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Six dead after election riots in Indonesia's capital

At least six people were killed as Indonesia's capital erupted in violence on Wednesday when police clashed with protesters opposed to the re-election of President Joko Widodo. Dozens were arrested and parts of Jakarta were littered with debris and burned-ou
Seychelles News Agency

Six dead after election riots in Indonesia's capital

At least six people were killed as Indonesia's capital erupted in violence on Wednesday when police clashed with protesters opposed to the re-election of President Joko Widodo. Dozens were arrested and parts of Jakarta were littered with debris and burned-out cars, as the violence triggered security advisories from the US and Australian embassies. Authorities also restricted access to some social media in a bid to stop rumours and fake news from spreading online. National police chief Tito Karnavian said six people had died, but denied authorities had fired live rounds on protesters, and called for calm. «Some had gunshot wounds, some had blunt force wounds but we still need to clarify this,» he told reporters. Jakarta's governor Anies Baswedan said earlier that about 200 had been injured. The violence came after Indonesia's election commission on Tuesday confirmed Widodo had beaten retired military general Prabowo Subianto for the presidency in a poll held on April 17. Subianto has said he would challenge the results in court -- as he did, unsuccessfully, against Widodo in 2014 -- but also warned his claims of widespread cheating could spark street protests. That was borne out early Wednesday as protesters set market stalls and cars on fire while hurling fireworks and rocks at security personnel clad in riot gear and holding shields, an AFP reporter on the scene said. Authorities blamed the violence on paid «provocateurs», citing money-filled envelopes found on some of nearly 70 demonstrators who had been arrested. The early morning clashes started after several thousand Subianto supporters rallied peacefully near the election supervisory agency's office in the heart of the capital on Tuesday. - 'Don't want chaos' - Later, roads were blocked off in parts of the sprawling metropolis -- with some shopping malls, businesses and schools also closed as small groups of protesters engaged in skirmishes with police. «I open myself to anyone to work together to build and develop this nation, but I won't tolerate anyone who tries to disrupt public security, the democratic process or the unity of our... country,» Widodo said at a press briefing, flanked by his chief security ministry and the head of the military Subianto repeated calls for supporters to avoid violence. «We support people's constitutional rights (to protest) as long as they are civilised, peaceful and non-violent,» he told reporters. By Wednesday afternoon, a crowd of several thousand demonstrators had flowed into the city's business and commercial heart for a rally. Election officials and analysts have discounted Subianto's claims, but many supporters appeared convinced of rampant cheating in the world's third-biggest democracy. «We came here to demand justice because there was fraud in this presidential election,» protester Mato told AFP. «We don't want chaos, but that depends on the police,» he added. More than 30,000 troops had been deployed across the city in anticipation of unrest, and the elections commission office was barricaded with razor wire and protected by scores of security personnel. «Avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring & exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gathering,» the US embassy said on Twitter. Elsewhere, hundreds took part in a peaceful rally over election cheating claims in Sumatra's Medan city, while a police station was torched in Pontianak on Borneo island. The protests in support of Subianto have sparked a backlash online from opponents with the hashtag #Tangkapprabowo (#ArrestPrabowo) trending widely on social media. Tensions have also spiked since police said last week that they had arrested dozens of Islamic State-linked terror suspects who had planned to cause chaos by bombing protests. © Agence France-Presse

Afrobeat festival this weekend in Seychelles' capital will showcase Ghanaian musician

Seychelles is bringing music from western Africa to its shores in a first-ever Afrobeat festival on May 25 in the capital, Victoria. Organised to celebrate Africa Day “the festival will showcase the African rhythm, the influences and roots of our culture
Seychelles News Agency

Afrobeat festival this weekend in Seychelles' capital will showcase Ghanaian musician

Seychelles is bringing music from western Africa to its shores in a first-ever Afrobeat festival on May 25 in the capital, Victoria. Organised to celebrate Africa Day “the festival will showcase the African rhythm, the influences and roots of our culture,” said Amanda Bernstein, the head of marketing and corporate relations at Barclays Bank Seychelles. It will take place at the Mini Stadium. “As part of the evening, we will have a number of acts from Seychelles with dance and musical intervention by DJs as well,” added Bernstein. Tickets are on sale for $59 (SCR800) for a VIP experience and $11 (SCR150) for general entry. Tickets will be available at the entrance on the night of the event, where card payments will be accepted. Afrobeat is a modern genre combining elements of western African music. The term was coined in the 1960s by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti. Bernstein said this growing music genre is very popular in Seychelles and “the beauty about afrobeat, in itself, the genre is about mixes and influences.” The highlight of the festival will be the performance of chart-topping British-Ghanaian artist Fuse ODG. Known in Seychelles for his songs 'Azonto', ‘Antenna’ and ‘TINA’, Fuse ODG will be performing for a minimum of one hour on Saturday. The highlight of the festival will be the performance of chart-topping British-Ghanaian artist Fuse ODG. (Ameyaw Debrah, Wikimedia Commons) Photo License: CC BY-SA 3.0 The Afrobeat Festival, which will start at 9.00 pm and end at 2.00 am, will also see the participation of local artists such as Elijah, Pusso, SwaggTunes and KJ. The event is being sponsored by ABSA group limited, serving as Barclays Bank in Seychelles, in partnership with the Seychelles Round Table and Seychelles Breweries. Funds raised from the festival will go to an ‘Innovation Fund’ which will be used to empower the youth through community skills development projects aimed to fuel tomorrow’s innovators. Fuse ODG will be meeting with some young people on the day before the concert. Students from various schools will get to meet with the artist. Bernstein explained that the reason that Barclays Bank Seychelles is supporting the event is because of the cause. A coding summer school shall be the first activity to be funded with the proceeds collected from the event. Successful applicants will receive training in coding, algorithm and smartphone apps development. “As a bank, we feel that the future is digital, that the next great breakthroughs, innovations are all going to be digital and that is where the next frontier is,” said Bernstein. She added that the organisers “really wanted to partner together to deliver a wonderful event that will also enable skills development in Seychelles.” The Seybrew and SeyPearl brand manager of Seychelles Breweries, Muriel Morgan, said that the event is an opportunity to help people help themselves. “A lot of the time charity is given to people but we believe that for you to grow, you need to empower yourself hence the reason why we decided to join the cause,” said Morgan.

Need to call a lot of people? New call centre opens in Seychelles

Businesses and government offices in Seychelles can now improve communication and service delivery through a newly opened call centre. The ‘Connect Call Centre Solutions’ -- the first in Seychelles -- was officially opened last Thursday in a brief cere
Seychelles News Agency

Need to call a lot of people? New call centre opens in Seychelles

Businesses and government offices in Seychelles can now improve communication and service delivery through a newly opened call centre. The ‘Connect Call Centre Solutions’ -- the first in Seychelles -- was officially opened last Thursday in a brief ceremony at the company’s offices located next to the Financial Services Agency (FSA) on the Bois de Rose Avenue. Maria Stevens, the owner and director, said the centre has been set up “to help support companies in regards to their delivery service. As we all know, at this present moment, there are a lot of issues in regards to customer service.” A call centre is an office equipped to handle a large volume of calls for an organisation. It is a primary means of communication between a business and its customers. Connect Call Centre Solutions will provide a 24-hour service with three work shift slots – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. The agents attending to calls will be trained accordingly based on the specificities of the company that signs in for the service. The centre will also offer extra services such as handling bulk emails, bulk SMS, data entry, telemarketing, social media marketing, e-commerce, conference calls and other office work. Stevens said that the centre will allow companies “to focus on the core of their business because sometimes companies focus on the mundane things that can be outsourced.  I have noticed in Seychelles, people do not like to outsource. What they do is that when somebody is off or on annual leave, the job does not get done.” The initiative has been done in partnership with local telecommunication company Kokonet and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI). The call centre will provide a 24-hour service. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY The SCCI’s secretary general, Louana Pillay, said that members of the chamber are happy the call centre is up and running as it will facilitate their communication and will help offer a better service to customers. The centre was officially launched by the Seychelles’ Vice President who is responsible for the Department of Information. Meriton said the centre is a new concept which attends to the current needs of businesses and which embraces the use of technology while fostering good business partnership. Stevens said that companies that will use the service do not need to change their telephone numbers as calls will simply be diverted to Connect where its agents will respond to the call as representative of that company. SCCI and Space 95, the sister company of Kokonet, are the centre’s first customers. Connect Call Centre is still undergoing call acceptance testing with Space 95 acting as the soft launch company. This is expected to be completed in two weeks. “We are digitally growing and we already have new ideas and opportunities we want to present once we have settled,” said Stevens. She added that Connect Call will also be working with some government agencies and some have already shown interest in subscribing to the service. The centre currently employs five staff but expects to expand as more contract comes in and will provide employment opportunities for people on a part-time basis and for students as well.  

Dreams of Comoros oil boom hang on seismic survey

For years, the Comoros islands off the east coast of Africa have dreamt of an oil or gas strike -- now the first planned seismic survey could reveal if the poverty-stricken nation's hopes are about to come true. The possibility of a lucrative resources boom
Seychelles News Agency

Dreams of Comoros oil boom hang on seismic survey

For years, the Comoros islands off the east coast of Africa have dreamt of an oil or gas strike -- now the first planned seismic survey could reveal if the poverty-stricken nation's hopes are about to come true. The possibility of a lucrative resources boom has gripped Comoros for seven years after then-president Ikililou Dhoinine awarded a batch of offshore oil and gas exploration permits. Optimistic residents imagined a future where public coffers overflowed with petrodollars that funded a rapid economic transformation of a country rated among the 25 poorest in the world. But any economic miracle has yet to materialise, with only uncertain clues pointing to possible oil or gas deposits 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) below sea level -- far beyond the financial means of small-scale exploration companies. The arrival last year of Tullow Oil changed the game, as the British company boosts a strong record striking deposits in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya. It has joined up with partner Discover Exploration to explore three underwater blocks covering 16,000 square kilometres (6,200 square miles). «We are gearing up for a modern 3D seismic survey,» Alexander Mollinger, chief operating officer for Discovery Exploration in Comoros, told AFP. «This will be the Comoros' first ever 3D seismic survey and represents a significant investment. It is the final exploration activity prior to deciding whether to drill an exploration well.» - 'Significant potential' - With the survey scheduled for later this year, the prospectors have reason to be confident -- the three blocks border on Mozambican waters where US giants Anadarko and Chevron, and Italian firm ENI have hit the largest gas deposits found in the past 20 years. «There have been no oil or gas discoveries anywhere in the Comoros,» said Mollinger. «There is no certainty of any commercial accumulations of oil or gas, but we believe based on technical work that these blocks have significant potential.» Any discovery could transform the politically-unstable country, which is made up of three islands with a population of 800,000 and a per capita annual income of about $800. The weak economy relies on exports of vanilla, clove and perfume essence, as well as foreign aid and remittance money sent home by overseas workers. President Azali Assoumani, who was re-elected in March in a vote count rejected by the opposition, has put oil revenue at the centre of his development plans, vowing to make the Comoros an «emerging economy» by 2030. «The first indicators give a lot of hope,» he said during the election campaign. «If we have a united country, this oil can be a springboard for the country's economy.» However he added «oil is not an easy exercise... If we do not have people who can exploit it for the benefit of the population, it is useless.» - Personal wealth? - Such promises to share the wealth have not convinced all in the Comoros, and Assoumani is regularly accused of corruption and a dictatorial style. Foreign diplomats posted to Moroni express concern over how any discovery would be handled. «If the project progresses, it could get the country out of poverty -- in theory,» one told AFP. «But the requirements are huge for Comoros. A gas processing unit costs billions of dollars, and you have to have a credible financial system.» Though the survey has yet to begin, the political opposition are blunt in their verdict of how the president would treat any discovery. «He sees the oil as his personal wealth, not for the country,» said opposition leader Mohamed Ali Soilihi, warning that countries like Venezuela «are full of oil, but the people do not see the benefits». © Agence France-Presse

Interview du dirigeant de Lalyans Seselwa: les partis de l'opposition des Seychelles devraient s'unir pour la justice et la vérité

Alors que les Seychelles se préparent aux l'élections présidentielle de l'année prochaine, la SNA cherche à connaître le point de vue des dirigeants politiques de la nation insulaire. Notre troisième interview de la série est avec Patrick Pillay, che
Seychelles News Agency

Interview du dirigeant de Lalyans Seselwa: les partis de l'opposition des Seychelles devraient s'unir pour la justice et la vérité

