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Researchers discover ancient giant 'lion' in Kenya

A giant lion with enormous fangs that roamed the Kenyan savannah more than 20 million years ago was one of the largest ever meat-eating mammals, researchers said Thursday. A team unearthed the lower jaw, teeth and other bones of a new species, Simbakubwa kut
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Researchers discover ancient giant 'lion' in Kenya

A giant lion with enormous fangs that roamed the Kenyan savannah more than 20 million years ago was one of the largest ever meat-eating mammals, researchers said Thursday. A team unearthed the lower jaw, teeth and other bones of a new species, Simbakubwa kutokaafrika -- Swahili for «big African lion». They calculated it would have weighed up to 1,500 kilogrammes and could have preyed upon the elephant-like creatures that lived there at the time. «Based on its massive teeth, Simbakubwa was a specialised hyper-carnivore that was significantly larger than the modern lion and possibly larger than a polar bear,» said Matthew Borths, from Duke University, who co-led the research with Ohio University. An artist's impression of the creature shows a giant big-cat-like hunter with stripey fur and enormous fangs. The team behind the study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, said Simbakubwa lived in what is modern-day Kenya around 23 million years ago, a key period in the evolution of carnivorous mammals. They said the discovery could shed light on how supersized predators and prey evolved over millions of years around the end of the Paleogene epoch -- the period where mammals grew from tiny rodents into many diverse species. © Agence France-Presse

Good weather leads to spike in cinnamon production in Seychelles

Seychelles has recorded an increase in cinnamon production in 2018 and is expecting a prosperous production for exporters this year. According to the figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) comparing the third quarter of 2017 to that of 2018, th
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Good weather leads to spike in cinnamon production in Seychelles

Seychelles has recorded an increase in cinnamon production in 2018 and is expecting a prosperous production for exporters this year. According to the figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) comparing the third quarter of 2017 to that of 2018, the production of cinnamon increased from 0.6 tonnes to 3.4 tonnes.  NBS attributes the increase to the fact that there are more people involved in cinnamon cropping in the forests although the exact figures are not being reported by the Bureau. Another factor is the optimal weather conditions which also favours the production of natural products. One of the oldest cinnamon producers and exporters in Seychelles is the Chaka Brothers company -- a Seychellois family business with over 50 years of existence. The Chaka Brothers company is one of the oldest producers in Seychelles. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY The company has also been exporting copra, vanilla, and guano since 1965.   Gafoor Yakub, who is part of the family business, told SNA, “There has been a 25 percent increase in our production and export of cinnamon bark from 2017 to 2018 but the quantity produced and exported is a far cry from the 1500 tons that were once being exported annually in the 1960s and 70s.”    Chaka Brothers’ main markets for export are Europe, the USA and Canada. Cinnamon -- one of the world’s most-used spices -- was once a pillar of the Seychelles’ economy since its introduction to the island nation in the western Indian Ocean by Pierre Poivre in 1772. At the time around 33 percent of the island nation’s workforce was employed on plantations. However, with the opening of the airport, the plantation industry dwindled and today it is nearly nonexistent except for a few entrepreneurs who have not given up and is the only business exploiting cinnamon. “Those who used to do the cropping of cinnamon are no longer prepared to do so and the newcomers often regard this job as inferior or too much hard work,” said Yakub.  Cinnamon -- one of the world’s most-used spices -- was once a pillar of Seychelles'  economy. (L. Shyamal, Wikimedia Commons) Photo License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Patrick Bonne, who used to trade extensively in cinnamon bark and oils, told SNA that while the cinnamon industry was not as it once was ten years ago, he still makes some revenue from cinnamon oil export to Germany. “There is an organic beauty company which I supply oils to, and I used to trade in oils used for perfumes. On average, cinnamon bark oil can go for $250 a litre,” said Bonne. He added that “the price is usually determined by the amount of cinnamon and the sweetness percentage.”   The current figures are still low compared to statistics back in 2015 with over 7 tonnes of cinnamon produced. “My advice would be for the government to seriously promote local production with appropriate fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, especially where local producers can add value to local products,” Yakub told SNA. He proposed that the relevant ministries “should develop a policy for the sustainable harvesting and production of cinnamon for the export market while protecting the ecosystems during the felling of the trees.” In Seychelles, cinnamon producers and exporters have always focused on the cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf because they have the highest commercial value, unlike the root.  

Former tourism minister of Seychelles is named African Tourism Board president

Seychelles’ former tourism minister, Alain St Ange, has been named the new president of the African Tourism Board. St Ange will head a team of tourism experts in Africa to help create a unified destination concept for Africa. The announcement was made Apri
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Former tourism minister of Seychelles is named African Tourism Board president

Seychelles’ former tourism minister, Alain St Ange, has been named the new president of the African Tourism Board. St Ange will head a team of tourism experts in Africa to help create a unified destination concept for Africa. The announcement was made April 11 at the World Trade Market Africa held in Cape Town, South Africa. “This African Tourism Board is for Africa and the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands what PATA is for Asia and the Pacific Region. Tourism must remain outside the political arena if it is to succeed and this will be my message as I plod along to work with tourism bodies and government ministers,” said St Ange. St Ange added: “When tourism stagnates those who have invested in that fragile industry are the first to suffer and they lose their investments as the hospitality trade employees lose their jobs and livelihood. We must let this industry succeed because it is not just an activity, but it is a fully fledged industry.” St Ange has been working in the tourism sector since 2009. Apart from working as the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, in 2012 when the regional organisation the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands was formed, St Ange was appointed as the first president of the organisation. St Ange was appointed as Minister of Tourism and Culture in 2012, from which he resigned in December 2016 to pursue his candidacy as Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation but the post was awarded Walter Mzembi, the Zimbabwean candidate. According to an article from the Daily Southern & East African Tourism Update, St. Ange said that “as a team, we need to rally as many tourism boards and their ministers to look at Africa as one. To facilitate what we are doing, we’ll need to devise ways and means for us to bring Africa together. “Only when we really know Africa ourselves, will we be able to work closer together. Tourism is the culture that we have, and when we appreciate our cultures and the diversity of cultures we have, we’ll realise the need to work together to make tourism sustainable,” St Ange added. The African Tourism Board aims to bring Africa together as one destination, assist with outreach into new and exciting tourism markets, and provide a platform for tourism brands that want to communicate their African presence to global source markets. A South African, Kwakye Donkor, was also appointed as the CEO of African Tourism Partners. St Ange has pledged to work closely with different organizations within the tourism sector such the African Union (AU) Tourism Desk, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the World Travel & Tourism Council and Pacific Asia Travel Association. “It is known and accepted that we have but one tourism industry, and that it remains the responsibility for everyone to work together to ensure that tourism is consolidated for the benefit of every country and for the people of all these countries,” concluded St Ange.

Former President of Seychelles, James Michel, inducted into World Leadership Alliance

The former President of Seychelles, James Michel, has been admitted as a full member of the World Leadership Alliance Club de Madrid, a press communique from his office said on Wednesday. In a letter formally welcoming Michel to the club, the group’s lead
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Former President of Seychelles, James Michel, inducted into World Leadership Alliance

The former President of Seychelles, James Michel, has been admitted as a full member of the World Leadership Alliance Club de Madrid, a press communique from his office said on Wednesday. In a letter formally welcoming Michel to the club, the group’s leader, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who was the former President of Latvia, thanked him for accepting the invitation to join the organisation. Vike-Freiberga said, “We are truly honoured that you are willing to contribute to our work and objectives. Your knowledge, interests and leadership experience, will greatly enhance the impact and scope of our activities.” Club de Madrid is the world’s largest forum of democratically elected former Presidents and Prime Ministers committed to sharing their experience in government and to overcome the challenges of leading and decision-making in contemporary politics worldwide. The club has members from more than 70 countries. According to the communique, “in welcoming the news, Michel said he considers this to be a recognition of the role he has played and the contributions he has made both in Seychelles and on the international scene.” The former President “has contributed, towards advancing democratic principles and practices, the development and the well-being of the Seychellois people and that of the other nations, especially by being a voice for small island developing states,” added the communique. Michel views his membership in this prestigious organisation as yet another opportunity to share and build on some initiatives he took during his tenure of office. Michel had been at the helm of the Seychelles' government since 2004, when the late President France Albert Rene, who had been in power for 27 years, handed over the presidency. He stepped down on October 16 in 2016, a month after his political party, Parti Lepep, lost the majority seats in the National Assembly in the legislative elections. The former president, who is the executive chairman of the James Michel Foundation, is recognised as one of the pioneers of the Blue Economy. In 2015, during his presidency, he established a Blue Economy Research Institute in association with the University of Seychelles. Soon after, the Seychelles’ government embarked on plans for a roadmap for the Blue Economy, with support from the Commonwealth Secretariat. His candidacy to the Club de Madrid was actively supported by the former presidents Cassam Uteem of Mauritius, Bill Clinton of the United States of America, and the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon. The Club de Madrid advocates for a ‘democracy that delivers’ and works in partnership with other organisations and governments, which shares its objectives. The club also works with a broad network of international experts and practitioners, towards addressing issues of global concern such as intolerance, violent extremism, climate change and social cohesion from a democratic perspective. 

France launches global contest to replace Notre-Dame spire

France on Wednesday announced it would invite architects from around the world to submit designs for replacing the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral after a devastating blaze, as the government braced for a mammoth restoration challenge. Prime Minister Edouard P
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France launches global contest to replace Notre-Dame spire

France on Wednesday announced it would invite architects from around the world to submit designs for replacing the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral after a devastating blaze, as the government braced for a mammoth restoration challenge. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the contest would decide whether the monument should have a new spire at all and if so, whether it should be identical to the fallen 19th-century model or be a wholly new design. The world looked on in horror Monday as flames engulfed the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece seen as encapsulating the soul of Paris and the spire came crashing down. Explaining that having no new spire at all was an option, Philippe noted that Notre-Dame had been without a steeple for part of its history. «The international contest will settle the question of whether we should build a new spire, whether we should rebuild the spire that was designed and built by (Eugene) Viollet-Le-Duc, in identical fashion, or whether we should... endow Notre-Dame cathedral with a new spire adapted to the techniques and the challenges of our era.» - 'Huge challenge' - A descendant of the 19th-century architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, Jean-Marie Henriquet, 76, told AFP it would be a «great shame» not to rebuild the spire, adding this would equate to «amputating an element that belonged to it». Philippe described the task of rebuilding it as «a huge challenge and historic responsibility», a day after President Emmanuel Macron said the entire restoration should be completed in just five years. The bells of French cathedrals rung out at 1650 GMT on Wednesday to mark the exact moment when the fire started on Monday. Macron had vowed to rebuild the iconic monument, the real star of Victor Hugo's «Hunchback of Notre Dame» by 2024 when France hosts the summer Olympics. «We can do it,» he said Tuesday, calling France «a nation of builders.» - Rebate debate - No sooner had firefighters extinguished the flames than pledges of donations towards restoring France's best-loved monument, which attracted 12 million visitors in 2018, began to pour in. Within 24 hours, the pledges had reached more than 800 million euros ($900 million), with French business magnates and corporations jostling to outshine each other with displays of generosity. But the slew of announcements raised eyebrows in France, with some leftist politicians arguing that the ultra-rich could best help protect the country's cultural heritage by fully paying their taxes -- or helping the «human cathedral» of people in need. The huge tax breaks available on the donations also caused some unease, prompting Francois-Henri Pinault, the billionaire CEO of the Kering luxury goods empire, to announce he would forfeit his rebate. Pinault had led the pledges of donations starting Monday night with a promise of 100 million euros. Billionaire Bernard Arnault and his LVMH luxury conglomerate, Total oil company and cosmetics giant L'Oreal also each pledged 100 million euros or more, while US tech giant Apple said it would give an unspecified amount. Disney, which scored millions with the 1996 animated blockbuster «The Hunchback of Notre Dame» based on the Victor Hugo novel, said it would give $5 million. US President Donald Trump, who was ridiculed by the French fire services after urging the use of water bombers to put out the fire at the fragile edifice, also pitched in with an offer of help. Trump said he spoke to Pope Francis and offered «the help of our great experts on renovation and construction» to rebuild Notre-Dame. - Rebuilding for 2024 Olympics - On Tuesday evening, Macron set out an ambitious timeline for restoring the landmark that took nearly two centuries to build and which has played a role in many of the defining moments of French history. In a sign of the monument's resilience, the copper rooster that topped its spire was found Tuesday in the rubble of the roof, «battered but apparently restorable» according to a spokesperson for the culture ministry. The walls, bell towers and the most famous circular stained-glass windows also remain intact. But the floor of the nave was left strewn with blackened roof beams and chunks of the collapsed upper vaulting. Experts have warned that full restoration could take longer than five years, with one of the biggest tasks involving replacing the precious oak «forest» that propped up the roof. «I'd say decades,» Eric Fischer, head of the foundation in charge of restoring the 1,000-year-old Strasbourg cathedral, told AFP. Investigators trying to determine the cause of the blaze are questioning workers who were renovating the steeple, an operation suspected of accidentally triggering the blaze. The police have already spoken to around 30 people from five different construction companies. Public prosecutor Remy Heitz has said the investigation threatened to be «long and complex». © Agence France-Presse

