Seychelles



India's foreign minister to visit Seychelles, meet President Ramkalawan

The Minister of External Affairs of India will make an official visit to Seychelles on Friday, November 27, the island nation's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. During his two-day visit, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will call on President Wavel Ramkalawan at Sta
Seychelles News Agency

India's foreign minister to visit Seychelles, meet President Ramkalawan

The Minister of External Affairs of India will make an official visit to Seychelles on Friday, November 27, the island nation's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. During his two-day visit, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will call on President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House.  He will also meet with his Seychellois counterpart, Sylvestre Radegonde, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, to discuss bilateral cooperation. According to the WION news agency the External Affairs Minister «will call-on the newly elected President of Seychelles H.E. Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan to present greetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discuss with him the priorities of the new government and avenues for further strengthening India-Seychelles bilateral relations.» Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is benefitting from several construction-related projects paid for by the Indian government. These include the building of a police headquarters, an Attorney General's office, a government house, an international convention centre and a completed Magistrate's Court among others. The status of the coastguard facility on Assumption might be mentioned as Jaishankar had previously visited the islands as Foreign Secretary in January 2018 in an effort to salvage the deal and build consensus for it. A 20-year-agreement signed in early 2018 for the Indian government to use one of the Seychelles' islands -- Assumption -- as a military base became controversial with the government supporting the plan but opposition members in the sixth National Assembly led by Ramkalawan and many private citizens against it. Ramkalawan reiterated his stance on the subject in the presidential debate when he said that there will never be a foreign power with a military base in Seychelles and that is why LDS (Linyon Demokratik Seselwa) brought a full stop to the Assumption agreement between Seychelles and India. The Indian delegation will leave Seychelles on Saturday, November 28. Seychelles and India established diplomatic relations in 1976. 

Following big election loss, United Seychelles to elect new party leader, executive committee

The United Seychelles political party will elect a new leader and executive committee in an extraordinary congress in January, the office of the secretary general said Thursday. The national executive committee of United Seychelles approved procedures for th
Seychelles News Agency

Following big election loss, United Seychelles to elect new party leader, executive committee

The United Seychelles political party will elect a new leader and executive committee in an extraordinary congress in January, the office of the secretary general said Thursday. The national executive committee of United Seychelles approved procedures for the election of a new party leader and 15 members of the committee early next year in a meeting on Wednesday, the press communique said. The United Seychelles party lost both the presidential and National Assembly elections of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, held simultaneously October 22-24. The presidential candidate of the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS), Wavel Ramkalawan, won the presidency with a landslide victory with 54.9 percent of the valid votes and LDS won 20 out of the 26 seats in the National Assembly. The United Seychelles presidential candidate, Danny Faure, who was the incumbent president at the time, won 28,178 votes or 43.5 percent. It was the party's first defeat at the top office since 1977 when it came to power through a coup d'etat. The communique said that «United Seychelles will remain the true positive force in Seychelles and will stand stronger than ever to defend the interest of the Seychellois people.» All members of the party who are interested in standing as the new leader or contest for a place as a member of the executive committee are asked to collect necessary documents at the secretariat at Maison du Peuple in Victoria, the capital. The deadline to collect documents is Friday December 4 and are to be returned by December 11. All applicants will be vetted by the ethics commission of the party and will have to declare their assets, United Seychelles said. It added further that «this will be the first time that the leadership of the party is elected under the new constitution which came into force in November 2018. Procedures to select and approve candidates of United Seychelles who contested the recent presidential and national assembly elections were done under regulation formulated under the new constitution.» The communique stated that «United Seychelles remains convinced more than ever that its principles on social justice, equal opportunity and that no Seychellois should be left behind is more relevant today when the party is in the opposition.» 

Grace while overcoming challenge is defining trait for Miss Seychelles contestant who lost mother at age 14

For the first time since 2017, a beauty pageant will be held in Seychelles, 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. The organization Beauty Empowerment Seychelles is hosting a new contest, Miss Seychelles National Pageant.With days to go before the new Miss
Seychelles News Agency

Grace while overcoming challenge is defining trait for Miss Seychelles contestant who lost mother at age 14

For the first time since 2017, a beauty pageant will be held in Seychelles, 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. The organization Beauty Empowerment Seychelles is hosting a new contest, Miss Seychelles National Pageant.With days to go before the new Miss Seychelles is crowned on December 7, SNA is profiling the 11 contestants vying for the title. Today we look at Kelly–Mary Anette.Hailing from the eastern district of Pointe Larue, Kelly-Mary Anette, 24, believes that losing her mother as a teenager has taught her to be resilient as at the age of 14 she found herself a mother figure to her younger siblings. “You owe to yourself the best version you can be, thus, be the change you wish to see” is Anette’s life motto. The contestant believes maturity, wisdom and independence were attributes that she had to acquire at a young age.   Her own experience has led Anette to have a special consideration for orphans. In fact, her project for the pageant is devoted to the psychological and emotional well-being of the orphans and single parents, especially those who have lost their loved ones through deaths. “You owe to yourself the best version you can be, thus, be the change you wish to see” is Anette’s life motto. (Miss Seychelles the National Pageant/ Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY Anette studied Economics and Finance at Taylors University, Malaysia and is now an economist at the Ministry of Finance, Trade, and Economic Planning. “There I formed acquaintances with people from all over the world. This proved instrumental in changing my perspectives of life, having learnt their different cultures and religions,” said Anette. Although her university days were the best experiences in Malaysia, Anette’s patriotic admiration for her country grew even fonder. “Over the years, missing Seychelles' culture, people and traditions, led to me to open a Seychelles Society at the University to my Seychellois colleagues feel closer to home,” said Anette, adding that together, they participated in inter-country competitions where they made Seychelles proud by winning either first or second places. Anette’s biggest accomplishments have been finding herself and discovering her purpose which is self-growth in reaching her highest potential possibilities, “to be Miss Seychelles will be both an honour and a responsibility,” added Anette. According to the contestant “grace, dignity, elegance and ethics are all of the self-moulding virtues to carry the Miss Seychelles crown, along with her life experiences and challenges.”

Ethiopia PM orders final offensive against Tigray leaders in Mekele

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday ordered Ethiopia's army to launch a final offensive against Tigray's leaders in their regional capital Mekele, saying the window for their surrender had expired. «The Ethiopian National Defence Forces have now bee
Seychelles News Agency

Ethiopia PM orders final offensive against Tigray leaders in Mekele

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday ordered Ethiopia's army to launch a final offensive against Tigray's leaders in their regional capital Mekele, saying the window for their surrender had expired. «The Ethiopian National Defence Forces have now been directed to conclude the third and final phase of our rule of law operations,» Abiy said in a statement on Twitter. «In this final phase, great care will be given to protect innocent civilians from harm. All efforts will be made to ensure that the city of Mekele, which was built through the hard work of our people, will not be severely damaged.» Abiy, the winner of last year's Nobel Prize, late Sunday gave the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) 72 hours to surrender -- an ultimatum rejected by the leader of the dissident northern region, whose forces have been fighting Ethiopian troops for three weeks. Ethiopia's army said it was encircling the city with tanks ahead of an assault on the TPLF. Rights groups have warned that attacking the city could violate international law. Abiy called on Mekele's half a million inhabitants to «stay at home and stay away from military targets, and take all necessary precautions», and urged them to hand over TPLF forces in their midst. «We would like to assure you that our National Defence Forces have carefully devised a strategy to bring the TPLF criminal clique to justice, without harming innocent civilians, heritage sites, places of worship, development institutions and property,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

Diego Maradona, a divine talent with more than a touch of the devil

Diego Maradona was football's archetypal troubled genius, a world-beating player whose life and career scaled the most dazzling heights but also plumbed the darkest depths. Maradona, who died Wednesday at the age of 60, became a global icon after leading Arg
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Diego Maradona, a divine talent with more than a touch of the devil

Diego Maradona was football's archetypal troubled genius, a world-beating player whose life and career scaled the most dazzling heights but also plumbed the darkest depths. Maradona, who died Wednesday at the age of 60, became a global icon after leading Argentina to the 1986 World Cup but he was not a squeaky clean idol like Pele, and made little attempt to hide his fiery personality and many vices. «I am black or white, I'll never be grey in my life,» he once said. Maradona was short, powerful and quick. He was also a ferocious and astute competitor who refused to be intimidated even though many opponents tried. Above all, he was sublimely and imaginatively skilful. «No ball ever had a better experience than when it was at his left foot,» said his Argentina teammate Jorge Valdano. However, while Maradona is remembered for his masterly composure on the ball, he was also famous for his frequent lack of control both on the field and off. He struggled with addiction, notably to cocaine, and with his weight. Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Lanus, just outside Buenos Aires, and grew up in one of the poorest areas of the Argentine capital. He made his debut for Argentinos Juniors just before his 16th birthday and his debut for Argentina at age 16 in February, 1977. His career is defined by the World Cup, the four he played in and the one he missed. «I have two dreams,» Maradona told Argentine television at the age of 17. «My first dream is to play in the World Cup. And the second dream is to win it.» Manager Cesar Luis Menotti omitted «El Pibe de Oro» (the golden kid) from his squad in 1978. Argentina, the hosts, went on to win the competition for the first time. The following year, under Menotti, Maradona led Argentina to victory in the under-20 World Cup in Japan, winning the Golden Ball for the tournament's best player. His senior World Cup debut in 1982 in Spain went badly. Maradona was treated brutally by defenders and ended his tournament with a red card for retaliation as Argentina, already eliminated, lost to Brazil. - Hand of God - He atoned four years later, propelling his country to victory in Mexico and making the tournament his own. In the final, Maradona set up the 86th-minute winner against West Germany. He scored twice in the semi-final against Belgium, beating four defenders for the second. But the match that defined his tournament, and possibly his international career, was the 2-1 quarter-final win over England, in which he scored two goals that will be remembered forever -- for very different reasons. In the 51st minute, as Peter Shilton reached to catch the ball, Maradona, some seven inches shorter, jumped alongside him and with a deftness that fooled the eye, flicked the ball through the England goalkeeper's arms and into the net. After the game, Maradona said he scored «a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.» Four minutes later, Maradona picked up the ball in his own half, beat six England players, including Shilton, before squeezing home. FIFA later named it the «Goal of the Century». In 1990 in Italy, almost immobile because of an injury to his much-kicked left ankle, Maradona steered a defensive and limited Argentine team back to the final even though they won just two games and scored only five goals. In a dire final, it took Andreas Brehme's 85th-minute penalty for West Germany to this time get the better of Maradona. Four years later in the United States, Maradona seemed restored to health. He scored against Greece and celebrated by racing to scream into a TV camera, a disturbing mixture of joy, relief and rage. But he ended his last World Cup like his first, prematurely. After Argentina beat Nigeria in their second group game, Maradona failed a test for ephedrine and was thrown out of the tournament. A similar pattern of wild highs and lows marked Maradona's club career. Maradona moved to the club he supported, Boca Juniors, in 1981 and won his sole Argentine league title the following season. He left for Barcelona for a world record fee in 1982. He won the Copa Del Rey in his first season but the club only finished fourth in the league. He missed much of the following campaign after Athletic Bilbao's Andoni Goikoetxea broke his ankle, and when Barca lost to Bilbao in that year's cup final, Maradona started a spectacular mass brawl, flooring four opponents. Facing a ban in Spain, Maradona moved to Napoli, becoming the first player to break the world transfer record twice. His dazzling play transformed a club from a poor, much-mocked city and led them to their only two Serie A titles. In a whirlwind seven years he fathered an illegitimate child, made friends with the local mafia and enemies of the tax collectors. He also fell deep into cocaine addiction. His tempestuous time in Italy effectively ended in April 1991 when he tested positive for cocaine and was banned for 15 months. He wound down his playing career with one season at Sevilla, one at Newell's Old Boys and two at his beloved Boca. - Player of the century - Over the next two and a half decades he had six short and unsuccessful stints managing clubs in Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico, and also two fiery years as Argentina coach from 2008-10. Even though Argentina suffered a record 6-1 defeat by humble Bolivia in qualifying, and Maradona was banned for two months at the end of 2009 for an obscene tirade at journalists, he still led the team to the World Cup in South Africa where they won their group before being thrashed 4-0 by Germany in the quarter-finals. All the while, Maradona's off-field problems continued. He went into drug rehab on several occasions. When he quit cocaine, he binged instead on drink, cigars and food and ended up in hospital in 2007. He was a strident supporter of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose image he had tattooed on his shoulder, and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. In 2000, FIFA ran an online Player of the Century poll. Maradona gained 54 percent of the vote, Pele was second with 18 percent. FIFA declared them joint winners. Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, and divorced in 2004. He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986, although he only acknowledged paternity in 2004. © Agence France-Presse

President of Seychelles' first overseas trip in office scheduled for Mauritius this weekend

The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, will undertake a three-day state visit to Mauritius, State House said on Wednesday. The visit of Ramkalawan is at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth. This will mark the fi
Seychelles News Agency

President of Seychelles' first overseas trip in office scheduled for Mauritius this weekend

The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, will undertake a three-day state visit to Mauritius, State House said on Wednesday. The visit of Ramkalawan is at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth. This will mark the first state visit to be undertaken by Ramkalawan since taking office on October 26. State House said the trip presents an opportunity to further strengthen the long standing and excellent bilateral ties that exist between the two island nations. Ramkalawan will leave on November 29 and return on December 2. He will be accompanied by the First Lady, Linda Ramkalawan; the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde; the Commander of Seychelles Coastguard, Colonel Simon Dine; the director for world affairs and countries, Patsy Moustache; and the senior officer of the Anti-Narcotics Bureau, Yves Leon.  In line with Public Health Authority guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all the necessary health advice and precautionary measures are being observed to ensure the safe departure and return of the delegation. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and Mauritius established bilateral relations on June 17, 1988. . .

