Seychelles



Seychelles' President reopens doors to State House for visitors

Visitors to Seychelles will be able to visit the building which houses the Office of the President as the State House, a historical monument built in 1910, as President Wavel Ramkalawan has decided to reopen its doors to the public.  Guided public tours an
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' President reopens doors to State House for visitors

Visitors to Seychelles will be able to visit the building which houses the Office of the President as the State House, a historical monument built in 1910, as President Wavel Ramkalawan has decided to reopen its doors to the public.  Guided public tours and open days at the monument were first organised for a one-year period in 2011, when the centenary of the building's existence was celebrated and the tours were conducted by staff of the National Heritage Department. Now, visits are being organised on a regular basis through the National History Museum located in Victoria, the capital, with the capacity to accommodate up to two groups of 15 people per guided tour, on Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 10 am. In an interview with the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), Ramkalawan said that through a visit to State House, one will not only learn about the building but also about other historical sites on the property. «We want people to know the place where the president has his office, where important decisions are taken. We want Seychellois to be able to visit it and not only see it on the television when an ambassador visits or for other occasions,» said Ramkalawan. He outlined that the fee that foreigners will be paying will go towards paying guides as well as for the upkeep of the garden.  «I ask everyone to use this opportunity and I take this opportunity to ask organisations to bring Seychellois here. As much as I can, when there is a group visiting, I will do my best to come and say good morning at least,» said Ramkalawan. The most prominent grave is that of Chevalier Jean-Baptiste Queau de Quincy who was the Commandant and Civil Agent of Seychelles from 1793 to 1811. (Gerard Larose) Photo License: CC-BY In a tour guided visit to State House, visitors can see a garden full of colourful flowers and shrubs, the endemic coco de mer palms, and a pen with Aldabra Giant tortoises. The tour also includes the cemetery, which contains the tombs and graves of some notable historical figures in the history of Seychelles. The most prominent grave is that of Chevalier Jean-Baptiste Queau de Quincy who was the Commandant and Civil Agent of Seychelles from 1793 to 1811 when Britain took possession of the islands. The last person to be buried in the cemetery was late former President James Mancham, who passed away on January 8, 2017. State House was formerly known as Government House during the years when Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was a British colony, and it was the seat of the British Governor who administered the islands at the time. 

UK looks to climate action with Australia's new PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday congratulated Anthony Albanese on his election as Australia's new leader, vowing to work together on trade, military ties and climate change. «Our countries have a long history and a bright future togeth
Seychelles News Agency

UK looks to climate action with Australia's new PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday congratulated Anthony Albanese on his election as Australia's new leader, vowing to work together on trade, military ties and climate change. «Our countries have a long history and a bright future together,» Johnson said in a message to the Labor party leader, according to Downing Street. Johnson shares a centre-right ideology with Australia's defeated leader Scott Morrison, and their conservative parties have looked to the same electoral strategists for advice. But the pair differed on climate change, a defining issue of the Australian election. «As thriving likeminded democracies we work every day to make the world a better, safer, greener and more prosperous place,» Johnson told the incoming Australian prime minister Albanese. The UK leader hailed a new post-Brexit free-trade agreement between their countries, and a defence partnership also involving the United States that will see Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines for the first time. Pledging to collaborate with Albanese on «shared challenges», Johnson said the «only distance between us is geographical». In a nod to China's growing assertiveness, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that Britain would also work with Albanese's new government «for a free and open Indo-Pacific». The British Labour party also enjoys close links to its Australian counterpart, working together at elections with both parties enduring a decade in the political wilderness. Labour leader Keir Starmer hailed Albanese for bringing «stale» conservative rule to an end in his country, adding: «You showed that Australia deserves better.» © Agence France-Presse 

Biden, Yoon signal expanded military drills due to N. Korea 'threat'

US President Joe Biden and South Korea's new President Yoon Suk-yeol signalled Saturday an expanded military presence in response to the «threat» from North Korea, while also offering to help the isolated regime face a Covid-19 outbreak. After me
Seychelles News Agency

Biden, Yoon signal expanded military drills due to N. Korea 'threat'

US President Joe Biden and South Korea's new President Yoon Suk-yeol signalled Saturday an expanded military presence in response to the «threat» from North Korea, while also offering to help the isolated regime face a Covid-19 outbreak. After meeting in Seoul on Biden's first trip to Asia as president, the two leaders said in a statement that «considering the evolving threat posed by» North Korea, they «agree to initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean peninsula». The possible beefing up of joint exercises comes in response to North Korea's growing belligerance, with a blitz of sanctions-busting weapons tests this year as fears grow that Kim Jong Un will order a nuclear test while Biden is in Asia. Biden and Yoon also extended an offer of help to Pyongyang, which has recently announced it is in the midst of a Covid-19 outbreak, a rare admission of internal troubles. The US-South Korea statement said the two presidents «express concern over the recent Covid-19 outbreak» and «are willing to work with the international community to provide assistance» to North Korea to help fight the virus. On Saturday, North Korean state media reported nearly 2.5 million people had been sick with «fever» with 66 deaths as the country «intensified» its anti-epidemic campaign. Biden, while adding that he would not exclude a meeting with Kim if he were «sincere», indicated the difficulty of dealing with the unpredictable dictator. «We've offered vaccines, not only to North Korea but to China as well and we're prepared to do that immediately,» Biden said at a press conference with Yoon. «We've got no response.» For his part, Yoon stressed that the offer of Covid aid was according to «humanitarian principles, separate from political and military issues». Elected on a strongly pro-US message, Yoon emphasised the need to reinforce South Korea's defences. According to Yoon, he and Biden «discussed whether we'd need to come up with various types of joint drills to prepare for a nuclear attack». Talks are also ongoing on ways to «coordinate with the US on the timely deployment of strategic assets when needed», he said, reaffirming commitment to North Korea's «complete denuclearization». The strategic assets should include «fighter jets and missiles in a departure from the past when we only thought about the nuclear umbrella for deterrence», he said. Any such deployments, or a ramping up of US-South Korea joint military exercises, is likely to enrage Pyongyang, which views the drills as rehearsals for invasion. - Biden-Yoon 'personal relationship' - Biden began his day by paying respects at Seoul National Cemetery, where soldiers killed defending South Korea, including many who fought alongside US troops in the Korean War, are buried. He then held closed-door talks with Yoon ahead of the joint press conference and a state dinner. A US official said that in addition to tensions over North Korea and the US-led campaign to punish Russia for invading Ukraine, Biden's main focus Saturday was establishing «a strong personal relationship» with Yoon, who is less than two weeks into his presidency. Like Japan, where Biden flies on Sunday, South Korea is seen as a key player in US strategy to contain China and maintain what Washington calls the «free and open Indo-Pacific». Biden's Asia trip «is about demonstrating unity and resolve and strengthening the coordination between our closest allies», a senior US official told reporters on condition of anonymity. In Japan, Biden will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the emperor. On Monday, he will unveil a major new US initiative for regional trade, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity. A day later, he will join a regional summit of the Quad -- a grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States. - Cutting-edge investments - On arrival Friday in South Korea, Biden accompanied Yoon on a tour of a massive Samsung semiconductor factory. The microchips are a vital component in almost every piece of sophisticated modern technology, and South Korea and the United States need to work to «keep our supply chains resilient, reliable and secure», Biden said. For the US leader, whose Democratic Party fears a possible trouncing in midterm elections in November, snarled supply chains are an acute domestic political challenge, with Americans increasingly frustrated over rising prices and setbacks in the post-Covid pandemic recovery. Biden emphasised Samsung's decision to build a new semiconductor plant in Texas, opening in 2024. In the southern US state of Georgia, the governor on Friday announced that South Korean auto giant Hyundai will build a $5.5 billion plant to produce electric vehicles and batteries. © Agence France-Presse  

French father and son plant endemic trees in Seychelles to offset carbon footprint for island holiday

A French father and his son decided to plant endemic trees along one of Seychelles' nature trails despite drizzling rain and fog at the Salazi, Sans Soucis trail in the Morne Seychellois national park, as a way to offset their carbon footprint created durin
Seychelles News Agency

French father and son plant endemic trees in Seychelles to offset carbon footprint for island holiday

A French father and his son decided to plant endemic trees along one of Seychelles' nature trails despite drizzling rain and fog at the Salazi, Sans Soucis trail in the Morne Seychellois national park, as a way to offset their carbon footprint created during their round trip from Paris to the island nation. Eloim Demikouiza and his 2-year-old son Aaron, together with some staff from the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA), and representatives from the tourism and environment ministries, planted 35 Heritiera littoralis trees, locally known as 'Bois de Table', on Tuesday, at an area of the national park known as at the Green Footprint Seychelles site - a carbon offsetting project initiated by the British High Commission.  Demikouiza explained that during his first visit with his wife in 2018, he saw some tourists leaving their empty plastic bottles behind which was not being mindful of the environment. Having become a father, he found the need to teach his son to respect nature. «I am a father now and I said to myself that now is the time to start making him aware of how important the environment is. I hope that later on in life he will look at the environment differently,» he said. Demikouiza got in touch with the local environment ministry about a month ago through Seychelles' embassy in Paris. Having become a father, Demikouiza found the need to teach his son to respect nature. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY The director-general for public education and community outreach, Jeannette Larue, told the press that tree planting was a better-suited activity for the family as they will be able to see the progress on their next trip to Seychelles. The two French citizens will be able to identify the trees they planted as each is labeled with a tag. «His family was the first of tourists to contact the Ministry of Environment to show their interest. They insisted that the activity be included in their itinerary. He did not ask us for tree planting specifically, but wanted to do something that would contribute towards the environment,» said Larue. She explained that the ministry did not want to organise a beach clean-up, as the result might not be long lasting, and as such, they might not be able to enjoy their efforts the next time they come to the island nation.  Larue added that such activities can be encouraged as part of a carbon offsetting programme that countries around the world are being encouraged to practice to compensate for the carbon emission and greenhouse gases visitors produce when traveling.    According to the website Flight Free, a round-trip between Paris and Seychelles emits 2.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide per passenger. Calling out to fellow visitors to the 115-island archipelago, Demikouiza said that «as tourists, whenever you come to Seychelles or go to other countries, leave it as beautiful as you found it. If you can do something for the country, that is even better. Don't litter and be good towards nature as we are nothing compared to her and without her, we won't be alive.» 