New FAO project supports sustainable management of forests and bioenergy capacity building in Seychelles

Sustainable management of forests and bioenergy assessment with capacity building in Seychelles are two new projects being supported by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The first project will allow authorities to draft a ne
Seychelles News Agency

New FAO project supports sustainable management of forests and bioenergy capacity building in Seychelles

Sustainable management of forests and bioenergy assessment with capacity building in Seychelles are two new projects being supported by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The first project will allow authorities to draft a new national forest policy and legislation that will also ensure better monitoring of the island nation’s forests. The second will assist the analysis and identification of potential bioenergy feedstock and technologies. The two projects - at a cost of $5 million - are expected to be completed in two years. The signing for the projects was held on Monday between the Seychelles’ Ministry of Energy, Environment and Climate Change (MEECC) and FAO. “The project will help us to make a better-informed decision on issues relating to forestry,” said the minister of MEECC, Wallace Cosgrow, at a press conference following the signing at his office in Victoria. Cosgrow added that the “project will further contribute to the country’s technical capacity needs through the provision of training, workshop and forest analysis.” The agreement for the two new projects was signed on Monday by Minister Wallace Cosgrow (left) and Patrice Talla Takoukam, FAO representative for Seychelles. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY The director general for biodiversity conservation and management at the ministry, Marie-May Muzungaile, said that for too long “we have been left without proper legislation that will provide a guideline on how to better manage the forests.” “We currently have a project whereby we are doing an inventory to collect basic information that will allow us to determine priority locations that we will focus on in the new policy that we will be working on,” explained Muzungaile. “Then it will enable us to establish a law because for the time being the only law that we are working with in the forestry sector is the Breadfruit and other Trees Protection Act,” said Muzungaile, adding: “We don’t have a framework which looks at things with relation to agriculture and protected areas. So now we want to have something that is more strategic.” The FAO representative for Seychelles, Patrice Tala Takoukam, said that drafting the new policy will help the islands to meet international standards in terms of forest management. Referring to the bioenergy project, the principal policy analyst for energy at MEECC, Theodore Marguerite, said that there is a roadmap to make Seychelles 100 percent renewable-energy dependent and one component to achieving this was to tap into bioenergy. “With this project, we are going to use left-overs in agriculture to generate energy. We have conducted an inception workshop last week to start this process. The first thing that we are going to do is to identify the amount of biomass that we have and if it is enough to produce electricity,” said Marguerite. Tala Takoukam said that this is a good project that the FAO is supporting not only because it is helping the island nation to seek alternative sources for energy other than just burning fuel, but it is also helping to reduce the impact of climate change. Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - relies heavily on imported fossil fuel for power generation and transportation. Currently, only 2.5 percent of the island nation's electrical energy is from renewable sources. Marguerite said that this project will further contribute to the objective of providing at least 15 percent of the island nation's energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. Aside from using biomass to produce energy the island nation has taken several measures to increase its renewable energy sources. One major project is to install Africa’s first utility-scale Floating Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system on the lagoon at Le Rocher, in the district of Les Mamelles.

New UN envoy to work with African Union on Sudan crisis

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday appointed an envoy to Sudan to work with the African Union on mediating an end to the crisis sparked by a military takeover. Nicholas Haysom, a South African lawyer who has served as UN envoy in Somalia, Afgha
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New UN envoy to work with African Union on Sudan crisis

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday appointed an envoy to Sudan to work with the African Union on mediating an end to the crisis sparked by a military takeover. Nicholas Haysom, a South African lawyer who has served as UN envoy in Somalia, Afghanistan as well as for Sudan and South Sudan, will support AU-led mediation efforts between the military and civil society, said spokesman Stephane Dujarric. The African Union has called on Sudan's military to hand over power to a civilian government within 15 days and strongly condemned the army takeover as a coup d'etat. The AU peace and security council has threatened to suspend Sudan from the 55-nation organization if it does not move to establish civilian rule. «The African Union put out a very clear statement,» UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. Haysom will «do whatever he can to support their efforts.» Guterres discussed the appointment of the envoy by phone on Tuesday with Moussa Faki, the head of the African Union Commission. Sudan's military rulers who removed president Omar al-Bashir from office on April 11 have offered dialogue with all political groups on forming a civilian government after protesters kept up demands for change. Following Bashir's ouster, Guterres has called for a transition that meets the «democratic aspiration» of the Sudanese people. The UN Security Council is due to meet on the Sudan crisis on Wednesday. © Agence France-Presse

Egypt MPs back constitution changes to extend Sisi rule: state media

Members of Egypt's parliament on Tuesday approved changes to the constitution that will allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030, state media reported. The changes to extend presidential terms are part of amendments initially introduc
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Egypt MPs back constitution changes to extend Sisi rule: state media

Members of Egypt's parliament on Tuesday approved changes to the constitution that will allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030, state media reported. The changes to extend presidential terms are part of amendments initially introduced in February by a parliamentary bloc supportive of Sisi and updated this week after several rounds of debates. «The president's current term shall expire at the end of six years from the date of his election as president in 2018,» reported the official Al-Ahram news website and broadcaster Nile TV. «He can be re-elected for another (six-year) term.» MPs approved other sweeping changes to the constitution including allowing the military a greater influence in Egyptian political life as well as granting Sisi greater control over the judiciary. «The final votes on all the amendments package have yet to be tallied,» MP Mohamed Abu Hamed told AFP. The amendments are expected to be put to a public referendum later this month. Critics have slammed the amendments as «unconstitutional». Last week, Human Rights Watch said the changes would «institutionalise authoritarianism». Egypt's parliament, which is packed with Sisi supporters, was elected in 2015. A former military chief, Sisi became president in 2014, a year after having led the military ouster of Egypt's first freely-elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi. He was re-elected in 2018 with more than 97 percent of the vote, after standing virtually unopposed. Under Sisi, Egypt has drawn wide international criticism for its sweeping crackdown on dissent including Morsi's Islamist supporters as well as secular and liberal activists. © Agence France-Presse

3 years after devastating storm, major infrastructures on Seychelles' island of Farquhar have been rebuilt

Major infrastructures on the island of Farquhar have been repaired and made cyclone-proof almost three years after Fantala, a tropical cyclone, hit the outer island, said the head of the Islands Development Company (IDC). The IDC’s chief executive, Glenny
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3 years after devastating storm, major infrastructures on Seychelles' island of Farquhar have been rebuilt

Major infrastructures on the island of Farquhar have been repaired and made cyclone-proof almost three years after Fantala, a tropical cyclone, hit the outer island, said the head of the Islands Development Company (IDC). The IDC’s chief executive, Glenny Savy, told SNA that the company “concentrated on the infrastructure that we need for commercial purposes, mainly guest-houses that we rent out to fly-fishing enthusiasts. Part of the money that we make goes towards the restoration of the island.” Savy said most of the infrastructures used in the day-to-day running of the island are ready. These include newly built cyclone-proof facilities for both staff and tourists that come to the island for fly-fishing, a new generator room with new equipment and a desalination plant. (1st photo) Staff houses and (2nd photo) new generator built on Farquhar. (www.idc.sc) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Farquhar, which lies 700 kilometres south of the Seychelles main island, Mahe, suffered significant damages when it was hit three times by Fantala in April 2016. The island was declared a disaster area and after a one-week assessment, a World Bank team said the cyclone caused $4.5 million in damages and losses on Farquhar. Fantala brought winds of 330 to 345 km/hr which severely damaged the island’s infrastructure including guest houses, staff accommodation, and generator room and desalination facilities, among others. IDC, a parastatal company which manages some of the outer islands, financed the restoration work using around SCR 8 million ($588,000) received from its insurance company as well as revenue generated through its economic activities. Savy said that three main infrastructures will be built shortly and will include a new radar system, managed by the Seychelles Coast Guard, to be funded by the Indian government. A new ‘Grann kaz’ or colonial house – a historic monument on Farquhar that will be used as a museum and a new conservation centre -- will also be built for research purposes. “The Island Conservation Society is undertaking a lot of research on Farquhar’s fauna and flora, as well as on its marine life. They need more facilities such as laboratories to facilitate research,” he said. Farquhar was hit three times by Fantala in mid-April 2016. The island was subsequently declared a disaster area. (www.idc.sc) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Data collected from the research will determine whether IDC will increase the number of guest-houses in future. There are presently six bedrooms which can accommodate 12 people per week. The chief executive said the number is sustainable for now, taking into account the fragility of Farquhar. “Our policy is environment first. More tourists might mean more revenue, but in the long-run, more human activities might have a detrimental effect. At present, it is more economically viable to have fewer people and charge them more than to have more people who might eventually destroy the island. Tourists come to Farquhar because they know it has something exceptional to offer, so we want to keep it that way,” he added. Tourism activities contributing the most to the IDC’s revenue with fly-fishing packages which include accommodation costing $40,000 per week per person. The tourism season on Farquhar starts from October to mid-May with a six-week break in late December and January. IDC also plans to restore the island’s vegetation within the next five years and planting commercially viable trees, such as coconut that is used in oil production and animal feed. The island also wants to produce its own timber. Since the restoration of vegetation is not covered under the insurance money, Savy said IDC has approached the World Bank for assistance. “We want to access the loan for countries affected by natural calamities that can be repaid over a 20-year period. It is important that we restore Farquhar to its natural state as soon as possible ”, says Savy. IDC, which manages some of the outer islands of the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has been managing Farquhar since the mid-1980s. The company generates most of its revenue from tourism. For the period 2017-2018, the company’s total revenue was $33.6 million (SCR458 million).

Air Mauritius to return to Seychelles in a competitive concern for Air Seychelles

Air Mauritius says it intends to resume connecting flights to Seychelles in July, the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority said on Tuesday, a move that increases the competitive pressure on Air Seychelles. Speaking to SNA, the Authority said that Air Mauriti
Seychelles News Agency

Air Mauritius to return to Seychelles in a competitive concern for Air Seychelles

Air Mauritius says it intends to resume connecting flights to Seychelles in July, the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority said on Tuesday, a move that increases the competitive pressure on Air Seychelles. Speaking to SNA, the Authority said that Air Mauritius would be providing services on the two days -- Mondays and Sundays -- that Air Seychelles does not have connecting flights between the two island nations. «Air Mauritius has informed us of their intention to resume connection with Seychelles in July, but we have received confirmation,» said Florence Marengo, head of the transport department at the local Civil Aviation Authority. The confirmation of Air Mauritius flight connections to Seychelles was first reported by the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) online service on Tuesday. According to the MBC, “the news was confirmed by Prem Sewpaul, head of communication at Air Mauritius.” SNA contacted Air Mauritius to find out when the Air Mauritius flight connections will start; the airline said that for the moment sales details are not available. For several weeks rumours of the new flight connection to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, were circulating on social media. Air Mauritius, which previously flew to Seychelles, decided more than 15 years ago to stop for economic reasons. An official from Air Mauritius was in the Seychelles recently to hold talks with aviation and tourism authorities. However, last Thursday, the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley said that there is still no confirmation that Air Mauritius will start flying here later this year. Dogley said that in spite of rampant rumours, no official documents have been received by the Seychelles authorities regarding this matter. The minister had pointed out that if this information was to be confirmed it will not be good news for Air Seychelles. “If Air Mauritius starts flying to Seychelles this will impact greatly on the revenue Air Seychelles will collect in the future on that route, if they operate here three times weekly then it will take away the income that Air Seychelles would have received for these flights,” he said. Dogley nevertheless pointed out that Seychelles has signed a bilateral air services agreement with Mauritius which means that “if Air Seychelles is flying to Mauritius then they can also fly to Seychelles as well.” MBC said that “the Seychellois population hopes that both flight schedules will lower competition, as well as expect a drop in the price of airfares. This news is welcomed by the Seychellois who will have more opportunities when it comes to destinations like Australia and the Far East.” The Seychellois company which had a monopoly on this link will have to revise its prices which are currently around €400 for the two hours and thirty minutes flight. In his state of the nation address in February, the Seychelles’ President, Danny Faure talked about the competitive environment that the national carrier Air Seychelles is currently facing and the need for the government to provide support. He said that the government “has decided to subsidise Air Seychelles $6 million per year for the next five years starting next year.”

