A coalition of four parties – Seychelles National Party (SNP) led by Wavel Ramkalawan, Lalyans Seselwa (Seychellois Alliance) led by former Minister and Ambassador Patrick Pillay, the Seychelles Party for Social Justice and Democracy (SPSD) led by lawyer Alexia Amesbury and the Seychelles United Party (SUP) led by Robert Ernesta – as well as lawyer Phillip Boulle who has run for president as an independent candidate a number of times, LDS won a majority in the September 8-10 election, winning 15 direct seats compared to Parti Lepep’s 10.
This is the first time since the return of multiparty democracy in 1993 that the opposition has a majority in the National Assembly.
With a total of 30,444 votes (49.65%), LDS earned four proportionate seats in the assembly, the same number as PL who totaled 30,218 votes (49.28%).
LDS thus holds 19 seats in the sixth National Assembly while PL holds 14 seats.
Seychelles NATION caught up with LDS leader Roger Mancienne to have his views about the work the opposition has been doing since then.
Seychelles NATION (SN): September 10 (tomorrow) will mark one year since the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) won the majority in the National Assembly. Do you think the LDS has achieved some of its targets set prior to the elections?
Roger Mancienne (R.M.): Most certainly. We have led in making key changes to the constitution and to many laws, beginning with amendment of the Constitution removing automatic accession to power by the vice-president. The change to the Anti-money Laundering Act announced this week was an initiative of LDS – a key example. We have also led on reforms to key institutions such as the CAA and the SBC. All these fall within our election campaign pledge for delivering on democracy and better government. Our work on the budget and in the FPAC are delivering on bringing an end to corruption. We are delivering on ending political victimisation and forging national unity. There is more to come.
SN: It must surely have been a challenge for LDS-controlled National Assembly to work with Parti Lepep-led executive. How can you describe the meetings the two branches of government have had over the past year?
R.M.: Yes. It was a challenge. The way forward was not at all clear at the start. Everything depended on the level of cooperation we would receive. The meetings were straightforward. We just went in there and made clear what we wanted to work for. There was agreement on most issues – we saw what needed to be done and we have got on with it.
SN: Do you think the cohabitation is really working or are we mutually destructing?
R.M. Look, we would certainly have preferred to win the presidential election and to have control of both the executive and the legislature. In that case, we would have moved forward faster with our agenda. But how the cohabitation came about is past history now. The Seychellois people decided. All I can say is we are mastering the situation. We are making it work – pushing our agenda but with cooperation from the Executive. There are some useful side benefits. For example, we have brought the Seychellois people together. The old antagonisms have broken down. We needed that. Some of the changes we have seen are best done with the agreement of all sides. There will be no recriminations.
SN: There are rumours that there is division among the leaders of the different parties in the LDS. As the party leader what have you got to say about these allegations?
R.M.: Well, you have certainly seen a difference of opinion on the subject of calling for new presidential elections right now. We all want presidential election. But the party as a whole has set as priority the task of transforming our country through the means that we have – that is the Legislature. I believe we should continue with this as the priority. For the moment, I believe LDS can tolerate this difference of opinion. I am working to bridge the gap.
SN: The Speaker of the National Assembly, who comes from the LDS, has been protesting for fresh presidential election. Do you believe it is an intelligent move and why are the other LDS leaders not taking part in the protest when they themselves marched in town late last year demanding fresh elections?
R.M.: Sure, it is well-known that we marched for new elections after the resignation of James Michel. We still believe that the way Danny Faure came to power was not truly democratic but it was according to the Constitution. We have changed that and there will be no more ‘pas baton’. For me, there is a simple calculation. We cannot remove Danny Faure except with massive popular protests which will be chaos. Since we have the means to advance our agenda, I believe what we are doing is best for the country. It’s true we have set aside the call for new presidential election for the moment but we still want to get there. Right now, we have a chance to prove to the people that we are the best party to govern Seychelles.
SN: LDS promised to work to better the lives of Seychellois, by reducing the cost of living. Do you think it has achieved its goal?
R.M.: This is not a goal that will be achieved in one year but we have made some progress. The 13th month salary for instance gave many Seychellois more purchasing power. The work we are doing to eliminate corruption and wastage in government expenditure will make an important contribution. If we can reduce taxes by forcing government to use money more wisely, this will have a positive effect on the cost of living. Supporting agriculture and fisheries will have a positive effect with time. Reducing the cost of living is a complex task. There is nowhere you can go and just order a cut in prices. But by bringing pressure on certain sectors like STC (Seychelles Trading Company), the telecommunications companies, the banks, we will have a positive effect.
SN: As the opposition leader, what are the suggestions you have for your counterparts in power?
R.M.: I believe there is a lot of lethargy in government. We are stuck on some key challenges. In education for instance, we are not moving fast enough to resolve crucial problems like lack of discipline and shortage of resources to create a proper environment for those who want to learn. In controlling illegal drugs and dealing with addiction, I think we are dragging. Overall, we need fresh ideas and fresh energy. I also want to ask them to take care of simple things like making sure the phone in their ministry is answered and that their officers respond to the public.
SN: If you were to describe the LDS rating at present, how would you describe it?
R.M.: Majority approval and rising.
Source : Seychelles NATION