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Key events in Seychelles since independence

Thursday October 22 2020
sychls pic

(Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) PHOTO| LICENCE

By AFP

Victoria. The Seychelles hold presidential and parliamentary elections from October 22-24.

Here is a list of key events in the Indian Ocean archipelago since its independence in 1976.

- Independence -

The French first colonised the islands in the 18th century, bringing families and slaves to settle. Then the Seychelles passed into British hands in the 19th century, before gaining independence on June 29, 1976.

The country's two parties shared out roles in an independent Seychelles.

James Mancham of the Seychelles' Democratic Party, which advocated closer integration with Britain, became president.

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France-Albert Rene of the Seychelles People's United Party (SPUP), which had campaigned for independence, became prime minister.

- One party -

A year after independence, on June 5, 1977, Mancham was the victim of a coup while he was visiting Britain and Rene took power as president.

The constitution was suspended and parliament dissolved. A one-party system was established and the SPUP bcame the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF).

Rene was the only candidate in 1979 elections, winning 98 percent of the vote.

- Coups -                                                     

He too was also the target of attempts to unseat him.

On April 29, 1978, the authorities said they had foiled a coup attempt as the president visited China, and arrested around 20 Mancham supporters.

On November 16, 1979, a new plot against the regime fomented abroad was uncovered. Seventy people were arrested, including a Frenchman.

In 1981 South African mercenaries led by notorious British soldier-for-hire in Africa Colonel "Mad Mike" Hoare, tried and failed to return the pro-Western Mancham to power.

The group entered the country disguised as a beer-drinking tourist party called "The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers".

The commandos fled by hijacking an Air India plane and diverting it to Durban in South Africa, where its members were arrested.

Just months later on August 17, 1982, part of the army rose in mutiny, in October, a plot involving exiled Seychellois was revealed and in December 1983, another coup attempt was foiled in South Africa.

On November 25, 1985, Gerard Hoarau, the head of the opposition Seychelles National Movement, was murdered in London where he lived in exile.

- Multi-party state -

A multi-party system was re-established on December 4, 1991.

In April 1992, Mancham returned to the Seychelles after 15 years of exile in Britain.

A new constitution was adopted the following year.

And on July 24, 1993, the first multi-party presidential election since independence was held.

Rene beat Mancham with nearly 60 percent.

He was re-elected in March 1998, and again in a snap election in 2001.

His main rival, the reverend Wavel Ramkalawan of the National Party, refused to accept the results, denouncing fraud.

- James Michel era -

Rene resigned in 2004 due to his age.

His loyal vice-president James Michel replaced him and finished his mandate before winning elections in 2006 against Ramkalawan.

He was re-elected in the first round of a presidential election in May 2011.

Later that year, the People's Party -- as the SPPF used to be known -- won every single seat in parliament in snap parliamentary elections boycotted by the opposition.

Michel was narrowly re-elected for a third term -- the last allowed in the constitution -- in December 2015, coming less than 200 votes ahead of Ramkalawan, who tried and failed to take the result to court.

The president had wanted to use this snap election to bring back legitimacy to his mandate, faced with a revolt in his own party, and the defection of officials to Lalyans Seselwa -- the Seychellois Alliance -- another party.

- Historic opposition victory -

Less than a year later in September 2016, Michel resigned after the opposition scored its first-ever win in parliamentary elections.

His vice-president Danny Faure succeeded him to finish his term.

He is seeking re-election later this month for United Seychelles, another new name for his party, and faces two challengers.

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