Seychelles Supreme Court hears case pitting President against Speaker on issue of gov't salary increases

The Seychelles’ Supreme Court on Tuesday convened for the first time in a case brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly in relation to a disagreement between the two concerning a salary increase for government employee
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Seychelles Supreme Court hears case pitting President against Speaker on issue of gov't salary increases

The Seychelles’ Supreme Court on Tuesday convened for the first time in a case brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly in relation to a disagreement between the two concerning a salary increase for government employees.  Presided over by Justice Melchior Vidot, the Court heard two applications made by Faure’s legal team in the case filed on Friday, April 12. It is the first time in the history of the third republic of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, that a Speaker is being held accountable for the decision taken by the National Assembly. On March 19, the government presented the Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019 to the National Assembly for approval. The bill included a five percent increase across the board for government workers. The opposition members in the National Assembly objected and said the budgeted amount should be shared equally with employees who qualify to get the same amount of increase. As no consensus was reached by April 1st, the due date for implementation, the government said it will implement the increase through regulation under the old public service salary act of 2013.   In a special sitting, the opposition members in the National Assembly voted to quash the regulation brought as a Statutory Instrument (S.I), a form of delegated legislation which may allow the government to bypass the parliament.  President Faure, in his capacity as Minister responsible for Public Administration, filed a case requesting that the Court exercise supervisory jurisdiction in relation to the quashing by the National Assembly of S.I. 18 of 2019. The two applications made on Tuesday by Faure’s legal team were that the case be heard as a matter of urgency and an application for leave. The legal team of Nicholas Prea, the Speaker of the National Assembly, did not object to the first application that the case be heard as a matter of urgency. However, lawyers Joel Camille, Clifford Andre and Bernard Georges objected to the Application for Leave, which would allow the case to proceed without any objection. On May 2nd, the Supreme Court will hear the objections from the Speaker and from there decide whether to proceed with the case, based on its merits. President Faure, who in a statement published soon after the annulment, said he had acted within the ambit of the law, took the matter to court, to ask the court to rule on its legality. It the event that Supreme Court rules in favour of the petitioner, the five percent salary increase as stated in the Regulations, will be applied effective April 1st 2019. 

Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame after devastating fire

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, after a colossal fire tore through the building, sending the spire crashing to the ground and wiping out centuries of heritage. Macron expressed relief that «the wors
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Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame after devastating fire

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, after a colossal fire tore through the building, sending the spire crashing to the ground and wiping out centuries of heritage. Macron expressed relief that «the worst had been avoided» in a blaze that had at one point threatened the entire edifice, and left France in shock over the damage to a building described as the soul of the nation. The inferno destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old UNESCO world heritage landmark, whose spectacular Gothic spire collapsed as orange flames and clouds of grey smoke billowed into the sky. Around 400 firefighters battled into the night to control the flames, declaring in the early hours of Tuesday that the fire was under control, around nine hours after it broke out. Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said «we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved» as well as the two towers. - 'France is Notre Dame' - «Notre-Dame survived all the wars, all the bombardments. We never thought it could burn. I feel incredibly sad and empty,» Stephane Seigneurie, a consultant who joined other shocked onlookers in a solemn rendition of «Ave Maria» as they watched the fire from a nearby bridge. Gasps and cries of «Oh my god» erupted around an hour after the fire first broke out when the top portion of the church's spire came crashing down. «We have been dealt a knockout blow,» a stricken-looking Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit told reporters. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze. French prosecutors said it was being currently being treated as accident. Historians expressed incredulity at the collapse of a building that has been a symbol of France for almost a millennium. «If Paris is the Eiffel Tower then France is Notre Dame. It's the entire culture, entire history of France incarnated in this monument,» Bernard Lecomte, a writer and specialist in religious history told BFM TV. Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told the channel that workers were scrambling «to save all the artworks that can be saved.» Officials later said teams had managed to salvage an unknown quantity of the cultural treasures. - 'Emotion of a nation' - Macron cancelled a planned policy speech and headed to the scene, where he vowed the cathedral would be reborn. «We will rebuild Notre-Dame because it is what the French expect,» he said, describing Notre Dame as «the epicentre of our life» and the cathedral of «all the French», whether religious or not. France's billionaire Pinault dynasty immediately pledged 100 million euros for the effort. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Notre-Dame cathedral a «symbol of European culture» as the blaze raged. The Vatican on Monday expressed its «incredulity» and «sadness» over the fire. - 'Water bombers not used' - One firefighter was seriously injured in the blaze, the fire brigade said. US President Donald Trump in a tweet said it was «horrible» to watch the fire but caused controversy by offering advice on how to put it out. «Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!» he said. But France's civil security service, which oversees crisis management in the country, tweeted back at Trump that the use of water-bombing aircraft was not being considered. «If used, (this) could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,» it said. - 'Will never be the same' - The cathedral was located at the centre of the French capital in the Middle Ages and its construction was completed in the mid-12th century after some 200 years of work. During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the cathedral was vandalised in widespread anti-Catholic violence: its spire was dismantled, its treasures plundered and its large statues at the grand entrance doors destroyed. It would go on to feature as a central character in a Victor Hugo novel published in 1831, «The Hunchback of Notre-Dame» and shortly afterwards a restoration project lasting two decades got under way, led by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. The building survived the devastation of two global conflicts in the 20th century and famously rang its bells on August 24, 1944, the day of the Liberation of Paris from German occupation at the end of the World War II. «Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,» said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s. Jacky Lafortune, a 72-year-old artist and self-described atheist stood forlornly on the banks of the River Seine staring at the cathedral. Comparing the mood in the French capital to the aftermath of a terror attack he said: «But this stirs much deeper emotions because Notre-Dame is linked to the very foundations of our culture.» © Agence France-Presse

Climate demonstrators block London roads

Climate change protesters brought a bridge in London to a standstill on Monday and blocked major roads in the capital, kicking off days of planned civil disobedience events in cities around the world. More than a thousand people blocked off Waterloo Bridge a
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Climate demonstrators block London roads

Climate change protesters brought a bridge in London to a standstill on Monday and blocked major roads in the capital, kicking off days of planned civil disobedience events in cities around the world. More than a thousand people blocked off Waterloo Bridge and laid out trees and potted plants along its length, in the protests organised by campaign group Extinction Rebellion. Campaigners also daubed graffiti and smashed windows at the UK offices of energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, spraying the Extinction Rebellion logo on the walls along with «Shell kills», «shame» and «lies». Police officers detained suspects at the building while demonstrators held up a banner reading «fossil fuels are killing us» and placards saying «wanted for ecocide». Extinction Rebellion started in Britain five months ago with the aim of pressing governments and other institutions to declare a climate and ecological emergency. They also want action to halt biodiversity loss, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and be led by the decisions of new «citizens' assemblies on climate and ecological justice». «The aim is to contribute to an escalating series of acts of civil disobedience which bring about change,» said Larch Maxey, 46, a spokesman for the movement. «The plan is disruption and that disruption escalates until you get the attention of the people you are persuading to change,» he said. - 'No planet B' - On Waterloo Bridge, demonstrators held up placards reading «rebel for life», «we have no planet B» and «truth, disobey», set up a skateboard ramp and marched back and forth across the bridge behind a group of drummers. People brought wheelbarrows with them and set up vegetarian food stalls, enjoying their lunch in the sunshine. Many families with children took part in the demonstration. Ruby Brookman, 22, a volunteer in helping refugees, said: «I'm here because our generation is going to be affected by this. »I work with refugees and we saw people moving with climate change: drought in East Africa a while ago, the recent hurricanes in Zimbabwe.« Oliver Paines, 68, from Cornwall, was part of a group of people who stripped off in the public gallery of parliament's House of Commons on April 1. »We are farmers. Twenty years ago we saw the way farming was industrialised, destroying and damaging human life with pesticides,« he said. »Every day, we see evidence of the planet in crisis." Protesters also gathered in four other London sites: Parliament Square and the major city centre interchanges at Piccadilly Circus, Marble Arch and Oxford Circus, where people gathered around a pink boat. © Agence France-Presse

President of Seychelles delivers live TV address 124 metres below ocean's surface

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, became the first head of state to deliver a live address from a depth of 124 metres below the ocean surface during a submersible dive on Sunday. According to State House, Faure joined the Seychelles Nekton expeditio
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President of Seychelles delivers live TV address 124 metres below ocean's surface

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, became the first head of state to deliver a live address from a depth of 124 metres below the ocean surface during a submersible dive on Sunday. According to State House, Faure joined the Seychelles Nekton expedition on Saturday at Desroches Island where he received an update on the findings of the expedition so far. Speaking to an audience of over 110 million viewers in over 40 countries, Faure said, “At this depth, I can see not only the incredible beauty of our ocean but the care that it urgently needs to stay this way.” The President of Seychelles added that “this is a historical moment for my country, Seychelles. Together with Nekton and a unique collaboration of over 40 partners combining marine research and state-of-the-art technology, today I have this opportunity to be in a submersible 124 metres below the water surface.” In his address, Faure described the ocean as ‘the beating blue heart of our planet’ and the experience as ‘so, so cool’ and that it has made him an even stronger advocate for ocean conservation and taking concrete actions to mitigate against climate change.  (YouTube/ Nekton Mission)  “Over the years, we have created these problems. We can solve them. We must solve them. We need decisive, coordinated international action. The deep ocean is the beating heart of the planet, yet we have better maps of planet Mars than we do of the ocean floor. This needs to change, as we gather the information available to identify priority areas for protection,” said the head of state. In highlighting the importance of concrete actions for ocean conservation, Faure said, “This issue is bigger than all of us, and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it. We are running out of excuses to not take action, and running out of time.” When he joined the Nekton expedition on Saturday, Faure viewed a short film which detailed the findings of the ‘First Descent’ since it was officially launched on March 2. Supported by an alliance of 40 partners, ‘First Descent’ refers to a series of expeditions to explore and conserve the Indian Ocean, the world’s least understood and least protected ocean. The Seychelles Nekton mission so far has included 75 submersible dives, 300 science deployments and the use of 21 different research technologies. The Nekton expedition is on an underwater exploration of depths of up to 500 metres of Seychelles' waters. The focus of the research is variability in trophic signatures of zooplankton and food web dynamics within the Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. Ocean Zephyr -- the expedition ship which is a floating research station -- set sail from Seychelles on March 4 for the two-month expedition with seven Seychellois researchers. On his visit, the President met with Sheena Talma and Stephanie Marie, who are both working in the wet lab on board the Ocean Zephyr. Faure congratulated the two young women on their achievements and encouraged them to continue working hard and inspiring young people to pursue a career in marine science. Nekton Deep Ocean Exploration based in Oxford is backed by various partners, including the UK Government, Omega, Kensington Tours, University of Oxford, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sky and The Associated Press. The Associated Press is also accompanying the expedition and is providing live underwater video from the dives, using new optical transmission technology to send footage from the submarines to the ship and from there, by satellite, to the world.