Alors que les Seychelles se préparent aux l'élections présidentielle de l'année prochaine, la SNA cherche à connaître le point de vue des dirigeants politiques de la nation insulaire. Notre troisième interview de la série est avec Patrick Pillay, chef du parti Lalyans Seselwa. Son parti politique avait réussi à se hisser à la troisième place lors des élections présidentielles. SNA: Avant les élections présidentielle de l’année prochaine, quel est l’état du parti Lalyans Seselwa, son positionnement et sa composition? PP: La seule chose constante dans la vie est le changement et tous les partis politiques, que ce soit en Europe, en Afrique ou même aux Seychelles, changent avec le temps. Oui, nous avons eu des hauts responsables du parti, à savoir notre secrétaire général et trésorier, qui ont choisi de partir pour poursuivre d'autres projets personnels. Mais nous avons aussi de nouveaux arrivants. En tant que dirigeant de Lalyans Seselwa, j'ai une vision pour les Seychelles. Je crois fermement que les Seychelles peuvent prospérer et être un joyau si seulement nous avons des dirigeants qui peuvent faire passer les Seychelles et son peuple avant leurs intérêts personnels. Depuis sa création en 2015, Lalyans Seselwa a toujours tenu son congrès chaque année pour élire un leader. Nous devons encore le faire cette année. Si je suis élu au congrès pour diriger le parti, je continuerai volontiers dans ce rôle. Je crois en la démocratie et non en l'autocratie. Par conséquent, je ne peux pas me nommer moi-même, choisir mon coéquipier et imposer ma conviction autocratique au parti. Malheureusement, c'est ce que font certains partis politiques aux Seychelles. Notre parti est un parti démocratique, notre constitution est forte. Nous sommes en train de réviser notre manifeste pour le rendre plus pertinent aujourd'hui et nous mettons cette fois l'accent sur notre intégrité territoriale, que les Seychelles restent pour les Seychellois. SNA: Le parti a remporté plus de 8 500 voix à l'élection présidentielle de 2015. Pensez-vous qu'il bénéficie toujours de ce type de soutien quatre ans plus tard et pouvez-vous vous en sortir sans LDS (Linyon Demokratik Seselwa)? PP: Notre parti est toujours fort. Il y a des rumeurs selon lesquelles nous avons rejoint un autre parti politique. Ce n'est pas le cas. Notre parti défendra toujours la vérité, la justice et la démocratie. Ce sont nos pierres angulaires. J'ai expliqué pourquoi nous avons quitté LDS l'année dernière et cela tient toujours. Notre philosophie n'est pas compatible avec la leur. Je peux citer quelques exemples. Premièrement, le conseil régional contre lequel notre parti est opposé. Le plan initial sur lequel Lalyans avait convenu était de mettre en place un conseil de district où toute personne désireuse de se présenter pourrait le faire et devenir un conseiller de leur district. Mais qu'avons-nous vu? Les gens ont été nommés. C'était antidémocratique, inconstitutionnel et illégal. Ce n'est pas conforme à l'esprit de vérité, de justice et de démocratie en lequel nous croyons. Deuxièmement, nous parlons de ce nouveau chapitre de la politique aux Seychelles. Nous devons donc faire preuve d’esprit d’homme d’état. Vous ne pouvez pas dire que vous voulez diriger les Seychelles en tant que politicien. Après 2020, les Seychelles n'auront plus besoin d'un politicien à la présidence, mais d'un homme d'État. Comment pouvez-vous être un homme d'État et boycotter les funérailles d'un ancien président? Peu importe ce que vous pensez, vous devez être respectueux. C’est ce que signifie être un homme d’État. Vous ne pouvez pas bénéficier de tous les privilèges associés à cette fonction, y compris votre salaire, qui est payé par l’argent des contribuables, sans pour autant respecter les objectifs de votre bureau. C'est inacceptable. SNA: Lorsque Lalyans Seselwa a divorcé du LDS, ses membres à l'Assemblée nationale ont choisi de rester avec le LDS. Y a-t-il eu des discussions pour les ramener ? PP: Non, nous n’avons pas eu cette discussion. Je respecte le choix des personnes. Il y en a que, je le croyais fermement, étaient assez loyaux pour rester avec notre parti, mais ils ont décidé de rester avec LDS. Ils pensent peut être que l’autre leader est plus fiable et peut apporter plus de changement que je ne le pourrais. Certains m'ont approché par l'intermédiaire d'un tiers parti pour me demander de revenir dans la coalition d'opposition, mais j'ai refusé. Lalyans Seselwa est à l'aise là où il se trouve actuellement. Nous sommes un parti d'opposition, luttant pour le changement, un parti inclusif et nous n'avons aucune intention de rejoindre LDS. SNA: Si Lalyans Seselwa vous nomme comme prochain candidat à la présidence, relèverez-vous le défi? PP: Certainement. Comme je l’ai dit plus tôt, cela ne dépend pas de moi, mais du party. Et j'ai toujours dit que je me présenterais pour un mandat de cinq ans et que je ferais ensuite place aux autres dirigeants du parti. Le parti organise une campagne de recrutement pour obtenir du sang neuf. Je crois fermement que je peux apporter le changement dont les Seychelles ont besoin. Si pendant trois ans, 1986-1989, j’ai pu changer la culture organisationnelle de l’école polytechnique et pendant un an et demi la façon dont les choses se déroulaient à l’Assemblée nationale, vous pouvez imaginer ce que je pourrais faire durant un mandat de cinq ans. Les Seychelles n'ont pas besoin d'argent ni d'or. Ce dont le pays a besoin, c'est d'un leadership. Archives: M. Pillay faisait partie d'une manifestation réclamant une nouvelle élection présidentielle en août 2017 (Rassin Vannier Seychelles News Agency ) Photo License: CC-BY SNA: Êtes-vous prêt pour le travail vu que vous avez été récemment hospitalisé? PP: En politique, il existe un jeu appelé campagne diffamatoire. Chaque fois que je suis hospitalisé, il y a des rumeurs selon lesquelles je suis très malade. Je viens d'avoir 70 ans. Le Premier ministre indien, Narendra Modi, a un an de moins que moi. Le cheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum de Dubaï aura 70 ans au mois de juillet. Ils dirigent toujours leur pays. Qu'est-ce qui fait que les gens pensent que je ne pourrai pas faire la même chose? Les pays qui ont réussi sont ceux qui ont connu un leadership avec discipline. SNA: Quel sera le manifeste de votre parti lors des prochaines élections présidentielles? PP: Nous avons dix points sur notre liste cette fois-ci. Tout d'abord, notre territoire. Je voudrais lancer un défi aux dirigeants pour savoir quelles îles nous appartiennent et lesquelles ne nous appartiennent pas. Qu'est-il arrivé à l'île d’Assumption? Y a-t-il eu un accord et, le cas échéant, quelles sont les conditions énoncées? Est-ce que île Platte appartient aux Seychelles ou pas? Nous voulons un audit de l’ensemble des îles et nous souhaitons une restructuration totale de la Société de développement des îles (IDC), chargée de gérer nos îles périphériques. Chaque fois que IDC se présente à l'Assemblée nationale, tout le monde se tait, comme si nous avions tous peur. Deuxièmement, parler franchement des questions touchant l’économie du pays. Je fais référence à la récente annonce d’une augmentation des salaires des secteurs public et privé. Une augmentation n'affectera certainement pas une grande entreprise, mais avons-nous examiné l'impact sur les petites et moyennes entreprises? Comment une petite entreprise employant 20 travailleurs trouverait-elle l’argent nécessaire pour payer cette augmentation? Nous devrions placer l’économie avant la politique et non la politique avant l’économie. Troisièmement, la discipline. Aux Seychelles, il existe une attitude de «laisser-faire» où les gens se sentent en droit de faire ce qu’ils veulent, quand ils le souhaitent. Prenons l'exemple de la vente d'alcool et de la publicité. On a beaucoup parlé de la question, mais très peu d’action jusqu’à présent. Nous continuons simplement à nommer des comités de haut niveau pour continuer à parler de la question. En un mois, j'aurais demandé à tous les magasins de supprimer toutes les publicités de leur magasin. La culture de la consommation d'alcool ne se terminera pas du jour au lendemain, mais nous devons commencer quelque part. Nous devons mettre en place des mesures concrètes pour résoudre des problèmes tels que la conduite en état d'ivresse et les personnes qui consomment de l'alcool en public. Un autre exemple est la toxicomanie. Il semble que tout le monde sache qui fait le trafic de drogue et pourtant, aucune mesure n'est prise contre les trafiquants. Partout dans le monde, des pays comme Singapour et Dubaï, qui ont réussi à maintenir l'ordre public, ont réussi à le faire grâce à leur discipline et à leur leadership. SNA: Lors des dernières élections législatives, les partis d'opposition se sont réunis pour obtenir une majorité à l'Assemblée nationale. Pensez-vous qu'il sera facile pour Lalyans Seselwa de contester seul les élections ou est-ce que le parti rejoindra d'autres partis politiques? PP: Je pense que ce sera facile. Un parti nouvellement formé - One Seychelles - nous a déjà approché pour discuter de la manière dont nous pouvons travailler ensemble, mais nous n’avons encore formé aucune alliance. Nous restons en tant que Lalyans Seselwa avec notre propre identité. Cependant, je pense que davantage de partis politiques seront créés avant les élections présidentielles. Bien sûr, avoir autant de petits partis luttant contre ces gros partis avec plus d’argent pour faire campagne peut être un désavantage. Lalyans Seselwa ne reçoit pas de contribution du gouvernement par rapport à United Seychelles et à LDS, qui reçoivent 750 000 SCR (55 000 USD) par mois. Je pense donc que la solution consisterait à faire en sorte que les petits partis d'opposition s'unissent pour éliminer ceux qui induisent la population en erreur et prétendent défendre la démocratie. Lalyans ne sera pas en mesure de le faire seul, alors oui, nous allons parler à ceux qui sont intéressés à discuter afin d’instaurer la démocratie, la justice et la vérité.  

Seychellois school children propagating native trees to help counter climate change effects

Seychellois school children are being given the capacity to participate in climate change resilience initiatives by managing native tree nurseries.  The two nurseries – to be constructed at two primary schools in the north of the main island of Mahe – w
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois school children propagating native trees to help counter climate change effects

Seychellois school children are being given the capacity to participate in climate change resilience initiatives by managing native tree nurseries.  The two nurseries – to be constructed at two primary schools in the north of the main island of Mahe – will propagate trees which will be planted in wetlands, beach backs and catchments. “This is a part of a programme to support communities to get involved in the management of water resources and the local environment,” said James Millett, scientific and technical advisor of the Ecosystems-based adaptation project. Millett added that “the project is helping to build capacity to grow native trees to be planted locally by community and youth groups. This provides the opportunity for kids to learn about growing trees from seeds or cuttings through the process of growing on, planting out and care of planted trees.” The construction of the nurseries at Glacis and La Retraite primary schools is part of the Adaptation Fund project Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change in Seychelles (EBA project). The project seeks to reduce the vulnerability of the Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - to climate change, focusing on two key issues: water scarcity and flooding. The project is being implemented in five catchments, four on Mahe, the main island and one on Praslin - the second most populated island. Activities include the restoration of forests, wetlands and rivers using soft engineering solutions and the removal or reduction of invasive non-native plants. Palms such as ‘latannyen lat’ and some ‘vakwa’ will also be produced at the nursery. (EBA project,Facebook) Photo License: All Rights Reserved  The schools have been chosen due to their close proximity to one of the project sites at the sub-district of North East Point which is vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise.  A third nursery - in the southern district of Baie Lazare - will also be constructed on a farm and will support the Watershed Committee of this community to grow native trees to plant. According to Millett, it is not known yet what types of trees will be grown at the nurseries. “It depends on the precise need of the areas to be planted because different species do well under different conditions.” “But we will include trees such as ‘bwatab, takamaka, bonnekare bordmer’ which are fast growing species suitable for coastal areas, and in freshwater wetland areas.” Millett added that palms such as ‘latannyen lat’ and some ‘vakwa’ will also be produced. The two school nurseries will also include a rainwater harvesting system, fitted to 1000 litre tanks to collect rain from rooftops.  “I think it is important to include and get children interested in conservation projects,” said Wilna Figaro – a primary school teacher involved with eco-schools and wildlife clubs. Figaro explained that “after all the children are the guardians of planet earth and by engaging them now will ensure future protection and conservation efforts.” Millett concluded by saying: “Ecosystem-based adaptation is about helping people manage their environment to adapt to climate change, hence, the importance of working with schools and community groups.”

S.Africa ex-president Zuma back in court over graft charges

Former South African president Jacob Zuma arrived in court on Monday as he fights to have corruption charges against him over 1990s arms deal dropped before the case comes to trial. Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling ANC party last year, has been c
Seychelles News Agency

S.Africa ex-president Zuma back in court over graft charges

Former South African president Jacob Zuma arrived in court on Monday as he fights to have corruption charges against him over 1990s arms deal dropped before the case comes to trial. Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling ANC party last year, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to the weapons deal dating back to before he took office in 2009. Zuma, 77, is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC). He allegedly pocketed around four million rand ($280,000; 250,000 euros) from 783 payments handled by Schabir Shaik, a businessman who acted as his financial adviser. Both Zuma and Thales have denied any wrongdoing and have applied to the court for a permanent stay of prosecution. The company argues that the re-introduction of the charges «holds no validity» because the charges were originally struck down in 2009, shortly before Zuma became president. They were re-instated in 2016. A separate judicial enquiry into alleged state corruption during Zuma's time as president is hearing evidence in Johannesburg. His successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who held onto power when the ANC won national elections this month, has vowed to root out corruption in government and the party. © Agence France-Presse

Blue Economy, climate change at forefront of talks as Seychelles' president visits Mozambique

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, is on a state visit to Mozambique which is aimed at reviving cooperation between the two countries. Faure, who arrived in the capital Maputo on Sunday, is the first president of the island nation to make a state vis
Seychelles News Agency

Blue Economy, climate change at forefront of talks as Seychelles' president visits Mozambique

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, is on a state visit to Mozambique which is aimed at reviving cooperation between the two countries. Faure, who arrived in the capital Maputo on Sunday, is the first president of the island nation to make a state visit to the south-east African country. He was greeted on arrival by the Mozambican Foreign Minister José Condunga Pacheco. The Seychelles’ president was greeted on Monday by 21 cannon shots before meeting with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi. During the visit, the Seychelles’ Minister of Finance, Maurice Loustau Lalanne, signed three cooperation agreements covering several areas, such as maritime safety, the fight against drug trafficking and air services. «In Seychelles, we have a project to reduce fuel consumption by replacing it with natural gas, and given that Mozambique, which is close to Seychelles, it could reduce costs,» said Loustau Lalanne. Seychelles Finance Minister Maurice Loustau Lalanne signs one of three cooperation agreements with Mozambique's Vice Minister of Transport Manuela Joaquim Rebelo. (Patrick Joubert) Photo License: CC-BY Trade between the two countries amounted to about $2 million in 2018. Seychelles hopes that this will change with the new air services agreement which is expected to bring in more investment opportunities in the tourism sector. Mozambique hopes in return that its young students could benefit from the Seychelles' expertise in the field of tourism, through the hotel school which trains young people in the hospitality industry in the island nation. Tourism is the top contributor to the economy of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. President Faure visited the fishing museum (top) and the port of Maputo. (Patrick Joubert) Photo License: CC-BY Seychelles and Mozambique which have maritime borders in the Indian Ocean, want to strengthen security in this region to fight drug trafficking. President Faure, in his visit, wanted to bring the support of Seychelles to Mozambique after the African country was hit by the Hurricane Kenneth last month. Faure called for work toward reducing the effects of climate change. "We need to express our views and our hopes so that our children do not question our silence or our inability to put in place measures to reduce the negative impact of climate change,” said Faure. Schoolchildren came to greet President Faure during the first visit of a Seychelles Head of State to Mozambique. (Patrick Joubert) Photo License: CC-BY Seychelles and Mozambique also have historical ties dating back to the colonial era. The first inhabitants of Seychelles were from Mozambique especially from the Makonde tribe, where the current president is from. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1983, after the visit of former Mozambican President Samora Machel to Seychelles in 1982. During his visit to Mozambique, President Faure will also attend the Blue Economy Conference on May 23-24, where he will be the guest of honour as a champion of the Blue Economy in Africa.