Seychelles gets its own Dragon’s Den, a TV show for innovative entrepreneurs

Six Seychellois will battle one another, pitching and marketing their businesses or services to a panel of judges, in a race to win the main prize of a soon-to-air TV series in Seychelles. The series dubbed 'Dan Kof' -- Creole for 'In the coffer' -- is the b
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles gets its own Dragon’s Den, a TV show for innovative entrepreneurs

Six Seychellois will battle one another, pitching and marketing their businesses or services to a panel of judges, in a race to win the main prize of a soon-to-air TV series in Seychelles. The series dubbed 'Dan Kof' -- Creole for 'In the coffer' -- is the brainchild of Aubrey Philo, one of the co-founders of a newly-established media house, Kreoflix. Philo told SNA on Wednesday that he always wanted to make this programme come to life as a person who loves watching 'Dragons' Den', a reality show that allows entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their business ideas to a panel of five wealthy investors. 'Dan Kof' has been modelled off Dragon's Den and Shark Tank but has been modified for Seychelles. Instead of people pitching their ideas to a panel of businessmen who will offer their money, it will rather be a competition, at the end of which the winner gets prize money of SCR25,000 ($1,200), he said. The aim of the series, expected to air in December on the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) television for five consecutive days, is to inspire potential entrepreneurs to come forth and work on their business ideas. «It is important to get people to inculcate in themselves the habit of entrepreneurship. We want people, not only the audience but those who have pitched their ideas to get used to entrepreneurship, especially now during COVID where jobs are becoming scarcer. Instead of giving up, what can you do? Is there an opportunity in these difficulties? We can follow the example of the people who are participating in the show. It is not always easy but at least tries,» said Philo. He added that negotiations are being held with Telesesel, another local TV channel, to air the show as well so that «we get to maximise the number of people who see it.» The idea to have such a TV series was pitched to the Department of Entrepreneurship and Industry when Philo and his business partner, Patsy Athanase, learned that Seychelles would be hosting this year's Global Entrepreneurship Week. To make the show a reality, Enterprise Seychelles Agency (ESA), the Department of Entrepreneurship and Industry, the Global Entrepreneurship Week Seychelles, Kreoflix, and ABSA bank which is the financial backing behind the project, came together as partners. A total of 17 entrepreneurs applied to participate and after the organisers shortlisted the applicants, six people will be participating in the TV series. Each partner is bringing forth a judge, who will give points to the participants based on how they pitch their product or service, their marketing or saleability, how well they know their product or service among other criteria. At the end of the TV show, the points will be summed up to reveal the winner. Talking about the reward money, Philo said that the SCR25,000 should be okay for someone who is running a cottage industry «but we thought that during COVID, it is not necessarily someone who is kicking off.» He added that there are businesses already in operation but might need a top-up and during this tough time Seychelles is in, any little help that one can get is good. «SCR25,000, with the rising forex cost, might not be enough but it is a start. When shortlisting some of the projects presented to us, we realised that the price won't be enough for the person and we said that at the moment it is not worth it to go on tv with the project,» said Philo. He said that after talking to applicants who did not make it for the pilot season «we are already eyeing a second season. It won't necessarily be produced for the entrepreneurship week but it is something that we can kick off before November next year.» The first season will be for businesses in technology, food, decorating, alternative medicine, handicraft and service delivery.

Morocco reinforces position at WSahara border post

Morocco has cleared access to the Guerguerat border post, reinforcing positions it took this month to protect the only road leading from Western Sahara to Mauritania, AFP correspondents said Tuesday. The kingdom in early November accused the pro-independenc
Seychelles News Agency

Morocco reinforces position at WSahara border post

Morocco has cleared access to the Guerguerat border post, reinforcing positions it took this month to protect the only road leading from Western Sahara to Mauritania, AFP correspondents said Tuesday. The kingdom in early November accused the pro-independence Polisario Front movement of blocking the key highway for trade with the rest of Africa. It launched a military operation to reopen it before deploying heavy machinery in the buffer zone at Guerguerat along the sandy track that leads to the frontier. The route has now been cleared and reduced to a number of interlacing tracks on its last stretch with smoke billowing from debris piled nearby, the AFP correspondents said. Morocco retains its military positions on the ground. That is in line with King Mohamed VI's orders to secure the area, ensure the flow of traffic and stop any Polisario incursions, a senior government official told AFP in Rabat. Morocco says Western Sahara is an integral part of its kingdom and has offered autonomy for the disputed territory, but insists it will retain sovereignty. But the former Spanish colony has been contested for decades by the Polisario, which declared Western Sahara the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976. The Algerian-backed independence movement says the road was built in violation of a 1991 ceasefire deal. On November 13, Morocco deployed its armed forces to drive away a group of Sahrawi independence activists who had blocked the route for three weeks, with the support of four armoured vehicles. In response, the Polisario Front broke the 30-year-old ceasefire signed under UN auspices. Since then, there have been occasional exchanges of fire between the two sides along the 2,700 kilometre (1,700-mile) sand wall erected by the Moroccans. The Polisario regularly announces «significant losses» on the Moroccan side. The United Nations, which has reported no casualties, has been trying to return to the status quo to restart a political process. In recent days, pro-Polisario activists have tried to protest in some neighbourhoods of Laayoune, in the north of the Moroccan-controlled area, but have clashed with police, according to the Moroccan Human Rights Association. The Moroccan authorities have refused to comment on such incidents, without denying them. On Tuesday, a group of Sahrawis in traditional dress demonstrated at Guerguerat, in the far south, shouting «Our Sahara, our king». Several local officials and tribal chiefs had shown their support for Rabat's position in recent days. © Agence France-Presse

Miss Seychelles pageant to be held Dec. 7 after COVID postponement

The Miss Seychelles National Pageant will be held on December 7 following its postponement in June due to COVID-19, said Beauty Empowerment Seychelles, the organisers of the pageant.  Twelve participants will contest for the crown in the event which will b
Seychelles News Agency

Miss Seychelles pageant to be held Dec. 7 after COVID postponement

The Miss Seychelles National Pageant will be held on December 7 following its postponement in June due to COVID-19, said Beauty Empowerment Seychelles, the organisers of the pageant.  Twelve participants will contest for the crown in the event which will be held at the International Conference Center in the capital city of Victoria, instead of at the Berjaya Beauvallon Bay hotel as previously planned.   The chairperson of the organisation, Stephanie Duval, told SNA last week that the preparations are going well despite financial challenges. “We are taking care of all the administrative side of the event so that we can be ready to tackle the technical part of the show. As for the contestants, they are excited about the event and they are taking all their last-minute training seriously,” said Duval.   With only days to go, Duval said that financial sponsorship remains a major challenge. “We are still scouting for support, and of course COVID-19 pulled us down, as we had plans to organise several activities to raise funds, which would have been to our advantage. However, we do appreciate the support we have been receiving from some individuals who are loyal to our cause,” said Duval.  . 12 participants will contest for the crown in the event which will be held at the International Conference Centre in Victoria, instead of at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay hotel as previously planned. (Miss Seychelles the National pageant/Facebook) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Duval confirmed that they are still waiting for support to finalise all prizes which will be awarded that night. The organisation had to also cut down on the sale of tickets to ensure compliance with health protocol concerning physical distancing. Tickets are limited to 250 people, which «is not helping us as we have a lot of overheads to cater, such as lights, decoration and is causing financial constraints on the organisation,” explained Duval.   The Miss Seychelles beauty contest was relaunched in January this year after not being held for a couple of years. The new organisers of the pageant had this year put a lot of emphasis on the academic background and this was a strong criteria for selection.   Margaret Raguin, the vice-chair of the organisation, had told SNA in a previous interview that most of the participants have a university degree, diploma or having just completed their Advanced Level studies.   »One of the requirements, when you enter such a competition, is for the person to have a strong academic level, although it does not define which level. This time around we have a group of beautiful and intelligent young girls. It could be because we hadn't had the pageant for two years, maybe this has contributed towards attracting these very good candidates," said Raguin.   The final contestants vying for the Miss Seychelles title were selected from a group of 30. They are aged 18 to 30.

Tigray leader tells Ethiopian PM his people 'ready to die'

The leader of Ethiopia's dissident Tigray region has said that his people are «ready to die» defending their homeland, rejecting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's ultimatum that they surrender within 72 hours. Abiy launched a military campaign against
Seychelles News Agency

Tigray leader tells Ethiopian PM his people 'ready to die'

The leader of Ethiopia's dissident Tigray region has said that his people are «ready to die» defending their homeland, rejecting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's ultimatum that they surrender within 72 hours. Abiy launched a military campaign against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) on November 4, accusing it of attacking two federal military camps in the northern region, as well as defying and seeking to destabilise his government. The federal army says its forces are within 60 kilometres (37 miles) of Mekele, the Tigrayan capital and seat of the TPLF, ahead of a threatened all-out bombardment of the city of half a million people. Abiy -- last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner -- on Sunday called on the TPLF to surrender peacefully within three days, saying they were «at a point of no return». But the TPLF's leader Debretsion Gebremichael said Abiy was trying to cover for setbacks his army had suffered against Tigrayan forces, and was issuing threats to buy time. «He doesn't understand who we are. We are people of principle and ready to die in defence of our right to administer our region,» Debretsion told AFP via WhatsApp on Monday. A communications blackout in the region has made claims from both sides difficult to verify. - 'No mercy' threat - Brigadier General Tesfaye Ayalew, as quoted by state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate on Monday, said that federal troops were «marching into Mekele» having captured key towns to the north and south. The army has threatened a «no mercy» tank assault on the TPLF leadership in Mekele, warning civilians to leave while they still can, raising concerns among rights activists. «Treating a whole city as a military target would not only (be) unlawful, it could also be considered a form of collective punishment,» Human Rights Watch researcher Laetitia Bader wrote on Twitter. Abiy has urged the people of Mekele to side with the national army against the TPLF, «in bringing this treasonous group to justice». Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in nearly three weeks of fighting which has seen warplanes bomb the region and tanks enter the fray. Amnesty International also documented a gruesome massacre in which «scores and likely hundreds» of people were stabbed and hacked to death in the southwest town of Mai-Kadra. Over 40,000 Ethiopians have meanwhile fled west into Sudan and rockets have hit Eritrea to the north, spurring fears the internal conflict risks instability beyond its borders. The UN Security Council will hold its first meeting on the conflict in Tigray, diplomatic sources said late Monday. Tuesday's virtual meeting will not be open to the public, they said, and it was not yet clear if a statement would be issued afterward. - Rocket attack - In Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region south of Tigray, two witnesses told AFP on Monday that rockets had hit the city, the third time it has endured shelling since the fighting began. «Three rockets fell on the city near the airport area. We don't know about casualties or damages,» said one witness, who asked not be named. There was no immediate response from the government, nor any claim of responsibility. The TPLF claimed responsibility for earlier rocket strikes on Bahir Dar and Gondar, another city in Amhara, as well as Eritrea's capital Asmara. Abiy in a statement late Sunday accused Tigrayan forces of destroying key infrastructure in their retreat from fighting, including the airport in the town of Axum and schools, bridges, medical centres and roads. Images broadcast by Ethiopian authorities on Monday showed what appeared to be deep gouges and damage to the tarmac at Axum. Abiy has resisted international pressure to halt the fighting, including from the African Union (AU), describing the campaign as a «law enforcement operation» against a «treasonous group» that is now entering its final phase. Redwan Hussein, spokesman for an Ethiopian committee handling the conflict, said the government would meet envoys sent by the AU «as a matter of respect» but flatly ruled out any talks with the TPLF. «Facts on the ground have changed, and we've come to the very end,» he told reporters on Monday. The TPLF led the armed struggle that toppled the brutal Derg regime in 1991 and controlled the coalition that took over, ruling Ethiopia for nearly three decades until Abiy was appointed in 2018. Since then, Tigrayan leaders have complained of being unfairly targeted in corruption prosecutions, removed from top positions and broadly scapegoated for the country's woes. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' media community mourns death of veteran journalist John Lablache