Seychelles eyes new law to protect agricultural land in bid for increased food security

Seychelles is planning to put in place a law that will protect agricultural land from being used for other types of development, a top government official said last week. A workshop on agricultural land evaluation was organised by the Ministry of Agricultur
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles eyes new law to protect agricultural land in bid for increased food security

Seychelles is planning to put in place a law that will protect agricultural land from being used for other types of development, a top government official said last week. A workshop on agricultural land evaluation was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with the support of the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Antoine-Marie Moustache, the principal secretary for agriculture, said evaluations will be carried out in which there will be a thorough assessment of all agricultural land. The evaluation will aim at finding out what state the land is in, the land's location and whether the land is being used for agricultural purposes. “During the 1980s and 1990s, the country lost approximately 25,000 hectares of agricultural land to other sectors. Some of these plots of land have not been developed or have been converted into residential areas. If we do not take stock now and put a stop to it, we will slowly lose what is left for agriculture,” said Moustache. According to the Seychelles National Agricultural Investment Plan 2015-2020, there are 500 hectares of land that are being used for agriculture. The state owns 300 hectares while the remaining 200 are privately owned. The state lands are leased to individuals for specific periods and the minimum lease period is ten years. In an official visit two years ago, an FAO representative, Patrice Talla, said the potential for agriculture in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, still exists despite the challenges facing the island nation. “A lot of resources spent on importation could be invested in local produce. As agriculture is an important sector for Seychelles, it is always important to discuss what we can do to improve the sector to contribute more towards food security for nutrition in the country,” said Talla. FAO representative, Patrice Talla, said the potential for agriculture in Seychelles, still exists despite the challenges. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  He added that the Seychelles’ food imports have increased and amounted to 70 percent of the total national consumption. Moustache told SNA that this status quo can put Seychelles in a vulnerable position if ever there was a global calamity. “If ever there was an incident that would prevent ships and boats from coming to our shores, you can imagine what this would mean for our country. We need to ensure that we have food security at all times and we need to have a critical amount of land at our disposal for any eventuality,” said the principal secretary.   The workshop comes at an opportune time as Seychelles is reviewing its National Agricultural Investment Plan “Two points highlighted in the plan is the absence of legal protection for agricultural land making it vulnerable to changed usage and poor land monitoring system resulting in poor land management and utilisation,” said Moustache. In the coming months, a series of consultations will be held with all relevant ministries and other stakeholders on Seychelles’ land use plan and how to have a system in place to valorise the land. “We need to decide on what portion of land should be set aside for agriculture and we need to protect these land through a law. Once the law is in place, no one will be allowed to use those land for other purposes other than agriculture,” concluded Moustache. The agricultural land evaluation to support sustainable land resources management is receiving technical assistance worth $165,000 from the FAO under an agreement signed in August 2018. The project will be carried out over a year. 

Saudi, UAE fear for Sudan interests post-Bashir: analysts

With Sudan in turmoil following the ouster of their ally Omar al-Bashir, Gulf powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the UAE are following events closely as they seek to protect their interests, analysts say. Sudan plays a key role in the regional interests of Saudi A
Seychelles News Agency

Saudi, UAE fear for Sudan interests post-Bashir: analysts

With Sudan in turmoil following the ouster of their ally Omar al-Bashir, Gulf powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the UAE are following events closely as they seek to protect their interests, analysts say. Sudan plays a key role in the regional interests of Saudi Arabia and its allies, siding with Riyadh against Shiite Iran and providing troops in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in the Yemen war. And after weeks of silence on Sudan's political turmoil, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Sunday released a lukewarm reaction to Bashir's toppling, calling for «stability» and a «peaceful transition». «Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are by nature averse to all popular movements or revolutions,» said Karim Bitar, director of research at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs. «These are powers that largely privilege the status quo. They fear that any effervescence, any national protest movement, will lead to an oil slick -- that there will be contagion.» - 'Change is inevitable' - Tens of thousands have protested outside Sudan's army headquarters since April 6, initially to urge the military to back their demand that Bashir be removed. Thousands have remained encamped there to keep up the pressure on a military council that took power after ending Bashir's three-decade rule on Thursday. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both voiced backing for the transitional council, with Riyadh promising an aid package to the people of Sudan «in order to alleviate suffering», according to a statement published by state news agency SPA. «The Gulf states are watching Sudan with apprehension and will do everything possible to ensure that the transition happens in continuity, meaning that Sudan remains under military control,» Bitar told AFP. Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for nearly 30 years, broke ranks with Saudi Arabia's regional arch-nemesis Iran after Riyadh's intervention in the Yemen war, sending much-needed troops to battle rebels linked to Tehran alongside the Saudi-led coalition. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has risen as the head of the transitional council -- a move analysts say is not unwelcome in some Gulf states. «All sides in the Gulf want to maintain some sort of stability,» said Andreas Krieg, a professor at King's College London. «Burhan has no ties to the Islamist deep state and has been one of the main liaisons of Sudan to the UAE during the Yemen war. »Burhan appears to be more prone to accept the UAE's policy of zero tolerance towards political Islam than others.« As Sudan looks to the future, the Gulf monarchies are watching closely. »The Gulf states don't want a violent transfer of power. They don't want another tragedy like Libya, Syria or Iraq,« said Mustafa Alani of the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center. »The only way is a peaceful transfer of power,« he added. »In Sudan and Algeria, change is inevitable. The military institutions will supervise the change and hand over power to the civilians.« - Qatar's complicated role - One Gulf state that has remained silent on the Sudan protests is Qatar, locked in a nearly two-year-old diplomatic standoff with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Riyadh and its allies severed all ties with Qatar on accusations the emirate was too close to Iran and to Sunni extremists including the Taliban and Muslim Brotherhood. Gas-rich Qatar had wielded some influence over Bashir's regime before Khartoum joined ranks with Riyadh in the Yemen war. With Bashir gone, it remains to be seen whether Sudan will continue to fight in Yemen -- and whether Doha will support the new government. »Qatar has its own reasons to object because it had some sort of influence on the previous regime,« Alani said. »Qatar has an objective of supporting Islamists in power because they have some sort of influence over this sort of regime.« And while Qatar has »a tendency to support opposition movements,« the country's historic proximity to the Bashir regime leaves it in an uncomfortable position in the interim, according to Bitar. But across the board, Bashir's ouster is a pivotal moment for the Gulf. »One shared goal across Gulf states is maintaining Sudan's stability -- preserving the institutions of the state while reform and transition takes place,« said Elizabeth Dickinson of the International Crisis Group. »We are not in the Gulf of 2011, completely allergic to transition,« Dickinson told AFP. »Leaders here understand that autocratic governments that do not perform cannot survive. The question is how they should fail. «With so much fragility across the greater region, there is a sense here that a managed transition could be the best way forward.» © Agence France-Presse

Spectacular Africa Cup of Nations draw throws up intriguing groups

Under the gaze of the Sphinx, a spectacular Africa Cup of Nations draw in Giza on Friday night produced an intriguing set of groups that leave many riddles to be answered. After an open-air event against the illuminated backdrop of the pyramids, hosts Egypt
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Spectacular Africa Cup of Nations draw throws up intriguing groups

Under the gaze of the Sphinx, a spectacular Africa Cup of Nations draw in Giza on Friday night produced an intriguing set of groups that leave many riddles to be answered. After an open-air event against the illuminated backdrop of the pyramids, hosts Egypt, winners of the competition a record seven times, will face double champions Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda and Zimbabwe fill the last two places in Group A. Egypt will kick off the event against Zimbabwe in Cairo on June 21. The tournament ends on July 19. Group F in the 24-team tournament brought together the second and third most successful sides in its history. Cameroon, who won their fifth continental crown last time and were originally set to host the competition, will face four-time winners Ghana. Benin and Guinea-Bissau complete the group. Every draw contains a so-called 'group of death' and in this instance it is undoubtedly Group D with former champions Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa plus outsiders Namibia. Senegal, the only one of the six top seeds never to have won the event, will face a former champion Algeria as well as the East African pair of Kenya and Tanzania in Group C. Nigeria take on Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi in Group B. Tunisia face Mali, Mauritania and Angola in Group E. The host put on a colourful show, though it strangely included an acrobatic troupe imported from Austria who performed dressed as African zebras. Uganda coach Sebastien Desabre said: «Our chances in advancing will be tough because of the similar level of the teams in our group. It will be a difficult match-up facing the Pharaohs on their home turf amid their passionate fans.» Recently appointed Tunisia coach and former France star Alain Giresse pinpointed their opening match against Angola in Suez as crucial. «Facing Angola in the opening matches of the tournament will decide the fate of which team will top the group,» he said. Group D brings old acquaintances face to face in a deadly struggle. French coach Herve Renard guided the Ivory Coast to a long-sought title in 2015 -- 23 years after they first conquered Africa -- and then switched to Morocco. The countries clashed at the last Cup of Nations in Gabon with the Moroccans winning 1-0 to advance from the group stage and eliminate the Ivorians. Charismatic Renard is the only coach to have won the competition with different countries as he guided outsiders Zambia to the 2012 title. South Africa are unpredictable -- they began the qualifying campaign with a stunning 2-0 win in Nigeria but could only draw at home to Libya the next time they played. A greater embarrassment for Bafana Bafana (The Boys) came when they were held 0-0 away by a Seychelles team of part-timers, including a hotel pastry chef. -- Salah-inspired -- Apart from Morocco, the other five top seeds will be confident of making the round-of-16, the first of four knockout stages. Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt should win Group A, leaving DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe to scrap for one or two places. Nigeria look superior in Group B to Guinea and two debutants, Madagascar and Burundi, while Senegal and Algeria should advance from Group C at the expense of Kenya and Tanzania. Tunisia and Mali will be the favoured sides in Group E while Mauritania and Angola resume a rivalry from the qualifiers where both teams won at home. It would be a shock if Cameroon or Ghana failed to make the second round as Benin and Guinea-Bissau appear to be among the weakest qualifiers. © Agence France-Presse

Described as ‘paradise,’ Félicité Island in Seychelles wins sustainable destination award

Seychelles’ Félicité Island was named the second-most sustainable destination in the Best of Africa category at the 2019 Top 100 destination awards. The island, which is home to the Six Senses Zil Pasyon luxury resort, opened in 2016. It received the aw
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Described as ‘paradise,’ Félicité Island in Seychelles wins sustainable destination award

Seychelles’ Félicité Island was named the second-most sustainable destination in the Best of Africa category at the 2019 Top 100 destination awards. The island, which is home to the Six Senses Zil Pasyon luxury resort, opened in 2016. It received the award from the Green Destinations -- a non-profit foundation for sustainable tourism — last month. Chumbe Island from Tanzania took the top spot. The ceremony for the sustainable top 100 destinations award took place during the world’s largest trade fair -- ITB Berlin -- from March 6 to 10. The general manager of Zil Pasyon, Hilton Hastings, said in a statement last week: “It is an incredible honour to be recognised worldwide for our environmental efforts, making us one of the top sustainable destinations of the world.” He added that “the fact that a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean can make such an impact is amazing and it also comes with a lot of hard work from our team. I’m delighted that more and more guests are seeking destinations like ours and want to learn more about how they can implement similar practices when home.” The Zil Pasyon resort is run in close collaboration with the Seychelles National Parks Authority since Félicité Island is part of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) and two-thirds of the island consists of Ramos National Park. “We are very proud that our small island paradise has been recognised for the commitment to sustainable development and conservation initiatives,” said Anna Zora, sustainability manager of Six Senses Zil Pasyon, in a communique last week. The sustainable top 100 destinations award is a selection of the finest top 100 destinations based on jury-reviewed sustainability success stories submitted by destinations. This unique award recognises innovation and good practices in tourism management of destinations and tour operators leading the way towards quality, attractiveness and sustainability in tourism. An international jury, with representatives of the tourism, ecotourism and conservation industry, reviews the submissions of The Sustainable Top 100 Destinations Award and pinpoint the destinations which pioneer responsible tourism in different parts of the world.  Zora said that the Zil Pasyon resort’s key projects include island reforestation, turtle monitoring and coral restoration in addition to a zero waste and plastic-free initiatives. “One project we take a lot of pride in is the rehabilitation of the island’s habitat through the reintroduction of endemic and indigenous species and the protection of the coco de mer site, which is only found in the Seychelles,” she added. Guests of the resort can connect with the unique nature and scenery of the Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The activities include guided snorkelling tours on the surrounding reefs and educational hikes that offer stunning views of the island and insights on the local fauna and flora. The Six Senses hotels resorts and spas was purchased in February by the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) for $300 million. 