US delays Huawei ban for 90 days

US officials have issued a 90-day reprieve on their ban on dealing with Chinese tech giant Huawei, saying breathing space was needed to avoid huge disruption. A Commerce Department filing said the delay does not change the ban imposed by President Donald Tru
Seychelles News Agency

US delays Huawei ban for 90 days

US officials have issued a 90-day reprieve on their ban on dealing with Chinese tech giant Huawei, saying breathing space was needed to avoid huge disruption. A Commerce Department filing said the delay does not change the ban imposed by President Donald Trump on national security grounds, an action with major implications for US and Chinese technology firms. Instead, it grants a temporary license that will allow Huawei to continue doing business with American firms. «The Temporary General License grants operators time to make other arrangements and (gives) the Department space to determine the appropriate long term measures for Americans and foreign telecommunications providers that currently rely on Huawei equipment for critical services,» said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. «In short, this license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks.» The Huawei confrontation has been building for years, as the world's largest company has raced to a huge advantage over rivals in next-generation 5G mobile technology. US intelligence believes Huawei is backed by the Chinese military and that its equipment could provide Beijing's spooks with a backdoor into the communications networks of rival countries. For that reason, Washington has pushed its closest allies to reject Huawei technology, a significant challenge given the few alternatives for 5G. Last week, President Donald Trump declared a «national emergency» empowering him to blacklist companies seen as «an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States» -- a move analysts said was clearly aimed at Huawei. At the same time, the US Commerce Department announced the effective ban on US companies selling or transferring US technology to Huawei. It is the implementation of this ban that was delayed Monday by 90 days. But the Huawei fight is over more than just US national security. Washington sees Huawei's rise as emblematic of China's drive to wrest global technological and economic leadership from the United States. © Agence France-Presse

Interview Lalyans Seselwa leader: Seychelles' opposition parties should band together for justice, truth

As Seychelles gets ready for a presidential election next year, SNA is seeking the views of the island nation's political leaders. Our third interview in the series is with Patrick Pillay, the leader of the Lalyans Seselwa party.   SNA: Ahead of next year
Seychelles News Agency

Interview Lalyans Seselwa leader: Seychelles' opposition parties should band together for justice, truth

As Seychelles gets ready for a presidential election next year, SNA is seeking the views of the island nation's political leaders. Our third interview in the series is with Patrick Pillay, the leader of the Lalyans Seselwa party.   SNA: Ahead of next year’s presidential elections, what is the state of the Lalyans Seselwa party, its positioning and membership? PP: The only constant thing in life is change and all political parties, be it in Europe, Africa or even Seychelles, change with time. Yes, we have had top party officials namely our secretary general and treasurer, who have opted to leave to pursue other personal plans. But we have some newcomers as well. As the leader of Lalyans Seselwa, I have a vision for Seychelles. I firmly believe that Seychelles can prosper and be a gem if only we have leaders that can put Seychelles and its people before their own personal interests. Since it was created in 2015, Lalyans Seselwa has always held its convention annually to elect a leader. We are yet to do it this year. If I am elected at the convention to lead the party then I will gladly continue in this role. I believe in democracy and not autocracy. Therefore, I cannot nominate myself and choose my running mate and impose my autocratic belief on the party. Unfortunately, this is what some political parties in Seychelles are doing. Our party is a democratic party, our Constitution is strong. We are reviewing our manifesto to make it more relevant today and our emphasis this time around is on our territorial integrity, that Seychelles remains for Seychellois.   SNA:  The party won over 8,500 votes in the presidential elections in 2015. Do you believe the party still has that kind of support, four years down the line, and can you make it without LDS (Linyon Demokratik Seselwa)? PP: Our party is still strong. There are rumours that we have joined another political party. This is not the case. Our party will always stand for truth, righteousness and democracy. These are our cornerstones. I explained why we left LDS last year and this still stands. Our philosophy is not compatible with theirs. I can cite some examples. Firstly, the regional council which our party is against. The initial plan that Lalyans agreed on was to have a District Council where anybody who was willing to stand could do so and become a councillor for their district. But what did we see? People were nominated. This was undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegal. It is not in line with the spirit of truth, justice and democracy that we believe in. Secondly, we are talking about this new chapter in Seychelles’ politics. We, therefore, need to show statesmanship. You cannot say that you want to lead Seychelles as a politician. Post-2020, Seychelles will not need a politician as president but a statesman. How can you be a statesman and boycott the funeral service of a former president? Regardless of what your views are, you need to be respectful. That’s what being a statesman is about. You cannot enjoy all the privileges that come with the function, including your salary which is paid for by the taxpayers’ money and yet fail to respect what your office stands for. This is unacceptable.   SNA: When Lalyans Seselwa divorced from LDS, its members in the National Assembly opted to remain with LDS. Has there been any discussion to get them to return to the fold? PP: No, we haven’t had that discussion. I respect a person’s choice. There are some that I firmly believed were loyal enough to stay with our party but they decided to remain with LDS. It could be they thought the other leader was more reliable and could bring about the change more than I could. Some have approached me through a third party to ask me to return in the opposition coalition but I have refused. Lalyans Seselwa is comfortable where it is at present. We are an opposition party, fighting for change, an inclusive party and we have no intention of joining LDS.   SNA: If Lalyans Seselwa nominates you as its next presidential candidate, will you take up the challenge again? PP: Definitely. As I’ve said earlier, this does not depend on me but on the party. And I have always said that I will stand for one mandate of five years and then make way for other leaders within the party. The party is holding a recruitment drive to get new blood. I strongly believe that I can bring about the change that Seychelles needs. If for three years, 1986-1989, I could change the organisational culture of the Polytechnic school and for a year and a half changed the way things were being done in the National Assembly, you can imagine what I would be able to do in a five-year mandate. Seychelles does not need money or gold. What the country need is leadership. Pillay was part of a protest demanding a new presidential election in August 2017. (Rassin Vannier) Photo License: CC-BY   SNA:  Are you up for the job seeing that you were recently hospitalised? PP: In politics, there’s a game called a whispering campaign. Every time I am hospitalised there are rumours that I am very ill. I just turned 70. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is a year younger than me. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai will be 70 in July. They are still running their country. What makes people think that I will not be able to do the same? The countries that have succeeded are the countries that have known leadership with discipline.   SNA: What will be your party’s manifesto at the next presidential elections? PP: We have ten points on our list this time around. Firstly, our territory. I would like to challenge the leaders to find out which islands are ours and which are not. What has happened to the Assumption Island? Was there an agreement and if so what are the conditions set out. Does Platte belong to Seychelles or not? We want an audit of all the island and we would like to see a total restructuring of the Islands Development Company (IDC) which is mandated to manage our outer islands. Every time IDC comes up in the National Assembly everybody goes quiet as if we are all scared. Secondly, to speak frankly about issues affecting the country’s economy. I’m referring to the recent announcement of a rise in salaries for both the public and private sectors. A raise will definitely not affect a big company but have we looked at the impact on small and medium-sized companies. How would a small company employing 20 workers find the money to pay for the increase? We should put the economy before politics and not politics before the economy. Thirdly, discipline. There is a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude in Seychelles where people feel they have the right to do whatever, whenever they feel like. Take the issue of alcohol sales and advertising for example. There’s been a lot of talks about the matter but very little action so far. We just keep appointing high-level committees to keep on talking about the issue. Within one month I would have asked all the shops to remove all advertisements on their shop. The drinking culture will not end overnight but we need to start somewhere. We need to have concrete measures in place to address issues such as drink-driving and people who consume alcohol in public. Another example is drug abuse. It seems that everybody knows who is dealing drugs and yet no actions are taken against the traffickers. Around the world, countries like Singapore and Dubai, that have succeeded and been able to maintain law and order, have done so because of discipline and leadership.   SNA:  In the last parliamentary election, the opposition parties came together to win a majority in the National Assembly. Do you think it will be easy for Lalyans Seselwa to contest the elections alone or will the party join other political parties? PP: I believe it will be easy. A newly-formed party -- One Seychelles -- has already approached us to discuss how we can work together but we haven’t formed any alliances so far. We remain as Lalyans Seselwa with our own identity. However, I do believe that more political parties will be created ahead of the presidential elections. Of course, having so many small parties fighting against those big parties with more money to campaign might be a disadvantage. Lalyans Seselwa does not get a contribution from the government compared to United Seychelles and LDS, which get SCR 750,000 ($55,000) monthly. So eventually I believe the way forward would be for the small opposition parties to come together and remove those that are misleading the people and pretending to stand for democracy. Lalyans will not be able to do this alone so yes we will be talking to those who are interested to talk to us to bring about democracy, justice and truth. 

Termite infestation has authorities in Seychelles looking closely at imported wood

In a bid to control a termite infestation, authorities in Seychelles are intensifying measures at wood vendors and increasing surveillance at different ports.   The steps are being taken following complaints of infestation brought forth on social medi
Seychelles News Agency

Termite infestation has authorities in Seychelles looking closely at imported wood

In a bid to control a termite infestation, authorities in Seychelles are intensifying measures at wood vendors and increasing surveillance at different ports.   The steps are being taken following complaints of infestation brought forth on social media by members of the public after they had bought wood that was infested with termites. Speaking to SNA on Tuesday, the chief executive of the Fair Trading Commission, Francis Lebon, said that after seeing the complaints the commission has mobilised different stakeholders involved to help deal with this issue. “Our aim and mandate are to protect consumers and to ensure that they receive a better deal. So we are working with wood importers, vendors and those that are being bought to ensure that there is enough education on this situation,” said Lebon. Lebon said, "Since we don’t have the mandate to deal with the situation directly, we found it important to communicate and mobilise other parties involved to find a solution for this problem.” Known as a silent destroyer, termites are a small and menacing insect that can chew through wood, wallpaper, and flooring undetected. Termites can chew through wood, wallpaper and flooring without being detected. (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wikimedia Commons) Photo License: CC BY 2.0 Lebon said that as far as he is aware the problem is arising from wood that is being imported in the country. The chief plant biodiversity officer of the National Biosecurity Agency, Keven Nancy, said that the common practice is that importers need to get a port permit with the agency before importing the wood. “For importers, they need to ensure that the company they are sourcing from treats the wood against pest infestation. Then a proof certificate needs to be issued by the company which has treated the wood. The treatment is not long-term, but it is done on a quarantine basis to allow the wood to be transported from the country of origin to Seychelles pest-free,” said Nancy. The issue then comes to, where and how long it is being stored at the company which has imported the wood before selling it. “The wood requires further treatment before using in construction. This is where the education needs to come in for importers, sellers and consumers,” said Nancy. The agency was set up under the Animal and Plant Biosecurity Act, 2014.  It is the agency responsible for biosecurity protection in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - with the mandate to prevent the introduction and spread of animal and plant pest and disease including Invasive Alien Species. A local contractor, Brian Changty Seng, who has been affected with the issue of termites, said that he had purchased wood from a local company which had a proof certificate of treatment, but not more than a year later he saw that the wood was infested by termites. He said that he has brought his concern to the local authorities to be told that the onus is on the contractor to treat the wood, adding that: “Seychelles has signed a convention that does not allow this treatment to be done locally.” The contractor said that treatment of wood should last more than 30 years and there is no such thing as only a quarantine stage if the wood has followed proper treatment like radiation.  For further control of termites, the Seychelles Planning Authority has also stepped in with a new measure. “It will now become mandatory for all owners to treat the foundation and wood being used during construction. This should be done by a licensed private pest control company. Then the company needs to provide a receipt that this has been done before approval is given for further construction,” said Joseph Francois, the chief executive of the Planning Authority. 

Bomb blast hits tourist bus near Egypt pyramids

A bomb blast hit a tourist bus near Egypt's famed Giza pyramids on Sunday, wounding some of them, including South Africans, in the latest blow to the country's tourism industry. The roadside bomb went off as the bus was being driven in Giza, also causing inj
Seychelles News Agency

Bomb blast hits tourist bus near Egypt pyramids

A bomb blast hit a tourist bus near Egypt's famed Giza pyramids on Sunday, wounding some of them, including South Africans, in the latest blow to the country's tourism industry. The roadside bomb went off as the bus was being driven in Giza, also causing injuries to Egyptians in a nearby car, medical and security sources said. Security and medical sources in Egypt said 17 people were injured, without giving a breakdown of their nationalities. No deaths were reported. South Africa said in a statement that the «bus explosion» injured three of its 28 citizens who were part of the tourist group. They would remain in hospital while the rest would return home on Monday, said the statement from the department of international relations. «A device exploded and smashed the windows of a bus carrying 25 people from South Africa and a private car carrying four Egyptians,» the security source said. Video footage captured by AFP showed the bus and car with broken windows on the side of the road. According to the security source, the wounded were being treated for scratches caused by the broken glass. Sunday's incident comes after three Vietnamese holidaymakers and their Egyptian guide were killed when a roadside bomb hit their bus as it travelled near the Giza pyramids outside Cairo in December. It also comes just little more than a month before the African Cup of Nations hosted by Egypt is to kick off. Egypt has been battling an insurgency that surged especially in the turbulent North Sinai region following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was replaced by former army general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against militants, focusing mainly on the North Sinai region. - Tourism recovery - Some 650 militants and around 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to separate statements by the armed forces. Since first being elected in 2014, Sisi has presented himself as a bulwark against terrorism, promising stability and increased security. Recently, the country's vital tourism industry has started to slowly rebound after suffering strong blows due to deadly attacks targeting tourists following the turmoil of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. Figures by the official statistics agency showed that tourist arrivals reached 8.3 million in 2017, compared with 5.3 million the previous year. Authorities have gone at great lengths to lure tourists back, touting a series of archaeological finds and a new museum next to the pyramids, as well as enhanced security at airports and around ancient sites. But that figure was still far short of the record influx of 2010 when more than 14 million visitors flocked to see the country's sites. © Agence France-Presse

More than half of Madagascar MPs suspected of corruption: enquiry

Madagascar's anti-corruption agency has begun legal action against more than half of the country's parliamentary deputies who are suspected of taking bribes, just two weeks ahead of legislative elections, a source said Friday. After a year-long enquiry, a do
Seychelles News Agency

More than half of Madagascar MPs suspected of corruption: enquiry

Madagascar's anti-corruption agency has begun legal action against more than half of the country's parliamentary deputies who are suspected of taking bribes, just two weeks ahead of legislative elections, a source said Friday. After a year-long enquiry, a dossier on 79 MPs was sent to the prosecutor's office this week «to begin legal action against the accused», the source told AFP. The prosecutor is now expected to examine the dossier and announce whether some or all of the parliamentarians involved will be charged. Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina has pledged to fight corruption in the Indian Ocean island nation, a former French colony. Graft affects every level of society in one of the world's poorest countries which ranks 155 out of 180 on Transparency International's corruption perception index. Critics say graft seeps into infrastructure projects, the judicial system and even the African nation's illicit rosewood trade as bureaucrats take their cut for services or from business deals. Last year the corruption problem came to a head when parliamentary deputies supportive of then president Hery Rajaonarimampianina put forward a bill to reform electoral law, just months ahead of last year's presidential election. The bill was criticised by Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana -- both former presidents who were running for the top office again -- who accused the head of state of attempting to change the rules in his own favour. The opposition accused some deputies of accepting the equivalent of 12,500 euros ($14,000) to vote for the law changes, during a secret meeting at a luxury hotel in a suburb of the capital Antananarivo. The anti-corruption body then opened an enquiry into the 79 deputies, out of the total of 151 in the national assembly, who voted in favour of the electoral reform. The constitutional court eventually annuled part of the new electoral changes amid a political crisis built up by two months of opposition protests. All those under suspicion are from Rajaonarimampianina's camp. If found guilty they face up to five years in jail for receiving unjustified remuneration in the exercise of their duties. Only a handful of those targeted are seeking a new mandate in the parliamentary election on May 27. Rajaonarimampianina was beaten in the first round of last year's presidential vote which Rajoelina won, beating Ravalomanana in the second-round vote. © Agence France-Presse

Two Seychellois have returned home after spending two years as missionaries in South Africa and Lesotho with the Operational Mobilisation (OM) team.