The media community in Seychelles is mourning the loss of a veteran journalist in the print media. John Lablache, 69, died on Saturday, November 14, at the Seychelles Hospital after going into a coma the week before. According to family members, the father o
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' media community mourns death of veteran journalist John Lablache

The media community in Seychelles is mourning the loss of a veteran journalist in the print media. John Lablache, 69, died on Saturday, November 14, at the Seychelles Hospital after going into a coma the week before. According to family members, the father of four fell and hit his head on November 2, and went about his daily routine but collapsed the next day. Lablache was the firstborn in a family of eight who moved from his birth island of Praslin to the main island of Mahe to further his studies at the Seychelles College, Jean Mark and Isabelle, Lablache’s two eldest children, told SNA.  His career in journalism started in 1977 after completing his studies, when Lablache started working at the Information Services which was then based at the Radio Seychelles at Union Vale. He later joined Seychelles Nation. Throughout his career, Lablache worked for different newspapers: “Regar”, “Today in Seychelles”, “Victoria Times”, Seychelles News Agency and “The People”.   Lablache was amongst the first Seychellois to take journalism as a career and for 43 years he also gained valuable experience through work attachments with newspapers in several countries. (Isabelle Lablache) Photo License: All Rights Reserved  Lablache was amongst the first Seychellois to take journalism as a career and for 43 years he also gained valuable experience through work attachments with newspapers in several countries, namely France, Algeria and Germany. As a freelance journalist, he also contributed articles to many regional and international media outlets such as AFP and “la lettre de l’Ocean Indien”. Gerard Govinden, the chief executive of Seychelles Nation, where Lablache started his career, said that Lablache was a big brother in journalism. The CEO said he will remember Lablache for his institutional memory as “he had a vast knowledge of the country and could write fluently in both English and French.” Govinden said that when he joined the newspaper in 1988, Lablache was responsible for international news. “John could make difficult and complicated subjects easy for his readers, and I can say he was gifted at that,” added Govinden, explaining that over the years Lablache imparted his vast and extensive knowledge with the younger journalists.   The journalist travelled widely and has visited around 14 countries for work and more recently for leisure. (Isabelle Lablache) Photo License: All Rights Reserved  Sheila Lafortune, the editor of The People, said the paper had lost a family member. “John was very hard working and was an important member of the team where he worked for the past ten years,” said Lafortune. Lafortune said that John always made the newsroom laugh with funny stories. “John was a model employee,” said the editor. Lablache’s children remember their father as an avid reader with a particular interest in world politics and history and who enjoyed spending time at the beach and was a strong endurance swimmer. According to his daughter, Lablache prided himself in swimming in all oceans of the world. The journalist travelled widely and has visited around 14 countries for work and more recently for leisure. “He talked fondly of his travels and always took lots of photos. One of his favourite travel destinations was Australia where I currently live. One of his most cherished travel adventures was in 2015 when he went on a two-week cruise from Australia to New Zealand with his grandson. He fulfilled a childhood dream to go to Fiordland in New Zealand,” Isabelle told SNA.   Lablache is survived by his four children – two sons - Jean Mark and Christian, two daughters - Isabelle and Angelique, grandchildren and siblings. (Isabelle Lablache) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Despite his travels, Seychelles was always home. “He enjoyed typical Seychelles’ cuisine and would say that despite having travelled the world, Seychellois were the best cooks,” said Isabelle, adding that octopus coconut curry was a favourite dish. Isabelle added that what will stay with her is John’s passion for journalism “and writing the next article. He would be always on the lookout for a good story that would interest his audience. He was fearless in his approach and would challenge populist opinions.” Lablache, who was laid to rest on Tuesday at the Mont Fleuri cemetery, is survived by his four children – two sons - Jean Mark and Christian, two daughters - Isabelle and Angelique, grandchildren and siblings. 

Seychelles' Constitutional court lets $22 million verdict against Vijay Construction on Savoy Hotel case stand

The Seychelles Constitutional Court on Tuesday dismissed the case of Vijay Construction against the Eastern European Engineering Limited (EEEL) on the grounds that the matter has already been dealt with before a competent court. The ruling lets stand a $22 m
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Constitutional court lets $22 million verdict against Vijay Construction on Savoy Hotel case stand

The Seychelles Constitutional Court on Tuesday dismissed the case of Vijay Construction against the Eastern European Engineering Limited (EEEL) on the grounds that the matter has already been dealt with before a competent court. The ruling lets stand a $22 million judgement to be paid to the Eastern European Engineering Limited, a company registered in Seychelles, by Vijay Construction, which it had hired to carry out construction work on the company's Savoy Hotel in 2011 through six contracts. The ruling delivered by Justices Gustave Dodin, Laura Pillay and Samia Andre concluded that the matter brought by the Petitioner (Vijay) has already adequately been dealt with. «To demonstrate further how the Petition amounts to an abuse of the court process, one can also look at the orders being sought by the Petitioner. If this court issues the orders being sought, it would effectively reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal,» concluded the ruling. Furthermore it added that «such a position fails to recognise the hierarchy of the courts' system and would undermine the effective administration of justice. This case in its entirety amounts to having a second bite at the cherry. Consequently, the objections of the Respondents are upheld. This Petition is dismissed with costs.» The petition arises from the judgment of Justice Ellen Carolus on June 30, who declared that the two Orders of the High Court in London were executable in Seychelles. Vijay Construction appealed the judgment of the Supreme Court which was heard on the September 3rd and the Court of Appeal dismissed on October 2nd with an order of costs. The dismissal of the case by the Court of Appeal paved the way for the collection of the $22 million judgement. Each of the six contracts which Vijay was hired under included similar arbitration clauses, which provided that any dispute, disagreement or claim would be settled by arbitration in Paris. The company filed a Request for Arbitration in September 2012 before the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and received a sole arbitrator award in November 2014. The costs to be incurred by Vijay Construction for breaking the contract were never paid partly because the award was not enforceable until Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, became party to the 1958 New York Convention earlier this year.

Biden to start naming cabinet picks Tuesday as Trump resists

US President-elect Joe Biden will name his first cabinet picks on Tuesday, his chief of staff said, even as Donald Trump clung to unsubstantiated claims of fraud despite growing dissent from within his own party. Biden has pushed ahead with preparations to a
Seychelles News Agency

Biden to start naming cabinet picks Tuesday as Trump resists

US President-elect Joe Biden will name his first cabinet picks on Tuesday, his chief of staff said, even as Donald Trump clung to unsubstantiated claims of fraud despite growing dissent from within his own party. Biden has pushed ahead with preparations to assume the presidency on January 20, regardless of Trump's bid to undo the results of the November vote. «You are going to see the first of the president-elect's cabinet picks on Tuesday,» Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, told ABC's «This Week» on Sunday. Several US news organizations, including Bloomberg and The New York Times, reported that the president-elect will nominate seasoned diplomat and long-time aide Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Biden also said last week he had already decided his pick for the key position of Treasury Secretary. US media also widely reported he will name Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as assistant secretary of state for Africa under President Barack Obama, as his UN ambassador. A growing number of Republicans have either recognized Biden's victory or at least urged the General Services Administration -- the usually low-profile agency that manages the federal bureaucracy -- to release federal funds for the Biden transition. With Trump refusing to acknowledge the election outcome, Biden and his top aides have been denied briefings on sensitive domestic and foreign policy issues -- most urgently the coronavirus pandemic battering the country. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who in 2016 advised the Trump transition, said on ABC that the president's legal team was a «national embarrassment.» Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, another prominent Republican, told CNN that Trump was making the country look like a «banana republic,» later tweeting the president should «stop golfing and concede.» Trump has golfed on every weekend day since the election, though he took part virtually in the conference of the G20 leading economies this weekend -- skipping a Saturday session on the pandemic. And even Representative Devin Nunes, an ardent Trump loyalist, conceded backhandedly on Fox News that Biden had «run a successful campaign from a basement.» - 'Without merit' - Trump again tweeted on Sunday about «massive numbers of fraudulent ballots,» a claim dismissed by a long list of judges in several states. Appearances by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have drawn mockery, as have claims by another former member of his legal team, Sidney Powell. Powell has alleged baseless conspiracy theories involving a possible hack of the election, earning her widespread derision but also praise from some of Trump's most ardent supporters. Giuliani announced Sunday that Powell had been dropped from the team. Trump's latest legal setback came Saturday, when Pennsylvania judge Matthew Brann threw out the president's fraud claims in a scathing judgment. Pennsylvania was a must-win state, and flipped to Biden after backing Trump in 2016. Brann's ruling paved the way for Pennsylvania to certify Biden's victory in the state. Biden won the state-by-state Electoral College votes that ultimately decide who takes the White House by 306 to 232. The Electoral College is due to formally vote on December 14, with state certifications to take place beforehand. - 'Incredibly damaging' - State certification of popular vote results in presidential elections is usually routine. But Trump's refusal to concede has raised concerns that he could cause long-term damage to public trust in the voting system that underlies US democracy. The judgment in Pennsylvania came hours after Republicans also requested a delay in certification in Michigan, another battleground state won by Biden. They requested a two-week delay to allow a full audit of results in Wayne County -- home to majority-black Detroit, which overwhelmingly voted for Biden. Michigan's board of canvassers, which includes two Democrats and two Republicans, is due to meet Monday to certify the results. There were reports that a Republican member of the board was considering voting against certification. Biden has so far moderated his criticism of Trump's actions, though he has spoken of «incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.» © Agence France-Presse

Destination wedding industry in Seychelles takes huge hit amid COVID

Amid rising COVID case numbers and new or continued travel restrictions, foreigners hoping to marry on the sandy shores of Seychelles have had to postpone, cancel or change wedding plans. A full-time wedding decorator and planner, Jeanina Edmond, said that a
Seychelles News Agency

Destination wedding industry in Seychelles takes huge hit amid COVID

Amid rising COVID case numbers and new or continued travel restrictions, foreigners hoping to marry on the sandy shores of Seychelles have had to postpone, cancel or change wedding plans. A full-time wedding decorator and planner, Jeanina Edmond, said that although the international airport reopened on August 1 to scheduled passenger flights, the number of tourists coming to Seychelles to get married during this time of the year has dropped. «Since the beginning of the pandemic, I only organised the wedding of two foreigners. Now I am not doing any weddings but I have turned my focus rather on preparing bridal bouquets for newlyweds,» said Edmond.  According to the Civil Status Office, over 1,000 tourists marry in a typical year. Edmond, who resides in the northern district of Anse Etoile, usually gets her clients through hotels. «In the good days, we were getting at least two to three wedding events to organise. Now the business has dropped by almost 80 percent,» said Edmond who added that she is not discouraged as she is following an upskilling programme set by the government to help entrepreneurs diversify their business. Another wedding planner, Audrey Jupiter, said that her business has been badly impacted since the pandemic crippled the tourism industry, the top pillar of the Seychelles' economy. «Wedding planners and decorators have been struggling to keep their businesses up and running during this unprecedented time,» said Jupiter. She added that «Seychelles remains a wonderful place to say 'I do'. We need to sit down with the authorities to see how we can continuously entice newlyweds to get married here. This is a form of tourism.» Jupiter said that «weddings have historically been recession-proof. Though budgets and trends may change, weddings will always go on. While this is devastating for the hospitality and event industry, those who remain steadfast will come out stronger on the other side. I have a feeling the celebration will be appreciated more than ever.» Meanwhile, with the aim of promoting Seychelles as a wedding destination, the Seychelles Tourism Board participated in the first 3D virtual wedding fair, held last month. STB joined five other partners in 'The World of Weddings' where it presented offerings of the destination for intimate weddings, celebrations, honeymoons, and family getaways. 

