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Storm as President Michel quits and names Faure as successor

30th September 2016

Going: James Michel steps down as President in October
Going: James Michel steps down as President in October

A political storm erupted when President James Michel said he was resigning and will step down from his post in weeks.

The new majority opposition group Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) protested it was wrong that vice-president Danny Faure should automatically be sworn in as the new President of the Republic of Seychelles on 16th October.

The row came as the new National Assembly took office with the opposition in power for the first time.

Political observers had wondered how the President, as leader of Parti Lepep, would work with a majority LDS group. They had the inkling of that on the first day.

LDS blasted the handover of power as “undemocratic” and called for a new Presidential election. It said Danny Faure “had no mandate” to govern the country.

LDS leader Roger Mancienne said the reasons given for Michel’s resignation “were not sufficiently clear”.

He went on: “His resignation was announced on the same day the new National Assembly met for the first time. We think it would be irresponsible of the President to make a decision on that basis.”

Mancienne said that Faure “did not win this election and LDS is therefore calling for a new presidential election”.

However, Attorney General Ronny Govinden has said that the Seychelles’ constitution allows the President to resign at any given time during his mandate.

“There is no time limit when he can do that,” he said. 

The Seychelles’ constitution makes provision for the vice-president to assume power in the event of the president’s death, resignation or removal from office instead of allowing for fresh elections to take place.

In his resignation announcement 72-year-old President Michel thanked the people of Seychelles for their support.

He said: “I am leaving power, but I am not abandoning you. For me, power is not an aim in itself but a means to do good. To do good for our people. Together we did it, as much as the means and circumstances permitted us. 

“The interest of the nation comes first. I am leaving the Office of the President with a sense of mission accomplished. During these 12 years that you gave me the honour and privilege to lead our nation, I have completed my responsibility and my duty.”

President Michel has already served two five-year terms and is about to complete 10 months in the third and final mandate. 

In April, after his re-election in December, 2015, the National Assembly unanimously approved the constitutional amendment to limit the presidential and vice-presidential terms to two five-year mandates, down from three five-year terms.

The President asked the people of Seychelles to give Mr Faure and his team the same support that they had given him in the last 12 years.

“I will always thank you, people of Seychelles, for your support. Thank you for your trust in me. At the end of the day, there is nothing more important, more honourable, more noble, than national unity.”

There was praise for the outgoing President but some critics were happy to see him go. One said: “Things seem to be heading in the right direction in Seychelles for the first time since the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in 1992.

“It is obvious that an old dictator like James Michel, just like his predecessor Albert Rene would never be able to operate in a democratic system of government where he would have to face a robust and intelligent group of opposition MNAs demanding transparent and efficient governance.”

He adds: “So long James, you will certainly not be missed and Seychelles will be a lot better off without you”

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