Seychelles reconnects with Arabian travel market at global event in Dubai

With the aim to reconnect, network and build further business ties with various travel industry entities, a team from Tourism Seychelles – the marketing arm of the Tourism Department – attended the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), a global event held at the D
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles reconnects with Arabian travel market at global event in Dubai

With the aim to reconnect, network and build further business ties with various travel industry entities, a team from Tourism Seychelles – the marketing arm of the Tourism Department – attended the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), a global event held at the Dubai World Trade Centre. In a press statement on Tuesday, Tourism Seychelles said that after a two-year absence, the team met with several participants representing various sectors in the industry in the event which took place from May 9 - 12.The director general of Tourism Seychelles, Bernadette Willemin, said that Tourism Seychelles was truly delighted to have been part of this year's ATM. «The past few years have been tough for the tourism and hospitality industry which is why this event is something that all of us were looking forward to as it is the first big event since the pandemic. We are, indeed, positive that the travel and tourism sector will go back to its normalcy and the ATM is just the start of it,» she said. Tourism Seychelles' participation is also in line with the destination's vision to bring further awareness to the island nation's latest sustainable efforts as the industry is recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Tourism Seychelles' regional representative in the Middle East, Ahmed Fathallah, said that «it was great being able to meet with existing partners and clients, and all the more grateful that we were able to connect and build a network with new potential clients. Events like these are great reminders that our industries may have suffered a while back but this event is proof that the confidence of people to travel is slowly going back.» Arab airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways connect Seychelles to the Middle East and the rest of the world, providing the largest number of flights combined to the island state. Seychelles closed its borders in December 2020 after a spike in cases and after recording its first COVID-19-related death. The island nation reopened its borders in March 2021 to relaunch its tourism industry, the top pillar of its economy. 

Ukraine steelworks troops surrender as Russian soldier says sorry

Russia said Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered this week at Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant, after a desperate battle that has become emblematic of the nearly three-month-old war. The number included 80 wounded who were taken to a hospita
Seychelles News Agency

Ukraine steelworks troops surrender as Russian soldier says sorry

Russia said Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered this week at Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant, after a desperate battle that has become emblematic of the nearly three-month-old war. The number included 80 wounded who were taken to a hospital in Russia-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, Moscow said. The Russian defence ministry released a video appearing to show exhausted Ukrainian soldiers trudging out of the sprawling steelworks, after a weeks-long siege forced the defenders and civilians to huddle in tunnels, enduring dire shortages of food, water and medicine. Russian troops patted down those surrendering and inspected their bags as they left, signalling the effective end of what Ukraine's government had called a «heroic» resistance. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had registered «hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war» from the plant in Mariupol, a port city obliterated by Russian shelling. Ukraine is hoping to exchange the Azovstal soldiers for Russian prisoners. But pro-Kremlin authorities in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region said some of them could be put on trial. The United States warned Thursday it would be watching the situation closely. «Our expectation is... that all prisoners of war will be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention and the law of war,» Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. Ukraine has already begun its own process of trying captured troops for crimes they are alleged to have committed, with prosecutors detailing 12,595 counts -- including the horrific bombing of a maternity ward in Mariupol. - 'Please forgive me' - The first Russian soldier to go on trial in Ukraine begged for forgiveness Thursday. Vadim Shishimarin has admitted shooting dead Oleksandr Shelipov, an unarmed 62-year-old man, on February 28 -- four days into the invasion. «I know that you will not be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness,» the 21-year-old sergeant told Shelipov's widow in the cramped courtroom in Kyiv. The West's support for Kyiv stiffened further Thursday when a $40 billion aid package was approved by an unusually united US Congress. It includes $6 billion earmarked for Ukraine to boost its armoured vehicle inventory and air defence system. Germany also said it would contribute one billion euros to shore up Ukrainian government coffers as G7 finance ministers met to coordinate action. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been lauded in Europe and the United States for his leadership in the face of Russian aggression, welcomed the package, but insisted it would not only benefit his country. «For our partners, it's not just expenses or a gift, it's their contribution to their own safety,» he said. «The defence of Ukraine also represents their own defence against new wars or crises that Russia can provoke.» - Famine warning - Russia's actions are already redrawing the security map of Europe. US President Joe Biden welcomed the leaders of Finland and Sweden after the Nordic nations decided to abandon decades of military non-alignment and join NATO. «They meet every NATO requirement and then some,» Biden told reporters. Admission to the bloc must be approved unanimously by current members, and Turkey is a fly in the ointment, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling Sweden a «complete terror haven». Turkey has rebuked the two countries for what it describes as leniency towards the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and other armed Kurdish groups. The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is blacklisted as a «terrorist organisation» by Turkey and Western allies such as the European Union -- which includes Finland and Sweden. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was «addressing the concerns that Turkey has expressed». US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed that remark, saying: «If concerns are raised by any members of the alliance, they'll be addressed.» «I'm very confident that as this process moves forward, there will be a strong consensus for bringing both countries under the Alliance,» he added. In Finland, where previously lukewarm support for NATO membership has exploded since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, one brewery produced a special NATO beer. It tastes of «security, with a hint of freedom», brewer Petteri Vanttinen said. - Famine - The global ramifications of Russia's invasion continued to be felt, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warning it could spark enduring food insecurity in some parts of the world. «Malnutrition, mass hunger and famine» could follow «in a crisis that could last for years», Guterres warned, urging Russia to release grain exports from occupied Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine produce 30 percent of the world's wheat supply, and the war has already sent food prices surging around the world. Ukrainian presidential administration head Andriy Yermak said the squeeze on global staples was a deliberate ploy to weaken international resolve. «Being unable to access nearly one-third of our croplands, the systematic destruction by Russian forces of Ukrainian agriculture and transport infrastructure, the blockade of our seaports -- these are part of Russia's strategy of exerting pressure on the international community,» he said. - Civilians under fire - Despite their last-ditch resistance in places such as Mariupol, and the successful defence of Kyiv, Ukrainian forces are retreating in the east. The losses often come after weeks of battles over urban hubs that are pulverised by artillery fire by the time the Russians surround them. Ukraine's defence ministry said Thursday that Russia was intensifying its attacks in the eastern Donbas region and preventing civilians from fleeing to Ukrainian-controlled territory. In Severodonetsk, 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded when Russian forces shelled the eastern city, the regional governor said. In the Kharkiv region, one man was killed and five others injured Thursday, while five civilians were killed and six others wounded in Donetsk. Severodonetsk resident Nella Kashkina sat in her basement next to an oil lamp and prayed. «I do not know how long we can last,» the 65-year-old said. «We have no medicine left and a lot of sick people -- sick women -- need medicine. There is simply no medicine left at all.» © Agence France-Presse  

Rare monkeypox outbreaks detected in N.America, Europe

Health authorities in North America and Europe have detected dozens of suspected or confirmed cases of monkeypox since early May, sparking concern the disease endemic in parts of Africa is spreading. Canada was the latest country to report it was investigati
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Rare monkeypox outbreaks detected in N.America, Europe

Health authorities in North America and Europe have detected dozens of suspected or confirmed cases of monkeypox since early May, sparking concern the disease endemic in parts of Africa is spreading. Canada was the latest country to report it was investigating more than a dozen suspected cases of monkeypox, after Spain and Portugal detected more than 40 possible and verified cases. Britain has confirmed nine cases since May 6, and the United States verified its first on Wednesday, saying a man in the eastern state of Massachusetts had tested positive for the virus after visiting Canada. The illness, from which most people recover within several weeks and has only been fatal in rare cases, has infected thousands of people in parts of Central and Western Africa in recent years but is rare in Europe and North Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it was coordinating with UK and European health officials over the new outbreaks. «We really need to better understand the extent of monkeypox in endemic countries... to really understand how much is circulating and the risk that it poses for people who are living there, as well as the risk of exportation,» infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said at a WHO press conference on Tuesday on global health issues. The first case in Britain was someone who had traveled from Nigeria, though later cases were possibly through community transmission, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a statement. «These latest cases, together with reports of cases in countries across Europe, confirms our initial concerns that there could be spread of monkeypox within our communities,» said UKHSA Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Susan Hopkins. The WHO said it was also investigating that many cases reported were people identifying as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men. «We are seeing transmission among men having sex with men,» said WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Soce Fall at the press conference. «This is new information we need to investigate properly to understand better the dynamic of local transmission in the UK and some other countries.» - 'No risk to the public' - The UKHSA noted that monkeypox has not previously been characterized as a sexually transmitted disease, underscoring that «it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.» «Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox,» a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statement said Wednesday, adding that household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. The illness often starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle ache and swollen lymph nodes before causing a chickenpox-like rash on the face and body, the US agency explained. The Massachusetts Department of Health, said that the case there -- the first confirmed this year in the United States -- occurred in a patient who had recently traveled to Canada and «poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition.» Health authorities in Canada's Quebec province announced they were investigating at least 13 suspected cases of monkeypox, the public broadcaster CBC reported Wednesday. The cases were flagged to Montreal authorities after diagnoses were made in several clinics specializing in sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC it had called on «public health authorities and laboratory partners across Canada to be alert for and investigate any potential cases.» According to the CDC, there were no reported cases of monkeypox for 40 years before it re-emerged in Nigeria in 2017. © Agence France-Presse

Cocaine smuggling: Tanzanian drug mule sentenced to 9 years in prison in Seychelles

A 52-year-old Tanzanian man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the importation of a controlled drug, the Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) said on Thursday. Mohamedi Khalidi Mikidadi pleaded guilty to the charges against him before the Supreme Court o
Seychelles News Agency

Cocaine smuggling: Tanzanian drug mule sentenced to 9 years in prison in Seychelles

A 52-year-old Tanzanian man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the importation of a controlled drug, the Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) said on Thursday. Mohamedi Khalidi Mikidadi pleaded guilty to the charges against him before the Supreme Court on May 19. ANB said that Mikidadi was charged and sentenced «for the importation of 361.12 grams of cocaine, which he had swallowed. The time spent on remand will be deducted from his prison term.»  He was arrested by ANB officers at the Seychelles International Airport on January 28 after his arrival from Tanzania on a Qatar Airways flight, following an intervention from immigration officers. He is the second African national to be sentenced to imprisonment on drug-related charges this year in Seychelles. Elsie Esther Vambe, 45, a Zimbabwean national, was recently sentenced to five years in prison for the importation and trafficking of a controlled drug. She was arrested on October 26 after the ANB found 1.51kg of heroin and 503.70g of cocaine that she had hidden in the toilets on an Air Seychelles flight from Johannesburg.  

