Will the new ‘Third Force’ political party bring us all together? Watch this space!
By Lewis Betsy
Politics in Seychelles is in a strange place. When I was in the UK, I viewed the situation with trepidation, but also some sense of hope. Now I am back living in my beloved home country, I am having bigger doubts. The two main parties are jostling for power but seem to have lost sight of who elected them in the first place. They don’t know who or what they really stand for. And now that the once all-powerful Parti Lepep is calling itself US (United Seychelles), it seems to have lost all idea of its own identity.
As for the President, he still projects the good guy image while not doing much to justify it. On May Day, we had a message from Mr Danny Faure in which he proffered sweeties to some – but not all – people of Seychelles. Well this is another political ploy and a very obvious one: more money for pensioners like me and more money for the workers. In return, he expects us to vote for him. What a joke... as if that will work.
So what next?
Well, is there more hope for Seychelles with the launch of Alain St Ange’s One Seychelles?
I am pro-Opposition, but attended their inaugural meeting at the Chilli Bar as an interested observer. It was well attended with an estimated audience of 150 people.
Obviously, St Ange, who was that night elected president of One Seychelles and his Secretary General Peter Sinon are well known for their political history. St Ange served as Tourism Minister in the Michel administration, Sinon was Minister of Natural Resources and Industry.
The rest? Well keen and aspirational yes, but certainly not all household names. Is that a good thing? Politicians with no reputation could provide a fresh new outlook. We will see and I am optimistic: The third force has kicked off, so watch this space!
The manifesto for One Seychelles is wide and far-reaching, full of positive thoughts. It promotes fairness and respect and rejects showing hostility to other political opponents. After the inaugural meeting, which St Ange described as historical, Seychelles Life put some questions to him. Here is his response:
Seychelles Life - Congratulations on the launch of your new party, One Seychelles. What are its aims?
One Seychelles: The main aim of our group of islanders is to offer another choice or option to Seychelles. Partisan politics is divisive and more options open the door for views of more people to be heard. Seychelles is suffering more than ever before from the WITH US AND NOT WITH US malaise. All those who cannot see fairness and enjoy their right to a better life can now have a new ear to hear their difficulties.
How will it be different from the other parties?
Firstly, One Seychelles has decided to remain focused on presenting our plans for a new Seychelles to the electorate. You will not hear us and our activists enter the war of insults and personal attacks. We have a party manifesto to sell and will be concentrating on this. Those with nothing new to tell the electorate will embark on a racist war and insults. Running out of ideas brings that out. We have much to tell in the districts and this is what we shall do. You will not hear us talking down the other party leaders. They have a right to be in politics and we respect that right. Our activists know that their words and actions reflect on our party and will tell the electorate what to expect when we are in office. The same is for every political party. Hear their activists and know what to expect if they are in office.
Where will it draw its grass roots support from?
One Seychelles is happily drawing its base from the disgruntled Seychellois who are saying every day that they will not vote again. Promises that remain unkept have been painful for them to accept. Then the Civil Service which has lost all respect. The stevedores dock workers, the health workers, teachers and the general population as a whole looking for real change.
Where will its funding come from?
For now it is tight, but we are hoping for backers to be in Seychelles and by those wanting a better Seychelles.
Will it put up contenders for both the presidential and National Assembly elections?
The history of Seychelles opposition parties is one of fragmentation and division. Does the launch of another opposition group help in this regard?
Fragmented is the right word. To stop the bleeding you need new options. The fragmenting will never be cured just because no other option exists. This is the cause for so many being disinterested in politics. In short, we may be rallying many factions together and show a new way forward.
Are the leaders of One Seychelles tainted by this issue and past associations with other groups?
Who is not? All political parties today have leaders tainted with past affiliation. But that said everyone has a right to be part of the political life of their country. One Seychelles has leaders coming from both red and green camps. More will be seen in coming announcements. Those wanting a new approach will step in the middle option.
What fresh approach can you offer?
The one-to-one approach will be our way forward. Leave gutter politics to those who need that. We shall go on policies and programmes as the base for our campaigns. We have so much to say and explain. We have seen in Seychelles that personal attacks do little for the electorate to change sides. They want to see how a vote can change their lives after the elections.?This is our concentration... this is our mission.