As part of their mission, Achille and Annielle Confiance had to conduct outreach programmes in different communities. The couple, who are from the Pentecostal Assembly of Seychelles, had to also train others who can help the less fortunate. “We had to g
Seychelles News Agency

Two Seychellois have returned home after spending two years as missionaries in South Africa and Lesotho with the Operational Mobilisation (OM) team.

As part of their mission, Achille and Annielle Confiance had to conduct outreach programmes in different communities. The couple, who are from the Pentecostal Assembly of Seychelles, had to also train others who can help the less fortunate. “We had to go into communities especially in those with the most in need. It was like a door to door exercise. Sometimes we had to stay with a family for weeks. We prayed with them and we helped them the way we could,” said Achille. Achille, Anielle and other volunteers from the Operational Mobilisation visited schools as well. (Achille Confiance) Photo License: CC-BY “One great experience was in Lesotho. The place is a bit like Seychelles long ago. We had to cook food using traditional ways such as getting wood for the fire and cutting down the chicken neck to use as utensils. We also had to use pit latrines. For us Seychellois, it was not a problem, but it was nice to see how the young Europeans were adapting to the situation,” said Achille. The couple also faced adversities that may have had cost them their lives. “There was a critical moment in Lesotho where we were faced with danger. I think it was a misunderstanding. We were in the street working and Annielle was taking pictures. A guy from her back raised a sharp tool to hit her, but luckily someone from our group saw the man and was able to remove Annielle out of harm’s way on time,” recounted Achille.  The couple spent time in different communities all over including in Limpopo - a northern province of South Africa. Achille said that he got involved in many physical activities such as digging trenches for sewerage to help the community. Achille and Annielle Confiance had to conduct outreach programmes in different communities (Achille Confiance) Photo License: CC-BY “Being a missionary you must take into account that you will be received in different ways by others,” said Annielle, who added that most of the time the people in South Africa were very welcoming. “I remember in Lesotho when we first arrived there, they were facing drought. A day after, it started to rain and they said that we had brought a blessing. They asked us to come and pray with and for them,” said Annielle.   Annielle said being a missionary is not easy. “You have to satisfy yourself every day with what you are provided with by other people through the will of God. We had even experienced moments where we had to return some commodities on the shelves while shopping. Despite the hardship, we had some interesting moments as well,” said Annielle. The Operational Mobilisation (OM) is an international Christian mission and has been working in South Africa since 1986. To date, there are approximately 6,000 volunteers with the organisation.

Mia, Extra Big named best artists in Seychelles at Takamaka Music Awards

Mia and Extra Big clinched the Best Female and Male Artists for 2018 at Friday’s Takamaka Music Awards held at the International Conference Centre in the country’s capital, Victoria. There were around 50 nominees vying for the prestigious awards in ten
Seychelles News Agency

Mia, Extra Big named best artists in Seychelles at Takamaka Music Awards

Mia and Extra Big clinched the Best Female and Male Artists for 2018 at Friday’s Takamaka Music Awards held at the International Conference Centre in the country’s capital, Victoria. There were around 50 nominees vying for the prestigious awards in ten categories during the red-carpet ceremony, which lasted nearly two hours. Mia, 32, whose real name is Mina Telemaque, a newcomer on the music scene, launched her first album ‘Prezan’ last year. It immediately made her a household name in the island nation. She was nominated in three categories: Best Collaboration, Best Female Artist and Best Song for 2018. Speaking to SNA after the event, an emotional Mia told SNA that winning the award was overwhelming. “It was a tough competition as there were well-established artists in this category. I worked so hard and was so committed and today I’m extremely pleased with my work,” said Mia. Mia said it took her two years to release her first album. Although she was discouraged at times, she persevered. Her advice to other young female artists who are trying to make it in the music business is “ to persevere, stay focused and work towards their goals.” For his part, Extra Big – a seasoned artist – released his 8th album, MP3, last year. Extra Big who was not present at the ceremony won the Best Male Artist award. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY It is this album that propelled him to the top in 2018, despite having released the album at the end of November, a month short of the deadline for the Takamaka award. Extra Big, whose real name is Herrence Etienne, was not present to accept his award and it was his colleague, Jahrimba who accepted the award on his behalf. Étienne is the owner of the music studio Extra Big Sound Seychelles. This is the second time he has won the Best Male Artist award.  In a telephone interview with SNA, Extra Big said he was very surprised. “I didn't expect this album to make such an impact in such a short time. I think being a producer myself has helped me a lot. I listen to what my fans say and what they want to hear from me and I give them just that,” he said. The singer, who is presently gearing up for a live performance on June 1, said he is still promoting his latest work and has thanked his loyal fans for believing in him and for their continued support. At Friday’s Takamaka Award ceremony, another renowned singer, Jahrimba, walked away with the Award for Best Song for 2018 –‘I kas Zot Leker.’ Jahrimba-- winner of the Best Song award. (Joe Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY Awards for Best New Male and Female Recording Artists went to VL (Louis Vidot) and Kiara respectively. Sandra, a two-time winner of the Airtel Music Award, won Best Interpretation for 2018 with her rendition of Joseph Louise’s ‘Mord Li’. Best Collaboration went to newcomer Dilivio with his single ‘In Tar La’ featuring popular local artist, Chicco Martino. Joseph Sinon won Best Traditional Album, while the Gospel Award went to Jean Ally. The Honorary Award which recognises an artist who has made a significant contribution towards music development in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, went to Celine Dine. Dine was popular in the 1990s with her hit song ‘En Roz I bezwen lapli’. There was also a People’s Choice Award which went to Nara. The ceremony’s organiser, Terry Carolla, said he was satisfied with the whole show. “I think it was well-executed and everything worked in our favour, despite having only two months to put the whole event together. I have a solid team with years of experience and I am proud of my team and what they delivered,” said Carolla. He said moving forward the Music Award Seychelles plans to add more categories to the ten existing ones to make it more interesting and to encompass all types of music produced in the island nation. Takamaka Award replaces the Airtel Music Award and is sponsored by local company Takamaka Rum.  SNA presents a selection of other award winners in the Takamaka Music Award. (Joe Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY  

Stop discrimination, seek treatment for HIV, Seychelles’ president says

That was the message from the Seychelles’ President Danny Faure on Friday at the launching of a national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis. “It is very sad to learn that people are still dying from HIV/AIDS in Seychelles. This epidemic is t
Seychelles News Agency

Stop discrimination, seek treatment for HIV, Seychelles’ president says

That was the message from the Seychelles’ President Danny Faure on Friday at the launching of a national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis. “It is very sad to learn that people are still dying from HIV/AIDS in Seychelles. This epidemic is touching our society as a whole. It is sadder to learn that those infected have died earlier because they have failed to take their treatment,” Faure said. The ceremony was held at the Savoy Hotel in the northern Mahe district of Beau Vallon. “We need to put more resources in place to fight against this epidemic. Everybody in Seychelles should get tested to know their status. If found positive, we should never be afraid to seek treatment as it is offered for free in Seychelles,” said Faure. The national strategic plan which will include monitoring and an evaluation framework for 2019-2023 is aimed at achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by 2020. This means 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90 percent of those who know their status getting treatment and 90 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed. HIV -- human immunodeficiency virus -- attacks the body’s natural defence system and as a result, the body cannot fight infection and disease. AIDS, which stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS. Through a pilot project, the health ministry is making available the OraQuick rapid HIV test which is self -administered allowing individuals to test themselves and know their status. (Marcello Casal JR/ABr, Wikipedia) Photo License: CC BY 3.0 br  In his address, the minister of health, Jean-Paul Adam, said that the plan is important for everyone as HIV/AIDS touches the lives of everyone. “I urge everyone this afternoon to join together to recommit ourselves to a Seychelles where there are no new HIV/AIDS cases, where everyone knows their status, where stigma is never tolerated, where treatment and counselling are available to all. These are the pillars on which this plan rest,” said Adam. The minister said that through a pilot project, the health ministry is making available self -administered tests allowing individuals to test themselves and know their status. An overview of the current HIV/AIDS situation in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, was given by the chief executive of the National AIDS Council, Anne Gabriel. “There has been an increase in the percentage of new cases as the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases stood at 112 for 2017. Another trend that we have noted is that in 2017, most cases stemmed from drug abuse, while in 2018, the majority of cases seem to be through sexual intercourse. In 2018 we also had 23 cases of AIDS which are in the advanced stage and there were 19 HIV and AIDS-related deaths in 2018,” said Gabriel. Gabriel added that there have been 18 HIV positive pregnant women giving birth and out of this number, three babies were infected. The Seychelles response to HIV/AIDS began 30 years ago. The first HIV infection was detected in 1987 while the first case of AIDS was reported in 1993. The HIV epidemic remains one of the major public health and development challenges in Seychelles. In 2018, there were 120 new cases reported.

Trump lifts steel, aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a deal to lift US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico that had created friction between the neighbors and blocked a new North American free trade agreement. «I'm pleased to announce th
Seychelles News Agency

Trump lifts steel, aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a deal to lift US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico that had created friction between the neighbors and blocked a new North American free trade agreement. «I'm pleased to announce that we've just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico and will be selling our product into those countries, without the imposition of tariffs,» Trump said at an event in the US capital. His statement came moments after Canada released the text of the agreement between Ottawa and Washington in which they agreed to eliminate US tariffs on steel and aluminum, and Canada's retaliatory measures, within no more than two days. Mexico confirmed it had reached a similar agreement with the United States. «Trump's strategy has worked,» US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement, crediting the tariffs with reviving US steel and aluminum manufacturers. The steep US tariffs imposed last year -- 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum -- became a major stumbling block to ratifying a new North American trade pact negotiated last year by the three countries. Canada and Mexico initially were exempted from the tariffs Trump enforced using a national security argument, as part of his hardline trade tactics. Once America's neighbors were included, the levies drew retaliation with tariffs on a host of US products. Even after the governments agreed to a revised free trade deal -- the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA -- the tariffs remained in place, but officials in Ottawa and Mexico City said they would not sign unless Washington removed the metals duties. - Not making sense - Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was a shared recognition that «these tariffs were harming workers and consumers on both sides of the border» and «didn't make a lot of sense» in the context of a new free trade deal. «Obviously these continued tariffs on steel and aluminum and our countermeasures represented significant barriers to moving forward with the new NAFTA agreement,» he said, referring to the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. «Now that we've had a full lift on these tariffs we are going to work with the United States on timing for ratification but we're very optimistic we are going to be able to move forward well in the coming weeks,» Trudeau said. Mexican chief trade negotiator Jesus Seade likewise tweeted that the lifting of tariffs «clears the way towards ratification of USMCA.» Some key members of the US Congress had said they would not agree to vote for the three-country free trade pact unless the Trump's metals tariffs ended. «Hopefully Congress will approve it quickly,» said Trump. Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer applauded the decision to remove the metals tariffs, but said there are other concerns about the USMCA. «It is a good thing these tariffs will be lifted, and we should urge our allies to join us in preventing China's predatory practices,» Schumer said in a statement. However, «There are still many other issues that are outstanding before Democrats would support the USMCA.» According to the agreement, Canada and Mexico will withdraw all complaints lodged against the United States at the World Trade Organization. The two countries also agreed to monitor imports of steel and aluminum to ensure metals that are sold at «dumped prices» -- below the cost of production -- are not purchased in or shipped through Canada and Mexico. In addition, they agreed to a provision to reimpose steep duties if imports of the metals «surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes of trade over a period of time.» The US Trade Representative's office said the agreement «provides for aggressive monitoring and a mechanism to prevent surges in imports of steel and aluminum.» «This agreement is great news for American farmers that have been subject to retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico,» USTR said. US tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe remain in place, as does the EU retaliation. Some countries, including South Korea, accepted export quotas to avoid the tariffs. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles Post Office seeking community members to assist in mail delivery

The Seychelles Postal Service, in search of community representatives to assist with mail delivery, has embarked on a recruitment drive to get people to work on a part-time basis. The deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Postal Service, Alex Etienne, exp
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Post Office seeking community members to assist in mail delivery

The Seychelles Postal Service, in search of community representatives to assist with mail delivery, has embarked on a recruitment drive to get people to work on a part-time basis. The deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Postal Service, Alex Etienne, explained that this move is aimed at tackling the lack of staff to deliver mails on Mahe – the main island. “Currently, there are only 16 employees involved with mail delivery at the central post office here in Victoria. In addition, there are eight based at the southern post office at Anse Royale,” explained Etienne. The post also has offices on Praslin and La Digue – the second- and third-most populated islands of the western Indian Ocean archipelago. Nine people – including two on La Digue - are employed there, to deliver mails. Delivering mails in Seychelles is challenging due to the topography of the islands. The work is physically demanding with steep trails where there is no motor access. Coupled with the heat, dogs are also a menace faced by these workers. In addition, roads are not named except for those in the capital city and recently built housing estates. House numbers are also a challenge with most of the around 30,000 households having no identification. It is only on the manmade island of Perseverance that all houses have numbers facilitating the process of delivering mails. “Worldwide there is a tendency to see a decrease in the mails. These are those that get delivered to your doors. However for Seychelles this is not the case,” said Etienne. The deputy chief executive said this move is aimed at tackling the lack of staff to deliver mails on Mahe. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY According to Etienne, bills are the bulk of mails which are delivered. As the workload increases with the work not attracting newcomers, the postal service is now turning to members of the community to assist with mail delivery. “We are hoping that we can recruit others to be our community representatives to deliver mails in the community. Besides, they know their community better than us,” said Etienne. The postal services are seeking people who have clean police records, and who will have to abide by postal regulations. They will be working for two hours, three times a week. They will be expected to be delivering mails between eight in the morning and six in the evening. The community representatives are expected to earn $220 or more per month depending on the number of mails delivered. The community members will be working in the central and north region of Mahe. Perseverance as a new residential area is a major challenge with over 1,500 houses. “Beau Vallon - a highly dense and touristic area - is another big challenge where members of the community will be needed,” said Etienne, who added that part-timers will not be needed for the southern and western part of the main island. The Seychelles Postal Services is also looking at ways to minimise the number of mails that need to be delivered. These include the use of new software, delivering all mails to one's workplace as most people work in Victoria.  Another possibility is with permission of the recipient, the document is opened and scanned where the client receives a soft copy and the hard copy is then destroyed by the post office. 