President of Seychelles signs updated Civil Code in first legislation since taking office

The President of Seychelles on Monday agreed to revise the 1975-era Civil Code so that modern law reflects Seychelles' current social construct and the human rights provisions of the Constitution adopted in 1993. The code was the first piece of legislation P
Seychelles News Agency

President of Seychelles signs updated Civil Code in first legislation since taking office

The President of Seychelles on Monday agreed to revise the 1975-era Civil Code so that modern law reflects Seychelles' current social construct and the human rights provisions of the Constitution adopted in 1993. The code was the first piece of legislation President Wavel Ramkalawan assented to since taking office. «I was also among the members of the National Assembly who deliberated on the amendments. I feel proud to have learned that I have been part of revising a law that is second after the Constitution, which is the supreme law,» said Ramkalawan in his address at State House. He said that the Civil Code is now entirely Seychellois-made and he personally proposed a number of changes and «the most important one was when we agreed that there should be no child marriage in Seychelles.» One pertinent amendment was equalising the rights of all children which under the previous Civil Code distinguished illegitimate from legitimate children and restricted the rights of adulterine children. The status of legitimacy and illegitimacy has been removed to comply with the equality of rights provisions in the Constitution. «It is not automatic that if you are the child of someone that you will be legitimate to inherit the benefits. The message is clear: love your parents and if you do the possibility to inherit is greater,» said Ramkalawan. The proposals for the revised Civil Code were based on the report of a Civil Code revision committee, chaired by the previous Chief Justice, Mathilda Twomey, and Bernard Georges, who chaired the bill's committee in the sixth National Assembly. Georges, who is the Leader of Government Business in the seventh National Assembly, said that on the issue of marriage, a couple who have separated for more than five years would be able to use this ground in a court of law to get a divorce. Although the legislation has received the president's assent, judges would not be able to base their judgments or rulings on those grounds found in the new law if the case is already being heard before the court. Kieran Shah, a member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, said that it is a great pride for the committee to have produced a comprehensive code made in Seychelles by Seychellois jurists. «We have created more fairness in the laws ensuring that no unmarried partner would lose out totally upon the termination of a relationship,» he said. Shah added that the new Civil Code «sets out everything that a person can do and be responsible for from birth to death, namely in a nutshell, the person's right as a child and adult, marriage and divorce, purchase and sale of property, contractual and tortious rights and obligations.»   With the evolution of society and development in Seychelles, Shah said that under the new legislation, the law of nuisance was expanded to promote good neighbourly relations to sanction disturbance by noise, smell and pollution. The amendments were aimed at only 10 percent of the Civil Code of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The remaining 90 percent has not been touched.

Over 50,000 corals raised in nurseries after 10 years of work by Nature Seychelles

After 10 years of coral restoration, Nature Seychelles has raised over 50,000 corals in its underwater nurseries. New corals have been planted on more than 5,000 square metres of degraded reef within the marine reserve of Cousin Island Special Reserve. The
Seychelles News Agency

Over 50,000 corals raised in nurseries after 10 years of work by Nature Seychelles

After 10 years of coral restoration, Nature Seychelles has raised over 50,000 corals in its underwater nurseries. New corals have been planted on more than 5,000 square metres of degraded reef within the marine reserve of Cousin Island Special Reserve. The chief executive of Nature Seychelles, Nirmal Shah, said it was «extremely challenging at the beginning, this being the first wide-scale project of its kind in the world.» He said that there was a lack of local capacity specifically for reef restoration and some equipment required for the project couldn't be sourced locally, a costly and time-consuming endeavour. In recent decades, global warming has had very significant detrimental impacts on coral reefs due to rising sea temperatures. This has left coral colonies bleached and subsequently vulnerable to a range of diseases and death. Following the 1998 El Nino event in the Indian Ocean, an average of 90 percent of live coral in Seychelles died. A further 50 percent loss was recorded in 2016 and surveys carried out nearly a decade later found it was unlikely for corals to recover on their own. As a form of intervention, the Reef Rescuers project was developed as a trial restoration project on the fringing coral reef within Cousin Island Special Reserve managed by Nature Seychelles. The organisation started the reef restoration project as a mean to combat climate change induced coral bleaching in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The project began in 2010 with a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The organisation started the reef restoration project as a mean to combat climate change induced coral bleaching in Seychelles. (Nature Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Different coral species were grown in nurseries and transplanted onto the reefs with the aim of restoring the damaged ecosystem. Using the coral gardening method, dedicated scientists have grown corals collected from healthy sites in underwater nurseries, raised them in underwater nurseries for a year, and transplanted these at pre-selected sites. Recurring and frequent coral bleaching events have also impacted transplanted corals in the designer reef. At the moment the long-term success of the project is currently being assessed, with initial data demonstrating an increase in both coral recruit and fish densities following intervention, highlighting the benefits of active reef restoration. Following the 10 years of success, Nature Seychelles recently received a new grant from the adaptation fund through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Seychelles. «As part of a large regional project with Mauritius, the NGO is set to leapfrog into the third and next level of its coral reef restoration program. This new project will look at novel techniques from overseas in coral genetics and reproduction,» said Shah. The project is expected to be launched by the end of this month.

G20 dithers on poor countries debt time bomb

The G20 promised Sunday to tackle the explosive issue of developing-nation debt, but failed to stake out any clear action, infuriating campaigners warning of a looming crisis.The leaders of the world's 20 richest nations reiterated their commitment to a morat
Seychelles News Agency

G20 dithers on poor countries debt time bomb

The G20 promised Sunday to tackle the explosive issue of developing-nation debt, but failed to stake out any clear action, infuriating campaigners warning of a looming crisis.The leaders of the world's 20 richest nations reiterated their commitment to a moratorium agreed in April and extended in October allowing poorer countries to temporarily stop servicing eligible debt to focus their resources on combatting the coronavirus crisis.The so-called Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) will be extended through to June 30, 2021, the final statement confirmed.Currently 46 out of 73 eligible nations have benefited from a suspension of interest payments to the tune of $5.7 billion.Though Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan called it «a major breakthrough», it is a drop in the ocean compared to the $11 trillion the G20 nations have spent to combat the economic effects of the pandemic.«While the G20's reaction in April was rapid, it's currently lacking urgency,» said Oxfam France spokesman Louis-Nicolas Jandeaux.The UN had hoped that the extension would run to the end of 2021, but instead the G20 said its foreign ministers would review the situation in the spring.Painfully aware that the DSSI alone will not be enough for some countries, the G20 has agreed a common framework to restructure the debt of certain nations.That framework has been called «historic» because for the first time it includes private creditors and China, the world's leading creditor to poorer countries, accounting for 63 percent of all such loans extended by G20 nations at the end of 2019.- 'Draining out the Titanic' -«(But) it only considers debt forgiveness as a final option --  and it isn't binding,» warned Jandeaux.«There is a lack of participation from private creditors, and we strongly encourage them to participate on comparable terms when requested by eligible countries,» the final statement said.But time is running out.On Wednesday Zambia, facing a refusal by private lenders to temporarily freeze its debt repayments, defaulted.It is the first African nation to do so during the novel coronavirus pandemic.The same day, Bolivia said it expected to temporarily stop servicing its debts until its economic condition had improved.Fears are growing that debt crises in developing nations could hamstring their ability to vaccinate their people.In March, panicked investors pulled out $82 billion of capital from developing nations in a matter of days.Since then, they have fallen foul of a vicious cycle of increasing costs to combat the pandemic coupled with diminished income.Remittances by migrant workers have been particularly hard hit.As a result, developing nations will this year have access to $700 billion less of external financing than in 2019, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.The DSSI is like «draining out the Titanic with a bucket» according to the European Network on Debt and Development.The 46 beneficiary nations had a combined debt pile of $71.5 billion at the end of 2018.«The list of countries involved is too small,» said Oxfam France's Jandeaux.Middle-income countries like Lebanon are excluded, while others such as Kenya have declined to seek DSSI relief for fear of a credit rating downgrade that would see their borrowing costs increase, as happened in Cameroon.© Agence France-Presse

2 nature reserves in Seychelles re-open after new health measures, facility upgrades

Two major nature reserves in Seychelles have reopened for visitors after closing to tourists and residents for several months. The opening of these parks comes at a time when the island nation is relaunching its tourism sector amidst the COVID pandemic still
Seychelles News Agency

2 nature reserves in Seychelles re-open after new health measures, facility upgrades

Two major nature reserves in Seychelles have reopened for visitors after closing to tourists and residents for several months. The opening of these parks comes at a time when the island nation is relaunching its tourism sector amidst the COVID pandemic still raging around the world. The Aride Island Special Reserve and the Curieuse National Park, both islands, are now accepting visitors but have put in place strict health measures and guidelines. Both reserves were this month certified COVID-safe by the Public Health Authority. According to the deputy chief executive of Aride, staff had to also undertake special training to detect symptoms and attend to suspected cases. Shane Emilie said that all visitors will be encouraged to wear masks and to frequently sanitise their hands. «If someone is found to have a fever, they will be removed instantly from the group. We already have our structure set where we will call the Public Health Authority on Praslin and they will advise us,» explained Emilie. Emilie added that the person will not be able to travel back on the same boat with other visitors and arrangements will be made for another boat to transfer to the suspected case to Praslin - second-most populated island closer to Aride, where health officials will then take up the case.  The magpie robin is one of the five species of endemic birds found on Aride. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY  Aride Island is home to one of the most important seabird populations in the Indian Ocean with more breeding species than any other island in Seychelles. Its population include 18 species of native birds - including five only found in Seychelles, 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, that breed on Aride. The island is managed as a nature reserve by the Island Conservation Society of Seychelles and is owned by Island Conservation Society the United Kingdom, a UK-registered charity. Curieuse Island – a terrestrial and marine park - closed in April this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The island managed by the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is home to the endemic coco de mer and the Aldabra giant land tortoises. Visitors to the island can enjoy the beach, snorkelling - as the seas surrounding the island is protected and is rich in marine biodiversity, barbecue facilities and interact with tortoises. They can also enjoy a trail that runs through a mangrove forest, where the six species of mangroves found only on the island nation are found. Visitors to the island can enjoy the beach and snorkelling as the seas surrounding the island is protected. (Salifa Karapeyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  During the past seven months, the authority carried out upgrade work on its existing facilities as well as the construction of new ones. «The upgrade work is taking place in two phases. The first phase includes new, bigger, improved barbeque area facilities at both Baie Laraie and Anse St José. Toilet facilities have also been improved and the 433-metre boardwalk, which is the longest in Seychelles, has also been upgraded,» explained the chief executive of SNPA. Selby Remy added that «the next phase will include the construction of a visitor centre, souvenir shop and café at Baie Laraie as well as the installation of photovoltaic panels on the barbecue area buildings.» The national park has also introduced new health measures, where visitors will be screened upon landing on the island. Another measure is the new electronic ticketing system whereby visitors can purchase their tickets online. Card transactions are also available. Nonresidents have to pay a fee to visit the islands' reserves. A fee of $30 for adults $14 for children applies for Aride, whilst for Curieuse there is a fee of $14 for adults only.  