Khartoum erupts with joy as Bashir successor steps down

Crowds of Sudanese waving flags and chanting «we toppled two presidents in two days» celebrated in the capital late Friday after the country's military council chief stepped down a day after he was sworn in. «We have done it, we have done i
Seychelles News Agency

Khartoum erupts with joy as Bashir successor steps down

Crowds of Sudanese waving flags and chanting «we toppled two presidents in two days» celebrated in the capital late Friday after the country's military council chief stepped down a day after he was sworn in. «We have done it, we have done it,» shouted young men and women as they drove across Khartoum after General Awad Ibn Ouf announced his resignation on state television. On Thursday, he was sworn in as the chief of a ruling military council that replaced long-time president Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted by the army following months of deadly protests. Before quitting, Ibn Ouf appointed Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as his successor, setting off a wave of jubilation across the city. Car horns sounded on the streets as jubilant crowds streamed out of their homes to cheer the departure of Ibn Ouf, considered a regime insider and close aide of Bashir. Chants like «It fell again, it fell again» reverberated across the capital's squares and neighbourhoods, onlookers said. «This was our second uprising, first against Bashir and then against Ibn Ouf,» said Mohamed, a protester, whistling and clapping in an upscale Khartoum neighbourhood. Dozens of members of a paramilitary group stood at the sidelines, many atop pick-up vehicles loaded with machine-guns, as cheering crowds drove past, witnesses said. Protest organisers however warned Burhan that if he failed to transfer powers to a civilian transitional government he would face their fury too. They called on Burhan to reverse decisions announced by Ibn Ouf such as cancelling the suspension of the constitution and also implored him to end the state of emergency and night-time curfew. - Crowds flock to demo - Thousands of protesters have massed outside the army headquarters in the capital since April 6. Earlier on Friday, throngs of Sudanese chanting «it will fall again, it will fall again» flocked there to hunker down for a second night defying the curfew, witnesses said. Dressed in white traditional clothes, men and women headed to the military complex to join thousands of others camped there. «We did it once, we can do it again,» said a protester, who had been at the site of the demonstration since Tuesday night. Since the appointment of Ibn Ouf as military council chief, the protesters had turned their anger against him. «We don't want Ibn Ouf, we don't want any military government,» said one protester. «This entire group is from Bashir's regime. We want a civilian leader.» Several soldiers were however seen chatting and mingling with protesters at the complex on Friday, witnesses said. As the evening approached, buses full of protesters headed to the protest site with plans to defy the curfew again, a witness told AFP. - 'Reject the announcement' - A mass of people flooded two bridges that connect the capital with suburbs. At the protest site itself thousands offered Friday prayers earlier in the day. An imam dressed in a white robe with a Sudanese flag draped over his shoulder led the weekly prayer. «This is the first time that I'm coming here in response to calls that today's prayers will be performed here,» said Hussein Mohamed, an elderly man who came to the site from Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city across the Nile. Groups of Coptic Christians served food and drinks to worshippers ahead of their prayers. Many offered mats to protesters who had been camping at the site since last night. «Protesters reject the announcement, protesters reject the announcement,» chanted women, raising their hands in the air, after praying under a makeshift tent at the complex. Witnesses said the entire area reverberated with the sound of singing. Protesters were chanting in circles, with one leading the song and others dancing in circles around him repeating it. Groups like this are everywhere, said one demonstrator as behind him musicians played traditional Sudanese and African tunes. Later in the night when Ibn Ouf quit, demonstrators at the complex burst into joy, many kissing photographs of those killed in protests, an onlooker said. Demonstrators chanted «What happened? It fell again,» he said. Protest organisers have called on the demonstrators to continue with the sit-in until their demands are met. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles’ history museum, itself in an ancient building, undergoing renovation works

The Seychelles’ Natural History Museum, located in one of the oldest buildings in the capital Victoria, has been closed since April 1 for renovation work expected to end in December. Beryl Ondiek, the museum director, told SNA that the last intensive wor
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ history museum, itself in an ancient building, undergoing renovation works

The Seychelles’ Natural History Museum, located in one of the oldest buildings in the capital Victoria, has been closed since April 1 for renovation work expected to end in December. Beryl Ondiek, the museum director, told SNA that the last intensive work on the building was over ten years ago. “Cracks have appeared in the walls and the paint is peeling off. It is not a conducive environment for our employees and visitors that come to the museum daily so we need to repair the building,” says Ondiek. The Natural History Museum was previously the Carnegie, inaugurated in January 1910 by Walter Edward Davidson, the second British governor of the colony of Seychelles between 1904 and 1912. It was named after the Scottish born American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who donated a sum of money for the creation of the public library. The building became the  Natural History Museum on June 30, 1994, and today has over 6,000 displays and specimens in sections on botany, zoology, geology and anthropology. The museum hosts exhibitions that not only illustrate the flora, fauna and geological history of Seychelles, but serve to enlighten visitors about major environmental concerns with the aim of promoting positive attitudes and actions in conserving our natural heritage. The exhibition of «Mysterious Cetacean» was held at the museum in February 2018. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) It also houses the biggest coco-de-mer nut ever found in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, the remains of giant tortoises, crocodiles and whales. Different types of granite rocks found in the island nation, as well as a large collection of seashells, can be seen at the museum. The museum is well frequented by visitors to Seychelles and school children who use it as a reference centre. Ondiek says the architecture of the building will not be touched during the renovation. “The building was opened in 1910 so it has great historical importance and value so we will not change the architecture. Most work will be done inside the building where we hope to give it a more modern feel with more attractive displays,” added Ondiek. She added that because the Natural History Museum is expected to move into the new maritime museum to be built in the coming years, the government of Seychelles will not be spending money on new displays, but rather giving the existing ones a new facelift. Ondiek adds they have also sought the assistance of the energy commission to make the museum more environmentally-friendly. The project will be tendered out in the coming weeks and the director of the museum says that if everything goes according to plan, the renovation work is expected to be completed by the end of the year. “After that, we can set up the displays during the month of January. We know that the place is a tourist attraction so we don’t want to delay its reopening”, says Ondiek. Residents pay SCR5 to visit the natural history museum while visitors pay an entrance fee of SCR15. Ondiek did not confirm if prices will be revised once work is completed. 

Seychelles Hospital increases dialysis services to cater for additional patients

More patients suffering from kidney diseases and requiring renal care can now be assisted after an extension of the haemodialysis unit at the Seychelles Hospital. With the extension which was officially opened on Friday, the number of dialysis chairs has inc
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Hospital increases dialysis services to cater for additional patients

More patients suffering from kidney diseases and requiring renal care can now be assisted after an extension of the haemodialysis unit at the Seychelles Hospital. With the extension which was officially opened on Friday, the number of dialysis chairs has increased from 26 to 40. This is an increase in dialysis capacity of about 54 percent. There are currently 173 patients requiring renal care on Mahe, the main island, four on Praslin and one on La Digue, the second and third most populated islands of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The nurse manager at the unit, Elsia Sinon, said that the extension was required as the demand for dialysis was increasing. “Prior to this, we were doing three sessions per day. With the 14 new machines, we can bring that down to two sessions. This is much more favourable for the patients because they were leaving the service really late at night at times at midnight, and both staff and patients will be happy,” said Sinon. The refurbishment of the extended unit was made through an investment made by the AMSA Renal Care, a Dubai-based Indian Company, contracted for the management of the haemodialysis services at the Health Care Agency since March 2015.  In addition to the added capacity, a reverse osmosis plant, an essential implement for haemodialysis, has also been installed to serve the Intensive Care Unit. Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys stop working properly. “Dialysis services are lifesaving services. The services that we are offering through our existing unit as well as through the new unit, ensures that people who are facing the challenges of chronic illnesses can have the best quality of life possible, keeping in mind the difficulty of their existing situation,” said Jean-Paul Adam, the health minister, at the opening ceremony. The extension unit was officially opened on Friday. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY Adam added that “the challenge will continue to grow and this is in particular due to the rise in noncommunicable diseases in our country.” Sinon said that the Ministry is putting emphasis on educating patients. “As staff of the Ministry of Health, we stress a lot about prevention to reduce cases or delay someone from requiring the dialysis service. The majority of persons coming in for dialysis are those suffering from diabetes, hypertension and urinal infection,” said Sinon. She added that the health ministry is working on educating patients on the service to get kidney transplants, which will improve their lives as they will not have to come to the dialysis centre. “There are already patients who have done kidney transplants. Currently, there are five potential patients on our list for a transplant,” said Sinon. During the opening ceremony, the president of AMSA Renal Care, Abdullah Ajmal, said that “the technologies employed are some of the best in the world and we spared no effort to ensure that the people of Seychelles has the best care possible.”

President of Seychelles invited to visit Turkey, visiting delegation says

Building ties in the fields of tourism, energy and health are what Turkey is hoping to establish with Seychelles, said the head of the first Turkish delegation ever to the island nation on Thursday. The delegation met with the Seychelles' President Danny F
Seychelles News Agency

President of Seychelles invited to visit Turkey, visiting delegation says

Building ties in the fields of tourism, energy and health are what Turkey is hoping to establish with Seychelles, said the head of the first Turkish delegation ever to the island nation on Thursday. The delegation met with the Seychelles' President Danny Faure at State House in Victoria, the capital.   «Energy is a field that we know a lot about and we want to share our expertise with Seychelles. We had some business people in the meeting which had introduced themselves and what they can do,» said the head of the delegation, Bekir Kuvvet Erim. Talking about tourism, Kuvvet Erim said that Seychelles is «a champion in this field and we want to learn some important marketing skills that it uses to encourage tourist to come to the country.”  Tourism is the top contributor to the economy of Seychelles -- a 115 island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. In October 2016, Turkish Airlines started operating thrice-weekly flights to the island nation. In December last year, the two countries signed an air service agreement at the annual Air Services Negotiation conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The head of the Turkish delegation added that the visit is a historical one because this is the first time that a diverse delegation including businessmen, parliamentarians and people from the military come to Seychelles. »The main idea is to also hold a business forum in Seychelles in order to develop our economic and trade corporation," said Kuvvet Erim. On his side, Faure expressed Seychelles’ willingness to further develop cooperation ties between Seychelles and Turkey. “Seychelles and Turkey share a very active and dynamic cooperation agenda. Turkey has been instrumental to our socio-economic progress including the reinforcing of our human resources and financing of certain important projects. I am happy to see a representation of various sectors in your delegation today and I hope you have fruitful discussions during your stay in Seychelles,” said the President Trade and military cooperation also topped the agenda during the discussion between Faure and the Turkish delegation.  Kuvvet Erim said that he has conveyed an invitation from the Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan to Faure to visit Turkey.  The delegation is expected to participate in various discussions and meetings with the opportunity to engage with their Seychelles counterparts. Seychelles and Turkey established diplomatic ties on June 22, 1995.

US Coast Guard says Seychelles’ ports lack strong anti-terrorism measures

A report by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has found that Seychelles is not maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures at its port.  The Seychelles Port Authority chair, Paul Hodoul, said the island nation wants to comply with the US standards but
Seychelles News Agency

US Coast Guard says Seychelles’ ports lack strong anti-terrorism measures

A report by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has found that Seychelles is not maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures at its port.  The Seychelles Port Authority chair, Paul Hodoul, said the island nation wants to comply with the US standards but that “it is difficult for us to become ISPS compliant as there are many physical constraints at the port,” including the location of the administration building.  According to an article on www.maritimenews.com, the deficiencies identified have been included in the International Port Security report, prepared by USCG as part of the International Port Security Programme. The programme seeks to reduce risks to US maritime interests and to ease secure maritime trade globally. As part of the programme, officials visit ports and discuss the implementation and compliance to the ISPS code and other port security measures. Hodoul added that the ISPS Code is a code implemented by USCG after the terrorist attack known as 9/11 in September 2001 and that it is difficult for Seychelles’ port to comply to the code on account of the state and design of Victoria Port, which was built decades ago, in 1972. “The code states that nobody should be allowed to enter the port for any reason and that the administration building should not be here but rather should be located next to the fence so the public does not have access to the port,” Hodoul told reporters “This means we have to demolish the building where our offices are housed,” he added. Hodoul said the port extension project, which is currently in the design phase takes into account the numerous recommendations of the ISPS report to ensure that Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - is compliant with the code in future. It is difficult for Seychelles’ port to comply with the code on account of the state and design of Victoria Port, which was built decades ago, in 1972. (Seychelles Ports Authority) Photo License: CC-BY Following the publication of the report, the United States Coast Guard is as of April 12 imposing conditions of entry on vessels arriving in US waters that have visited a port of the island nation in its last five port calls. According to Hodoul “the conditions will have very little impact or hardly any impact on Seychelles as it is geared towards vessels and boats that pass through and then make the journey to the US but we don’t have any vessels that do so, whether cargo vessels or cruise ships, unless, maybe American vessels.” The article on www.maritimenews.com explained that conditions of entry are intended “to protect the US from countries found to have deficient anti-terrorism port measures in place” and even lists the deficiencies found in ports in Seychelles including deficient access control measures, cargo control measures and deficient facility monitoring measures. The article stated that the island nation was notified of this in May 2018 and that USCG has provided recommendations to improve antiterrorism measures. This issue was a point of discussion between the US ambassador to the island nation, David Reimer, and President Danny Faure on Thursday. Reimer who paid a courtesy call to the head of state, said both governments are going to work very hard to get Seychelles off that list. «We will have a team from the United States who will come down here in June to try and mitigate all of the concerns. Once the concerns are taken care of, we will send another team from the coast guard back to do another investigation and hopefully the results will be better and at that point we can take Seychelles off the list,» explained Reimer, who added: "Ultimately though it is up to the Seychelles Port and the people who work there to bring the port up to global standards and counter-terrorism. The ambassador said that his country will do all that it can to assist the islands.” Hodoul gave his reassurances, that no operations including trade will be affected by the decision and added that currently, an American officer from the Naval Criminal Investigations Service is currently in the country to assist the local authority.  “Amidst the discussions about port security, we are working together with him to design the port extension project,” said Hodoul adding that officials concerned with port security will also receive training from US Coast guards periodically, an initiative which Hodoul said serves to build confidence that port officials are trained and skilled in port safety and security. For the extension project of Port Victoria, the Seychelles Ports Authority has received $41 million -- $35 million from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The European Union (EU) has also provided a grant of around $6 million. The project is expected to be completed by 2021. 

