Saturday, January 16, 2016


A crowd of protesters marched to the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) in Hermitage from Victoria yesterday to deliver a message to the hierarchy of the national television station: they expect the SBC to do better and stick to its mandate of neutrality.

The opposition movement under the banner Union for Change has called for a reform of the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation’s (SBC) editorial policies to meet the its Constitutional mandate. The opposition leaders have also given the national broadcaster two weeks to organise a meeting with them to listen to their grievances, saying that failure to do so will result in another protest march against the SBC.

 Four of the six Presidential candidates who took part in the first round of the Presidential election - Wavel Ramkalawan, Patrick Pillay, Alexia Amesbury and Philippe Boullé – yesterday delivered a letter to SBC’s chief executive officer (CEO), Antoine Onezime, and to the chairman of the SBC board, Patrick Nanty, in which they expressed their strong objections to what they say is “SBC’s continued and augmented bias in favour of the Parti Lepep government in its coverage of national affairs, to the exclusion of other opinions, in particular of the voice of the opposition”.

The letter, which was read out to supporters who had taken part in the march that started at the Stad Popiler, before being handed over to its recipients, stated that since the election, the SBC has maintained a continued barrage of publicity in favour of Parti Lepep “with the appearance of one or more Ministers every night on television, speaking about projects that were part of the political programmes of the opposition parties in the recent election campaign”.

It further adds that “a sense of independence and objectivity could only have been conveyed by including the views of the opposition in the reporting, which the SBC continuously failed to do”. The letter deplored and condemned the fact that the SBC continues to ignore the views of half the population.

The opposition leaders also condemned the SBC’s actions before the election and during the campaign period which they said “showed the same bias and favouritism and in some instances went as far as to repeat the propaganda of the Parti Lepep, thinly disguised as ‘news’”. The leaders wrote that such actions by the SBC were wrong and unfair and that it was an abuse of a state institution in favour of one candidate.

“The editorial bias of the SBC is contrary to its Constitutional mandate to be independent and is a disservice to the democratization process in Seychelles”, the letter continued as it called on the chairperson of the SBC board, Patrick Nanty, to ensure that editorial reforms are carried out as soon as possible to meet its Constitutional mandate. It also called on the SBC to implement recommendations set out in the Reilly Report of 2007 which addresses the need for independence of the state-funded broadcaster.

Speaking before the march, the leaders said that the opposition fight will continue until there is “real freedom” in Seychelles. Patrick Pillay, the leader of Lalyans Seselwa, said, “we will not remain quiet until we attained real freedom and democracy”. For his part Philippe Boullé, praised what he said was a good job done by the majority of SBC staff but added that they were unable to do their job properly because of political interference. Alexia Amesbury focused her short speech on a call for women voices to be heard and said that Thursday’s march was not only a call for the opposition but for all women who are today unable to express their views.

Safe behind the locked gates; SBC staff look on
Mr Ramkalawan also addressed the crowd, calling on them to march in peace and to refrain from any act of violence. His call for peace and order was respected by all supporters, who after two hours of protest dispersed peacefully. The organisers say there were about 800 to 1 000 protesters who marched.

Source: Today in Seychelles