Ethiopia claims advances, rejects talks in fight with dissident region

Ethiopia's government claimed advances in its battle against the dissident Tigray region on Saturday, while showing no signs of bowing to international pressure for a halt to the conflict that has caused tens of thousands to flee and raised fears of a humanit
Seychelles News Agency

Ethiopia claims advances, rejects talks in fight with dissident region

Ethiopia's government claimed advances in its battle against the dissident Tigray region on Saturday, while showing no signs of bowing to international pressure for a halt to the conflict that has caused tens of thousands to flee and raised fears of a humanitarian disaster. «Our defence forces are currently marching on Mekele,» the Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check, a government agency, said Saturday. The regional capital is the seat of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which the government is seeking to dislodge from power. The agency also said the national army had captured a string of towns in Tigray, including the ancient city of Aksum and Adigrat, 117 kilometres (73 miles) north of Mekele. In a statement, the TPLF said there had been a «heavy bombardment» of Adigrat, but did not say who was now in control. A communications blackout in the region has made assertions from both sides in the conflict difficult to verify. - Military 'advances' - Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed -- last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner -- unleashed a military campaign against the TPLF on November 4, accusing its forces of attacking two federal military camps in the region and the party of defying his government and seeking to destabilise it. Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in the conflict in Africa's second most populous country, while tens of thousands have fled the fighting, crossing to neighbouring Sudan. In a statement Saturday, Abiy praised his army's advance. «Our forces have now fully liberated Adigrat town from TPLF militia as of today,» he said. «Together with the rest of Ethiopia, we will work to ensure that all humanitarian needs will be addressed,» Abiy added. «The overall safety and well-being of the people of Tigray is of paramount importance to the Federal government and we will do all that is necessary to ensure stability prevails in the Tigray region and that our citizens are free from harm and want,» he said. - Mediation rejected - The TPLF led the overthrow of Mengistu Hailemariam, head of Ethiopia's military Derg regime, in 1991 and dominated the country's politics until Abiy became prime minister in 2018. The party continues to rule Tigray, one of 10 regional states under Ethiopia's system of ethnic federalism whereby by regions are delineated by ethnicity and language. TPLF leaders have complained of being sidelined and blamed for the country's woes. The bitter feud with the central government led the TPLF to hold their own elections this year in defiance of a postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic. Abiy has so far spurned all calls for peace. On Friday, the African Union appointed three former national presidents as special envoys who will be dispatched «in the coming days»: Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa. «The Envoys will travel to Ethiopia with a view to helping to mediate between the parties to the conflict in the sister Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,» said South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current AU chairperson. The Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check agency said Abiy would meet with the envoys. However it also contradicted Ramaphosa, saying, «News circulating that the envoys will be traveling to Ethiopia to mediate between the Federal Government and TPLF criminal element is fake.» US officials said they, too, had urged de-escalation, but saw little prospect for negotiations. «Neither party, from everything we hear, is interested in mediation,» said Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa. - Refugees flee - Military action has already spread beyond Tigray's borders with the TPLF firing rockets at the Eritrean capital Asmara, to the north, and the Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar to the southwest. The campaign has seen warplanes bombing Tigray and heavy fighting, while Amnesty International has documented a gruesome massacre in which «scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death» in the southwest town of Mai-Kadra. Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned of a «dramatic humanitarian impact» from the fighting, requesting «the opening of humanitarian corridors and the truces that might be necessary for humanitarian aid to be delivered» -- without specifying where such corridors could be located. The UN says a «full-scale humanitarian crisis» is unfolding, with 36,000 people having streamed into neighbouring Sudan during the last two weeks. UN officials in Geneva said that around $200 million will be needed to provide assistance to as many as 200,000 people who could flee unrest over the next six months. © Agence France-Presse

Liverpool Football Club fans in Seychelles have new bar to watch games at

Fans of the Liverpool Football Club in Seychelles now have a place to converge and support their team with the launch of a local fan club. The new locale, called 'Iz Up Bar,' located in the eastern district of Anse Aux, opened its doors last Tuesday after ne
Seychelles News Agency

Liverpool Football Club fans in Seychelles have new bar to watch games at

Fans of the Liverpool Football Club in Seychelles now have a place to converge and support their team with the launch of a local fan club. The new locale, called 'Iz Up Bar,' located in the eastern district of Anse Aux, opened its doors last Tuesday after nearly a year of renovation in the presence of a group of Liverpool fans in their club's attire. The bar opens daily during the evening and is already a popular spot with fans. A founding member of Liverpool FC fan club in Seychelles, Joel Decommarmond, said there has been a club for nearly eight years now but the group has been inactive for a while. Decommarmond set up the club after a chance encounter with former Liverpool star John Barnes in South Africa in 2012. Fans of Liverpool can now meet up at the Iz Up Bar. (Cyril Lautee) Photo License: All Rights Reserved  «It worked well at the beginning with fans coming forward to register and it was great to have our supporters together under one umbrella. Unfortunately, we have been inactive and I hope that with the launch we can entice more fans, plan more activities and just come together to support the club we love so much,» said Decommarmond. The new club is the brainchild of Cyril Lautee, a former Tottenham Hotspur's fan who also switched to Liverpool FC after meeting Barnes in England some years back. Lautee is also the owner of 'Iz Up Bar' which now has a red and white décor, with photos of the club and a wall painting of Liverpool's current stars, done by Seychellois artist Colbert Nourrice. «I have always wanted to have a club and my bar provides the right setting for the fans who now know they have a place to come to watch the matches. I am happy that this project has materialised and the fans are happy,» said Lautee. He added that the club is open to all fans including those of other football clubs and is encouraging Liverpool supporters to sign up as members to enjoy the many benefits the club has to offer. The bar has a red and white decor with photos of Liverpool football club. (Cyril Lautee) Photo License: All Rights Reserved «With the current economic climate, it will not be a sound business move to take in only our members. So, our club is open to all football fans. But I would like to see other football clubs which have a huge fan base in Seychelles like Manchester United and Chelsea do the same,» said Lautee. Nelson Jeannie, 38, from neighbouring Pointe Larue, said he has been a Liverpool fan for the past 25 years. «I used to come here prior to the renovation and the transformation is fantastic. I like the wall painting of the current Liverpool stars. It gives the place a nice Liverpool vibe when you are watching a match and I will come here as much as possible to watch the games with other fans,» said Jeannie. The Liverpool Football fan club in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will eventually sell sports memorabilia from the UK including t-shirts and flags.

Coronavirus crisis to dominate Saudi-hosted G20 summit

Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit Saturday in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and a crippling economic crisis. The two-day meeting of the world's wealthiest nations comes a
Seychelles News Agency

Coronavirus crisis to dominate Saudi-hosted G20 summit

Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit Saturday in a first for an Arab nation, with the downsized virtual forum dominated by efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and a crippling economic crisis. The two-day meeting of the world's wealthiest nations comes as President Donald Trump refuses to concede a bitter election and campaigners criticise what they call the G20's inadequate response to the worst global recession in decades. World leaders will huddle virtually as international efforts intensify for a large-scale roll out of coronavirus vaccines after a breakthrough in trials, and as calls grow for G20 nations to plug funding shortfalls. Amid a raging pandemic, the summit, which is usually an opportunity for one-on-one engagements between world leaders, is reduced to brief online sessions of what some observers call «digital diplomacy». Saudi Arabia's King Salman will preside over the summit, with sources close to the organisers saying climate change was among the issues topping the agenda. World leaders, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, are expected to make speeches at the summit, the sources said. Trump will also participate, a US official said. G20 nations have contributed more than $21 billion to combat the pandemic, which has infected 56 million people globally and left 1.3 million dead, and injected $11 trillion to «safeguard» the virus-battered world economy, organisers said. The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development projects global economic output will contract by 4.5 percent this year. The summit «will seek to strengthen international cooperation to support the global economic recovery,» said Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan. «The G20 committed in March to do 'whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic and protect lives and livelihoods,'» UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. «As we meet this weekend, we must hold ourselves to account for that promise.» But G20 leaders face mounting pressure to help stave off possible credit defaults across developing nations. - 'Bolder measures' - Last week, G20 finance ministers declared a «common framework» for an extended debt restructuring plan for virus-ravaged countries, but campaign groups have described the measure as insufficient. The constituent nations extended a debt suspension initiative for developing countries until the end of June next year. But UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged G20 leaders to offer a «firm committment» to extend the initiative until the end of 2021. International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva has warned that the global economy faces a hard road back from the Covid-19 downturn even as vaccines are now in sight. G20 nations must help plug a $4.5 billion funding gap in the so-called ACT-Accelerator -- a programme that promotes an equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines -- to rein in the pandemic, said a joint statement signed by Norway's prime minister, South Africa’s president, the heads of the European Union and the World Health Organization. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a staunch Trump defender, will be present in Saudi Arabia during the summit. Trump, who continues to reject his election loss, took part Friday in an Asia-Pacific summit. Many of his fellow G20 leader have already congratulated President-elect Joe Biden. - 'Serious abuses' - Ahead of the summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she hoped the US will adopt a more multilateralist stance under Biden. «We also expect of course new momentum from the new US administration» on climate change, reversing Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, she added. Saudi Arabia's human rights record has overshadowed the event. Campaigners and families of jailed activists have launched vigorous drives to highlight the kingdom’s human rights abuses. Key among them are the siblings of jailed activist Loujain al-Hathloul, on hunger strike for more than 20 days demanding regular family contact. But some Western officials have indicated human rights would not be raised at the summit, saying they prefer to use bilateral forums to discuss the issue with the Saudi government. «The G20 presidency has conferred an undeserved mark of international prestige on the [Saudi] government,» said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. «Instead of signalling its concern for Saudi Arabia's serious abuses, the G20 is bolstering the Saudi government's well-funded publicity efforts to portray the country as 'reforming' despite a significant increase in repression.» © Agence France-Presse

Sri Lanka to open up Chinese-backed 'port city', offer tax breaks

A mega Chinese real-estate development in Sri Lanka will open early next year offering tax concessions to attract investors and revive the struggling economy, the government said Tuesday in its first budget. Colombo Port City -- a $1.4 billion land reclamati
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Sri Lanka to open up Chinese-backed 'port city', offer tax breaks

A mega Chinese real-estate development in Sri Lanka will open early next year offering tax concessions to attract investors and revive the struggling economy, the government said Tuesday in its first budget. Colombo Port City -- a $1.4 billion land reclamation project beside the capital's port which started in 2014 -- has doubled the size of Sri Lanka's current financial district. The development -- the largest single foreign investment in Sri Lanka so far -- is one of several massive Asian infrastructure projects funded by China as Beijing increases its footprint in the region. With Sri Lanka's economy reeling from last year's Easter Sunday suicide bombings and the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, the recently elected government led by the Rajapaksa brothers is hoping the development will attract new investment to the country. «I expect to present to parliament a new legal framework conducive to promote commercial services and investment in this Special Economic Zone in January,» Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the finance minister, told parliament in his budget address. He said the Port City -- an area of 269 hectares (665 acres) reclaimed from the Indian Ocean -- will offer tax concessions to attract trade, banking and foreign exchange transactions. He did not give further details. «We believe that the Colombo Port City will become a prime choice for investors and business community due to the business and investor-friendly legal framework,» he added. The government is set to build roads and set up electricity and water supplies as it tries to attract commercial property developers. Under Rajapaksa's leadership when he was president between 2005-15, Sri Lanka borrowed billions of dollars from China, accumulating a mountain of debt. Some of the infrastructure became white elephants. The country had also handed a 99-year lease to China for its Hambantota deep-sea port because it could not repay loans to Beijing for the harbour in the island's south. The Rajapaksas have denied that such projects could become hidden debt traps. Sri Lanka's pandemic-hit economy is expected to contract by 5.5 percent this year, according to the Asian Development Bank. Rajapaksa did not reveal a growth estimate in the budget but said he was hopeful of a 5.5 percent expansion next year. International rating agencies have downgraded the country's credit worthiness as foreign reserves fell sharply. A fresh wave of lockdowns were introduced recently after a bout of new cases. © Agence France-Presse