New law in Seychelles protects dogs, seeks to prevent strays beginning in September

A new law to protect dogs and manage the stray population in Seychelles was assented to by the island nation’s President, Danny Faure, in a ceremony on Thursday at State House in Victoria. Under the law, dogs will have to be registered and micro-chipped
Seychelles News Agency

New law in Seychelles protects dogs, seeks to prevent strays beginning in September

A new law to protect dogs and manage the stray population in Seychelles was assented to by the island nation’s President, Danny Faure, in a ceremony on Thursday at State House in Victoria. Under the law, dogs will have to be registered and micro-chipped and receive their medallion. Owners will be fined if their dogs are found roaming or have been dumped in public areas. For the first time in Seychelles, the protection of dogs is included in the law, including how these pets are kept at home and if they are being well taken care of and receiving necessary care. “The new law identifies various actions and measures to effectively manage stray dogs, improve efficiency and sustainability of control measures as well as fulfil the biosecurity obligation,” Charles Bastienne, the Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, said at the ceremony. The Control and Protection of Dogs Act 2018 will come into force on September 1. “We are giving enough time to people to do the necessary. We will launch three camps during June, July and August at no cost where the public can have their dogs sterilised. By then our dog pound will be up and running, the microchips and medallions will be in the country and officers would have all been trained,” said Bastienne. Encouraging responsible dog ownership is a vital part of the newly assent Act. The Act clearly defines and outlines the roles and responsibilities of government agencies, public and private landowners and other community members in managing dogs in Seychelles. As part of the camps that will be organised in the next three months, there will be free sterilisation clinics. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY A series of regulations pertaining to the Act will go before the Cabinet of Ministers for approval. The regulation will state how many dogs a person can keep, the cost for registration and licence, requirements for keeping a dog and the breeds of dogs to be considered as dangerous among others. Bastienne said that the new Act “is a very important instrument and is evidence of the government's commitment to reduce the number of stray dogs in and around town, at tourism establishment and within our communities.” The preceding Act dated back to 1982 and the minister said that it did not adequately address the issues and nuisances associated with dogs in Seychelles and did not make provisions for the protection of dogs. “There was also the indiscriminate breeding or mixing of dangerous dogs haphazardly on one hand while natural breeding led to the overpopulation of dog. Furthermore, the abandonment of puppies and adults led to large populations of stray dogs and the spread of animal diseases by those dogs was a real threat to the society,” he added. The final draft of the proposed legislation was presented to the National Assembly where further debates and changes were made. The Act was approved by the legislative body in December 2018. Enforcement and implementation of the new law will be supported by the Animal Welfare Unit under the veterinary division of the National Biosecurity Agency. Private animal welfare organisations such as the Seychelles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), Pet Haven and Paw Links Veterinary Care services will also provide their support. Training will be provided to officers who will be enforcing the law and the government are making sure that certain required facilities will be put in place on Mahe and Praslin.  

President of Seychelles attending Blue Economy conference in Mozambique, presidential inauguration in South Africa

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, will travel to Mozambique on a state visit on Sunday, May 19, followed by a trip to South Africa to attend that nation's presidential inauguration, State House said. Faure is making the state visit at the invitatio
Seychelles News Agency

President of Seychelles attending Blue Economy conference in Mozambique, presidential inauguration in South Africa

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, will travel to Mozambique on a state visit on Sunday, May 19, followed by a trip to South Africa to attend that nation's presidential inauguration, State House said. Faure is making the state visit at the invitation of his Mozambican counterpart, Filipe Nyusi. The trip comes shortly after the coastal nation was hit by two major tropical storms. During the visit, Faure will participate in a May 23-24 conference on the Blue Economy which will take place in the Mozambican capital of Maputo May under the theme ‘Sustainable and Shared Exploitation of the Ocean’. According to the Club of Mozambique, an online news service, “Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario declared on Wednesday in Maputo that the planned conference on the Blue Economy, named “Growing Blue”, should serve as a platform for seeking knowledge and exchanging experiences about the preservation and increasingly sustainable use of the ocean.” Following the conference on the Blue Economy, the President of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will proceed to Pretoria, South Africa, to attend the inauguration of the sixth President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. A number of African heads of state are expected to attend the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa on 25 May. The inauguration which coincides with Africa Day follows the 2019 general elections on May 8. President Faure will be back in Seychelles on May 26. 

Saudi-led warplanes pound Yemen rebels after pipeline attack

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed Yemeni rebel targets including in the capital on Thursday following insurgent drone strikes on a key oil pipeline that Riyadh said were ordered by its arch-rival Tehran. The new bombardment came after the UN envoy, who ha
Seychelles News Agency

Saudi-led warplanes pound Yemen rebels after pipeline attack

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed Yemeni rebel targets including in the capital on Thursday following insurgent drone strikes on a key oil pipeline that Riyadh said were ordered by its arch-rival Tehran. The new bombardment came after the UN envoy, who has been spearheading efforts to end more than four years of conflict in the Arab world's poorest country, warned against sparking further escalation. The Saudi deputy defence minister said that Tuesday's attack by Yemeni rebels on a major pipeline in his country was «tightening the noose» around peace efforts. The Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Huthi rebels since March 2015, confirmed that its warplanes were carrying out multiple strikes across rebel-held territory in Yemen. «We have begun to launch air strikes targeting sites operated by the Huthi militia, including in Sanaa,» a coalition official, who declined to be identified, told AFP. The coalition said it had hit «a number of legitimate military targets» that the rebels used to store munitions. The rebels' Al-Masirah television said the coalition carried out at least 19 strikes, 11 of them in the capital. A strike on one Sanaa neighbourhood killed six people and wounded 10, Dr Mokhtar Mohammed of the capital's Republic Hospital said. Aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that at least four people were killed and 48 injured in Sanaa in «several airstrikes» by the Saudi-led coalition. The UN's humanitarian office OCHA later said five children had been killed and 16 more had been wounded in the strikes. An AFP correspondent saw one residential building that had been reduced to rubble. Residents were using their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors. «Death to America, death to Israel,» they chanted, unsure whether a child they pulled out was still alive. The rebels said their attack on the Saudi pipeline was a response to «crimes» committed by Riyadh during its bloody air war in Yemen, which has been criticised repeatedly by the United Nations and human rights groups. The drone strikes further raised tensions in the region after the mysterious sabotage of several oil tankers and the US deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from Iran. The speaker of Kuwait's National Assembly said the risk of a war breaking out in the region was high. «The situation in the region is not reassuring and calls for preparing for all possibilities,» Marzuk al-Ghanem told reporters following a closed-door meeting. - 'Tightening noose' on peace - An official from state oil giant Aramco told AFP Thursday the pipeline had been reopened and was «fully operational». Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister, Khalid bin Salman, earlier accused Iran of ordering the pipeline attack. «The attack by the Iranian-backed Huthi militias against the two Aramco pumping stations proves that these militias are merely a tool that Iran's regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region,» he wrote on Twitter. Riyadh and its allies intervened in Yemen in 2015 to bolster the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis seized much of the country including the capital Sanaa. Coalition-backed forces have retaken much of the south but the capital and most of the populous central highlands remain in rebel hands. - 'Alarming signs' - A grinding war of attrition has set in, turning third city Taez and the vital Red Sea aid port of Hodeida into key battlegrounds. In December, UN mediators brokered hard-won truce deals for both cities during talks in Sweden but the hoped-for momentum in talks on a comprehensive peace has failed to materialise. On Tuesday, UN observers confirmed that rebel fighters had pulled out of three Red Sea ports including Hodeida. But the next day, three women were killed in clashes in the city, a doctor at Al-Thawra hospital told AFP. UN envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed the pullback, but warned the Security Council on Wednesday that the risks of a slide back into fighting remained high. «There are signs of hope,» he said, but there are also «alarming signs» of further violence. More than four years of conflict have triggered what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with over 24 million people, more than two-thirds of the population, in need of aid. © Agence France-Presse

Amnesty urges ICC to probe 'crimes against humanity' in Venezuela

Amnesty International said Tuesday it believes the Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown on anti-government protests, and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate. The rights group said President Nicola
Seychelles News Agency

Amnesty urges ICC to probe 'crimes against humanity' in Venezuela

Amnesty International said Tuesday it believes the Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown on anti-government protests, and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate. The rights group said President Nicolas Maduro's government responded with «a systematic and widespread policy of repression» in late January, when anti-government protests swept the country after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president. Maduro opponents were tortured and killed during the protests, it said. «The nature of the attacks... the level of coordination by the security forces, as well as the signs of similar patterns in 2014 and 2017, leads Amnesty International to believe that the Venezuelan authorities committed crimes against humanity,» Amnesty said in a statement. Guaido is locked in a bitter power struggle with Maduro, who has presided over a spiraling political and economic crisis in Venezuela since taking over from late leftist leader Hugo Chavez in 2013. Maduro was re-elected to a second term in May 2018, in a vote boycotted by the opposition and rejected by much of the international community. Guaido, the leader of Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature, declared himself acting president on January 23, calling Maduro's re-election illegitimate. The opposition leader has since been recognized by more than 50 countries, led by the United States. Amnesty sent a fact-finding mission to the country in February to research the crackdown on the anti-government protests that preceded and followed Guaido's swearing-in. - Torture, executions - The London-based rights group said at least 47 people were killed during the protests from January 21 to 25. At least 33 were shot dead by the security forces, and six by government supporters. «Eleven of these deaths were extrajudicial executions,» said Erika Guevara, Americas director for Amnesty International, who presented the report in Mexico City. «State forces identified people who had been prominent in the protests in their communities, located them and shortly afterwards killed them.... Some of them were tortured before they were killed,» the report said. More than 900 people, including children, were arbitrarily detained over the same period, it said. It called on the UN Human Rights Council and International Criminal Court to investigate. Amnesty's team found that crimes and human rights violations were committed in «an attack planned and led by the security forces against individuals identified as or perceived to be opponents, particularly in impoverished areas.» Maduro himself «knew about these public and appalling acts and took no measures to either prevent or investigate them,» it said. Despite economic collapse and international isolation, Maduro has so far retained the support of Venezuela's powerful military. Guaido has meanwhile been fighting to keep up the pressure on the embattled socialist leader since the opposition's bid to spark a military uprising fizzled on April 30. © Agence France-Presse

Arrests, new curfews in Sri Lanka after anti-Muslim riots

Sri Lanka's police arrested over 100 suspects and reimposed night curfews in violence-prone areas Wednesday after anti-Muslim riots left one man dead and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and mosques. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said 78 peop
Seychelles News Agency

Arrests, new curfews in Sri Lanka after anti-Muslim riots

Sri Lanka's police arrested over 100 suspects and reimposed night curfews in violence-prone areas Wednesday after anti-Muslim riots left one man dead and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and mosques. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said 78 people arrested in the worst-affected North-Western Province (NWP) were remanded in custody Wednesday, while the rest were detained after a manhunt in other areas. Some 5,500 additional police were deployed in NWP to contain the violence that claimed the life of a Muslim man on Monday. Scores of private homes, Muslim-owned shops and businesses were destroyed, while several mosques were also vandalised. Muslims in Sri Lanka have been bracing for revenge attacks since three churches and three luxury hotels were bombed by local Islamist extremists on April 21, killing 258 people. Gunasekera said a night curfew was being reimposed in NWP, just north of the capital, as well as the adjoining Gampaha district, which shares a border with Colombo, as a measure to «maintain peace». However, a top police source said there will be no curfews elsewhere in the country. The entire country was under night curfews for two straight days after the violence escalated. The night curfew on Tuesday ensured there was no repeat of Monday's violence against Muslims, who make up some 10 percent of Sri Lanka's population of 21 million. «The situation is now totally under control,» said military spokesman Sumith Atapattu. «There were no incidents of violence overnight and we are arresting groups of people responsible for taking part in mob attacks.» Official sources said police deployed special teams to review CCTV camera footage to identify the perpetrators and carry out more arrests. More police and army units were seen deployed in the troubled areas as the authorities lifted the nationwide curfew on Wednesday morning. But Muslims in NWP remained nervous and stayed indoors Wednesday, after sword-wielding rioters killed one man late Monday while vandalising scores of shops and mosques. In Bingiriya, where some 2,000 people went on the rampage, Muslim cleric M.I.M. Siddeeque said the community was worried. «Our people are still afraid to go out,» he told AFP by telephone. Government spokesman Navin Dissanayake said the authorities had identified the leaders of the mobs and they were already in police custody. - Fear persists - Despite the extraordinary security measures, the minorities felt insecure, said Dissanayake, who is also a government minister. «People feel insecure and I acknowledge that,» Dissanayake told reporters in Colombo. «We have given the armed forces of this country... a complete free hand to tackle the security situation.» Among those detained was Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist Sinhalese community and on bail for his role in similar riots in March last year in the central Kandy district. Another was identified as Namal Kumara, a deserter from both the army and the air force. The police, meanwhile, also made several changes in the command structure by removing senior officers in the troubled areas after allegations officials did nothing to stop the rioters. The military released CCTV which showed a man in uniform apparently standing by while a mob pelted stones at a home, and sought public help to identify the individual. Parliamentary speaker Karu Jayasuriya condemned the violence and appealed for calm. «The attacks on mosques, the burning of houses and shops, the attacks on innocent people cannot be condoned in any way,» Jayasuriya said in a statement. The attacks came during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. A state of emergency has been in place since the Easter bombings and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects. Internet service providers said the telecoms regulator on Tuesday extended a social media ban to Twitter. Earlier, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram had been blocked to prevent the spread of messages inciting violence. © Agence France-Presse