WikiLeaks' Assange arrested in London on US extradition request

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's seven-year hideout in Ecuador's London embassy dramatically ended when British police dragged him out and arrested him on a US extradition request. Footage from the Russian video news agency Ruptly showed Assange -- his wor
Seychelles News Agency

WikiLeaks' Assange arrested in London on US extradition request

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's seven-year hideout in Ecuador's London embassy dramatically ended when British police dragged him out and arrested him on a US extradition request. Footage from the Russian video news agency Ruptly showed Assange -- his worn face framed by a bushy white beard and shock of silver hair -- being hustled out of the building by burly men in suits and pulled into a waiting police van Thursday. The scene unfolded outside the plush central London building that has been Assange's refuge from the authorities since 2012. «No one is above the law,» British Prime Minister Theresa May said to cheers in parliament. The drama came after Ecuador -- under pro-US President Lenin Moreno, increasingly frustrated with Assange's stay -- pulled its asylum and cancelled his citizenship after earlier curbing his internet and mobile phone access. British police said Assange had been initially arrested for breaching his bail conditions in 2012 and then «further arrested on behalf of the United States», where he is wanted to face hacking charges. His London lawyer Jennifer Robinson said Assange would be «contesting and fighting» his extradition. Robinson said Assange had also told her to pass a message to his supporters that his repeated warnings about the risk of US extradition had been proved right. «He said: 'I told you so',» Robinson told reporters and supporters, including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, outside Westminster Magistrates Court. - 'I'm not leaving' - The pony-tailed 47-year-old Australian gave a thumbs-up sign to the press gallery in court and opened up a copy of Gore Vidal's book «History of the National Security State» about the US military-industrial complex before his hearing began. Judge Michael Snow pronounced Assange guilty of breaching his bail conditions by sheltering in the embassy and remanded him in custody to face sentencing at an unspecified later date. He faces up to a year in a British prison and will have his separate extradition case heard on May 2. Assange yelled «this is unlawful» and «I am not leaving» during the arrest, the court was told. Police struggled to handcuff him but eventually lifted him out exactly an hour after entering the embassy. Assange had long suspected that he was secretly wanted by Washington for his decision to publish a trove of classified Pentagon documents detailing alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. US authorities had steadfastly refused to confirm reports that they had issued a sealed indictment against Assange -- until Thursday. The US Justice Department said Assange was being charged with a computer hacking conspiracy relating to his work with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in March 2010 and faced a maximum of five years in prison if convicted. US President Donald Trump brushed aside the issue when questioned by reporters at the White House. «I know nothing about WikiLeaks, it's not my thing.» - Guarantee against death penalty - Assange will now be at the heart of a legal and diplomatic tug of war pitting him and his legions of supporters -- including Russian authorities -- against the US justice system. His links to Russia continued through the years holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Assange would receive «no special treatment» from his home country. WikiLeaks also published damaging emails stolen from Hillary Clinton and her Democratic Party's computer servers during her failed 2016 US presidential race against Trump. US intelligence agencies believe the hack was conducted by Russia's military intelligence agency. Assange says he never knew the source of the politically-compromising material when he released it on WikiLeaks. Assange's supporters fear that his extradition will be followed by more serious US charges such as treason -- a crime that carries the death penalty in wartime. Moreno insisted that he had «asked Great Britain for the guarantee that Mr Assange will not be extradited to any country in which he could suffer torture or face the death penalty». - 'Dangerous precedent' - Assange's case has opened up a bigger debate about security and free speech. His supporters view him as a fearless exposer of injustices such as torture and alleged war crimes committed by US forces and then covered up. Assange's critics accuse him of cosying up to authoritarian leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and putting US lives at risk. The Reporters Without Borders free speech group said Assange's arrest «could set a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistleblowers, and other journalistic sources that the US may wish to pursue in the future». Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Britain of «strangling freedom» and fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden -- himself hiding in Moscow since 2013 -- said the arrest was a «dark moment». Former Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa claimed it was an act of «personal vengeance» on the part of his successor Moreno. A collaborator close to Assange was arrested in Ecuador on Thursday, Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said, after she earlier linked the individual with alleged attempts to destabilise Moreno's government. © Agence France-Presse

60 Seychellois receive law enforcement training from United States officials

Over 60 Seychellois have recently benefitted from training from the United States of America in law enforcement, in particular, counternarcotics efforts.  This was revealed by David Reimer - the United States ambassador to the island nation - on Thursday 
Seychelles News Agency

60 Seychellois receive law enforcement training from United States officials

Over 60 Seychellois have recently benefitted from training from the United States of America in law enforcement, in particular, counternarcotics efforts.  This was revealed by David Reimer - the United States ambassador to the island nation - on Thursday after paying a courtesy call on President Danny Faure at State House. The ambassador said these training were offered by the US coast guard, the Federal Bureau for Investigations (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Reimer is on his sixth visit to Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - since his accreditation over a year ago. “We talked about a whole range of activities between our two countries and we focused on antinarcotics and some technical assistance that the United States is offering Seychelles,” said Reimer. The ambassador is on a 10-day visit to the island nation. During his stay, Reimer is having discussions with government officials, people from the private sector as well as with not for profit organisations. On Wednesday Reimer visited several projects that are being implemented by civil societies which benefited with funding from the USA. “I visited a nongovernment organisation which is doing wonderful work to rehabilitate drug addicts and we attended some practical training they were getting, so that once they complete their recovery programme they can go back to enjoying a normal life,” said Reimer who added that his country is working with both law enforcement as well as with not for profit organisations. The U.S. ambassador, who is based in Port Louis, Mauritius, was accredited in February 2018. When he took his new post, Reimer told journalists that: “The United States has a long history of cooperation and assistance with Seychelles and we anticipate that we will continue with this training and this assistance as strong as ever.” 

Tourist arrivals to Seychelles up 10 percent in 2019 so far, tourism minister says

The increase in tourism arrivals, the operation of Air France in Seychelles instead of sister airline Joon and the expansion plan for Port Victoria were among the topics highlighted by the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine in a press confe
Seychelles News Agency

Tourist arrivals to Seychelles up 10 percent in 2019 so far, tourism minister says

The increase in tourism arrivals, the operation of Air France in Seychelles instead of sister airline Joon and the expansion plan for Port Victoria were among the topics highlighted by the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine in a press conference on Wednesday. The conference was the first in a series the minister, Didier Dogley, is expected to hold this year in which he is expected to give details about works being done within his ministry. Tourism Dogley said that in general, the tourism arrival figures are quite good. A total of 110,009 visitors have arrived in Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, since the beginning of 2019 to date. Compared to the same period last year, the island nation has seen a 10 percent increase in visitor arrivals. “There has been significant growth and the figures we are getting include the cruise ships that are coming in on charters through the airport. Usually, they (visitors)  come by boat but when they come via plane, it is a plus as there are other costs that come into play, meaning they contribute more to the economy of the country,” said Dogley. According to statistics from the Central Bank of Seychelles, there has been an estimated increase of $1 million in terms of tourism earning for the first quarter of the year. The minister added that the tourism department is finalising the Tourism Development Act which will ensure that the functions of the department are guided by law. These functions are legally still the responsibility of the Seychelles Tourism Board. Civil Aviation Addressing concerns about the shutdown of Joon as an airline, Dogley said that “Air France has confirmed that they will be flying to Seychelles on a three-times per week schedule instead of Joon.” “Unfortunately, the airline won't be coming during summer but will resume services in October this year. With Air France itself flying to Seychelles, we see that as a big plus for Seychelles as it is an established airline,” he said.   Answering a question about Air Mauritius flying to the Seychelles, the minister explained that there is no confirmation that the airline will be operating in Seychelles, even though representatives of the airline have held talks with the local aviation authority. In regards to the progress of projects of the civil aviation sector, it was pointed out that work being carried out on the domestic airport is almost completed. More services are now available at the airport, especially when it came to catering. It was added that there are plans to improve the departure lounge and the carpark area. The AVANI CIP lounge opened in December last year, has added to the catering services being provided at the Seychelles airport. (Joena Meme) Photo License: CC-BY The chief operation officer of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Wilfred Fock Tave, said that there is a plan to introduce a pay parking system at the airport once work on the parking area is completed. “This is a common norm in many countries. There will be an area for taxis and car hire, however, car hire operators won't be able to use the space to stockpile their vehicles,” said Fock Tave. Ports and Marine Dogley informed the press that the company contracted to work on the expansion of the Mahe quay was in the country recently where they carried out consultations with different partners. “We are expecting them back in the country towards the end of the year with a plan. Early next year, we are expecting the plan to have been finalised so that it can be presented to the government,” said Dogley. He added that work being carried out at the Bel Ombre jetty where the plan was to have an area for fishing and another for leisure, is completed. On Praslin and La Digue, work on the passenger terminal has started.

EU gives Britain six-month delay to Brexit date

European leaders agreed with Britain on Thursday to delay Brexit by up to six months, saving the continent from what could have been a chaotic no-deal departure at the end of the week. The deal struck during late night talks in Brussels means that, if Londo
Seychelles News Agency

EU gives Britain six-month delay to Brexit date

European leaders agreed with Britain on Thursday to delay Brexit by up to six months, saving the continent from what could have been a chaotic no-deal departure at the end of the week. The deal struck during late night talks in Brussels means that, if London remains in the EU after May 22, British voters will have to take part in European elections -- or crash out on June 1. Prime Minister Theresa May said she would now keep working to get her withdrawal agreement approved by parliament to ensure an orderly split, saying her goal was to leave «as soon as possible». She will address the House of Commons on Thursday before her officials meet for further talks with the main opposition Labour party, to try to find a way through the political deadlock. The other 27 EU leaders met without May over dinner to thrash out what European Council president Donald Tusk called «a flexible extension until 31 October», before she returned to seal the deal. Tusk had proposed a year-long delay, but said: «It's still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time.» He suggested May's government now had time to ratify the deal agreed with EU leaders in November, to rethink its approach or to stop the entire Brexit process. The summit conclusions say Britain must hold European elections set for May 23 or if «the United Kingdom fails to live up to this obligation, the withdrawal will take place on 1 June 2019». Britain has already started planning for the polls, but May told reporters that she hoped she could still get her deal agreed by May 22 and avoid taking part. «The EU have agreed that the extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified,» she said. - French opposition - The summit was more tense than expected, with France's President Emmanuel Macron the strongest voice opposing a long extension as the talks stretched from early evening to early Thursday morning. With backing from Belgium, Austria and some smaller EU states, he pushed to limit the delay to only few weeks and demanded guarantees that London would not interfere in EU business during that time. But most leaders backed the longer plan, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the French had to settle a review of the delay at a pre-planned EU summit on June 20 and 21. Macron said afterwards this was the «best possible compromise», which «made it possible to preserve the unity» of the other 27 EU states. «The October 31 deadline protects us» because it is «a key date, before the installation of a new European Commission», he said. May left the group after giving what one official said was a «solid» presentation of her case, but was kept up to date by Tusk, who met her before, during and after the discussions. Without a postponement, Britain would have ended its 46-year membership of the EU at midnight (2200 GMT) on Friday with no deal, risking economic chaos on both sides of the Channel. - 'As soon as possible' - The prime minister is under intense pressure from hardline Brexit supporters in her Conservative party not to compromise in her talks with Labour, and the discussions are moving slowly. Addressing MPs back home, who have rejected her withdrawal text three times, she said after the summit: «The choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear. »So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.« May had originally asked for a delay until June 30, but EU leaders have already agreed one delay from March 29 to April 12, and Tusk had warned there is »little reason to believe« that MPs would ratify the Brexit deal within three months. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants Britain to commit to remaining within the EU customs union, an idea that May has previous rejected -- but which many in Europe would be keen to accommodate. »We would be generous in negotiating that, understanding that the UK couldn't be a silent partner in such an arrangement -- it would have to have a say in decisions being made,« Irish premier Leo Varadkar said. There had been speculation about conditions imposed on any extension, amid concerns a semi-detached Britain might leverage in Brexit talks by intervening in choosing the next head of the European Commission or the next multi-year EU budget. The summit conclusions make clear Britain was a full member of the EU until it left, but noted the »commitment by the United Kingdom to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension". © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles is named first in Africa for affordable internet packages