UN country team meets in Seychelles to discuss national development priorities

Seychelles' ministers and a United Nations Country Team (UNCT) discussed issues of priorities in the various sectors of the government in a multi-sector policy dialogue on Thursday.  The dialogue is part of a UNCT strategic retreat taking place in Seychelle
Seychelles News Agency

UN country team meets in Seychelles to discuss national development priorities

Seychelles' ministers and a United Nations Country Team (UNCT) discussed issues of priorities in the various sectors of the government in a multi-sector policy dialogue on Thursday.  The dialogue is part of a UNCT strategic retreat taking place in Seychelles from May 18-20. It covered five key thematic areas; transformative economy, environment, sustainability and climate change, human rights, law and order, health and social affairs, and education and culture. Seychelles' Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, said that «as a Small Island Developing State, Seychelles must keep pace with new emerging requirements, crisis and global threats.» Radegonde, who was leading the talks for the island nation, said that «of particular concern for us is climate change. This issue takes on added urgency against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.» The minister also outlined a Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) as another point of vital importance for the country. He added that Seychelles has and will always remain a strong advocate for the MVI, which encompasses indicators that are relevant to the unique vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Radegonde said that «this is critical in order to allow a fair evaluation of support to be provided to us and access to concessionary financing. Too often we lose out on valuable opportunities because of our supposedly high-income status and this needs to change now more than ever.»  Progress in this area is being made, as an MVI specific to SIDS is being developed under the purview of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) mandated by the Secretary General of the United Nations.  The dialogue is part of a UNCT strategic retreat taking place in Seychelles from May 18-20. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY The UN Regional Coordinator, Christine Umutoni, said that this engagement «will allow us to hear from Seychelles as the UN thinks of a new cooperation framework to understand the challenges the country faces.» She said that in this strategic dialogue «we hope that the UN we benefit from hearing from the highest authorities and that our assessment of the situation will be done collaboratively and that we will be given a clear vision. As the UN, we are supposed to accompany national priorities.»  The policy dialogue between the government and the UN will allow the government to engage with the UN country team to indicate Seychelles' priorities to develop the next Strategic Partnership Framework (SPF) in line with the National Development Strategies (NDS). This will be done through the UN Resident Coordinator's office that opened in the island nation in November last year. Seychelles is preparing for its next Nation Development Strategy, one that will help the country move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic recovery phase and more towards building up resilience for the future. The development strategy will be the primary guide in preparing the next strategic partnership framework between the UN and Seychelles. «It is our hope that the next SPF caters for external shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic and makes provision for a backup system in the event that the country faces another socio-economic crisis,» said Radegonde.

UN urges Ukraine grain release, World Bank pledges extra $12 bn

The UN warned Wednesday that a growing global food crisis could last years if it goes unchecked, as the World Bank announced an additional $12 billion in funding to mitigate its «devastating effects.» Food insecurity is soaring due to warming tem
Seychelles News Agency

UN urges Ukraine grain release, World Bank pledges extra $12 bn

The UN warned Wednesday that a growing global food crisis could last years if it goes unchecked, as the World Bank announced an additional $12 billion in funding to mitigate its «devastating effects.» Food insecurity is soaring due to warming temperatures, the coronavirus pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has led to critical shortages of grains and fertilizer. At a major United Nations meeting in New York on global food security, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war «threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity.» He said what could follow would be «malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years,» as he and others urged Russia to release Ukrainian grain exports. Russia and Ukraine alone produce 30 percent of the global wheat supply. Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and international economic sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of fertilizer, wheat and other commodities from both countries, pushing up prices for food and fuel, especially in developing nations. Before the invasion in February, Ukraine was seen as the world's bread basket, exporting 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports -- 12 percent of the planet's wheat, 15 percent of its corn and half of its sunflower oil. But with the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and others cut off from the world by Russian warships, the supply can only travel on congested land routes that are far less efficient. «Let's be clear: there is no effective solution to the food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine's food production,» Guterres said. «Russia must permit the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports.» US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who chaired the summit, and World Food Programme head David Beasley echoed the call. «The world is on fire. We have solutions. We need to act and we need to act now,» implored Beasley. Russia is the world's top supplier of key fertilizers and gas. The fertilizers are not subject to the Western sanctions, but sales have been disrupted by measures taken against the Russian financial system while Moscow has also restricted exports, diplomats say. Guterres also said Russian food and fertilizers «must have full and unrestricted access to world markets.» - Ukraine only 'latest shock' - Food insecurity had begun to spike even before Moscow, which was not invited to Wednesday's UN meet, invaded its neighbor on February 24. In just two years, the number of severely food insecure people has doubled -- from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million today, according to the UN. More than half a million people are living in famine conditions, an increase of more than 500 percent since 2016, the world body says. The World Bank's announcement will bring total available funding for projects over the next 15 months to $30 billion. The new funding will help boost food and fertilizer production, facilitate greater trade and support vulnerable households and producers, the World Bank said. The bank previously announced $18.7 billion in funding for projects linked to «food and nutrition security issues» for Africa and the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and South Asia. Washington welcomed the decision, which is part of a joint action plan by multilateral lenders and regional development banks to address the food crisis. The Treasury Department described Russia's war as «the latest global shock that is exacerbating the sharp increase in both acute and chronic food insecurity in recent years» as it applauded institutions for working swiftly to address the issues. India over the weekend banned wheat exports, which sent prices for the grain soaring. The ban was announced Saturday in the face of falling production caused primarily by an extreme heatwave. «Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage,» said World Bank President David Malpass. © Agence France-Presse

'Missing $50m case': ACCS changes charges against 2 accused and drops charges against 3, pending agreement

The Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) on Thursday filed amended charges for money laundering against businessman Mukesh Valabji and former First Lady Sarah Zarqhani Rene, and dropped charges against three others in the case of the $50 million
Seychelles News Agency

'Missing $50m case': ACCS changes charges against 2 accused and drops charges against 3, pending agreement

The Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) on Thursday filed amended charges for money laundering against businessman Mukesh Valabji and former First Lady Sarah Zarqhani Rene, and dropped charges against three others in the case of the $50 million that went missing from government accounts. According to court documents, the counsel for ACCS, Edmund Vickers, informed the Supreme Court that amendments to national legislation had been completed that enables the case to go forward and the ACCS now has the power to prosecute and amend the charges in the case without the involvement of the Attorney General. The amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (AMLFT) Act 2020 were approved by the National Assembly on Wednesday after all the members of the ruling party, Linyon Demokratik Sesewa (LDS), who has a two thirds majority voted in favour. All the members of the United Seychelles (US) voted against. The amendments allow the ACCS to investigate and prosecute offences of money laundering committed prior to the enactment of the law, as the offences are alleged to have taken place from 2002 onwards. The case, which concerns $50 million of funds granted to the government of Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates in 2002, was brought forth by the ACCS in December of last year and is the largest corruption case ever brought before the courts. Out of the six accused in the case, the charges against Mukesh Valabhji, a prominent businessman and former chairman of the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB) and Sarah Zarqhani Rene – wife of late President France Albert Rene – have been amended. The court did not specify what had been amended. Valabji's lawyer, France Bonte, will give his response to the amended charges against his client on June 30. Charges were withdrawn against Laura Valabhji, Mukesh's wife, pending further investigations and awaiting legal professional privilege materials. She remains on remand in relation to a separate case concerning firearms and prevention of terrorism. Meanwhile, the charges against Lekha Nair – former CEO of the Seychelles Pension Fund, who was director general in the Ministry of Finance at the time the funds went missing, and Maurice Loustau-Lalanne – former finance minister and formerly a COSPROH board member – were said to be withdrawn subject to them signing an agreement to assist the prosecution. The agreement has not been signed yet. 

Hopes fade for trapped miners in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's government said Friday that rescue teams were struggling to pump out water from a flooded mine where eight miners have been missing for nearly three weeks. The eight -- six Burkinabe, a Zambian and a Tanzanian -- were listed as missing when a
Seychelles News Agency

Hopes fade for trapped miners in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's government said Friday that rescue teams were struggling to pump out water from a flooded mine where eight miners have been missing for nearly three weeks. The eight -- six Burkinabe, a Zambian and a Tanzanian -- were listed as missing when an underground section of the mine flooded on April 16 following heavy rain. The accident happened at a mine owned by Canada's Trevali Mining in Perkoa, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the capital Ouagadougou. «The pumping machines that have been set up are operating (too slowly) for our taste, and there is no guarantee on this timescale that we will be able to find them alive as we hope,» said government spokesman Lionel Bilgo, speaking after travelling to the mine on Thursday with a government delegation. He said that every effort was being made «to find our eight brothers,» with extra equipment and support being brought in from Ghana. A rescue worker said the hope was that the eight, who had been working at a depth of 700 metres (2,300 feet), had been able to reach a «survival room» located at a depth of 580 metres, which had emergency supplies. One of the pumps is able to remove 60 litres (16 US gallons) per second, but efforts to lower water levels at a faster rate are being hampered by equipment breakdowns, he said. Bilgo, the government spokesman, said a gauge showed air was still flowing to the «survival room» and was therefore likely not flooded. Antoine Bama, a relative of one of the missing, said he had been told that the rescuers had hoped to reach the survival room on Thursday. «Sadly this date has gone by» with no news, he said, adding that he still hoped for a «miracle». © Agence France-Presse

Illegal fishing: Sri Lankan boat caught in Seychelles' waters, crew to appear in court on May 27

The crew of a Sri Lankan vessel caught on suspicion of illegal fishing in Seychelles' waters is expected to appear in court on May 27. According to a press release from the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), the vessel was intercepted by the Seychelles Coast G
Seychelles News Agency

Illegal fishing: Sri Lankan boat caught in Seychelles' waters, crew to appear in court on May 27

The crew of a Sri Lankan vessel caught on suspicion of illegal fishing in Seychelles' waters is expected to appear in court on May 27. According to a press release from the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), the vessel was intercepted by the Seychelles Coast Guard on May 11 after an alert by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). «A local fishing vessel reported spotting a foreign fishing boat engaging in suspected illegal fishing activity within Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in an area South-East of Mahe,» said the SDF. The Seychelles Coast Guard ship Zoroaster was sent to investigate the area and its officers intercepted and boarded the foreign fishing boat. The SDF says that evidence linked to suspected illegal fishing was found and the vessel with six fishermen on board was escorted to Port Victoria. This is the sixth vessel caught on suspicion of illegal fishing in the waters of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, since the beginning of the year but the first one from Sri Lanka. The five boats arrested previously were from India and the case is still in a litigation process. The five captains are the only ones in the country as the crew members have been repatriated to India. As a deterrent, in August last year, the Seychelles Supreme court imposed a heavy fine of SCR2.5 million - or $167,000 - on the captain of a Sri Lankan-flagged vessel intercepted in the waters of Seychelles who was found guilty of fishing without a foreign fishing vessel licence. Seychelles has a vast EEZ of 1.4 million square kilometres, which presents a challenge for monitoring illegal activities in the island nation's waters.