6 shops in Seychelles that have remained open for decades

Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, represents at once both stability and progress. From its roots as a small village with a handful of people, it has become the bustling heart of the 115-island nation in the western Indian Ocean, buzzing with businesses. S
Seychelles News Agency

6 shops in Seychelles that have remained open for decades

Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, represents at once both stability and progress. From its roots as a small village with a handful of people, it has become the bustling heart of the 115-island nation in the western Indian Ocean, buzzing with businesses. SNA presents six businesses and services that through all of the city's developments have remained in the same location and still offer their services – some of which opened more than 100 years ago.   Seychelles Postal Services Right by the side of the city's famous clock tower, the post office has stood at the same location and offered its service to the growing population since it opened in 1861. The earliest known letter using this service on record was dated April 1865. Apart from renovations, the post office has remained in the same building but now sports new features in the form of bronze statues of the endemic coco de mer and of a giant land tortoise by well-known artist Ton Pa. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY   The Victoria market The Victoria market, officially known as Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke market, is the main market of the island nation. Built in 1840, the market was renovated in 1999. The market is the place to buy a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish among items including spices as well as arts and crafts. The place is a meeting point for locals and an attraction for visitors as it gives a feel for the Seychellois way of life. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY   Temooljee Supermarket The business - Temooljee and Company - ran by the Oliaji family was opened in 1901 and has remained in the same location ever since. Back then, Teemooljee as a grocery store specialised in canned food products. Before the opening of Barclays Bank in August 1959, Temooljee was also used as a bank. The once supermarket was redeveloped and nowadays is known as the Oliaji Trade Center, where the supermarket is still operating on the ground floor and has offices and businesses on the two upper levels. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY   Jivan Imports Jivan Imports was founded by well-loved Kantilal Jivan Shah. Shah, who passed away in 2011, was from India and a true Seychellois at heart. Being a businessman did not stop him from taking a strong interest in the Seychellois society. Located in a two-level colourful colonial shop bought by Shah in 1925, the shop trades in cloth and local souvenirs. The shop is located on the ground floor whilst Shah lived on the top floor. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY   Kim Koon shop Joseph Kim Koon arrived in Seychelles from China in 1921 at age 13. Kim Koon and his family established themselves in Seychelles as general merchants, then moved into bakery and soap production. Today, they are mostly known by residents as motor vehicle sellers and for their electronic shops which brought in the first National radios to the islands. The family has owned an old colonial style shop in Market Street opposite the market since 1956. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Uniset Shop – Victoria sports centre The shop, one specializing in sportswear and sporting equipment, was opened in the early 1970s. Owned by the Leong family from China, the shop was amongst the first sports shop on the island nation.   (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY

5 marine species to be farmed in Seychelles for first time when licences are issued in August

Five types of marine species are expected to be farmed in Seychelles for the first time with the issuing of licences as of August this year. According to a top official from the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), this process will officially launch aquacu
Seychelles News Agency

5 marine species to be farmed in Seychelles for first time when licences are issued in August

Five types of marine species are expected to be farmed in Seychelles for the first time with the issuing of licences as of August this year. According to a top official from the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), this process will officially launch aquaculture as an industry on the island nation. The principal aquaculture officer at SFA told SNA recently that all is in order now that the cabinet of Ministers has approved the aquaculture regulations. “The next step is to send same to the Attorney General for verifications to ensure that all is in order and that these regulations are not in conflict with other regulations,” explained Aubrey Lesperance. At the beginning of this new project, only Seychellois investors will be considered for the licenses. “We will issue a license for each species. And these will be for finfish such as red snapper and grouper, two subspecies of trevally as well as sea urchins," said Lesperance. An example of a fish farming activity. (Richard Gould/Flickr) Photo License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 According to Lesperance, the regulations were crucial for aquaculture, as this will be done on a commercial basis. “Now, we are in a better position to participate in different markets locally and internationally to actively advertise for investments whilst before we could only do education and promote the project,” said Lesperance. The broad term “aquaculture” refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. By August, SFA will also commission its broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility at Providence – an industrial zone on the east of the main island of Mahe. The facility which has been designed in alignment with international best-practice standards is located close to the Seychelles Fisheries Authority building. By August, SFA will also commission its broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility at Providence – an industrial zone on the east of the main island of Mahe. (Aubrey Lesperance) Photo License: CC-BY It is to ensure that mature breeding stock otherwise known as broodstock are well cared for, can adjust to captive conditions, spawn and produce good numbers of high-quality eggs, have fewer disease problems and greater longevity. According to SFA, each license will stipulate the distance offshore where the type of activity will happen as well as how much fish can be produced at that particular farm. “Gradually as the sector develops, next year we will explore farming of other species such as the mud crab, ornamental fishes for the aquarium as well as experimenting with growing of corals as some NGOs (non-governmental organisations) are already involved in coral replanting,” said Lesperance. SFA said that once categories opened for Seychellois only, are fully operational, then aquaculture will be opened to foreign investors. “Government is all for private and foreign direct investments in aquaculture. With the current moratorium on the development of big tourism establishments, we are hoping that foreign investments in aquaculture will boost up foreign income earnings for the country,” added Lesperance.

Swiss to vote on tightening gun laws, with EU relations in the balance

The Swiss will vote Sunday on whether to bring the country's gun laws in line with EU legislation, with the government warning a 'no' could threaten relations with the bloc. A demand from the neighbouring European Union that Switzerland toughen its gun laws
Seychelles News Agency

Swiss to vote on tightening gun laws, with EU relations in the balance

The Swiss will vote Sunday on whether to bring the country's gun laws in line with EU legislation, with the government warning a 'no' could threaten relations with the bloc. A demand from the neighbouring European Union that Switzerland toughen its gun laws has prompted a rare national debate over firearm ownership in the wealthy Alpine nation, which has a deeply-rooted gun culture. While the government has cautioned that the new legislation is crucial to maintaining an array of treaties with the EU, the proposal sparked a fierce pushback from the gun lobby and shooting enthusiasts, who gathered enough signatures to trigger a vote under Switzerland's famous direct democratic system. Brussels changed its own weapons laws two years ago following a wave of deadly terrorist attacks across Europe, slapping bans on certain types of semi-automatic firearms. Switzerland is not an EU member, but it is bound to the bloc through an array of intricately connected bilateral agreements. Bern has cautioned that a «no» vote would entail Switzerland's exclusion from the visa-free Schengen travel region and the Dublin accords regulating Europe's asylum-seeking process. This would have far-reaching consequences for security, asylum and even tourism, and would cost the country «several billion Swiss francs each year,» it said. Most of the arguments for changing the law are economic, in a country that has rarely seen the kind of mass shootings that have happened in other countries. Philippe Miauton, of the chamber of commerce and industry in Vaud Canton, told the RTS broadcaster that turning down the law change could bring «many consequences that would be harmful». «Switzerland is not an island... We need the bilateral agreements, and that means making concessions,» he said. Voters appear to have heeded the warnings. According to the most recent gfs.bern poll, a full 65 percent of respondents supported the law change, compared to 34 percent who opposed it. - 'Completely useless' - The shooting enthusiasts behind Sunday's referendum say the government warnings are «exaggerated». Brussels has «no interest» in excluding Switzerland from Schengen's information-sharing system regarding criminality and terrorism, Olivia de Weck, a Swiss army capitan and the vice president of the ProTell gun lobby, told AFP. Changing the law would «erase the right to own weapons» in Switzerland and be «completely useless in confronting terrorism», said the campaign, which has the backing of the country's biggest political party, the populist rightwing Swiss People's Party (SVP). It is difficult to know exactly how many firearms are in circulation, since guns are registered regionally and there is no national registry. But according to a 2017 report by the Small Arms Survey, the country boasts the world's 16th highest rate of gun ownership, with some 2.3 million firearms in civilian hands -- nearly three for every 10 inhabitants. Under the new gun law, which has already been approved by legislators, semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines would be listed as «banned». Such weapons would still be available for purchase by collectors and sports shooters, as long as they obtain an «exceptional authorisation». Collectors and museums would also need to provide a full list of the «banned» weapons they own, and indicate their plan for safe storage. Sports shooters would also need to prove at regular intervals that they are still actively practising the sport to justify their need to own such weapons. Those opposed to the law change claim it amounts to an «EU dictate» and is reining in Swiss sovereignty. But Lisa Mazzone, vice president of the Green Party, said that to the contrary, the new law indicated that Switzerland was intent on gaining more control over the situation. It will allow «improvements in the tracing and the marking of firearms. In terms of security, it is obviously a good thing to have a better overview of what weapons are in circulation,» she told AFP. - Young shooters - The strong gun culture in Switzerland is partially tied to the country's tradition of national defence service. Most Swiss men undergo obligatory military service, consisting of three weeks of service each year between the ages of 18 and 30. They are allowed to keep their assigned weapon when they are done. Shooting clubs and competitions are also an integral part of life for many, and the country subsidises «young shooters» classes for any interested citizen between the ages of 15 and 20. Gregory Barthassat, an 18-year-old taking part in one of the classes in Geneva, says he comes from a family of gun-owners who like taking trips to the shooting range. He is practising with an FASS 90 -- an assault rifle issued by the Swiss army and a favourite among sports shooters. This one has the automatic function deactivated, as is required when the gun passes into civilian ownership. If the new law passes, people will still be permitted to hold onto their army-issued FASS 90 at the end of their military service without additional permit requirements. But if they want to pass on the weapon to a family member or sell it, it will be listed in the «banned» category. Barthassat told AFP he worries that «if this law passes, it will be much more difficult to buy weapons and to do sports shooting». © Agence France-Presse

Facebook to curb livestreaming amid pressure over Christchurch massacre

Facebook announced Wednesday it would tighten access to its livestreaming feature as New Zealand's premier Jacinda Ardern and French leader Emmanuel Macron prepared to launch the global «Christchurch Call» initiative to tackle the spread of extrem
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Facebook to curb livestreaming amid pressure over Christchurch massacre

Facebook announced Wednesday it would tighten access to its livestreaming feature as New Zealand's premier Jacinda Ardern and French leader Emmanuel Macron prepared to launch the global «Christchurch Call» initiative to tackle the spread of extremism online. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been under intense pressure since March when a self-described white supremacist used Facebook Live to stream his rampage at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which left 51 people dead. The California-based platform said it would ban Facebook Live users who shared extremist content and seek to reinforce its own internal controls to stop the spread of offensive videos. «Following the horrific recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand, we've been reviewing what more we can do to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate,» Facebook vice-president of integrity Guy Rosen said in a statement. Along with their counterparts from Britain, Canada, Norway, Jordan and Senegal, who will also be in Paris, Ardern and Macron will later issue the Christchurch Call to fight the spread of hateful and terror-related content. The largely symbolic initiative is intended to keep up the pressure on social media companies who face growing calls from politicians across the world to restrict the spread of extremism and disinformation on their platforms. Many countries have already tightened legislation to introduce fines for companies that fail to block offensive content, but experts say a new wave of regulation -- championed by France in particular -- could be looming. The political meeting in Paris will run in parallel to an initiative launched by Macron called «Tech for Good» which will bring together 80 tech chiefs to discuss how to harness technologies for the common good. The heads of Wikipedia, Uber, Twitter and Google will attend, but not Zuckerberg who held private one-to-one talks with Macron last week. The social network giant will instead be represented by its vice president for global affairs and communications Nick Clegg, the former British deputy premier. The Christchurch Call meeting is to get underway around 1400 GMT and finish with a press conference by Ardern and Macron at 1600 GMT. - 'Horrifying new trend' - In an opinion piece in The New York Times over the weekend, Ardern said the Christchurch massacre underlined «a horrifying new trend» in extremist atrocities. «It was designed to be broadcast on the internet. The entire event was livestreamed... the scale of this horrific video's reach was staggering,» she wrote. Ardern said Facebook removed 1.5 million copies of the video within 24 hours of the attack, but she still found herself among those who inadvertently saw the footage when it auto-played on their social media feeds. «(We're) asking both nations and private corporations to make changes to prevent the posting of terrorist content online, to ensure its efficient and fast removal and to prevent the use of livestreaming as a tool for broadcasting terrorist attacks,» she wrote in The Times. In Wednesday's statement, Facebook acknowledged the inadequacy of its own systems. «One of the challenges we faced in the days after the attack was a proliferation of many different variants of the video of the attack,» vice-president of integrity Rosen said. «People -- not always intentionally -- shared edited versions of the video which made it hard for our systems to detect.» New Zealand officials said Ardern found a natural partner for the fight against online extremism in Macron, who has repeatedly stated that the status quo is unacceptable. «Macron was one of the first leaders to call the prime minister after the attack, and he has long made removing hateful online content a priority,» New Zealand's ambassador to France, Jane Coombs, told journalists on Monday. «It's a global problem that requires a global response,» she said. A French presidential source said it was time for tech companies to «anticipate how their features will be exploited.» Firms themselves will be urged to come up with concrete measures, the source said, for example by reserving live broadcasting to social media accounts whose owners have been identified. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles joins international pact to better manage and reduce plastic waste

Seychelles is one of 187 countries that approved a United Nation’s plastic waste pact aimed at reducing pollution from plastic waste.  The legally binding framework is the result of a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 29 to May 10 to discuss
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Seychelles joins international pact to better manage and reduce plastic waste

Seychelles is one of 187 countries that approved a United Nation’s plastic waste pact aimed at reducing pollution from plastic waste.  The legally binding framework is the result of a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 29 to May 10 to discuss the UN Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.  Negotiations brought together 1,400 delegates. Seychellois Rolph Payet, of the United Nations Environment Programme, was part of the team leading the move. Payet called the agreement “historic” as it allows countries to monitor where plastic wastes go when they leave the border of each nation. Amendments were made to the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in the framework which will put in place a more accountable and transparent system for plastic waste trade, including recycling. This will also ensure that the management of plastic waste is safer for human health and the environment. Nanette Laure told SNA that in view that Seychelles has signed the Basel Convention, there are procedures in place that need to be followed prior to exporting. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  The Basel Convention uses the Prior Informed Consent procedure by which exporting countries can notify importing countries of their intention to export wastes. “If the importing country does not want the waste, then it can refuse to accept the waste under the convention. Countries are also encouraged to establish national legislation as well and will be expected to sort out and clean their plastic wastes before exporting,” said Payet. More measures are expected to be negotiated in future meetings, as this is the first step in tackling global plastic wastes making its way into oceans. The director general at the waste enforcement and permit division at the environment ministry, Nanette Laure, told SNA that in view that Seychelles has signed the Basel Convention, there are procedures in place that need to be followed prior to exporting. “Prior informed consent is also sought from the receiving authority of the particular country. The Environment Department needs to inspect any container prior to leaving the Seychelles so that formal approval is then given and the forms are endorsed,” said Laure. Seychelles currently has a recycling scheme in place for PET bottles where such are collected, redeemed and exported, mostly to Ukraine. The 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean imposed a ban on the importation of single-use plastic in 2017. The new provisions added to the convention will be enforced in a year from now and Payet noted that “industry is already reacting as this is a short time to put in place their own arrangements to comply.” Payet referred to plastic pollution as an “epidemic”, with “an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80 to 90 percent of which comes from land-based sources”. He commented that the pact is “sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world - to the private sector, to the consumer market - that we need to do something.” “Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground. No more dumping of plastics wastes, the need to find alternatives to single-use plastics and packaging, the need to improve design for better recycling and recovery of plastics,” elaborated Payet to SNA. On her part, Laure said that for the island nation the pact will provide guidance on how hazardous waste is to be managed and transported.