EU ratifies fisheries deal with Seychelles agreed upon earlier this year

Members of the European Parliament approved the renewal of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Seychelles on Thursday. The agreement and its six-year protocol were signed in February and had been implemented provisionally since then. The pri
Seychelles News Agency

EU ratifies fisheries deal with Seychelles agreed upon earlier this year

Members of the European Parliament approved the renewal of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Seychelles on Thursday. The agreement and its six-year protocol were signed in February and had been implemented provisionally since then. The principal secretary for fisheries, Jude Talma, told SNA that the approval by the European Parliament is part of the European Union's internal procedure, which is more or less similar to Seychelles'. «The European Council signed the agreement and on Seychelles' side, it was the ambassador to the EU who signed. Once it was signed, Seychelles brought it before the National Assembly to be ratified. Now the European Parliament has ratified the agreement,» explained Talma. The National Assembly ratified the agreement in June after a heated debate in which members of the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS), the opposition majority then, pointed out that Seychelles could have negotiated for much from the EU.  Under the protocol, up to 40 purse seiners from Spain, France and Italy, and eight surface longliners from France, Spain and Portugal are being provided with tuna fishing opportunities. The vessels will be able to fish a total of 50,000 tonnes of tuna per year. Talma said that the quota for «yellowfin tuna is managed regionally by IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission) and each country is accorded a quota based on the country's historical catch.» Under the agreement, the EU's financial contribution is €5.3 million per year, of which, €2.5 million is payment for the right to access Seychelles' waters, corresponding to a reference tonnage of 50,000 tonnes of tuna per year. The remaining €2.8 million provides sectoral support for the development of the fisheries policy of the island nation in the western Indian Ocean. In a press release, the European Parliament states that it also «adopted an accompanying resolution which calls for the Seychelles' fisheries sector to be more involved in implementing the agreement, and for the overfished yellowfin tuna stocks to be restored through regional measures. The EU's fleet should do all it can to prevent overfishing. In addition, the resolution criticises the persistent practice of provisionally applying international agreements before Parliament gives its consent.» In response, Talma said that «in the past, there have been some delays with the implementation of activities that were part of the agreement.» «For the previous agreement, we have achieved about 96 percent of what was defined under the sectorial support, however, COVID has caused us some delay. We wrote to them, outlining the reason why we couldn't achieve 100 percent, and requested that the difference is rolled over under the next agreement. This is not usually done under normal circumstances,» he added. Fisheries is the second top contributor to the economy of Seychelles, which has a population of 96,000 people.

India's coronavirus cases pass nine million as Delhi struggles

India's coronavirus cases passed nine million on Friday, as the world's second-worst-hit country saw hospitals in the capital New Delhi under pressure and graveyards fill up. India has now registered more than 132,000 deaths, according to the latest officia
Seychelles News Agency

India's coronavirus cases pass nine million as Delhi struggles

India's coronavirus cases passed nine million on Friday, as the world's second-worst-hit country saw hospitals in the capital New Delhi under pressure and graveyards fill up. India has now registered more than 132,000 deaths, according to the latest official figures, which are widely seen as understating the true scale of the pandemic. The total number of infections in India is second only to the tally in the United States, which has recorded 11.6 million cases and more than 250,000 deaths. India, the world's second-most populous nation, has seen a drop in daily cases over the past month but it is still registering about 45,000 new infections on average every day. New Delhi, facing the dual scourge of winter pollution and coronavirus, has seen infections soar past half a million with a record rise in daily cases. On Thursday, the megacity's government quadrupled fines for not wearing a mask in an effort to get a grip on the outbreak. At one of Delhi's largest cemeteries, burial space is fast running out, grave-digger Mohammed Shamim told AFP. «Initially when the virus broke (out), I thought I'll bury 100-200 people and it'll be done. But the current situation is beyond my wildest thoughts,» Shamim said. «I only have space left for about 50-60 burials. Then what? I have no idea.» - Covid fatigue - India imposed a stringent lockdown in March but restrictions have been gradually eased as the government seeks to reboot the economy after the loss of millions of jobs. Experts say this has helped spread the disease, as has a general reluctance to wear masks and maintain physical distancing. The western city of Ahmedabad, home to six million people, late Thursday announced an indefinite night curfew after an uptick in cases. «The increase in numbers of cases is a concern, primarily because it is driven by people not following the basic protocol of corona-appropriate behaviour,» said Anand Krishnan, a community medicine professor at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Hemant Shewade, a Bangalore-based community medicine expert, said it was likely cases outside major towns and cities were not being taken into account in the official numbers. «My guess is that it is spreading slowly and silently in rural areas,» Shewade told AFP. In Delhi, the spectre of the virus wreaking havoc has come back to haunt its 20 million residents, as families scramble to arrange hospital beds. Over 90 percent of intensive care beds with ventilators were occupied as on Thursday, a government mobile app showed. «My father's oxygen saturation level dipped to 35 percent suddenly and we rushed to the nearby hospital but there were no beds available,» Delhi resident Rajeev Nigam told AFP. «We ran all night from one hospital to another but it was the same story everywhere,» he said, blaming the Delhi government for being «unprepared» and «callous» in its approach. Distraught families were making fervent pleas on social media, tagging Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for help in securing beds. Under pressure to control the new wave, Kejriwal Thursday announced the addition of 1,400 intensive care beds. Jeevendra Srivastava, an advertising professional, said Delhi was paying the price for overcrowding during the ongoing festive season. «It's shocking how a few people still are not taking this deadly virus seriously,» said Srivastava, 47. «People are still going to crowded places without masks. It's because of this irresponsible behaviour that now almost every second house has a case of the virus.» © Agence France-Presse

Home delivery an increasing part of business in Seychelles during COVID-19

With COVID-19 affecting so many businesses in Seychelles, local entrepreneurs are taking a new look at delivering products to clients. In the agricultural sector, the second-largest contributor to the country's economy after tourism, farmer Jacques Matombe i
Seychelles News Agency

Home delivery an increasing part of business in Seychelles during COVID-19

With COVID-19 affecting so many businesses in Seychelles, local entrepreneurs are taking a new look at delivering products to clients. In the agricultural sector, the second-largest contributor to the country's economy after tourism, farmer Jacques Matombe is delivering a variety basket of vegetables to clients at SCR 250 ($13) each. Matombe told SNA that he decided to start providing this service because people do not really want to go out into large crowds such as the market place. «Sales have gone down everywhere, and hence you need to be a little bit more innovative to get products to customers, ensuring that our products are sold at the same time limiting the number of people coming together in one place,» he added. As with other businesses in Seychelles, Matombe has seen a decrease in sales of his products due to the fall in tourism arrivals. «Hotels are not taking many products from us. People aren't going out as they did. Some takeaways are not opening until late, and at the market, sales are not the same as before.  There has been a direct impact on the agricultural sector in general,» he said. The Seychelles Postal Services was given a nudge by the pandemic outbreak to start providing more delivery. The Postal Services in collaboration with the Seychelles Revenue Commission has recently opened a new Post Office branch at Victoria House building in Victoria for clearing and delivery of parcels/packets. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  The deputy chief executive, Alex Etienne, explained that although the post office was already providing this service, after having noticed the increasing number of companies selling their products online, the Seychelles Postal Services wanted to fill in the delivery gap. «We realised that some companies will have difficulties with the delivery part. As our mail volume is going down, this was part of our strategy to diversify our services. We thought about partnering with as many companies as possible to offer delivery services for their products,» said Etienne. The postal services offer different packages for delivery which can be done within 24 hours or up to five days, all depending on the package that the client chooses. The prices range from SCR15 ($0.80) to SCR100 ($5). «The post office is also working on an e-commerce platform, where people can display what is on sale for which we will also be providing the delivery service. One of the reasons why we are coming forth with the website is to encourage local entrepreneurs to export items through the post office. Just like we are getting a lot of incoming small packages, we are hoping that small packets will also be leaving the country. There are a lot of Seychellois living abroad and they would like to be able to buy local items and products,» said Etienne. Manzaii – Seychelles' first online food delivery App Company. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  Another company providing delivery services is Manzaii – Seychelles' first online food delivery App Company. It was created with the aim of ensuring that food outlets remain profitable and customers can adapt their lifestyle to the new normal. The company, owned by Seychellois - Wolfgang Germain – is passionate about bringing great tasting food from an array of food choices to people. Seychelles has a variety of incredible food outlets in the form of take-aways and restaurants that should easily be accessible to everyone. Germain explained that the lockdown was a stimulus for him and his team to invest in this kind of business. Usually around the town area, the delivery costs R20 – R25. He is calling upon the different food outlets to experience the system and see if it works for them. Manzaii partners with food outlets to ensure that anytime a person feels like eating their food or craves for a particular cuisine, a quick search and placing your order through the company is all it takes. 

Seychelles should focus more on fisheries sector, new minister says

Seychelles should focus more on a sector it has control over -- fisheries -- to sustain its economy in view of the current dire economic situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister for fisheries said Thursday. Jean-Francois Ferrari spoke aft
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles should focus more on fisheries sector, new minister says

Seychelles should focus more on a sector it has control over -- fisheries -- to sustain its economy in view of the current dire economic situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister for fisheries said Thursday. Jean-Francois Ferrari spoke after his familiarisation visit at the Providence artisanal fisheries facilities, which was financed by the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). «My first reaction is that I have discovered a fantastic place. It is an extraordinary facility. I need to thank the government of Japan for assisting with the construction of the facility. Most of the infrastructures are working perfectly fine,» he said. Ferrari said there were not many complaints from the fishermen he encountered and everyone is excited to push the fisheries industry forward. Fisheries is the second top contributor, after tourism, to the economy of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The minister said that fishermen are excited to push the fisheries sector forward. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY The development of the artisanal fisheries facilities which was done in two phases cost approximately $10 million and includes the expansion of 216 metres of quay, ten mooring buoys, a landing shed and a 10-tonne ice-making facility. The second phase was needed due to the increasing catch by artisanal and semi-industrial fishermen, who had no access to an ice plant, ice storage warehouse and other fishing facilities. While foreign-owned vessels have long dominated the industrial longline fishing sector in Seychelles, the local fishermen are mainly involved in artisanal and semi-industrial longline fishing. A boat owner, Alvina Albert, said that she is happy with the facilities «but the only thing missing now are storage facilities to store our bait that we use for fishing.» Ferrari said the chief executive of the Seychelles Fishing Authority, Nicole Elisabeth «has told me that they are working to put new storage facilities in place for fishermen to store their fish and bait.» He said that how to improve the loading area was also discussed. «We need to ensure that when fish are being offloaded from the fishing vessels, it is being done to a certain standard. We cannot be offloading fish in direct sunlight. It needs to stay fresh at all times. Also there is a congestion problem when two or three boats are berthing at the same time,» added the minister. «All of this is being sorted out to ensure a perfect business environment for operators and to add value to our fish. The fish that we catch in the Seychelles' waters are among the best in the world. We need to handle it properly so that it does not lose its quality,» said Ferrari. 