Seychelles' parks authority renews agreement for international research on bats and giant tortoises

Seychelles will get more international assistance in its research into bats and giant tortoises under a renewed agreement with the Green Teen Team Foundation (GTTF) and the Parco Natura Viva. The agreement signed between the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Aut
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' parks authority renews agreement for international research on bats and giant tortoises

Seychelles will get more international assistance in its research into bats and giant tortoises under a renewed agreement with the Green Teen Team Foundation (GTTF) and the Parco Natura Viva. The agreement signed between the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SNPA) and the GTTF in 2017 was renewed on Wednesday.   The chief executive of the SNPA, Allen Cedras, said that “as they are specialists in management and scientific activities on land tortoises and bats, we will now have scientific support and advice at a higher level to continue the work we have already started.” The authorities in Seychelles are carrying out a census to determine the current situation of the Seychelles sheath-tailed bat, an endemic species which is on the brink of extinction. Sheath-tailed bats are found in the various national parks on Mahe, the main island, and Silhouette, the third largest island of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.  The agreement signed between the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SNPA) and the GTTF was renewed on Wednesday. (Ministry of Environment)  Photo License: CC-BY The giant tortoises found on Curieuse Island and in the Botanical Gardens in the capital Victoria are also part of conservation programmes where the species are nurtured until they are five years old and later released into the wild. Curieuse is a small granitic island close to Praslin, the second most populated island, and is home to hundreds of giant tortoises, which were introduced between 1978 and 1982. The signing of the agreement coincided with a one-week visit to Seychelles by Princess Theodora Von Liechtenstein, the founder of the GTTF. With the additional help, more information on the species' eating habits and their movements will also be tracked. «We also plan to carry out other studies on the species we deem appropriate, that we now have the support to do so,» said Cedras. As a result, students and scientists will be able to come to Seychelles and carry out their research, while the SPGA will benefit from the data collected, as well as become co-authors of scientific papers produced. As part of the amendments discussed, instead of renewing the agreement every five years as was previously the case, this will be done every three years. 

Seychelles' best loved beer 'SeyBrew' wins gold award at African Beer Cup 

SeyBrew, the flagship brand of Seychelles Breweries, has won a gold award in the International Lager category of the African Beer Cup, the company said on Tuesday.   The iconic beer brand also clinched third overall in the competition for the title of Best
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' best loved beer 'SeyBrew' wins gold award at African Beer Cup 

SeyBrew, the flagship brand of Seychelles Breweries, has won a gold award in the International Lager category of the African Beer Cup, the company said on Tuesday.   The iconic beer brand also clinched third overall in the competition for the title of Best Beer in Africa out of 251 beers by an expert panel during the competition held in Cape Town, South Africa, from May 9 -14. The managing director of Seychelles Breweries, Conor Neiland, said that winning the Africa Beer Cup Award is a fantastic achievement for the SeyBrew team. «It attests to the focus and efforts put in by the team to produce world class liquids consistently, while also helping us to pursue our export agenda. This is a proud moment for all the staff in Seychelles Breweries as we celebrate our 50th Year, and I thank everyone for playing their part» he said. SeyBrew is brewed with the finest malt and hops imported from Europe, Australia, and South Africa. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY The SeyBrew beer is the first locally produced beer and has been on the market since 1972. It is considered the favourite beer of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. SeyBrew is brewed with the finest malt and hops imported from Europe, Australia, and South Africa. There were 28 entries from 9 countries in the International Lager category from a mix of larger breweries and craft breweries across the African continent. SeyBrew came out first followed by Mosi Premium Lager from Zambian Breweries and Club Pilsener from Nile Breweries. According to Lucy Corne, the co-founder and competition director of the African Beer Cup, this year's competition was very tough, with only 10 gold medals awarded across the competition.   «For a beer to win gold it needs to score above 40 and to beat the others in its category,» she said. SeyBrew received the joint highest score in the competition -- 42 out of 50 -- along with Arrowhead Vintage and Castle Double Malt. The African Beer Cup is the largest beer competition on the continent and the only one welcoming entries from across Africa. The competition is open to licensed commercial breweries large and small and must have been brewed in Africa.

UN alarmed as Covid spreads in N. Korea, ready to help

The UN voiced alarm Tuesday at the swelling Covid outbreak in North Korea, warning that its unvaccinated population was particularly vulnerable, and reiterated its offer to provide assistance and jabs. The UN's World Health Organization cautioned that the hi
Seychelles News Agency

UN alarmed as Covid spreads in N. Korea, ready to help

The UN voiced alarm Tuesday at the swelling Covid outbreak in North Korea, warning that its unvaccinated population was particularly vulnerable, and reiterated its offer to provide assistance and jabs. The UN's World Health Organization cautioned that the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid could easily rip through the impoverished country with disastrous effect. And the UN rights office warned that the measures authorities are putting in place risked violating rights and pushing vulnerable people into an even more precarious situation. A total of 56 deaths and nearly 1.5 million cases of «fever» have been reported in North Korea since the country announced its first Covid case a week ago, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. «WHO is deeply concerned at the risk of further spread of Covid-19 in the country particularly because the population is unvaccinated and many have underlying conditions putting them at risk of severe disease and death,» agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. «WHO has requested that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea share data and information,» he said, adding that the organisation had offered to provide technical support and supplies, tests, medicines and vaccines to help Pyongyang stem the spread. - Risk of new variants - Leader Kim Jong Un has ordered nationwide lockdowns to try to slow the spread of the disease, and deployed the military after what he has called a botched response to the outbreak. So far, it does not appear that the country has accepted the assistance offered by the United Nations. WHO acknowledged though that there was no way force North Korea, or Eritrea -- the only other country in the world that has not started vaccinating its population against Covid -- to accept help. But if Covid is allowed to spread unabated, there is a greater chance new and potentially more dangerous variants could emerge, putting the whole world at risk. «Where you have unchecked transmission, there is always a higher risk of new variants emerging,» WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told reporters. «So certainly it is worrying if countries... are not using the tools that are now available.» And while fears abound that more dangerous Covid variants could emerge, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, stressed that the dominant Omicron variant was dangerous. «The notion that Omicron is mild is false... That narrative is really deadly, because people think that they're not at risk,» she said. For the unvaccinated, and especially the elderly or people with underlying conditions, Omicron can cause «severe disease and death,» she said. «This is why vaccines are so important.» - 'Dire consequences' - Earlier Tuesday, the UN also cautioned that the measures introduced by Pyongyang to rein in the outbreak could lead to serious rights violations. «The latest restrictions, which include putting people under strict isolation and imposing further travel restrictions, will have dire consequences for those already struggling to meet their basic needs,» UN rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell told reporters. «We urge the... authorities to ensure that all measures adopted to tackle the pandemic are necessary, proportionate, non-discriminatory, time-bound and strictly in line with international human rights law,» she said. Throssell also reiterated a call for countries «to relax sanctions to enable urgent humanitarian and Covid-related assistance» to the impoverished country. North Korea has one of the world's worst healthcare systems, with poorly equipped hospitals, few intensive care units, and no Covid treatment drugs or mass testing ability, experts say. «We encourage the DPRK as a matter of urgency to discuss with the UN the opening of channels for humanitarian support, including medicines, vaccines, equipment and other life-saving support,» Throssell said. © Agence France-Presse 

Pollution behind 1 in 6 global deaths in 2019: study

Pollution caused some 9 million people to die prematurely in 2019, according to a new global report published Wednesday, with experts raising alarm over increasing deaths from breathing outside air and the «horrifying» toll of lead poisoning. Hum
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Pollution behind 1 in 6 global deaths in 2019: study

Pollution caused some 9 million people to die prematurely in 2019, according to a new global report published Wednesday, with experts raising alarm over increasing deaths from breathing outside air and the «horrifying» toll of lead poisoning. Human-created waste in the air, water and soil rarely kills people immediately, but causes instead heart disease, cancer, respiratory problems, diarrhoea and other serious illnesses. The Lancet Commission on pollution and health said the impact from pollution on global health remains «much greater than that of war, terrorism, malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, drugs and alcohol». Pollution is an «existential threat to human health and planetary health, and jeopardises the sustainability of modern societies,» it added. In general, the review found, air pollution -- accounting for a total of 6.7 million deaths globally in 2019 -- was «entwined» with climate change because the main source of both problems is burning fossil fuels and biofuels. «If we can't manage to grow in a clean and green way, we're doing something terribly wrong,» said the report's lead author Richard Fuller, of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, adding that chemical pollution also harms biodiversity -- another major global threat. «These things are terribly connected and strategies to deal with one have ripple effects all the way through,» he said. Overall, one in six premature deaths globally -- or nine million -- were caused by pollution, a figure unchanged since the last assessment in 2015. Researchers noted a reduction in mortality linked to indoor air pollution, unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation, with major improvements seen in Africa. But early deaths associated with industrialisation -- outdoor air and chemical pollution -- are on the rise, particularly in southern and eastern Asia. Ambient air pollution caused some 4.5 million deaths in 2019, according to the study, published in Lancet Planetary Health, compared with 4.2 million in 2015 and just 2.9 million in 2000. Chemical pollution is also increasing, with lead poisoning alone causing 900,000 deaths. Even that, the report warned, is likely a «substantial undercount» in light of new research suggesting there is no safe level of exposure. - Harmful to children - Algeria banned lead in petrol in 2021, the last country to do so. But people continue to be exposed to the toxic substance, largely due to unregulated recycling of lead-acid batteries and e-waste. Contaminated culinary spices are also a culprit. «The fact that lead is getting worse, mostly in poorer countries, and ramping up in terms of the number of deaths, is horrifying,» said Fuller. Heart disease is the cause of almost all early deaths from exposure to lead, which hardens arteries, said Fuller. But elevated lead levels in blood -- estimated to affect hundreds of millions of children -- also harm brain development and are linked to serious losses of cognitive function. The report said lead is also linked to a spike in behavioural disorders and diminished economic productivity, with global economic losses estimated at almost $1 trillion annually. In Africa, economic losses from lead-related IQ loss are equivalent to about four percent of gross domestic product, while in Asia it amounts to two percent. - Silent killer - Overall, excess deaths due to pollution have led to economic losses totalling $4.6 trillion in 2019, or around six percent of global economic output, researchers said. Low- and middle-income countries are by far the most affected, with more than 90 percent of deaths in these regions. There is also increasing evidence of pollution crossing national boundaries in wind, water and the food chain. Wealthier nations that have reduced domestic outdoor air pollution effectively «displace» it overseas to countries with higher levels of manufacturing, the report said. Prevailing global winds transport air pollution from east Asia to North America, from North America to Europe, and from Europe to the Arctic and central Asia. Meanwhile, cereals, seafood, chocolate and vegetables produced for export in developing countries can be contaminated as a result of soil and water polluted with lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and pesticides. This «increasingly threatens global food safety», the report said, adding that «toxic metals found in infant formula and baby foods are of particular concern.» Fuller said the threat of pollution -- particularly air and lead pollution -- is underappreciated, with more attention focused on the health implications of microplastics. «We can show a million people dying from lead pollution right now -- more than die from malaria, more than die from HIV -- and that's not even discussed,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

Princess Theodora von Liechtenstein on visit to Seychelles, promoting Green Teen Team Foundation

The founder of the Green Teen Team Foundation (GTTF), Princess Theodora von Liechtenstein from Italy is on a one-week visit to Seychelles with the aim of seeking further avenues of work for her foundation. The GTTF is already working with environmental organ
Seychelles News Agency

Princess Theodora von Liechtenstein on visit to Seychelles, promoting Green Teen Team Foundation

The founder of the Green Teen Team Foundation (GTTF), Princess Theodora von Liechtenstein from Italy is on a one-week visit to Seychelles with the aim of seeking further avenues of work for her foundation. The GTTF is already working with environmental organisations in Seychelles to gather data on tortoises found in the island nation. «I have also been talking with the different ministries about the work we are doing here and I hope to continue with my foundation as well as the researches that are on this trip have done with me,» Von Liechtenstein told reporters on Tuesday after meeting with the Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan. During her visit, she will be signing an agreement with the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority and another with the Department of Environment. GTTF is an organisation Von Liechtenstein founded in 2014 to empower young people to be able to make changes to their lives, the lives of others and the life of the planet. The foundation signed an agreement with the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA) when it was still Seychelles National Parks Authority in 2017 to assist in research the authority was carrying out. Von Liechtenstein said that so far GTTF has donated 5,000 microchips «so that Seychelles tortoises can be micro-chipped and traced and tracked which will hopefully make a difference.» Since landing in Seychelles on Sunday, Von Liechtenstein has met with the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) team as well as toured the main island of Mahe. «It has just been stunning and beautiful and now I understand why everyone wants to come here,» she said. She has also expressed her satisfaction with the work carried out so far in the projects that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has with her Foundation. 