Seychelles is ranked first in Africa for affordable internet packages for offices and household, a report published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has found, though consumers in Seychelles still lodge many complaints against service provid
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles is named first in Africa for affordable internet packages

Seychelles is ranked first in Africa for affordable internet packages for offices and household, a report published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has found, though consumers in Seychelles still lodge many complaints against service providers. The ranking was determined by looking at the cheapest package that can be offered by the different internet service providers in each country, according to the director general of the communication division at Seychelles' Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), Jeffery Dogley. Dogley said that as the regulator, DICT is satisfied with the ranking, however, there is room for improvement. “Operators needs to continuously improve their service. And one way for that to happen is there needs to be more competition and introduction of more operators,” said Dogley. Two telecommunication companies in Seychelles - Cable & Wireless and Airtel – offer packages for households and offices, which costs as low as $18 for 10GB and 20 GB for $38 respectively. Speaking to SNA Norlis Hoareau, the chief executive of the National Consumer Forum NATCOF, a not for profit organisation, said that despite the good ranking, a lot of complaints are being lodged against the different internet service providers in Seychelles. Hoareau said: “Most of the complaints are due to overcharging, slow, and frequent interruption in internet services.” Hoareau added that although complaints are received, the organisation have little power to deal with it directly. He added that all the complaints are then sent to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) for further investigations. One of the service providers, Kokonet, offers flexible wireless internet hotspot service through its kokozone several places on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. (Kokonet) Photo License: CC-BY The 2018 edition of the Measuring the Information Society Report was launched during the 16th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS), in December in Geneva, Switzerland. The report features key ICT data to measure the information society and presented a quantitative analysis of the information society, highlights new and emerging trends and measurement issues. The report also outlined that Seychelles is among six countries in Africa alongside Botswana, Cabo Verde, Gabon, Mauritius and South Africa that have achieved fixed-broadband prices below the 5 percent threshold set by the Broadband Commission for 2015. The 5 percent threshold "takes into account your national income per capita. If your national income per capita is 100 rupees (approximately $7), this means that Seychelles needs to have an internet package that cost 100 rupees (approximately $7) or less. If it is above, this means that you will not meet that target,” said Dogley. “In fact, Seychelles is the country in Africa that provides the most affordable internet for fixed-broadband. For that we are talking about the internet that is provided to households and offices,” said Dogley. The report also put Seychelles 2nd in Africa after Mauritius for the mobile broadband basket and mobile cellular basket. “For the mobile broadband basket, ITU is telling countries that are being compelled to give a package whereby a customer can get 500 MB of internet at a price at which it can be purchased. This is analyzed with the Gross National Income Per Capita (GNI) of the country. Then it ranks the different countries to determine the affordability of the internet,” said Dogley. “Whereas for the mobile cellular basket ITU looks at how much one can pay to subscribe for a SIM card, charges for sms and call per minute,” said Dogley.  The lowest package for mobile data cost around approximately $2 for 50 MB at Cable & Wireless, while at Airtel the price is approximately $30 for 5GB. In a recent interview with SNA, the chief executive of the FTC, Francis Lebon, said in 2018, most consumer complaints were lodged against the construction and telecommunication companies. The Commission is empowered to carry out investigations in relation to the conduct of business to determine if any enterprise is engaging in practices that in breach of the Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Other internet service providers in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, includes Intelvision and Kokonet.

4 family names linked to ships that shaped Seychelles’ history

The people of Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – are known as a melting pot of cultures with rich heritages from Asia, Africa and Europe. The Seychellois are descendants of the African slaves, the white settlers and the Asia
Seychelles News Agency

4 family names linked to ships that shaped Seychelles’ history

The people of Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – are known as a melting pot of cultures with rich heritages from Asia, Africa and Europe. The Seychellois are descendants of the African slaves, the white settlers and the Asian traders – which made up the first inhabitants of the island nation. This week’s SNA Buzz presents four Seychellois family names linked to ships with important historical happenings for the islands.   1. Elisabeth – brought Lazare Picault who discovered Seychelles in 1742 In 1742 on an expedition of exploration of the Indian Ocean, Lazare Picault discovered the largest island of the Seychelles which he named L’Île d’Abondance (Isle of Abundance). He called a smaller island to the east Ste. Anne Island, named after Saint Anne's Day (the date of his landing there). In 1744 he returned to the Seychelles and renamed the largest island Mahéafter Mahé de La Bourdonnais, the governor of Reunion and Mauritius, who was in charge of the mission. He also named the entire island group, Iles de la Bourdonnais. This was changed to Sechelles in 1756, in honour of French Minister of Finances, Jean Moreau de Séchelles. Picault also explored several other islands in the archipelago, including Fregate, Praslin and La Digue. (Maquette2museemarine, Wikimedia) Photo License: CC BY-SA 3.0    2. Telemaque – brought the first settlers to the islands  In 1770, Brayer du Barre obtained permission from the authorities in Ile de France (today known as Mauritius) to set up a post in Seychelles. On August 27, 1770 the ship named ‘Telemaque’ disembarked 28 persons - 15 white men, seven black slaves, five Indians, one black woman - to start a community on Ste. Anne Island. Within two years, however, the settlement had failed and the people were taken back to Ile de France. (Nouvobanq, Calendar 2019) Photo License: CC-BY    3. Laurette – brought the first settlers to La Digue – the third main island of Seychelles The first settlement of La Digue was in 1798 when it received the first batch of political deportees (colonists) from Reunion, who were allowed to take one slave with them, but not their families. The 21 men included a rebel priest, Father Jean Lafosse, who officiated at religious services. Most of the deportees eventually left for France, but eight remained on the island; they included names like Payet, Morel and Laporte, from whom many Diguois are today descended. (Louis Le Breton, Wikimedia Commons) Photo License: CC0    4. Josephine Loiseau – brought the first Catholic missionary to the islands The Catholic faith was brought to Seychelles by the first French settlers but was formally established with the arrival of the Catholic priest, Léon des Avanchers in March 1851. Lèon des Avanchers was a Capuchin priest of the Province of Savoy, France.   News of his arrival spread like wildfire. People flocked to hear him preach, receive the sacraments and hundreds were baptized. By 1853, the priest had already built a small wooden chapel in Victoria. (Nouvobanq, Calendar 2019) Photo License: CC-BY  P.S: Photos used are vessels most common during the times mentioned. 

Party of exiled former Maldives leader wins historic victory

The party of exiled former Maldives president Mohamad Nasheed has won the country's first outright majority in parliament in its democratic history, officials results showed Wednesday. The final count released by the Election Commission shows Nasheed's Maldi
Seychelles News Agency

Party of exiled former Maldives leader wins historic victory

The party of exiled former Maldives president Mohamad Nasheed has won the country's first outright majority in parliament in its democratic history, officials results showed Wednesday. The final count released by the Election Commission shows Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) won 65 of the 87 seats in parliament in elections held Saturday -- a more than two-thirds majority. His party will rule without needed to form a coalition, an unprecedented election outcome for the Indian Ocean archipelago nation. The MDP's closest rivals, the Jamhooree Party and Progressive Party of the Maldives, both won five seats. Two minor parties and independents secured 12 seats among them. Nasheed -- who until five months ago was still in exile -- has vowed to use his party's thumping mandate to usher in a new era of stability and democracy in the Maldives. The holiday destination popular with honeymooners is only just emerging from years of strongman rule, political crises and corruption scandals miring the government and judiciary. Nasheed's comprehensive victory was another rebuke for his rival Abdulla Yameen, who was dumped as president in a shock election defeat in September under a cloud of corruption and embezzlement allegations. Yameen did not run but his party -- the Progressive Party of Maldives –- only collective five seats. Nasheed was barred from running in the presidential election but his former deputy, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, emerged triumphant over Yameen. Nasheed returned to the Maldives in November after the Supreme Court quashed a terrorism conviction against him. © Agence France-Presse

India goes on high security alert ahead of mega polls

India went on high security alert Wednesday ahead of the start of its marathon election, after a campaign dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership that has focused on keeping the country safe from attack. A bomb blast Tuesday blamed on Maoist r
Seychelles News Agency

India goes on high security alert ahead of mega polls

India went on high security alert Wednesday ahead of the start of its marathon election, after a campaign dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership that has focused on keeping the country safe from attack. A bomb blast Tuesday blamed on Maoist rebels killed five people, including a lawmaker campaigning for Modi, heightened fears of election bloodshed. Some 80,000 troops, police and paramilitaries will be deployed in troubled Chhattisgarh state -- where the attack was carried out -- when voting starts Thursday, state police chief D.M Awasthi said. Maoist rebels are behind many of the long-simmering insurgencies in at least nine Indian states. But the Election Commission, which organises the world's biggest democratic election with 900 million eligible voters choosing 543 MPs, insisted the attack would not change its schedule. Seats in 20 states will be decided on the first of seven days of voting spread over six weeks. Modi's right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a second term, defending a landslide win over the opposition Congress party in 2014. The result is predicted to be close however. Chhattisgarh is among sensitive states where polling is staggered over several weeks so security and administrative staff can be moved around. The killing of a local leader of a Hindu nationalist group in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday reinforced fears of trouble during voting. Parts of Kashmir will also vote on Thursday. Gunmen burst into a Jammu hospital and shot dead the regional leader of the right wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is closely linked to Modi's party. Tensions also simmered in the eastern state of Odisha where two landmines were recovered by patrols, and in nearby Bihar where two roadside bombs were detonated. Kashmir hit the headlines ahead of the election after 40 paramilitaries were killed in a suicide attack in February. - Modi film - India blamed the attack on a Pakistan-based group and launched a cross-border air raid, which sparked a retaliatory strike by Pakistan that briefly brought the rivals close to a new war. Modi has used India's action against Pakistan to bolster his strongman image and divert attention from criticism over a lack of jobs across the country and a farmers' debt crisis. At a rally on Tuesday, Modi urged first-time voters to dedicate their ballot to the military who staged the air strike inside Pakistan. Congress said the speech breached an Election Commission order that political parties should not use the armed forces for propaganda. A biopic of the prime minister has also caused controversy, with the opposition Congress party waging a legal battle to prevent the showing of what it has called unfair propaganda. The film however was given a censors' certificate earlier in the week after the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal, and will be released on Thursday. «We are very happy that we got the 'U' (universal) certificate from the Censor Board,» producer Sandeep Ssingh said in a statement. Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, said the flattering portrayal of Modi would give an unfair advantage to his Hindu nationalist BJP. The producers of two TV series were given warning notices by the Election Commission for promoting Modi's pet schemes through their shows, PTI reported. Under Indian election law, during the 48 hours before a state votes, the publication of any content deemed as campaigning -- including adverts, films and even social media -- requires Election Commission approval. Gandhi, scion of India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, filed his nomination papers Wednesday following a roadshow in his home constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. Amethi goes to the polls on May 6. The last vote is on May 19 and the results will be announced on May 23. Various opinion polls have indicated an alliance led by Modi's BJP will win up to 273 of the 543 parliament seats at stake, just one more than the required majority. © Agence France-Presse

VP details cases of 19 Seychellois detained overseas; medical, family services provided

Nineteen Seychellois are either being detained or serving sentences in different prisons around the world, Vice President Vincent Meriton revealed on Tuesday. The Seychellois are being detained for offences from drug trafficking and rape to murder. Meriton
Seychelles News Agency