DR Congo announces end of latest Ebola epidemic

DR Congo on Wednesday declared the end of its latest Ebola epidemic, closing the file on an outbreak in the northwestern province of Equateur that claimed 55 lives in nearly six months. «I am happy to solemnly declare the end of the 11th epidemic of th
Seychelles News Agency

DR Congo announces end of latest Ebola epidemic

DR Congo on Wednesday declared the end of its latest Ebola epidemic, closing the file on an outbreak in the northwestern province of Equateur that claimed 55 lives in nearly six months. «I am happy to solemnly declare the end of the 11th epidemic of the Ebola virus,» Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists. The World Health Organization said the latest outbreak had killed 55 people among 119 confirmed and 11 probable cases since June 1. Wednesday's announcement came after the Democratic Republic of Congo crossed a threshold of 42 days without a recorded case -- double the period that the deadly haemorrhage virus takes to incubate. As during a preceding epidemic in the east of the country, the widespread use of vaccinations, which were administered to more than 40,000 people, helped curb the disease, the WHO said. The outbreak in Equateur erupted as Ebola fighters were still battling the epidemic in the east and amid tough measures, since eased, to combat the coronavirus. The outbreak «occurred in a particular context,» Longondo said. He added that it unfolded in an area of rivers and lakes whose remoteness fuelled the risk of its spreading to other provinces and the neighbouring Republic of Congo. «There remains a high risk of a resurgence, and this should be an alarm signal for strengthening the monitoring system,» the minister warned. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hailed the «tremendous accomplishment, particularly in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic». Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that «implementing a decentralised, community-focused approach», as well as having a licenced vaccine and new treatment options meant that «health care workers are better prepared to fight Ebola than ever before.» But the International Federation of the Red Cross warned the DRC still faced «significant humanitarian challenges». The UN's humanitarian coordinator in the DRC, David McLachlan-Karr, called for continued efforts to beef up the country's health system. Equateur was previously hit by Ebola between May and July 2018. Thirty-three people died. - Lessons from the east - The DRC and its partners vowed that the fight against Ebola in the northwest would draw on lessons from experiences in the east, especially regarding corruption. The US, British and Canadian ambassadors to the DRC stoked the pressure for better financial controls after going on a fact-finding mission to the northwest in September with pioneering Congolese epidemiologist Jean-Jacques Muyembe, who helped identify the Ebola virus in 1976. «People see this kind of epidemic as a chance to get rich, either in the private sector or through the various channels of the state,» the Canadian envoy Nicolas Simard said. In Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur, Simard said he had discovered that more than 4,000 people had been deployed there to fight Ebola, even though there had only been 120 cases of the disease. Longondo said in Wednesday's press conference that he had sought to avoid Ebola profiteering in Equateur. But he acknowledged there had been problems, and a task that he thought would take «two or three months ended up taking five or six.» «Some people in the health sector inflated the list of service providers,» he said. «It took us time to sort out these problems. That's why we didn't pay people on time and this led to strikes.» - Deadly epidemics - The eastern outbreak, which ran from August 1 2018 to June 25 2020, was the country's worst ever, with 2,277 deaths. It was also the second highest toll in the 44-year history of the disease, surpassed only by a three-country outbreak in West Africa from 2013-16 that killed 11,300 people. The Ebola virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person. The early symptoms are high fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and sore throats. These are often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding. The death rate is notoriously high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO. The DRC is also fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. In a population of around 80 million people, the authorities have recorded more than 11,000 Covid-19 cases, at least 300 of which have been fatal. © Agence France-Presse

7 ways Save Our Seas is investigating nature in Seychelles

Seychelles' rich biodiversity is a goldmine of information for research and conversation organisations. Save Our Seas Foundation, which was founded in 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, is running seven long term programmes on two remote islands in Seychelles -- D'
Seychelles News Agency

7 ways Save Our Seas is investigating nature in Seychelles

Seychelles' rich biodiversity is a goldmine of information for research and conversation organisations. Save Our Seas Foundation, which was founded in 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, is running seven long term programmes on two remote islands in Seychelles -- D'Arros and St Joseph Atoll. SNA takes a closer look at Save Our Seas' goals, findings and achievements.   Community monitoring of nesting sea turtles   The beaches surrounding D'Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll are important nesting sites for green and hawksbill turtles. The two islands are also two of the only places in Seychelles where both species nest and forage.  Jeanne Mortimer, the project leader, is working closely with Seychellois monitors on how to observe nesting turtles and collect data. Ongoing since 2011, the key objective of the project is to promote and better understand the nesting of sea turtles in this area. (Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   Growth rate and population size of resident juvenile hawksbill and green turtles The presence of green and hawksbill turtles are monitored across the islands regularly. The research centre collects data that tells a story about the numbers of the species using the islands and how much time they spend there as well as how quickly they are growing. (Ryan Daly, Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   Regular surveys of coral reef abundance, diversity and health Every year the coral reefs around the two islands are surveyed to assess the trends in their health. Data are collected from different sites around the islands.   Once collected the data are compared to the previous year's findings which gives an indication about the status of the reefs and how it is changing and this is done by the team at the D'Arros Research Centre. Ryan Daly, Emily Gadoutsis/Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    Regular surveys of local fish abundance and diversity As with the coral reefs, the fish communities that frequent D'Arros and St Joseph are regularly monitored. The team from the island's research centre looks at the fish species and how many of them are living in which habitats around the islands. The diversity and abundance of some reef fish are often a great indicator of ecosystem status. (Ryan Daly/Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    Population structure, residency and behaviour of reef mantas around D'Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll According to research, D'Arros is an incredibly important place for reef manta rays. The centre together with the Manta Trust are able to identify individual mantas by their unique markings, and this gives the opportunity to regularly record which individuals are using the site, when they are here and how often. Such information allows researchers to learn about the species' populations and their requirements from the D'Arros site.  (Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    Collection of long-term environmental data  For much of the research of the Save Our Seas Foundation, it is of utmost importance to have information on the long-term environmental conditions. The Foundation is constantly monitoring the winds and rainfall at the weather station of the research centre. A series of underwater sensors are deployed around the islands, giving information on water temperatures, tides and light intensity. All of this data feeds into the foundation's other projects.  (Ryan Daly, Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   Acoustic telemetry Across D'Arros Island, the St Joseph Atoll and the broader region the Foundation has an array of stationary acoustic receivers constantly recording information on the presence of individual animals that have been tagged with acoustic transmitters. When a tagged animal moves within range of the receiver, a timestamp is recorded. Together as a network, these receivers provide information about the movements and distributions of different animals across different scales in space and time. (C.Daly, C. Elston/ Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    

Ethiopia accuses WHO chief of backing native Tigray's leaders

Ethiopia's army chief on Thursday accused WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus -- the country's highest-profile Tigrayan abroad -- of lobbying for and seeking to arm leaders in the conflict-torn dissident region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed unleashed a militar
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Ethiopia accuses WHO chief of backing native Tigray's leaders

Ethiopia's army chief on Thursday accused WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus -- the country's highest-profile Tigrayan abroad -- of lobbying for and seeking to arm leaders in the conflict-torn dissident region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed unleashed a military campaign against the northern region on November 4 with the declared aim of unseating its ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which he accuses of defying his government and seeking to destabilise it. Army chief Berhanu Jula told a press conference that Tedros, who served as minister of health under TPLF leader Meles Zenawi, was «a part of that team», referring to the party. «He has worked in neighbouring countries to condemn the war. He has worked for them to get weapons,» said Berhanu. He said Tedros had «left no stone unturned» to help the TPLF, the party Abiy says he is targeting in a military offensive in the region. «What do you expect from him? We don't expect he will side with the Ethiopian people and condemn them,» he said. Tedros has yet to respond to the accusation. The 55-year-old was appointed as the first African head of the WHO in 2017 and has become a household name as he grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic. He has been ranked as one of Time magazine's most influential people. Abiy's government insists its target is the «reactionary and rogue» members of the TPLF and not average civilians in Tigray. But observers have voiced concern about Tigrayans losing their jobs or being arrested for their ethnicity. - 'Outside forces' - The TPLF led the overthrow of Mengistu Hailemariam, head of Ethiopia's military Derg regime, in 1991 and dominated politics for three decades until the arrival of Abiy who was appointed in 2018. The party has complained about being sidelined under Abiy, and scapegoated for the country's woes, and a bitter feud with the central government this year led them to hold their own elections in defiance of a postponement due to the coronavirus. On November 4, Abiy said the TPLF had attacked two federal military camps in the region, crossing a «red line». His controversial campaign has seen warplanes bombing Tigray and heavy fighting, while Amnesty International has documented a gruesome massacre. A communications blackout in Tigray has made claims difficult to verify, but the overall toll is believed to be in the hundreds. Meanwhile the UN says a «full-scale humanitarian crisis» is unfolding, with 36,000 people having streamed into neighbouring Sudan, according to that country's refugee commission. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday that the Ethiopia Red Cross Society had «transported hundreds of people injured in areas affected by clashes.» Abiy this week insisted the military operation was in its final phase, and his government has said it is marching towards the regional capital Mekele after a string of victories. A senior Tigrayan official, Wondimu Asamnew, said in an email that Tigrayan forces «have adopted a defensive posture on all fronts». A statement from Tigray president Debretsion Gebremichael said Thursday that the army had «called upon assistance from an outside force, with drones starting to be used in the battle.» - 'Alienating Tigrayans'- Since the start of fighting, hundreds of people have been arrested for allegedly conspiring with the TPLF, while 34 businesses had their bank accounts suspended for alleged links to the TPLF. The federal police late Wednesday announced arrest warrants for 76 army officers, some retired, accused of conspiring with the TPLF and «committing treason». The government has also said it has «credible and specific evidence» of TPLF operatives working for local and international organisations. «We continue to receive credible reports of job suspensions of Tigrayan residents elsewhere in the country as fighting escalates in Tigray,» Laetitia Bader of Human Rights Watch told AFP last week. «Given the incredibly tense and volatile context in the country, Ethiopian authorities should push back against language and measures that fuel intolerance and risk alienating Tigrayans from all walks of life.» © Agence France-Presse

President of Seychelles meets with island's diplomatic corps to seek cooperation, support

Climate change, the environment and the fight against organised crimes remain top priorities for bilateral cooperation between Seychelles and other countries. In order to ensure a smooth continuation of diplomatic relations, President Wavel Ramkalawan on Thu
Seychelles News Agency

President of Seychelles meets with island's diplomatic corps to seek cooperation, support

Climate change, the environment and the fight against organised crimes remain top priorities for bilateral cooperation between Seychelles and other countries. In order to ensure a smooth continuation of diplomatic relations, President Wavel Ramkalawan on Thursday met with the diplomatic corps with a presence in the island nation. The meeting at State House in Victoria saw the attendance of the resident ambassadors, high commissioners, charge d'affaires and representatives of the Seychelles' Department of Foreign Affairs. Also present were Seychelles' vice-president, Ahmed Afif, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde. In his opening statement, Ramkalawan said that «the government that I have the honour to lead, remains committed to furthering and deepening relations with the countries represented here today, as indeed with the wider international community.» «My government remains similarly keen to explore all avenues of cooperation with friends and partners for our mutual benefits. We need to continue working together on common challenges such as those relating to climate change, the environment, the fight against organised crimes including drugs, arms, terrorism and human trafficking, to name but a few,» he said. «Practical support to Seychelles in dealing with maritime threats, including blue crimes, which will effectively boost our maritime security through capacity building of our law enforcement agencies, remain vital and we hope that these are further enhanced,» added Ramkalawan. He said that obtaining necessary financial resources to assist Seychelles' recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, renegotiating foreign debt obligations and engaging with international development partners to fund new initiatives to boost the economy, are key foreign policy priorities. Members of the diplomatic corps from Cuba, China, Malta, India, the United Kingdom, France, Libya, Japan, Sri Lanka, Russia and the United Arab Emirates with the President, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY  The members of the diplomatic corps based in Seychelles are from Cuba, China, Malta, India, the United Kingdom, France, Libya, Japan, Sri Lanka, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Bilateral relationships have been established with some of these countries as early as in 1976, when Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, became independent. After the meeting, the foreign affairs minister told reporters that the members of the diplomatic corps appreciated the chance to meet with the president. «When you are an ambassador or you are involved in diplomacy, you might hear rumours, but when, like the English saying goes, you get it from the horse's mouth, it is good. Seychellois ambassadors had the opportunity to meet with the head of state which is not always the case in big countries. Everyone welcomed this move and the president has reassured them that relations will continue,» said Radegonde. The president this week announced the closing of three of Seychelles' embassies -- in Sri Lanka, Cuba and Geneva -- to reduce expenses. Radegonde said that «when looking at which embassy to close, we looked at where there wouldn't be many negative impacts.» Radegonde said that the respective ambassadors have been made aware of the reasons why and as the president explained this had nothing to do with Seychelles' bilateral relations with those countries. «We would have liked to maintain all of our embassies around the world but due to our financial situation, the decision to close these three embassies had to be taken. We need to prioritise and keep the little money that we have for local expenses. They welcomed the news really well, especially the ambassadors where we are closing our embassies,» he added. Radegonde said that virtual meetings will be held with members of the diplomatic corps not present in the country at a later date.