Sudan army rulers, protesters agree on 3-year transition period

Sudanese army rulers and protest leaders Wednesday agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration even as negotiations over a new sovereign ruling body remain unfinished. The protest movement is demanding a
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Sudan army rulers, protesters agree on 3-year transition period

Sudanese army rulers and protest leaders Wednesday agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian administration even as negotiations over a new sovereign ruling body remain unfinished. The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition following 30 years of iron-fisted rule by now deposed president Omar al-Bashir, but the generals who toppled him have been holding onto a leadership role. Talks between the two sides resumed earlier in the week but were marred by violence when an army major and five protesters were killed by unidentified gunmen at a long-running sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum. The two sides announced early Wednesday that they had reached an agreement on the transition period. «We agreed on a transitional period of three years,» Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta, a member of the military council told reporters. Atta said a final agreement on the sharing of power, including the forming of the next ruling body -- the sovereign council -- will be signed with the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, within a day. «We vow to our people that the agreement will be completed fully within 24 hours in a way that it meets the people's aspirations,» Atta said. He said of the three-year transition period, the first six months will be allocated to signing peace accords with rebels in the country's war zones like Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. - US blames army rulers - The army generals had initially insisted on a two-year transition period, while the protest leaders wanted four years. The key negotiations however remain on the composition of the sovereign council, which the generals have insisted to be military led while the protest leaders want it to be majority civilian. After the forming of the sovereign council, which will replace the existing ruling body made up solely of generals, a new transitional civilian government would be formed to run the country's day-to-day affairs. That civilian government would work towards having the first post-Bashir elections after the end of the transition period. Atta said that during the transitional period the parliament will be composed of 300 members, of which 67 percent will be from the Alliance for Freedom and Change and the rest will be from other political groups. The Alliance for Freedom and Change meanwhile said the shootings on Monday were an attempt to «disturb the breakthrough» in talks. On Tuesday, the United States blamed the army itself for the deaths. They «were clearly the result of the Transitional Military Council trying to impose its will on the protesters by attempting to remove roadblocks», the US embassy said on its Facebook page. «The decision for security forces to escalate the use of force, including the unnecessary use of tear gas, led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day that the TMC was unable to control,» it said. - 'Dividing the people '- Protest leaders, who on Monday had blamed the remnants of Bashir's regime and allied militias, changed their stand on Tuesday. «We put the whole responsibility on the military council for what happened yesterday because it's their direct responsibility to guard and protect the citizens,» Mohamed Naji al-Assam, a prominent figure in the movement, told reporters. The latest round of talks which opened on Monday come after a break in negotiations that saw protest leaders threaten «escalatory measures» to secure their central demand of civilian rule. The issue has kept thousands of protesters camped outside army headquarters around the clock ever since Bashir's overthrow. The sit-in has become the focal point for the protest movement, overtaking the near daily protests that had been held across Sudan while the veteran president remained in power. But on Tuesday, following the previous night's violence in and around the Khartoum sit-in, protesters vented their anger on the streets of the capital's twin city Omdurman. Protesters gathered in the Abbassiya and Al-Arbaa districts, just across the Nile from the capital, with many chanting slogans against the military council, witnesses told AFP. «Protect your homeland or prepare to die!» the protesters chanted. In Arbaa, some demonstrators blocked roads with burning tyres, a witness said, adding that troops deployed to the area. Hashim Ali Sayed, a protester at the sit-in, blamed the former regime for the «dirty work» on Monday. «They are playing the game of dividing the people in order to control the situation.» © Agence France-Presse

International Federation of the Red Cross congratulates Seychelles for its efforts to assist to those in need

Efforts to help fellow Africans in need carried out by the Red Cross Society of Seychelles were saluted by a high official of the International Federation of Red Cross on Tuesday. The director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescen
Seychelles News Agency

International Federation of the Red Cross congratulates Seychelles for its efforts to assist to those in need

Efforts to help fellow Africans in need carried out by the Red Cross Society of Seychelles were saluted by a high official of the International Federation of Red Cross on Tuesday. The director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for the African Region, Fatoumata Traore, spoke highly of Seychelles' Red Cross chapter during a courtesy call to President Danny Faure at State House, Victoria. Traore hailed the Red Cross Society of Seychelles for its achievements, especially through its help offered to foreign countries in times of difficulties. “I have seen that in solidarity with Mozambique, the national society has been trying to raise resources to show their support to fellow Africans and fellow humans that have been suffering from cyclones Idai and Kenneth,” said Traore. Earlier this month, the island nation’s Red Cross society started collecting monetary donations for Mozambique. Over 500,000 people were left without homes after the country was hit by two deadly cyclones only weeks apart. “To date, over $2,277 (SCR31,000] has been raised, expected to be transferred by the end of the week,” said Collette Servina, the secretary general of Red Cross Society of Seychelles. Traore added that “with climate change, we have to invest more in our Red Cross societies because we will be having those types of crises and disasters more and more with high magnitude, so we have to be organised and ready.” “Crises, disasters, and conflicts are everywhere so building social inclusion is critical for us and ensuring that we are having a resilient community everywhere, including in Seychelles, is also critical,” Traore said. Traore is visiting Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, to support the local branch of the society as part of the celebration for the 100th anniversary of the International Red Cross.  Seychelles' first-aiders in a simulation exercise for an emergency situation in March. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  She said that the Seychelles Red Cross is “doing a great job” on resilience building. “The entire work of the national society has been around saving lives and reducing suffering. This is being done by training people for first aid, dealing with community resilience building to ensure that when there is a shock, people can easily come out of it and be even stronger because of the experience they have and not waiting for anyone else to come and help them,” said Traore.   On May 11, the Red Cross Society of Seychelles (RCSS) re-elected Kisnan Tamatave as the president during the eleventh general assembly of the society. Six other members were elected on the committee in the assembly which Traore attended. Serving a three-year mandate, the newly elected national committee will work on drafting and implementing policies for the running of the society. Traore commented that “we are happy to see that here we have a professional team and that they are well committed, working day and night, being everywhere for people. We are lucky to have such a great national society with great leadership in Seychelles.”

Entretien avec le vice-président Meriton: United Seychelles a pris du recul pour reconstruire

Alors que les Seychelles se préparent à l'élection présidentielle de l'année prochaine, la SNA cherchera à connaître le point de vue des dirigeants politiques de la nation insulaire. Notre deuxième interview de la série réalisée par courrier élec
Seychelles News Agency

Entretien avec le vice-président Meriton: United Seychelles a pris du recul pour reconstruire

Alors que les Seychelles se préparent à l'élection présidentielle de l'année prochaine, la SNA cherchera à connaître le point de vue des dirigeants politiques de la nation insulaire. Notre deuxième interview de la série réalisée par courrier électronique est avec Vincent Meriton, vice-président des Seychelles et chef du parti United Seychelles. SNA: Cela fait presque deux ans que vous avez été élu président du Parti Lepep / United Seychelles. Qu'avez-vous fait pour revitaliser le parti après avoir perdu lors des élections législatives de 2016? VM: Depuis les élections législatives de 2016, nous avons fait quelques pas en arrière pour reconstruire. C'est quelque chose qui n'est pas nouveau dans notre parti, mais peut-être que cette fois-ci, les gens y ont accordé plus d'attention. Notre parti sait à quel moment se renouveler et quand amener un nouveau leadership, adopter de nouvelles idées et s'adapter aux nouvelles réalités socio-économiques et aux circonstances politiques. Le changement le plus important et le plus significatif aujourd'hui est que nous avons une nouvelle constitution pour notre parti. J'inviterais tout le monde à le lire. Si les gens veulent savoir ce pour quoi SPUP (Parti uni du peuple des Seychelles), le Front progressiste du peuple des Seychelles (SPPF) et le Parti Lepep se sont battus et ont abouti aux Seychelles, lisez le préambule. S'ils veulent connaître l'avenir et ce que United Seychelles représente dans le paysage politique d'aujourd'hui, lisez nos valeurs et nos principes directeurs. Chaque époque produit ses propres défis et opportunités. Et pour chaque époque, vous avez besoin des bons leaders avec le bon message pour répondre aux aspirations et aux rêves de la population. Nous pensons que le défi de notre génération est de créer des Seychelles Unies et notre parti est déterminé à jouer son rôle dans la construction de ces Seychelles plus grandes et plus unies. SNA: Beaucoup de hauts fonctionnaires ont quitté le parti. Avez-vous pu regrouper et remplacer ces membres? VM: Quelques membres du Comité central (CC) ont quitté leurs postes et d'autres membres ont rejoint le groupe. Je connais un ancien membre du CC qui a rejoint un autre parti politique. SNA: De nouveaux partis rejoignent la scène politique. Pensez-vous que cela divisera l’opposition ou United Seychelles? VM: Je ne peux pas prédire ce qui va arriver. Mais je pense qu'il est normal dans toute démocratie que les citoyens exercent leur droit de s'organiser en un groupe politique ou de choisir qui suivre. Nous traitons tous les autres partis politiques comme des adversaires et non comme des ennemis. Nous continuerons à identifier des domaines communs sur lesquels nous pouvons nous mettre d'accord pour le plus grand intérêt national des Seychelles. En fin de compte, ce sont les citoyens qui décideront en qui ils peuvent avoir confiance pour construire des Seychelles prospère, stable et unie. SNA: Le parti envisage d'élire son nouveau Comité central au mois de juillet. Êtes-vous candidat au poste de président du parti? VM: La réponse à cette question viendra au bon moment. SNA: Le chef du parti sera-t-il le prochain candidat à l'élection présidentielle de l'année prochaine? VM: C’est une question qui sera réglée lors du congrès du parti concerné. Nous suivrons le processus démocratique requis par la Constitution. Mais permettez-moi de vous rappeler que le président Faure s'est présenté sous la bannière de notre parti aux dernières élections. Rien ne l’empêche de demander au parti de l’endosser lors de la prochaine élection. Et rien n’empêche également le parti de le nommer et de l’appuyer comme candidat à la présidentielle le moment venu. Je peux comprendre pourquoi vous posez cette question et c’est là que United Seychelles est en train de transformer la scène politique des Seychelles et de montrer le chemin. Les gens ont besoin de savoir que la politique est dynamique. Et la politique a changé aux Seychelles, notre démocratie a mûri. Nous avons maintenant des institutions plus fortes et beaucoup plus indépendantes qui fonctionnent selon un système de freins et de contrepoids. Dans ce type d'environnement, un leadership politique responsable consiste à trouver le bon équilibre pour permettre à d'autres acteurs de coexister et de travailler ensemble pour l'intérêt commun. M. Meriton lors d'une réunion avec les membres de son parti (Rassin Vannier)  Photo License: CC-BY  SNA: Les membres du parti comprennent-ils l'idée que le parti peut soutenir un candidat qui n'est pas le président du parti? VM: Nos partisans et le peuple des Seychelles sont plus intelligents et plus matures que beaucoup veulent nous faire croire. Ils comprennent parfaitement ce qui se passe aux Seychelles et dans le monde. Le président Faure n'est pas celui qui a inventé le concept de président qui n'est pas le chef du parti politique auquel il appartient. Obama était-il le chef du parti démocrate? Donald Trump est-il le chef du parti républicain? Et voici où nous devons éduquer notre population et pour nous en tant que parti politique, nos partisans. De nombreuses personnes ont rapidement exploité cette déclaration du président Faure lorsqu'il a déclaré qu'il prenait ses distances par rapport à la direction du parti. Mais ce que les gens ne mentionnent pas, c'est que le président Faure n'a jamais renoncé à son appartenance au parti. Le président Faure reste un membre inscrit de United Seychelles. Donc rien n'a changé sur ce point. Ce qui a changé, c’est que le président Faure a le sentiment que, à l’ère de la politique des Seychelles, où pour la première fois on a une opposition qui contrôle le législatif, un leader responsable doit changer et s’adapter. Lorsque votre parti contrôle à la fois les pouvoirs exécutif et législatif du gouvernement, il est également plus facile d’être un dirigeant de votre parti. Mais ce n'est plus le cas. Nous avons besoin de dirigeants, en particulier d’un président disposé à travailler avec l’autre partie et le président Faure a montré à maintes reprises qu’il était disposé à le faire. En effet, le président Faure a placé les Seychelles avant tout en renonçant à la direction de son parti, car il a choisi de renforcer les capacités des Seychelles et de tous les Seychellois. Cela lui a peut-être coûté du capital politique. Mais nous n’avons pas besoin d’un politicien à State House. Nous avons besoin d'un président qui est également un homme d'État et je suis convaincu que l'action du président Faure lui a valu le respect de tous les Seychellois. SNA: Que pensez-vous du désaccord entre l'exécutif et le législatif sur l'augmentation des salaires de la fonction publique? VM: Je pense que notre position sur cette question a été claire et cohérente depuis le début. Il est regrettable qu’à un moment où nous parlons tous de réduire le coût de la vie, nous ne sommes pas d’accord sur la manière de le faire. Le gouvernement n'a jamais eu l'intention de se battre avec l'opposition sur cette question. Il s’agissait simplement de voter selon ce qui avait été convenu dans le budget. Mais cette impasse est normale dans un système démocratique où un parti contrôle l'exécutif et un autre le législatif. Les gens doivent comprendre et être préparés à ce genre de politique. Dans certains pays, ils appellent cela l’impasse, tandis que d’autres le qualifient de talon d’Achille de la démocratie, car cela entraîne la paralysie du gouvernement et, entre-temps, comme nous l’avons vu ici, nous voyons des politiciens opposer un groupe à un autre alors qu’il faut faire passer l'intérêt national en premier. Encore une fois, c’est la raison pour laquelle le geste du président Faure est si significatif et pourquoi nous avons choisi United Seychelles comme nom de notre parti. C'est une nouvelle Seychelles avec un nouveau paysage politique. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre de nous battre entre nous. Nous devons aller au-delà de la politique des années 80 et 90. Ces temps sont passés. Les dirigeants de cette époque sont partis. Nous n’avons plus besoin de ce genre de politique et ceux qui veulent jouer ce genre de politique ne comprennent pas la dynamique d’aujourd’hui. Malheureusement, certains dirigeants politiques sont définis de manière particulière et pensent vivre en 1977 et combattre Albert René. Cette époque est partie. Les Seychellois sont fatigués de ce genre de politique conflictuelle et amère. Ils veulent savoir ce que nous allons faire pour eux et non ce que nous allons faire pour punir ceux qui n’ont pas répondus aux attentes de certains. Ils veulent des politiciens qui puissent s'unir et non diviser ce pays. Je crois fermement que United Seychelles est la meilleure option pour tous les Seychellois.  

