though, the most pressing issue remains the discrepancy of “ten thousand people” between the population database and the electoral register.

The leader of the SPSJD, Alexia Amesbury, agrees. She considers that “if they give us an e-copy with all the phantom voters” the problem will remain the same. “The list has to be rectified and updated. If not what will have changed?” she asked. For his part, the secretary general of LS, Ahmed Afif, fretted about the logistical challenge ahead. Even if the softcopy is submitted in a format that will be easily “fed into a database” for the purpose of comparison, Mr Afif is concerned about identifying the additional voters on the register: “The softcopy will help us to verify that there are no duplications and divide voters into groups (age groups, etc). But given that there are 12 000 extra names on the hardcopy already, how are we going to know who the extra people are?”

So what’s the next step? Although all three parties agree on the nature of the problem, their proposals for addressing them differ significantly.

Mr Afif believes that the onus is on the EC to provide “a valid explanation as to why there are 12 000 extra people on the register”. He partly suspects however that a new, expunged voters list will be submitted closer to nomination day (the current one was last updated at the end of March). Taking a different tack, Mr Ramkalawan suggests that the EC should “liaise” with the National Bureau of Statistics to verify its list against the population database. He also recommends that a list be drawn for each district, asking voters to come forward to provide their bona fides (if the 10 000 extra voters were divided equally among the 25 districts, it amounts to 400 people per district). “Tell people in the districts to come forward and inform the EC that they are alive”, the SNP leader proposed.

For her part, Mrs Amesbury, who commissioned a statistician to look into the discrepancies following a meeting between the EC and political parties last May, believes that there should be “a verification and recounting” of the register. “It’s has to cleaned of all phantom voters.” She also doesn’t understand why the law has to be amended to allow the softcopy to be handed over to political parties whilst Parti Lepep has had one all along. “There’s something fishy there”, she opined. One thing all three representatives of their respective political parties agree on however is that, “the register has to be credible in order for the elections to be credible”.

Source:Today in Seychelles