UNDP Ecofish: Seychelles to study its octopuses for future regulation of species

Work is underway to study octopuses in the Seychelles' waters to identify how many species there are, the total number and their sizes and the information will be used to regulate the fishing of the species. To help with the project, a workshop was organi
Seychelles News Agency

UNDP Ecofish: Seychelles to study its octopuses for future regulation of species

Work is underway to study octopuses in the Seychelles' waters to identify how many species there are, the total number and their sizes and the information will be used to regulate the fishing of the species. To help with the project, a workshop was organised on Tuesday, in partnership with the UNDP, Mauritius and the island of Rodrigues in which local fishermen exchanged ideas and looked for ways to better regulate the fishing of octopus in Seychelles, as has been done in Rodrigues. «Today is a historic moment for the region, as we work together to share ideas, techniques and successes for the benefit of one another,» said the chief executive of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), Nichol Elizabeth. He said that managing local fisheries is something very important when it comes to encouraging sustainability and that is why work is being done with the octopus, to ensure that it is being well harvested and not in any danger. To help with the project, a workshop was organised on Tuesday, in partnership with the UNDP, Mauritius and the island of Rodrigues. (Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Octopus is one of the popular delicacies in Seychelles Creole cuisine. It is eaten cooked in coconut milk and curry powder or boiled and mixed with green peppers (capsicum), fresh tomatoes and onions. The species is caught in different ways and comes with a high cost but until now, the fishing of octopus has never been restricted or regulated in Seychelles.  The country has a number of fisheries management plans for sustainable fishing of some species and these include sea cucumber, which is allowed to be caught on a seasonal basis.   Elizabeth explained that the work that the SFA is doing will include genetic studies, which can then be shared with other countries in the region. Other countries will be able to see if they share some of the same species of octopus in their waters and provide a better understanding of the species. This workshop is part of the UNDP Ecofish project, which aims to support the artisanal fishing community for the sustainable management of coastal fisheries and to improve their economic situation. «The Ecofish project also contributes to ensuring greater food security and generates inclusive growth and promotes creation of employment,» said the UNDP resident representative, Amanda Serumaga. She added that the workshop held in Seychelles is important as it also promotes more cooperation between the two countries and that she was encouraged to see the willingness to have a controlled octopus fishing environment in Seychelles.

Mali junta says it thwarted coup attempt

Mali's military junta on Monday said it thwarted an attempted coup last week led by army officers and supported by an unnamed Western state. The statement read out on state television said a «small group of anti-progressive Malian officers and non-comm
Seychelles News Agency

Mali junta says it thwarted coup attempt

Mali's military junta on Monday said it thwarted an attempted coup last week led by army officers and supported by an unnamed Western state. The statement read out on state television said a «small group of anti-progressive Malian officers and non-commissioned officers attempted a coup in the night of May 11 to 12, 2022». «These soldiers were supported by a Western state. The attempt was thwarted thanks to the vigilance and professionalism of the defence and security forces.» The statement gave few details on what allegedly happened. It mentioned arrests and said the detainees would be handed over to justice. Their identity and whereabouts were not revealed. It added that checks have been strengthened around the capital Bamako and at Mali's borders. A military source speaking on condition of anonymity spoke of around 10 arrests and said others were underway. The government statement said «all necessary means» were being mobilised for the investigation and to find accomplices. No indication of the attempted coup that reportedly happened last week had surfaced until Monday evening. Mali has undergone two military coups since August 2020, when the army ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The West African state has been fighting a jihadist insurgency against groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group since 2012 in the north and centre of the country. The fighting has also spread to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso. The country's military-dominated government has broken with traditional partner France and forged closer ties with Russia in its battle against the jihadists. It had pledged to return power to civilians by February 2022 but has since extended the timetable, incurring regional sanctions. © Agence France-Presse 

Cash-strapped Sri Lanka out of petrol: PM

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka has run out of petrol and is unable to find dollars to finance essential imports, the new prime minister said Monday in an address to the nation. «We have run out of petrol... At the moment, we only have petrol stocks for a single
Seychelles News Agency

Cash-strapped Sri Lanka out of petrol: PM

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka has run out of petrol and is unable to find dollars to finance essential imports, the new prime minister said Monday in an address to the nation. «We have run out of petrol... At the moment, we only have petrol stocks for a single day,» Ranil Wickremesinghe said, warning his bankrupt country could face more hardships in the coming months. He said the government was also unable to raise dollars to pay for three shipments of oil, with the ships awaiting outside the Colombo harbour for payments before discharging their cargoes. Sri Lanka is in the throes of its worst-ever economic crisis with its 22 million people enduring severe hardships to secure food, fuel and medicines while facing record inflation and lengthy power blackouts. Wickremesinghe assumed office Thursday after his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced out after weeks of protests over the government's handling of the economic crisis turned deadly. «The next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives,» Wickremesinghe said. «I have no desire to hide the truth and to lie to the public.» However, he urged people to «patiently bear the next couple of months» and vowed he could overcome the crisis. He said the government had also run out of cash to pay the 1.4 million civil servants their salaries in May, and he will turn to money printing as a last resort. «Against my own wishes, I am compelled to permit printing money in order to pay state-sector employees and to pay for essential goods and services,» he said He also warned that fuel and electricity tariffs will be raised substantially and his government will also sell off its loss-making national carrier to reduce losses. Sri Lanka has sought an IMF bailout and one of the key demands of the international lender is for Colombo to divest loss-making state enterprises, including Sri Lankan Airlines whose carried-forward losses exceed a billion dollars. © Agence France-Presse

Tuna fisheries: IOTC is in a dangerous situation at the moment, says Seychelles' fisheries minister

All Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) member countries should let science guide decisions and make an effort to follow decisions agreed upon, said Seychelles' fisheries minister on Monday at the commission's 26th session. In his opening address, Jean Franc
Seychelles News Agency

Tuna fisheries: IOTC is in a dangerous situation at the moment, says Seychelles' fisheries minister

All Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) member countries should let science guide decisions and make an effort to follow decisions agreed upon, said Seychelles' fisheries minister on Monday at the commission's 26th session. In his opening address, Jean Francois Ferrari warned that «the credibility of our organisation is at stake» if all member countries do not join together to implement measures that will contribute toward the rebuilding of yellowfin tuna stocks and for proper management of all other stocks and species in the Indian Ocean. «IOTC is in a dangerous situation at the moment. If as an organisation that has in place measures that need to be applied by member countries and this is not happening, the organisation will collapse,» Ferrari told reporters. He added that the biggest challenge remains the management of fish stocks in the Indian Ocean that are under a lot of pressure, especially yellowfin tuna that has been in the red for some years now. He pointed out that this would be the priority item on the agenda. Ferrari outlined that there is a great need for cooperation to ensure the conservation of tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean.  «We all claim our historical and geographical rights to access these important resources, but the real question is whether we are all genuinely prepared to find a common solution to attain these goals, or have we decided to fight each other from his or her own corner?» Ferrari asked while addressing all member countries. He said that Seychelles, like many small island developing states, is extremely dependent on the tuna resources from a socio-economic and food security point of view, noting that Seychelles' economy would have collapsed when tourists could no longer come to Seychelles because of the COVID pandemic. «It survived as a result of the fisheries sector and in particular the tuna fishing sector, especially the purse seining activities,» he said.  During the five-day session, a total of 15 proposals are being brought forward by Seychelles, Maldives, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and the European Union (EU). Taking place in Seychelles from May 16 to 20, the 26th session of the IOTC is the first partial face-to-face meeting to happen since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic started, with some participants taking part via video-conference.

Upbeat island economy: Seychelles' credit rating upgraded to B+ with positive outlook

Seychelles' credit rating has been upgraded to B+ with a positive outlook by Fitch Ratings, which reflects a stronger than expected economic growth and fast debt reduction, according to the ratings agency. According to a statement released Friday, Seychel
Seychelles News Agency

Upbeat island economy: Seychelles' credit rating upgraded to B+ with positive outlook

Seychelles' credit rating has been upgraded to B+ with a positive outlook by Fitch Ratings, which reflects a stronger than expected economic growth and fast debt reduction, according to the ratings agency. According to a statement released Friday, Seychelles moved from a B+ with a stable outlook to B+ with a positive one. The improvement has been welcomed by the Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade, Naadir Hassan, who said it shows that the fiscal and monetary policies by the Central Bank of Seychelles and the government have been the right ones. «Since the start of the reforms in July 2021, we have been prudent with spending, we have demonstrated that we are serious in reducing the country's debts, and we have shown our drive to bring in the necessary structural reforms needed to achieve these targets,» said Hassan. The minister added that the revised rating is a reassurance «that the international community recognises our efforts. This new rating will give investors more confidence in the government's policies, which will allow for more foreign direct investment in Seychelles.»   Fitch Ratings said that the «Seychelles' budgetary metrics in 2021 met or exceeded the targets set by the IMF in its last Extended Fund Facility (EFF) review, with the primary deficit outturn of 3.1 percent of GDP overperforming the target by 3.3 percentage points.» It added further that «public debt/GDP fell to 74.9 percent of GDP in 2021 (versus Fitch's expectation of 77.3 percent) owing to strong nominal GDP growth, and reduced borrowing requirements due to strong budgetary performance. Authorities are seeking to move away from higher-cost domestic funding and benefit from multilateral and bilateral loans, and external grants for financing.» Fitch Ratings also noted that tourist arrivals in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, have almost rebounded to the 2019 level of March 2022. The company noted that while Russia and Ukraine were the single (16.0%) and sixth (3.5%) largest source of foreign tourists in the first quarter of 2022, authorities expect that a downturn in travellers from the two markets as a result of war, sanctions and closure of direct flights but that this will be largely compensated by visitors from the more traditional markets of Western Europe. Fitch also noted the main downside risk to Seychelles which can cause slower economic growth. These include the prolongation of the conflict in Ukraine that leads to «higher for longer crude prices and hence higher airfares for international tourists and import prices.» The new rating by Fitch comes just five days after the IMF completed its second review of Seychelles economic performance under the EFF agreement. IMF said that «the government has made impressive progress in implementing the IMF-supported programme and restoring macroeconomic balances.»

