Opposition leader wins Seychelles presidential poll

by Joseph Ngwawi – SANF 20 no 46
The people of Seychelles voted in a peaceful presidential election on 22-24 October that saw priest Wavel Ramkalawan becoming the first opposition candidate to win the ticket to occupy State House since the Indian archipelago’s independence from Britain more than four decades ago.

According to results released by the Electoral Commission of Seychelles (ECS) on 25 October, Ramkalawan avoided a second round ballot after garnering 54.9 percent of the votes cast against 43.5 percent for incumbent Danny Faure of the recently renamed United Seychelles party that had been in power since 1977.

A third presidential candidate, Alain St Ange of One Seychelles could only manage 1.58 percent of the votes cast.

The president in Seychelles is elected by an absolute majority vote through a two-round system to serve a five-year term.

This mean that the first round is conducted in the same way as a normal First-Past-the-Post election.

If a candidate receives an absolute majority of the vote, then they are elected outright, with no need for a second ballot.

However, if no candidate receives an absolute majority, then a second round of voting is conducted, and the winner of this round is declared elected.

It was sixth time lucky for the Anglican priest who has contested for the Seychellois presidency since 1998.

Ramkalawan had been unsuccessful in previous attempts to win the right to occupy State House in elections held in 1998, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2015.

The former opposition leader, who contested the 2020 presidential poll under a Linyon Demokratik Seselwa or Seychelles Democratic Alliance (SDA) ticket, becomes the fifth president of the Seychelles.

Speaking soon after the announcement of the results in the capital Victoria, Ramkalawan called for unity and pledged to work for all the people of Seychelles regardless of their political affiliation.

“It is important to find how we can reconcile our people to go forward,” Ramkalawan said.

Faure conceded defeat and wished his successor good luck.

The victory by Ramkalawan was the culmination of a process that began in September 2016 when the Seychelles Democratic Alliance dislodged the then ruling Parti Lepep or People’s Party from power.

In parallel parliamentary elections that were also held from 22-24 October 2020, SDA swept to victory after winning 54.8 percent of the vote against 42.4 percent for the former governing party, which has been renamed United Seychelles.

The National Assembly in Seychelles is made up of 25 directly elected seats and eight proportional representation seats.

According to the ECS, the result means that the SDA will have 20 of the elected National Assembly seats while United Seychelles will have six seats.

The SDA will have five of the proportional representation seats against three for United Seychelles.

In the last parliamentary elections held in 2016, SDA got 15 directly elected seats and a further four proportional representation seats.

As is the case with all elections in Seychelles, voters in the so-called “outer islands” voted on the first two days, followed by the “inner islands” of Mahe, of Grand’ Anse and La Digue Islands which are home to more than 90 percent of the Seychellois population.

This voting set-up makes it easy for the voting to be completed on time and ensures that ballots from outer islands are delivered back to the main island of Mahe, where the tallying of the votes and final result announcement take place.

The archipelago nation is made up of 115 islands, some as far as 1,000 kilometres from the main island of Mahe.

Regional election observers have hailed the peaceful polls.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who chairs the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, congratulated Ramkalawan on his victory and commended the people of the Seychelles “for the peaceful and exemplary manner in which they have conducted themselves during the election campaign, polling and counting periods.”

“I wish to take this opportunity to commend the outgoing President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Danny Faure, for his commitment to democratic principles and the SADC integration agenda,” Masisi said.

Due to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, SADC was unable to physically deploy its electoral observation mission to Seychelles.

It instead adopted a virtual approach of consultation with electoral stakeholders in the Indian Ocean archipelago. sardc.net

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