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The Constitutional Court's ruling on the Presidential election result reminded me of the dark days of 1977. But democracy can – and will – prevail

9th June 2016

By Lewis Betsy

 

It was a historic opportunity to go forward but it was thrown away.

I refer of course to the Constitutional Court's decision to reject Wavel Ramkalawan's appeal againt the result of the Presidential election.

The difference between Michel and the SNP leader was 193 votes. He argued it was a fix and wanted a re-run.

Ramkalawan, and the rest of us, waited in vain to be proved right.

We had to hang on for five months to eventually hear the court rule that the Opposition claims on the validity of votes cast and “irregularities” could not be upheld.

I listened to the judgment broadcast live from Seychelles for three hours, 50 minutes. It was a long and crushingly disappointing experience.

It was so unfair.

Things DID happen during that election that clearly affected the result but Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey and the other two judges appear to have turned a blind eye to them. They gave no credence to any of the claims. That is surely wrong.

I am afraid that this will affect the relationship between the State and the people. There has been much talk about unity and reconciliation but this judgment will create more division.

Chief Justice Twomey says she has been abused and spat on after the decision and had to leave her home briefly for fear of attack. This is terrible and reflects badly on certain elements of the Opposition.

However, she must understand the level of frustration and anger that is felt throughout the country. While half of the voters must feel that the result is accurate – it is, after all, what they wanted – the other half are seething, believing that they have been cheated.

Wavel Ramkalawan, by the way, is even angrier. He is not only having to contend with failure on the judgment, amazingly he is facing being struck off the voters' register for alleged actions in the election. He fights on.

That however, is a sideshow, a distraction from the reality behind the judgment.

I fear that the court's decision not only stalled progress towards a more harmonious future, it took us backwards. 

I was reminded of the grim days of June in 1977 when a group of Seychellois thirsty for power took over the country. 

Since that coup thousands of other Seychellois, worried for their lives, have left their beloved homeland to seach for security and happiness overseas. The repercussions of that time are still with us.

Now Michel and Parti Lepep should brace themselves for a political backlash. 

The Opposition groups have been revitalised. 

They have greater incentive to fight and with the National Assembly elections due anytime between now and September I predict that the Opposition coalition, Linyon Demokratik Seselwa, will do very well and take the majority of seats. 

President Michel could find himself facing an NA that owes no allegiance to him. 

That is a very challenging prospect for Parti Lepep, particularly as I see Michel's deputy Danny Faure stepping up to the presidency very soon. 

Faure is a politician groomed in Cuba as a disciple of Fidel Castro. He is more extreme than Michel and will not find the going easy. 

He will be confronted by Opposition politicians who, still enraged by the activities of Parti Lepep, will legitimately make honest and searching demands in the NA.

Yes, the Opposition will have their day soon after all. Democracy will prevail. I know it.

Lewis Betsy, Publisher, Seychelles Life
Lewis Betsy, Publisher, Seychelles Life

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