Wheat prices hit record high after Indian export ban

Wheat prices surged to a new record high in European trading on Monday after India decided to ban exports of the commodity as a heatwave hit production. The price jumped to 435 euros ($453) per tonne as the Euronext market opened, up from the previous recor
Seychelles News Agency

Wheat prices hit record high after Indian export ban

Wheat prices surged to a new record high in European trading on Monday after India decided to ban exports of the commodity as a heatwave hit production. The price jumped to 435 euros ($453) per tonne as the Euronext market opened, up from the previous record of 422 euros reached on Friday. Global wheat prices have soared on supply fears since Russia's February invasion of agricultural powerhouse Ukraine, which previously accounted for 12 percent of global exports. The spike, exacerbated by fertiliser shortages and poor harvests, has fuelled inflation globally and raised fears of famine and social unrest in poorer countries. India, the world's second-largest wheat producer, said on Saturday that it was banning exports after its hottest March on record, with traders needing express government approval to enter into new deals. New Delhi said the move was needed to protect the food security of its own 1.4 billion people in the face of lower production and sharply higher global prices. Some parts of India have seen prices in wheat and flour jump 20 to 40 percent in recent weeks, Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said on Sunday. Because of the sharp rise in global prices, some farmers were selling to traders and not to the government. This got the government worried about its buffer stock of almost 20 million tonnes -- depleted by the pandemic -- needed for handouts to millions of poor families and to avert any possible famine. - 'Worsen the crisis' - Export deals agreed before the directive issued on May 13 could still be honoured but future shipments needed government approval, it said. However, exports could also take place if New Delhi approved requests from other governments «to meet their food security needs». India, which possesses major buffer stocks, previously said it was ready to help fill some of the supply shortages caused by the Ukraine war. Only last week India said it would send delegations to Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere to discuss boosting wheat exports. It was unclear whether these visits will now go ahead. The export ban drew sharp criticism from the Group of Seven industrialised nations, which said that such measures «would worsen the crisis» of rising commodity prices. India recorded its warmest March on record -- blamed on climate change -- and in recent weeks has seen a scorching heatwave with temperatures upwards of 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit). This hit farmers in wheat-producing northern India, prompting the government to predict output would fall at least five percent this year from 109 million tonnes in 2021. © Agence France-Presse

Sweden, Finland take 'historic' steps toward NATO membership

Finland officially announced its intention to join NATO on Sunday as Sweden's ruling party said it backed membership, paving the way for a joint application. Less than three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the announcements are a stunning reversal of th
Seychelles News Agency

Sweden, Finland take 'historic' steps toward NATO membership

Finland officially announced its intention to join NATO on Sunday as Sweden's ruling party said it backed membership, paving the way for a joint application. Less than three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the announcements are a stunning reversal of the two Nordic countries' military non-alignment policies, dating back more than 75 years for Finland and two centuries for Sweden. Public and political support for NATO membership has surged in Finland and Sweden in recent months, and they are widely expected to submit applications this week. «This is a historic day. A new era is opening», Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told reporters at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Sunday. «The best thing for Sweden's security is that we apply for membership now, and that we do it with Finland,» Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said several hours later in Stockholm. The turnaround by her party, which has opposed NATO membership since the birth of the alliance, secures a firm majority in Sweden's parliament in favour of joining. Andersson said nonetheless that she would consult parliament on Monday before announcing her government's official intention to apply. The issue had divided the Social Democrats, with some members expressing concern that the decision was being rushed through. If Sweden's application were approved, the party would work to express «unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory», it said in a statement. According to recent polls, the number of Finns who want to join the alliance has risen to more than three-quarters, almost triple the level seen before the war in Ukraine began on February 24. Support in Sweden has also risen dramatically, to around 50 percent -- with about 20 percent against. NATO membership needs to be approved and ratified by all 30 members of the alliance. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed last-minute objections, but NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that Ankara was not opposed to the two countries' bids. «Turkey made it clear that its intention is not to block membership,» Stoltenberg told reporters virtually after alliance foreign ministers met in Berlin. «I am confident we'll be able to find common ground, consensus on how to move on membership issues,» Stoltenberg said, adding that he was in touch with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Cavusoglu meanwhile lauded Finland's conciliatory approach in their talks, but criticised Sweden's foreign minister for «provocative» statements. - 'Confident of consensus' - Turkey's objections, directed in particular at Stockholm, focus on what it considers to be the countries' leniency towards the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is on the EU's list of terrorist organisations. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken nonetheless insisted he was «very confident that we will reach consensus» on the two countries' NATO bids. Niinisto said he was «prepared to have a new discussion with President Erdogan about the problems he has raised». Finland's parliament will convene to debate the membership proposal on Monday. «We hope the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership during the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate,» premier Marin said. A vast majority of Finnish MPs back the decision after Marin's Social Democratic Party on Saturday said it was in favour of joining. «Hopefully, we can send our applications next week together with Sweden,» Marin had said on Saturday. The two Nordic countries broke their strict neutralities after the end of the Cold War by joining the EU and becoming partners to NATO in the 1990s, solidifying their affiliation with the West. But the concept of full NATO membership was a non-starter in the countries until the war in Ukraine saw public and political support for joining the alliance soar. Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, has been leading the charge, while Sweden has expressed concern about being the only non-NATO country around the Baltic Sea. Finland is also Sweden's closest defence cooperation partner. Many Swedish politicians have said their support was conditional on Finland joining. - Moscow's warnings - On Saturday, the Finnish head of state phoned his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin to inform him of his country's desire to join NATO, in a conversation described as «direct and straightforward». Moscow has repeatedly warned both countries of consequences if they join the alliance. Putin warned Niinisto that joining «would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland's security», according to a Kremlin statement. Niinisto said Sunday that while Helsinki is prepared for a Russian response, «little by little, I'm beginning to think that we're not going to face actual military operations.» «After the phone call with Putin, I think so even more.» Former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb told the BBC on Sunday that Putin was «the reason we're joining» NATO. © Agence France-Presse

Somalia MPs meet to vote in long-delayed presidential election

Somali lawmakers gathered in Mogadishu Sunday to vote in the country's long-overdue presidential election, with 35 candidates vying for the top job in the troubled Horn of Africa nation as it battles an Islamist insurgency and the threat of famine. The poll
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Somalia MPs meet to vote in long-delayed presidential election

Somali lawmakers gathered in Mogadishu Sunday to vote in the country's long-overdue presidential election, with 35 candidates vying for the top job in the troubled Horn of Africa nation as it battles an Islamist insurgency and the threat of famine. The poll has been dogged by claims of irregularities and is well over a year behind schedule, with Somalia's international partners warning that the delays -- caused by political infighting -- were a dangerous distraction from the fight against Al-Shabaab jihadists. The vote will be held under tight security in a tent inside Mogadishu's heavily-guarded airport complex, with little movement seen in the capital where police have imposed a curfew until Monday. Flights have also been cancelled, an official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The vote is expected to draw a line under a political crisis that has lasted well over a year, after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's term ended in February 2021 without an election. «We are tired of living with uncertainty... I hope a president will be elected and today is the end of the nonsense,» Muktar Ali, a Mogadishu resident, told AFP. Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, is now seeking re-election but faces heavy competition with former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as well as ex-prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire throwing their hat into the ring. Puntland state president Said Abdullahi Dani and former foreign minister Fawzia Yusuf Adan -- the lone female contender -- are also in the running. An African Union force is securing the election venue, after a spate of attacks in recent weeks by Al-Shabaab which has been fighting to overthrow the government for more than a decade. - Long process - Voting can only begin once two-thirds of the membership of both houses of parliament are present, with the process expected to take several hours and stretch late into the night. Four candidates dropped out of the race Saturday, and more are expected to do so today during multiple rounds of voting, narrowing the options until a winner is chosen. The victor must secure a minimum of 184 votes. Somalia has not held a one-person, one-vote election in 50 years. Instead, polls follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in turn choose the president. The contenders have vowed to tackle Somalia's myriad problems and bring relief to citizens weary of violence by Al-Shabaab jihadists, surging inflation and a worsening drought that threatens to drive millions into famine. The jihadists controlled Mogadishu until 2011 when they were pushed out by an African Union force, but still hold territory in the countryside. © Agence France-Presse 

India to install coast guard radar system for Seychelles Coast Guard

India will be helping Seychelles with the installation of a coast guard radar system and other defence matters, the Indian High Commissioner said on Friday. General Dalbir Singh Suhag, a former chief of army staff of the Indian Army, spoke of the donation
Seychelles News Agency

India to install coast guard radar system for Seychelles Coast Guard

India will be helping Seychelles with the installation of a coast guard radar system and other defence matters, the Indian High Commissioner said on Friday. General Dalbir Singh Suhag, a former chief of army staff of the Indian Army, spoke of the donation of the radar system during a handing over ceremony of three ceremonial guns and ammunition and a wave-rider boat gifted by the Indian government. The handing over of the guns and 500 rounds of ammunition took place on board the INS Gharial – the vessel that transported the guns and ammunition to the island state. The chief of the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), Michael Rosette, explained that the guns will be used in «special national events such as the National Day as well as provide a sense of gravitas and pride.» The ceremonial saluting guns with ammunition were gifted by the Indian government following a request from Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, also received a wave-rider boat, the third addition to the two already in the fleet of the coast guard. Seychellois personnel have been trained to use the newest addition of radar equipment to the Seychelles Coast Guard's fleet, which will help in the coastal surveillance of the island nation. This surveillance system is not the first that India has donated to Seychelles. In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Seychelles to launch the first Coastal Surveillance Radar station at Ma Josephine, a mountainous central region of the main island of Mahe. Suhag said that India and Seychelles have a good relationship and «many common domains of concerns such as terrorism, and illegal and irregular fishing,»  Last month, military personnel from Seychelles and India took part in a 10-day Exercise 'Lanmitye' where they conducted simulated counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism and anti-piracy operations. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a longstanding cooperation with India in defence and security. This includes maritime security, anti-piracy operations, air surveillance, training and capacity building. India is one of Seychelles' oldest and closest military partners and has provided patrol ships, aircraft and helicopters to its defence forces over the years since the country gained independence from Britain in 1976.  