Britain, NZ failing on children's rights: global survey

Britain and New Zealand are failing on children's rights, scoring lower than war-torn Syria and North Korea relative to their wealth in rankings released Tuesday by a children's group. «Appalling» discrimination against migrant children and a lac
Seychelles News Agency

Britain, NZ failing on children's rights: global survey

Britain and New Zealand are failing on children's rights, scoring lower than war-torn Syria and North Korea relative to their wealth in rankings released Tuesday by a children's group. «Appalling» discrimination against migrant children and a lack of legal protection for poorer youths in New Zealand and the UK put them near the bottom of the annual survey by Dutch NGO KidsRights. «It's a shame that countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand are really at the lowest ranks of this index,» Marc Dulleart, founder and chairman of KidsRights, told AFP. Britain ranked 170 and New Zealand 169 in the survey of 181 countries. Iceland was top followed by Portugal, Switzerland, Finland and Germany. Afghanistan was worst, followed by Sierra Leone, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic. The annual KidsRights rankings, compiled with the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam, use UN data to measure how countries measure up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. «Of course the situation in the UK is far better than in Afghanistan or Syria, but it's relative to their position,» Dulleart said. «The message is that, considering their economic status and it is a democracy and it is a country not in war, then it is appalling in such a rich developed country that the score on the basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the lowest score.» Booming economic growth in countries such as China, India and Myanmar is meanwhile failing to translate into better rights for children, the group said. - 'Old-fashioned mindset' - However Thailand and Tunisia ranked surprisingly highly, at 14th and 15th, because with the «limited resources they have, they put everything into the next generation», said Dullaert. The group said giving children around the world a bigger say was crucial. It cited the examples of youth movements such as teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's school marches and US rallies for gun control after school shootings. «We are still underestimating the power of these movements,» said Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, who founded the Missing Chapter Foundation to install boards of children in companies, and has worked with KidsRights. «We need to get rid of this old fashioned mindset that we the adults have all the answers,» added the princess, who is the sister-in-law of Dutch King Willem-Alexander. She also urged governments to invest in children now to reap future benefits -- citing the example of Dutch football team Ajax, whose young team stunned Europe by making the semi-finals of the Champions League this year. «It's a bit like 'why is Ajax playing so well' - and we're incredibly proud of them by the way - it's because 10 years ago they had the right strategy, investing in youth. Then it shows up later that we have stars.» KidsRights also presents an annual international children's peace prize whose previous winners include Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. © Agence France-Presse

'Don't Waste, Eat!" programme delivers 200 kg of food to 35 families in Seychelles

Over 200 kg of food was distributed to around 35 families in the Seychelles’ eastern Mahe district of Roche Caiman on Sunday as part of the “Don’t Waste, Eat!“ food waste reduction programme’. Families received vegetables, fruits and other food p
Seychelles News Agency

'Don't Waste, Eat!" programme delivers 200 kg of food to 35 families in Seychelles

Over 200 kg of food was distributed to around 35 families in the Seychelles’ eastern Mahe district of Roche Caiman on Sunday as part of the “Don’t Waste, Eat!“ food waste reduction programme’. Families received vegetables, fruits and other food products which included pastries, cakes and bread. The donations were made by SPAR supermarket and a number of hotels which are members of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association such as Alphonse Island Lodge, Constance Ephelia, Bravo Restaurant, H Resort and Kempinski Seychelles Resort. “Though a lot of the products are buffet leftovers or had reached their best before date, they are still good for consumption,” said the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation Project Officer, Rosetta Alcindor. The “Don’t Waste Eat!” food waste reduction programme was launched in July 2018 by the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation, (SSTF) in cooperation with Betterfly Tourism --a software publisher for tourism profession. The programme serves to equip staff with necessary skills to measure and monitor food waste, provide hotels with a platform that facilitates monitoring of cost savings and food waste reduction. This was the second edition of the food donation fair in the programme. Over 200 kg of food was distributed to around 35 families in the district of Roche Caiman. (Marivel Media) Photo License: CC-BY "There is more to a food donation than what we usually think. We are not only providing food for the community and diverting good food from the landfill, but we are also putting smiles on families’ faces,” Alcindor told SNA. A pilot study conducted by SSTF and Betterfly Tourism showed that every year at least 2,664 tonnes of food coming from hotels and restaurants ends up on the landfill. “As the food is donated, it reduces the demand for importation of food products on the market as families now consume what they were donated, hence avoiding CO2 emissions along the supply chain,” said Alcindor. According to a study done by Sustainability for Seychelles (S4S) a not-for-profit organisation, 48 percent of what goes to the landfill of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is organic waste. This includes green waste and food waste. The SSTF aims to steer interest in the development of policies that would give liability protection for food donation, monitoring of food donations, create food safety guidance for food donation and creation of tax incentives where donors and organisations feel encouraged to donate for the wellbeing of our community and our planet.  

Vice President Meriton interview: United Seychelles has taken steps back in order to rebuild

As Seychelles gets ready for a presidential election next year, SNA will be seeking the views of the island nation's political leaders. Our second interview in the series done via email is with Vincent Meriton, the Seychelles’ Vice President and the leade
Seychelles News Agency

Vice President Meriton interview: United Seychelles has taken steps back in order to rebuild

As Seychelles gets ready for a presidential election next year, SNA will be seeking the views of the island nation's political leaders. Our second interview in the series done via email is with Vincent Meriton, the Seychelles’ Vice President and the leader of the United Seychelles party.   SNA: It is almost two years since you were elected president of Parti Lepep/United Seychelles. What have you done to revitalise the party after losing in the parliamentary elections of 2016? VM: Since the parliamentary elections of 2016, we have taken a few steps backwards in order to rebuild. This is something that is not new in our party but perhaps this time people have been paying more attention. Our party knows when to renew itself when to bring in new leadership, new ideas and adapt to new socio-economic realities and political circumstances. The greatest and most significant change today is that we have a new Constitution for our party. I would invite everyone to read it. If people want to know what the SPUP (Seychelles People United Party), SPPF (Seychelles People’s Progressive Front) and Parti Lepep fought for and achieved in Seychelles, then read the preamble. If they want to know about the future and what United Seychelles represents in today’s political landscape, then read our values and guiding principles. Every era produces its own unique challenges and opportunities. And for every era, you need the right leaders with the right message to respond to the aspirations and dreams of the people. We believe that a United Seychelles is our generation’s challenge and our party is determined to play its part in building this greater and more United Seychelles.   SNA: Many top officials have left the party. Have you been able to regroup and replace those members? VM: A few members of the Central Committee (CC) have relinquished their posts and other members have joined. I know of one former CC member who has joined another political party.   SNA: There are new parties joining the political scene. Do you think this will divide the opposition or United Seychelles? VM: I cannot predict what will happen. But I think it is normal in any democracy for people to exercise their rights to organise themselves in a political grouping or choose who to follow.  We treat all other political parties as adversaries and not as our enemies. We will continue to identify common areas where we can agree on for the greater national interest of Seychelles. At the end of the day, it is the people who will decide who they can trust with building a prosperous, stable and united Seychelles.   SNA: The party plans to elect its new Central Committee in July. Are you a candidate for the post of president of the party? VM: The answer to this question will come at the right time.   SNA: Will the leader of the party be the next candidate for the presidential elections next year? VM: This is a matter that will be decided at the relevant party’s congress. We will follow the democratic process that is required by the Constitution. But may I remind you that President Faure stood on our party’s ticket at the last election. There is nothing preventing him from requesting the endorsement of the party to be its next candidate at the next election. And there is also nothing preventing the party from nominating and endorsing him as our presidential candidate when the time comes. I can understand why you ask this question and this is where again United Seychelles is transforming Seychelles' politics and leading the way. People need to know that politics is dynamic. And politics have changed in Seychelles, our democracy has matured. We now have stronger and far more independent institutions operating in a system of checks and balances. In this kind of environment, responsible political leadership is about finding the right balance to allow other actors to co-exist and work together for the common interest.  Meriton in a meeting with his party members. (Rassin Vannier)  Photo License: CC-BY   SNA: Do members of the party grasp the concept that the party can support a candidate that is not the president of the party? VM: Our supporters and the people of Seychelles are more intelligent and mature than many want us to believe. They understand perfectly what is going on in Seychelles and what goes on in the world. President Faure was not the one who invented the concept of being a president who is not the leader of the political party he belongs to. Was Obama the leader of the Democratic Party? Is Donald Trump the leader of the Republican Party? And here is where we need to educate our population and for us as a political party, our supporters. Many people have been quick to exploit this declaration by President Faure when he said he was distancing himself from the leadership of the party. But what people do not mention is that President Faure never gave up his membership of the party. President Faure remains a registered member of United Seychelles. So nothing has changed there. What has changed is that President Faure feels that in this era where you have for the first time in Seychelles’ politics, an opposition that is in control of the legislative, a responsible leader has to change and adapt. When your party is in control of both executive and legislative branches of the government, it is easier to be a leader of your party also. But this is no longer the case. We need leaders, especially a president who is willing to work with the other side and President Faure has demonstrated on many occasions that he is willing to do that. Indeed, President Faure has put Seychelles above all else by giving up the leadership of his party because he chose to lead in a greater capacity for Seychelles and all Seychellois. This may have cost him some political capital. But we don’t need a politician only at State House. We need a President who is also a Statesman and I am confident that the action of President Faure has earned him the respect of all Seychellois.   SNA: What are your views on the disagreement between the executive and legislative over the public service salary increase? VM: I believe that our position on this issue has been clear and consistent all along. It is unfortunate that at a time when we are all talking about reducing the cost of living, we are disagreeing about how to do it. It was never the intention of the government to start a battle with the opposition over this issue. It was a simple matter of voting in what was agreed in the budget. But this stalemate is normal in a democratic system where a party controls the executive and another the legislative. People have to understand and be prepared for this kind of politics. In some countries they call this gridlock while other people refer to this as the Achilles heel of democracy because it leads to paralysis in government and in the meantime just like we have seen here, we see politicians pitting one group against another when in fact we should be putting the national interest first. Again, this is why President Faure’s move is so significant and why we have chosen United Seychelles as the name of our party. This is a new Seychelles with a new political landscape. We cannot afford to be fighting among ourselves. We need to move beyond the politics of the 80s and 90s. These times are gone. The leaders of that time are gone. We don’t need that kind of politics anymore and those who want to play that kind of politics do not understand today’s political dynamic. Unfortunately, there are some political leaders who are set in a particular way and think they are living in 1977 and fighting Albert Rene. This era is gone. Seychellois are tired of this kind of divisive and bitter politics. They want to know what we are going to do for them not what we are going to do to punish those who have fallen short. They want politicians who can unite not divide this country. I firmly believe that United Seychelles is the best option for all Seychellois.  

Saudi oil tankers hit by 'sabotage attacks' as Gulf tensions soar

Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were damaged in «sabotage attacks» in the Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran. It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped
Seychelles News Agency

Saudi oil tankers hit by 'sabotage attacks' as Gulf tensions soar

Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were damaged in «sabotage attacks» in the Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran. It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran. Tehran called for an investigation into the «alarming» attacks and warned of «adventurism» by foreign players to disrupt maritime security. The United States has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats. Saudi Arabia, the Islamic republic's regional arch-rival, condemned «the acts of sabotage which targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates,» a foreign ministry source said. «This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and international peace and security,» the source added. The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the two tankers suffered «significant damage» but there were no casualties or any oil spill. «Two Saudi oil tankers were subjected to a sabotage attack in the exclusive economic zone of the United Arab Emirates, off the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah, while on their way to cross into the Arabian Gulf,» the SPA state news agency quoted Falih as saying. Fujairah port is the only terminal in the UAE located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the United States. One of the two tankers that was attacked was on its way to be loaded with crude oil from a Saudi oil terminal for customers in the United States, Falih said. - 'Serious development' - The UAE did not accuse anyone of responsibility but warned that «carrying out acts of sabotage on commercial and civilian vessels and threatening the safety and lives of those on board is a serious development». No one was hurt and Abu Dhabi called on world powers to help keep maritime traffic safe. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi expressed concern over the incident and its possible consequences. «The incidents in the Sea of Oman are alarming and regrettable,» Mousavi said in an English-language statement on the ministry's website. He also «warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security» and «called for the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements», the statement added. Almost all the oil exports of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran itself, at least 15 million barrels per day, are shipped through the Strait of Hormuz. The Saudi minister denounced the attack on the vessels, saying it «aims to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world.» He also urged the international community to «protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets, and the danger they pose to the global economy.» The UAE had earlier categorically denied reported on social media of massive explosions in oil tankers in the emirate. The Pentagon said Friday that it was deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to bolster an aircraft carrier force sent to counter alleged Iranian threats. The increasing tensions come after Tehran said Wednesday it had stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers. Iran said it was responding to the sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington has reimposed since it quit the agreement one year ago, which have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy. Pompeo revised his travel plans to include a visit to Brussels on Monday to hold talks with French, British and German officials on «pressing matters» including Iran, a State Department official said As a result, the top US diplomat is scrapping a stop expected on Monday in Moscow, but will still head to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday to meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. © Agence France-Presse