VP details cases of 19 Seychellois detained overseas; medical, family services provided

Nineteen Seychellois are either being detained or serving sentences in different prisons around the world, Vice President Vincent Meriton revealed on Tuesday. The Seychellois are being detained for offences from drug trafficking and rape to murder. Meriton – who holds the portfolio for foreign affairs - made this statement while answering two private notice questions in the Seychelles’ National Assembly brought forth by a member of the opposition, Gervais Henrie. The first question asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to give details on how many Seychellois are jailed or detained overseas and what offences they have been charged with. Henrie also wanted to know if there were any attempts to transfer them to Seychelles to serve their sentence. Meriton said that out of the 19 Seychellois, ten have not been prosecuted. They include five Seychellois detained in Mozambique under the allegation of illegal fishing, one detained in South Africa under the allegation of illegal drug trafficking, one detained in Malta under the allegation of kidnapping and attempted murder, and two detained in Morocco for allegedly misleading on false pretexts. There is another Seychellois being detained in Italy however the local authority has no details of the charges. The other nine Seychellois have been convicted. These include the two in France for murder and for abuse. The remaining seven have been found guilty for drug trafficking and serving sentences in Egypt, Mauritius, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Kenya.  Meriton also said that there is one Seychellois on bail in South Africa for illegal drug trafficking. The Vice President said that negotiations have started for those prisoners to serve their sentences in Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. “In the case of Egypt since 2014 we are negotiating on an agreement to transfer the three prisoners to Seychelles,” said Meriton. Adding that the “last communication with Egypt was in December last year when we submitted our comments on an agreement to the government of Egypt. We have done a lot through our embassy in Addis Ababa.”  “There have been political interventions at a higher level, but we have not been able to reach an agreement. Through diplomacy, we have been able to negotiate to reduce their death sentence to life imprisonment. We need to take into account the negotiations include two sovereign countries with two different legal criminal systems,” he added. Elaborating further Meriton said, “We offer consular assistance to families when necessary. For example w,e also make sure that the basic rights of prisoners are respected and where it is necessary we provide basic medical assistance.” The other question was asking Foreign Affairs to give details on the last negotiations that the island nation has made to establish an extradition agreement with countries that has Seychellois detainees. Meriton said that Seychelles is not negotiating with the five countries where the Seychellois are being detained. The vice president added that to establish an agreement for extradition is a complex procedure.  “To put things into perspectives I would like to clarify the difference between agreements for extradition and to transfer prisoners. An agreement for extradition is applicable in a situation where an individual has committed a crime in a jurisdiction and has absconded to another jurisdiction. The agreement for extradition, permits the individual to be delivered back into the country where he has committed the crime and where the prosecution will take place. Whereas the agreement to transfer prisoners is not automatic and it follows with that jurisdiction,” said Meriton.  

Netanyahu on clearer path to victory in close Israel vote: exit polls

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared best placed to form a governing coalition Wednesday after high-stakes Israeli elections, exit polls showed, but remained in a tight race with his main rival as votes were being counted. Both Netanyahu and ex-militar
Seychelles News Agency

Netanyahu on clearer path to victory in close Israel vote: exit polls

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared best placed to form a governing coalition Wednesday after high-stakes Israeli elections, exit polls showed, but remained in a tight race with his main rival as votes were being counted. Both Netanyahu and ex-military chief Benny Gantz claimed victory after initial exit surveys were released by Israel's three main television stations following the closure of polling venues on Tuesday night. Two updated exit polls early Wednesday put Netanyahu's Likud ahead of Gantz's Blue and White by one seat. A third poll showed the opposite, with Blue and White holding a one-seat advantage. Both parties would in any case fall far short of a majority and be forced to form a coalition. All three exit polls showed Netanyahu more likely to be able to do so with smaller rightwing parties allied to him in the 120-seat parliament. Exit polls have proven to be unreliable in past Israeli elections and final official results were not expected until later Wednesday. With some 64 percent of the vote counted, Likud had 27.59 percent compared to Blue and White's 26.04 percent, official results showed. Addressing cheering supporters who waived Israeli flags at an event hall in Tel Aviv, Gantz called it an «historic day.» «The president must give us the task of forming the next government since we are the biggest party,» he said after initial exit polls. Netanyahu spoke later and declared himself the winner of a fifth term in office. As he walked onto the stage to chanting crowds, he planted a kiss on the lips of his wife Sara before dramatically wiping lipstick from his face. «It will be a rightwing government, but I will be prime minister for all,» he said. The vote had long been expected to be close and lead to frantic negotiations to form a coalition, even with Netanyahu facing potential corruption charges. - 'Things can change' - «Things can change, but in any case the rightwing bloc won,» Meshi Sivani, 52 and wearing a Likud t-shirt, said at Netanyahu's post-election party. Shushan Levi, 61, called Gantz's performance an «enormous victory for an alliance so new.» «Once he announced he was entering politics, I followed him,» he said at Blue and White's party. «He was my commander in the army 40 years ago.» Gantz, a newcomer to politics, mounted a strong challenge to the veteran prime minister by brandishing his security credentials while pledging to undo damage he says Netanyahu has inflicted on the country with divisive politics. The election was in many ways a referendum on the 69-year-old premier who has built a reputation as guarantor of the country's security and economic growth, but whose populism and alleged corruption have left many ready for change. He engaged in populist rhetoric that critics said amounted to the demonisation of Arab Israelis and others. Netanyahu faced further criticism on election day when members of his Likud party brought small cameras into polling stations in Arab areas. Arab politicians called it an attempt at intimidation, while Netanyahu said cameras would prevent fraud. True to form, Netanyahu issued a deeply controversial pledge only three days before the election, saying he planned to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank should he win. Extending Israeli sovereignty on a large-scale in the West Bank could be the death knell to already fading hopes for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. It is a move long-sought by Israel's far-right. - 'No to peace' - Netanyahu sought to portray himself as Israel's essential statesman in the run-up to the vote and highlighted his bond with US President Donald Trump. He spoke of Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and of Israel's claim of sovereignty over the annexed Golan Heights. He also used Trump-like tactics, calling the corruption investigations a «witch hunt» and denouncing journalists covering them. On Tuesday, he continually warned Likud was at risk of losing over what he said was low turnout among supporters, claims widely seen as a bid to motivate rightwing voters. By 8:00pm (1700 GMT), overall turnout was 61.3 percent compared to 62.4 percent at the same time in 2015 elections. Gantz, a 59-year-old former paratrooper who has formed a centrist alliance, has invoked the corruption allegations against the premier to make his case that it is time for him to go. He has called Netanyahu's annexation pledge an «irresponsible» bid for votes. Gantz says he favours a «globally backed peace agreement» with Israel holding on to the large West Bank settlement blocs. He opposes unilateral moves. He has sought to overcome Netanyahu's experience by allying with two other former military chiefs and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid to form his Blue and White alliance. Should Netanyahu win a fifth term, he will be on track to surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel's longest-serving prime minister later this year. He has been premier for a total of more than 13 years. If he does triumph, «King Bibi,» as some have called him, also faces the prospect of becoming the first sitting prime minister to be indicted. The attorney general has announced he intends to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust pending an upcoming hearing. © Agence France-Presse

50,000 flip-flops among the 25 tonnes of trash cleaned up on Seychelles’ Aldabra Atoll

Twenty-five tonnes of waste -- including some 50,000 flip-flops -- were collected in a five-week clean-up on the Seychelles’ remote atoll of Aldabra. Five volunteers from the University of Oxford and seven from Seychelles joined the Seychelles Islands Foun
Seychelles News Agency

50,000 flip-flops among the 25 tonnes of trash cleaned up on Seychelles’ Aldabra Atoll

Twenty-five tonnes of waste -- including some 50,000 flip-flops -- were collected in a five-week clean-up on the Seychelles’ remote atoll of Aldabra. Five volunteers from the University of Oxford and seven from Seychelles joined the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) team on Aldabra for the clean-up project aimed at clearing the island of man-made rubbish, while also quantifying the amount and types of plastic and finding a sustainable way to process it. Co-leader of the initiative, April Burt from the University of Oxford, told SNA that the cleanup took place in three phases. “During the first phase, we concentrated on just collecting as much waste as possible, carrying out surveys on the waste composition and weight at the end of each session. In the second phase, we had to move all the waste collected to various locations along the whole coastline that is accessible to small boats. This meant carrying sacks of up to 15 kg and slings of up to 60 kg,” said Burt. The most common waste collected during the cleanup were flip-flops and fishing gears. (Seychelles Islands Foundation) Photo License: CC-BY  By phase three, it was all hands on deck as the whole of the SIF team on Aldabra, coast guards and volunteers had to move hundreds of gunny sacks from the beaches. The bags were placed onto the SIF boats which shuttled the waste out onto the Spirit of Ton Joe ship. Due to the limited resources and space at the camps, two teams were formed; one led by a Burt and the other by Jean Raguain, an SIF project officer.   Burt’s team was deployed to Dune D' Messe and Cinq Cases, both of which have treacherous long walks from the lagoon side where the boat drops and collects the teams and to the coast where the field camps were. Raguain’s team was based at Dune Jean Louis along the coastline. Aldabra -- one of the world’s largest atolls -- is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seychelles, a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean. The Atoll which is located 1,000 km from Mahe, the main island, consists of four main islands of coral limestone separated by narrow passes and enclosing a large shallow lagoon. The cleanup presented some challenges and that included “working from first light to last light as the intense heat and light pose the risk of sunstroke and dehydration being always present,” said Burt. She added that there were also immediate dangers walking on the sharp and unforgiving limestone that surrounds the whole atoll- to remove fishing nets and lines with knives. “The wrong placement of foot could lead to a serious cut or puncture, so we had to work with care. One of the biggest mental challenges was also the fact that as humans we only had the capacity to clear the top layer of waste we found on the beaches, even though we were on our hands and knees raking through the sand, we could only reach so much,” she said. On a more positive note, the expedition team leaders told SNA that the cleanup project said despite the challenges, volunteers found time for drift snorkelling, seeing turtles and sharks, and admiring the incredible nature on Aldabra. Upon returning to the main island, the group met with President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, last week. Addressing the group during the meeting, the chief executive of SIF, Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, said, “Although it may seem like a feat of futility as more marine debris washes ashore on to Aldabra as we speak, it’s vital to know that we are all part of that change that is required to restore humanity’s relationship with nature, to make sure that plastic and other pollutants stop entering our environment in the first place.” “Despite the cuts, burns, headaches, pains in your muscles and days you did not want to get up again, you all became one team with the most empowering story: that change is possible. So to say thank you to this remarkable team is not enough, but please know that SIF has the deepest respect for your commitment and is indebted to you all,” she added. 

New ambassador from Georgia praises Seychelles in fields of tourism, maritime affairs

Seychelles can expect to benefit in the fields of maritime and agriculture through cooperation with Georgia, said the newly accredited Georgian ambassador to Seychelles on Tuesday. After presenting his credentials to President Danny Faure at State House, Vi
Seychelles News Agency

New ambassador from Georgia praises Seychelles in fields of tourism, maritime affairs

Seychelles can expect to benefit in the fields of maritime and agriculture through cooperation with Georgia, said the newly accredited Georgian ambassador to Seychelles on Tuesday. After presenting his credentials to President Danny Faure at State House, Victoria, Ambassador Zurab Dvalishvili said that Seychelles can benefit from Georgia as the country has “certain experience in agriculture and in winemaking.” “Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the minister of maritime affairs because we proposed an agreement and I will be talking about it. We have suggested certain negotiations and certain agreements to your ministry,” said Dvalishvili. The new Georgian ambassador is expected to meet with the Secretary of State and the Vice-Speaker of the Seychelles' National Assembly during his official visit in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. Seychelles and Georgia established official diplomatic relations on March 15, 2013, during a signing ceremony that took place in New York. Dvalishvili expects Georgia to benefit from the pool of knowledge that Seychelles has in the tourism sector. He said that since the reform of the island nation, “Seychelles is globally recognised especially in tourism and maritime affairs.” Tourism is the top contributor to the island nation's economy followed by fisheries. “We would like to share your experience in the field because we, like Seychelles, put great emphasis on tourism. In the field of tourism, Seychelles has made huge achievements and your experience will be very useful for us,” said Dvalishvili. Before being accredited to Seychelles, Dvalishvili has worked in the Balkans, Europe, Ukraine, Greece and Australia. He will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  

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