'Another Story': Bill McAteer's latest book on Seychelles charts controversial post-Independence era

William «Bill» McAteer, a British-Seychellois historian, has published a new book on the history of Seychelles. The book - Another Story -The History of Seychelles 1976 to 2020 - charts the most recent and controversial parts of the country's his
Seychelles News Agency

'Another Story': Bill McAteer's latest book on Seychelles charts controversial post-Independence era

William «Bill» McAteer, a British-Seychellois historian, has published a new book on the history of Seychelles. The book - Another Story -The History of Seychelles 1976 to 2020 - charts the most recent and controversial parts of the country's history as an independent state including the coup d'état of 1977 that introduced one-party rule by President France Albert Rene, a coup attempt led by British mercenary Mike Hoare, the return of multi-party democracy in the early 1990s and all the subsequent historical events leading up to the present day when for the first time an opposition party leader was elected as president in 2020.  The book was launched at State House on May 8, where the author, now 94 years old, presented a signed copy to President Wavel Ramkalawan as well as to family, friends and distinguished members of society. Ramkalawan said that there was no one other than Bill McAteer who could have completed this chapter of the history of Seychelles. «I'm sure every Seychellois will go after this book and it is so important because some of our young people do not really know the history of Seychelles. Here you are, the modern history of Seychelles,» he said.  The book was launched at State House on May 8, where the author, now 94 years old, presented a signed copy to President Ramkalawan. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY His son, Ian McAteer, told reporters that he thought his father would not be able to write the book due to his old age. However, he was able to complete the book over 8 months at the age of 92, in 2018, and he was greatly supported by his son Ian. «He sent it to me by email and I thought; oh no, I'm going to have to word check it, rewrite it, it would be a mess, this is just more work for me. I got the manuscript and you know what, I was humbled and I was also ashamed; it was word perfect, I couldn't find a single mistake,» said Ian. Due to his father's illness, in 2020, Ian had to finish the last chapter of the book concerning the most modern period of the island nation's history, for which he interviewed President Ramkalawan, who was elected to office in 2020. Ian said this chapter represents the year 2020 as well as a new leaf in Seychelles' political history and that he also wrote an appendix on the economy of Seychelles since its independence in 1976. The new book is a continuation of William McAteer's previous three books which were all published between 1991 and 2014. These are Rivals in Eden (1742-1810), Hard Times in Paradise (1827-1919) and To be a Nation (1920-1976). He also wrote a collection of essays on Seychelles in The Echoes of Eden. The research for his books took him to La Reunion, Mauritius, Paris, London -- the British Library, Kew Gardens, Somerset House -- the Boston Whaling Museum, the National Archives in Seychelles, and many other places in-between. He started writing and publishing in 1980, inspired by his Seychellois wife, Juliette, and the fact that up until then no proper history had been recorded. The British-Seychellois historian at his home in Glacis on Mahe. (Ian McAteer) Photo License: All Rights Reserved  «When we first came to Seychelles after the airport was opened, he realised that no one had written the history of Seychelles and he decided then that he was going to write the history of Seychelles,» said Ian. He added that «my mother made my father swear that he would never write any history about Seychelles after Independence, but you see my father got bored when he wasn't writing.» Sadly, the late Julliette McAteer, née Mellon, passed away in 2011. Ian says that in the years that followed his mother's death, his father found himself questioning this decision to stop writing; even equating it to boredom. However, he also admitted that there was a deeper reason for his mother's request, that being; the political scene at the time. Seychelles is forever and eternally grateful, says Bernard Georges During the book launch, the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, Bernard Georges, who is also a lawyer and writer, talked about the fond memories he has of spending time with Bill and his wife and recounted seeing Bill at work. «Bill has been one of these people who belong to the country, not only because he married here, not only because he lived here, but because he alone of all the people that I know has immortalised our country by writing its definitive history. And that is no mean feat,» said Georges.  «He took his time, he researched everything, and I know the amount of research that Bill did. Whenever I was in the National Archives and that was a lot of times, Bill was always there, every single time. I know Bill, you read every document and you visited every place that needed to be visited in order to write what has become the benchmark history of our country and for that, I think our country will be forever and eternally grateful,» added Georges.' Ian McAteer describes his father as being very modest, with no big ideas about himself, and «so I am hoping this book will be a useful legacy that my father has given the country.»

'Aspire to Inspire': Pro athletes encourage young sportspeople from Seychelles to strive for the best

The qualities needed to become top athletes and the sacrifices that will have to be made were part of an experience sharing session conducted by two professional athletes with young aspiring Seychellois swimmers, cyclists, weightlifters and sailors. The youn
Seychelles News Agency

'Aspire to Inspire': Pro athletes encourage young sportspeople from Seychelles to strive for the best

The qualities needed to become top athletes and the sacrifices that will have to be made were part of an experience sharing session conducted by two professional athletes with young aspiring Seychellois swimmers, cyclists, weightlifters and sailors. The young athletes met on Thursday to engage with Seychellois-British former Chelsea FC star Michael Mancienne and US Olympic alpine skier Tommy Ford. Mancienne, the son of former Seychellois footballer Mike Mancienne, is a graduate of Chelsea Football Club's famed youth academy and has played in the English Premier League, Germany's Bundesliga and the under-21 European Championships among others. He is currently playing for the UK's League One side, Burton Albion. Mancienne said that «hearing things from their perspective was really great as we could give them some pointers and I also managed to learn a few things from them.» The young athletes met on Thursday to engage with Seychellois-British former Chelsea FC star Michael Mancienne and US Olympic alpine skier Tommy Ford. (Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Ford on the other hand is a World Cup alpine ski racer from the United States, who specialises in giant slalom and super-G. His best World Cup result to date is a first-place finish at a giant slalom event in December 2019. He has represented the US in three Winter Olympics and four World Championships. «Once the athletes got into the discussions it was great and just as they learned from us, we also learned from them,» said Ford, who recently took part in the 2022 Winter Olympics, failing to win a medal. A participant at the talk, swimmer Tyler Fred said, «This was a great experience that needs to be done more often, as it really inspired a lot of us.» Motivation, training, eating habits and other sports-related matters were those discussed by the young athletes. Both professionals showed a keen interest in how local athletes balance their time between work, school and training. The discussion was part of the «Aspire to Inspire» programme and Rudy Joseph, the principal sports officer of the National Sports Council (NSC) said, «We want to show the athletes that the journey to be professional is not a short one and that a lot of hard work goes into it and that they need to be patient in order to be successful.»   Joseph added that they hope to have more such discussions in the future and they also want to take this programme to other inner islands of Seychelles.

UAE's ailing President Sheikh Khalifa dies aged 73

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan died Friday aged 73 after a years-long battle with illness, triggering a period of mourning and a handover of power in the oil-rich Gulf state. Sheikh Khalifa, who was in office during a time of rocketing fort
Seychelles News Agency

UAE's ailing President Sheikh Khalifa dies aged 73

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan died Friday aged 73 after a years-long battle with illness, triggering a period of mourning and a handover of power in the oil-rich Gulf state. Sheikh Khalifa, who was in office during a time of rocketing fortunes for the United Arab Emirates but was rarely seen in public, was laid to rest in Abu Dhabi's Al Bateen Cemetery just hours after his death was announced, in accordance with Muslim tradition. Sheikh Khalifa's funeral prayers were conducted by his expected successor and half-brother Mohamed bin Zayed, who has long been viewed as the country's de facto ruler. «The people of the Emirates are united in grief as we mourn the loss of our leader and President, Khalifa bin Zayed,» tweeted Mohamed bin Zayed, often known as «MBZ». The most visible testament to Sheikh Khalifa is the world's tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, which was renamed after he bailed out the debt-hit emirate when the global financial crisis struck in 2009. Flags flew at half-mast above the interior ministry in Abu Dhabi and other landmarks at the start of 40 days of official mourning, with work suspended in the public and private sectors until Tuesday. Emirati men in traditional dress attended sombre funeral prayers at Abu Dhabi's enormous, white-marble Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, where the imam's voice brimmed with emotion over the loudspeaker. As tributes poured in from abroad, US President Joe Biden called Sheikh Khalifa «a true partner and friend of the United States». Neighbouring Saudi Arabia suspended sports and entertainment events and Oman, Lebanon and Kuwait also ordered three days of mourning. In a demonstration of the UAE's diverse allegiances, Russian President Vladimir Putin also paid tribute, as did Iran's foreign minister and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Sheikh Khalifa took over as the UAE's second president in November 2004, succeeding his father as the 16th ruler of Abu Dhabi, the richest of the federation's seven emirates. He has made few public appearances since 2014, when he had surgery following a stroke, although he has continued to issue rulings. The cause of death was not immediately released. - Frail figure - The UAE, a former British protectorate that was founded in 1971, has gone from desert outpost to booming state in its short history, fuelled by its oil wealth and Dubai's rise as a trading and financial centre. The Arab world's second-biggest economy behind Saudi Arabia is now wielding growing political influence, filling a space ceded by traditional powers such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria. The country of about 10 million also joined military campaigns in Libya and Yemen and broke ranks with much of the Arab world to establish ties with Israel in 2020. As the changes unfolded, the bearded Sheikh Khalifa had cut a frail figure on his occasional public appearances, while his half-brother hosted world leaders and led diplomatic forays abroad. Sheikh Khalifa, who had no formal higher education, came to the rescue of Dubai when it was hit by the global financial crisis, extending a multi-billion-dollar lifeline to the emirate. Dubai's ruler, UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, said the country mourned «with hearts filled with sadness». The emir of Qatar -- which was blockaded by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other states in a three-and-a-half-year crisis until January 2021 -- offered his condolences, as did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron. In Saudi Arabia, the UAE's powerful neighbour and closest ally, King Salman ordered funeral prayers at Mecca's Great Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. Saudi's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was regarded as a protege of Mohamed bin Zayed, phoned him with his condolences. The official WAM news agency named Mohamed bin Zayed as the new ruler of Abu Dhabi, and said the leaders of the other emirates would meet him at the capital's Al Mushrif Palace on Saturday. The leaders of the seven emirates elect the UAE's president for five-year, renewable terms, according to the country's constitution. © Agence France-Presse  

'Aspire to Inspire': Pro athletes encourage young sportspeople from Seychelles strive to for the best

The qualities needed to become top athletes and the sacrifices that will have to be made were part of an experience sharing session conducted by two professional athletes with young aspiring Seychellois swimmers, cyclists, weightlifters and sailors. The youn
Seychelles News Agency

'Aspire to Inspire': Pro athletes encourage young sportspeople from Seychelles strive to for the best

The qualities needed to become top athletes and the sacrifices that will have to be made were part of an experience sharing session conducted by two professional athletes with young aspiring Seychellois swimmers, cyclists, weightlifters and sailors. The young athletes met on Thursday to engage with Seychellois-British former Chelsea FC star Michael Mancienne and US Olympic alpine skier Tommy Ford. Mancienne, the son of former Seychellois footballer Mike Mancienne, is a graduate of Chelsea Football Club's famed youth academy and has played in the English Premier League, Germany's Bundesliga and the under-21 European Championships among others. He is currently playing for the UK's League One side, Burton Albion. Mancienne said that «hearing things from their perspective was really great as we could give them some pointers and I also managed to learn a few things from them.» The young athletes met on Thursday to engage with Seychellois-British former Chelsea FC star Michael Mancienne and US Olympic alpine skier Tommy Ford. (Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Ford on the other hand is a World Cup alpine ski racer from the United States, who specialises in giant slalom and super-G. His best World Cup result to date is a first-place finish at a giant slalom event in December 2019. He has represented the US in three Winter Olympics and four World Championships. «Once the athletes got into the discussions it was great and just as they learned from us, we also learned from them,» said Ford, who recently took part in the 2022 Winter Olympics, failing to win a medal. A participant at the talk, swimmer Tyler Fred said, «This was a great experience that needs to be done more often, as it really inspired a lot of us.» Motivation, training, eating habits and other sports-related matters were those discussed by the young athletes. Both professionals showed a keen interest in how local athletes balance their time between work, school and training. The discussion was part of the «Aspire to Inspire» programme and Rudy Joseph, the principal sports officer of the National Sports Council (NSC) said, «We want to show the athletes that the journey to be professional is not a short one and that a lot of hard work goes into it and that they need to be patient in order to be successful.»   Joseph added that they hope to have more such discussions in the future and they also want to take this programme to other inner islands of Seychelles.

«Sterling leadership»: Seychelles' President expresses condolences following the passing of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan has sent a message of condolences to the family, government and the people of the UAE following the passing of the President, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Friday at the age of 73. In his message, Ramkalawan s
Seychelles News Agency

«Sterling leadership»: Seychelles' President expresses condolences following the passing of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan has sent a message of condolences to the family, government and the people of the UAE following the passing of the President, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Friday at the age of 73. In his message, Ramkalawan said, «As the President of the United Arab Emirates for the last 18 years, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan consolidated a period of progress and prosperity for the people and made fundamental contributions to the UAE becoming a regional pioneer in the Middle East by advocating stability, as well as supporting economic and social development across the Arab world.» Ramkalawan added that the excellent cooperation between Seychelles and the UAE reached its highest ever point under the sterling leadership of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed. «This has led to the further strengthening of the relations and ties of friendship between the two countries and their peoples, based on mutual trust and understanding,» said the President.  Ramkalawan ended his message by stating that Seychelles will honour the legacy of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed and mourn his loss alongside his family, friends, and the people of the UAE. A message of condolences has also been sent by former President Danny Faure to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy commander of the UAE Armed Forces. «It is with sadness that I learned of the sad passing away of your dear brother, the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and it is with a heavy heart that I express to You and to His entire Family and entourage my deepest condolences,» said Faure. He said that Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was indeed a great leader who knew how to lead his country to the next stage of its development, which is globally acclaimed. «He contributed significantly to strengthening the bonds of friendship and solidarity between our two nations. He stood at our side during the most critical stages of our development, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis.  We shall ever remain grateful to him. May his soul rest in eternal peace,» said Faure. According to the Emirates News Agency, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs has declared an official mourning period for the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the flag flown at half-mast for 40 days starting from Friday. «Work in ministries, departments, federal and local institutions and the private sector will be suspended for 3 days starting from Saturday (tomorrow), and work will resume on Tuesday,» said the news agency. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed had served as the President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi since 2004.

UN launches probe into Russian abuses in Ukraine

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly Thursday to launch an inquiry into alleged serious violations committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, putting their conduct further under the microscope. Concerned by extrajudicial executions, civi
Seychelles News Agency

UN launches probe into Russian abuses in Ukraine

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly Thursday to launch an inquiry into alleged serious violations committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, putting their conduct further under the microscope. Concerned by extrajudicial executions, civilian casualties, the use of torture and abuses against children, the council voted 33-2 to create an investigation into alleged violations, with a view to holding the perpetrators to account. China and Eritrea voted against the resolution, while 12 countries including India, Pakistan and Cuba abstained. Russia branded the extraordinary meeting of the UN's top rights body a politicised stunt and refused to attend. Telling the council that an 11-year-old boy, now traumatised, had been raped in front of his mother, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova said Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces were inflicting «pure evil». Russia was committing «the most gruesome human rights violations on the European continent in decades», she said, speaking from Kyiv. «These have been 10 weeks of sheer horror to the people of my country. »Torture and enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence; the list of Russia's crimes is endless. «Only the world standing strong in solidarity with the Ukrainian people can defeat this pure evil.» - March deadline - Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, triggering global condemnation and increasing international isolation for Moscow. The UN's top rights body voted on March 4 to trigger a commission of inquiry (COI) -- the highest-possible level of investigation -- into alleged Russian violations during the war. The suburb of Bucha, north of Kyiv, became synonymous with allegations of Russian war crimes when dozens of bodies in civilian clothing were found there in early April, some with their hands tied, after Moscow's troops pulled back. Other allegations have come to light elsewhere in the country. Thursday's resolution asked the COI to prioritise an investigation «to address the events in the areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions in late February and March... with a view to holding those responsible to account». The resolution asks the COI to brief the council about its progress at the September regular session, and to include the complete findings in its report to the March 2023 session. The resolution also urges Moscow to give humanitarians unhindered access to people transferred to Russia or Russian-held territory -- and provide a comprehensive list of their names and whereabouts. - Russia's chair empty - Russia was among the 47 Human Rights Council members until the UN General Assembly in New York voted on April 7 to suspend it from the body. Russia then immediately withdrew from the council. Thursday's session was the first meeting of the body since then. Now an ordinary observer, Russia was called to give its version of events but its chair was vacant. Russian ambassador Gennady Gatilov said his country would not participate in a «political rout to demonise Russia» and branded the council biased. «It is doubtful that the participants of this stunt will call for a real, instead of a showcase, investigation of the tragedy in Bucha,» he said in a Twitter video. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the council that her office was verifying allegations of international human rights and humanitarian law violations, «many of which may amount to war crimes». «The scale of unlawful killings, including indicia of summary executions in areas to the north of Kyiv, is shocking,» she said, citing 300 deaths so far -- many of them seemingly intentional. US ambassador Michele Taylor said that Russia's frustrations at being unable to defeat Ukraine militarily had led to «ever-more-egregious human rights abuses». France's ambassador Jerome Bonnafont, speaking for the European Union, said: «The high numbers of brutal killings of civilians, the documented cases of repeated rapes, summary executions and enforced disappearances... show the true face of Russia's brutal war.» © Agence France-Presse

UK police fines over Downing Street parties top 100

London police said Thursday they had issued more than 50 additional fines over a «Partygate» scandal rocking Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government. The Metropolitan Police said its investigation into the lockdown parties had «made more
Seychelles News Agency

UK police fines over Downing Street parties top 100

London police said Thursday they had issued more than 50 additional fines over a «Partygate» scandal rocking Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government. The Metropolitan Police said its investigation into the lockdown parties had «made more than 100 referrals for fixed penalty notices». In its last update on April 12, the Met said «over 50» fines had been issued. They included Johnson, his wife Carrie and finance minister Rishi Sunak. The government said they were fined for a gathering in Downing Street marking the prime minister's birthday in June 2020. Johnson has apologised for the breach of Covid regulations, but refused demands to resign after becoming the first UK leader to be found to have broken the law while in office. He has not been issued a further fine, sources said after the Met's latest statement. But the police said their investigation into other alleged breaches was continuing. Johnson also faces an investigation by a parliamentary committee into his past denials to the House of Commons of lockdown lawbreaking. The parties have fuelled widespread public anger against the ruling Conservatives, who suffered a drubbing in recent local elections. The main opposition Labour party's leader, Keir Starmer, on Monday promised to step down if police in northeast England fine him for his own alleged breach of coronavirus laws during a campaign meeting. The gathering took place in Durham in April last year, with a video later emerging of Starmer drinking beer and eating a takeaway meal inside an office with party colleagues. © Agence France-Presse

Tourism minister says Seychelles stands against racism after alleged mistreatment of African-American travel influencer

Seychelles stands against racism and works with influencers regardless of their skin colour, said the tourism minister in response to a blog post on the mistreatment of an African-American travel influencer who visited the archipelago in April. Sylvestre Rad
Seychelles News Agency

Tourism minister says Seychelles stands against racism after alleged mistreatment of African-American travel influencer

Seychelles stands against racism and works with influencers regardless of their skin colour, said the tourism minister in response to a blog post on the mistreatment of an African-American travel influencer who visited the archipelago in April. Sylvestre Radegonde told reporters on Thursday that he has been told by his department staff that there are a lot of exaggerations and falsehoods in what was said in the blog post. «We work with foreigners, and in her case, she is an influencer. I want to get the right circumstances and as such, I am waiting for the report from our South African tourism representative, who was the organiser for the trip, to get the exact circumstances of the voyage,» said Radegonde. He said that if there has been any possibility that there has been racial discrimination and she was mistreated, this is of course not acceptable, not only towards this woman because of her skin colour, but also based on the nationality of tourists. «If this happened, we need to know where it happened and the report will show that. Was it at the immigration, customs, hotel, tourism staff, or the minister himself? We need to establish this and address the issue,» he continued.  The blog post which came out on May 11 on Travel Noire, stated that the influencer, Abigail Akinyemi, «was excited about the opportunity to work with the tourism board of Seychelles» after «they had invited her to visit and create content to promote travel to the East African island nation.» It added that Akinyemi had been promised accommodation but as the travel date neared, she didn't receive any confirmation that a hotel had been booked. She travelled to Seychelles to find out her accommodation had not been sorted and as such had to «scramble to find a place to stay at the last minute.» The article relayed that the influencer was still expected to deliver on her side of her agreement, following which she left the island nation the next day. According to the article, Akinyemi said «During my short time in the country I experienced negligence, anti-blackness, and disrespect, not only from the board but also from the people, which was a huge shock.» This she said was the treatment from airport staff upon arrival, a taxi driver and airport gate agents when she was leaving the country.   In an interview with the Seychelles Nation newspaper, the director general for destination marketing, Bernadette Willemin, outlined that there was no commitment of any other agreement between tourism Seychelles and the person for accommodation or transfers. «This is quite unfortunate, considering the excellent reputation we enjoyed with partners all around the world,» she stated. Willemin added that since the start of 2022, tourism Seychelles has received over 30 requests for collaboration per market, noting that this is for 20 markets. Commenting on future collaborations, the minister said that there is a need to relook at how arrangements are made in order to stay away from future misunderstandings that might arise. 

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