US to slash troop levels in Iraq, Afghanistan

The US will slash troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to their lowest in nearly 20 years, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, prompting security worries among allies and fear on Kabul's streets after President Donald Trump pledged to end conflicts abroad.Rejectin
Seychelles News Agency

US to slash troop levels in Iraq, Afghanistan

The US will slash troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq to their lowest in nearly 20 years, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, prompting security worries among allies and fear on Kabul's streets after President Donald Trump pledged to end conflicts abroad.Rejecting concerns that precipitous drawdowns could give up security gains after years of fighting, Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said around 2,000 troops would be pulled from Afghanistan by January 15.Five hundred more would return from Iraq by the same date, leaving 2,500 in each country.Trump had made ending overseas wars one of his key promises and US forces in Afghanistan had already been reduced from about 13,000 following a deal with the Taliban in February to open peace talks with the Kabul government in return for US troops withdrawing by May 2021.The troop announcement came just weeks before Trump is scheduled to cede the White House in the wake of his November 3 reelection loss to Democrat Joe Biden.The moves reflect Trump's policy «to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home,» Miller said.Miller said the US had met its goals, set in 2001 after the Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States, to defeat Islamist extremists and to help «local partners and allies to take the lead in the fight.»«With the blessings of providence in the coming year, we will finish this generational war and bring our men and women home,» he said.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP that the withdrawal «is a good step and in the interest of the people of both» the US and Afghanistan.- Ending 'endless wars' -The moves took the United States closer to disengaging from conflicts that have blazed and smouldered through three presidencies with no end in sight since 2001.But critics said they risk appearing like a humiliating defeat, leaving the original threat of Islamic extremist attacks intact.After criticism that Trump was acting abruptly since his defeat, White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said the troop cuts have been in the works for some time.Trump had promised in 2016 to «put a stop to America's endless wars,» he said.«Today it was just announced at the Pentagon that President Trump is keeping that promise.»By May it is President Trump's hope that they will come home safely and in their entirety.«Some Kabul residents feared that increased violence would follow any US drawdown.»The withdrawal of foreign troops will cause the Taliban to escalate their violence,« Fatima Safari told AFP.»It will also cause women to suffer more and make them unable to play their roles«.Bookseller Mahdi Mosawi predicted that »the Taliban will escalate their violence in a bid to seize more political power« once American troops are gone.- Baghdad rockets -The announcement comes 10 days after Trump fired defense secretary Mark Esper, who had insisted on keeping 4,500 troops in Afghanistan to support Afghan security forces.Until Esper's removal, the Pentagon had argued that the Taliban had not met pledges to reduce violent attacks, which have surged across the country in recent months. President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Sediq Sediqqi confirmed in a tweet that Ghani and Miller had spoken on the phone about »continued meaningful US military support to the Afghan Security and Defence Forces«.In Iraq, Trump has also pulled back US forces after dozens of rocket attacks by Iran-allied groups on the US embassy and bases housing American troops.On Tuesday, a volley of rockets slammed into Baghdad's Green Zone, where the US embassy sits, breaking a month-long truce on attacks against the US compound. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior US defense official dismissed concerns over the risk of resurgences by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.»The professionals in the military service have agreed that this is the right move,« the official said. »Al Qaeda has been in Afghanistan for decades and the reality is, we'd be fools to say they are going to leave tomorrow.«- 'Humiliating departure' -But allies and senior US politicians saw US troop cuts as dangerous.On Monday US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned of a repeat of the »humiliating American departure from Vietnam« in 1975 -- and a propaganda victory for Islamic extremists.NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Tuesday that Afghanistan could return to being »a platform for international terrorists to plan and organise attacks on our homelands.« And German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin is »concerned over what the US announcement could mean for the continuation of peace talks«, warning against a »hasty withdrawal«.Democratic Senator Jack Reed, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused Trump of a »cynical, chaotic approach« designed to burnish his own legacy while leaving a mess to successor Biden.But another senior Democrat, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, said that after speaking with Miller, he saw the move as »the right policy decision."© Agence France-Presse

Novice takes the reins as president in crisis-worn Peru

Francisco Sagasti, sworn-in as Peru's interim president on Tuesday at the age of 76, is a novice politician with an academic background who has been a member of Congress only since March. Yet his profile as a moderate has won him acceptance as a consensus po
Seychelles News Agency

Novice takes the reins as president in crisis-worn Peru

Francisco Sagasti, sworn-in as Peru's interim president on Tuesday at the age of 76, is a novice politician with an academic background who has been a member of Congress only since March. Yet his profile as a moderate has won him acceptance as a consensus politician in a nation seeking to navigate its way out of an intense political crisis. Sagasti was elected president by Congress on Monday, after lawmakers had failed in a first attempt to agree on a candidate the day before. The choice of an unknown as president may be a reflection of how crisis-worn Peru's politics have become. The political centrist, whose gray beard and lanky frame has quickly earned him the nickname Don Quixote from his political admirers, is so far unblemished by the fray of repeated crises that have beset Peruvian politics. While Cervantes’s hero jousted at windmills on a quest to restore chivalry and serve his nation, Sagasti's immediate task is to quell the seething anger in the streets at the ouster of popular president Martin Vizcarra and his replacement by ex-congress speaker Manuel Merino. In a rare feat for Peruvian presidents, Vizcarra had consistently high approval ratings and broad public support for his crusade against political corruption -- especially in Congress, half of whose members are embroiled in criminal cases, ranging from money laundering to bribery. Sagasti joined Congress after winning a seat in March as part of the Morado Party, a centrist grouping he co-founded in 2016 to offer an alternative to leftists and conservatives. The party takes its name from the Spanish word for the color purple, what its founders said represents a mix of leftist red and the blue of the conservative parties. The party took nine seats in the 130-seat Congress in polls that delivered a heavy defeat for right-wing parties and led to a highly-fragmented legislature. Sagasti was one of the few members of Congress to vote against Vizcarra's impeachment, which analysts said may win him support from the street. - Industrial engineer - An industrial engineer by training, Sagasti was chairman of Congress' Committee on Science, Innovation and Technology before jumping into the spotlight as president. He has taught at universities in Peru, Spain and the United States, where he also studied for a doctorate in social science. More of a technocrat than a political animal, Sagasti also worked at the World Bank in the late 1980s. Born in Lima on October 10, 1944, Sagasti is the grandson of a hero of the country's 1879-1883 war against Chile, a seminal event in Peru's history. Sagasti himself has been embroiled in an unlikely drama. In 1996, he was caught up in the hostage crisis at the Japanese embassy in Lima, where leftist Tupac Amaru rebels held around 700 people attending a party for Emperor Akihito's birthday. Sagasti was released after five days along with many of the foreign dignitaries. The siege ended after 126 days when Peruvian special forces raided the embassy building, rescuing all but one of the remaining hostages -- who was killed in the gun battle -- as well as killing all the rebels. It was an untypically stormy episode for the music lover, who plays piano and guitar as well as composes. Sagasti has been married three times and is father to seven children. Under Peru's constitution, Sagasti will slot in as interim president until elections next year. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles loses one of two remaining World War II veterans with passing of Samuel Jolicoeur

Seychelles has lost one of its two remaining World War II veterans after Samuel Joliecoeur passed away last month at age 98. Jolicoeur will be laid to rest on Wednesday at 2 p.m. local time at the Ste Therese church of Plaisance. The veteran who was born o
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles loses one of two remaining World War II veterans with passing of Samuel Jolicoeur

Seychelles has lost one of its two remaining World War II veterans after Samuel Joliecoeur passed away last month at age 98. Jolicoeur will be laid to rest on Wednesday at 2 p.m. local time at the Ste Therese church of Plaisance. The veteran who was born on March 22, 1922, joined the British Army to fight in the World War II at the age of 19 when Seychelles was a British colony. He was among some 700 Seychellois men drafted for military operations during the six-year war. Jolicoeur was part of a corps of soldiers known as Desert Logistics who provided support services which included supplies and ammunition to the Infantry. World War II began with Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 and ended six years later in 1945. Over four million men and women from Britain's colonies throughout the world volunteered for service during the two world wars. Being under British rule since 1814, the Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands situated in the western Indian Ocean was no exception, and many Seychellois volunteered to go to war, serving alongside the British. Jolicoeur joined in 1940 and saw battle in the deserts of North Africa, mainly Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Algeria in what was known as the North African campaign. He also crossed the Mediterranean Sea to participate in the war effort in Italy. A ceremony on Remembrance Sunday is organised every year at the Mont Fleuri cemetery where the names of the Seychellois servicemen who died in both World Wars are listed.  (Patrick Joubert) Photo License: CC-BY He was a well-known figure in Belvedere, a sub district of Plaisance, and even at a very late stage of his life, Jolicoeur could be seen doing daily activities. He loved recounting his war experience and he will be remembered for his 'very sharp memory,' said his son, Shelton Jolicoeur, a lawyer, who told SNA that his dad enjoyed history. 'Even in his advanced age, he would always keep abreast with world affairs and politics. He was never one to shy away from speaking his mind,' said Shelton Jolicoeur. He remembers his dad as a «good and discipline person who inculcated good values in his children.» The World War II veteran was also a member of the local Ex-Servicemen Association and the current chairperson, Yvon Bastienne, said that Joliecoeur «was a very active member of the association until very recently.» The elected Member of the National Assembly for Plaisance, Richard Labrosse, who lives at Belvedere, said Jolicoeur was a pillar of his community. «I remember him very well in my childhood and he was well respected in our community as he was a man of principles.» Labrosse reminisced about the time when Joliecoeur had a farm on his property, where people would go and help out for some money. «I last saw Mr. Joliecoeur during my campaign to be elected MNA for my district, he gave me his blessings, something I will forever treasure.»  Jolicoeur is survived by three of his four children: Shelton, Kennedy and Monica. With the passing away of Jolicoeur, the only remaining Seychellois who participated in World War II is France Joubert, who lives at Mont Fleuri. The over 300 brave Seychellois who sacrificed their lives in not only World War I but the Second World War as well are honoured every year on Remembrance Sunday. The day which is observed on the Sunday nearest to Armistice Day on November 11 has today evolved to pay homage to all soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for their country since then. A ceremony is organised at the Mont Fleuri cemetery on the outskirts of the capital of Victoria, where the names of the Seychellois servicemen who died in both World Wars are listed.

Winner of ranger award from Seychelles' Cousin Island wants increased conservation education

The Seychelles' government should work closely and give more support to local non-profit organisations, the award-winning chief warden of Cousin Island Special Reserve told SNA. Late last month, Seychellois Dailus Laurence won the 2020 African Ranger Award,
Seychelles News Agency

Winner of ranger award from Seychelles' Cousin Island wants increased conservation education

The Seychelles' government should work closely and give more support to local non-profit organisations, the award-winning chief warden of Cousin Island Special Reserve told SNA. Late last month, Seychellois Dailus Laurence won the 2020 African Ranger Award, a recognition promoted by the Alibaba Foundation and the Paradise Foundation. The goal of the African Ranger Award is to illuminate the role and work of park rangers in nature conservation and to help them financially. «I think that I have won the award for all the hard work and commitment that I have put into my job throughout the years, not to forget that the award belongs to the team of Cousin Island, as everything we do is a team effort,» said Laurence. The African Ranger Award was created by billionaire Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma under his Alibaba Foundation together with the Paradise Foundation which is run by some of China's most famous business people and philanthropists. «What we are lacking is education and that is where the government comes in. I think it if we have space for subjects such as religion and history in schools, we should have space for conservation as well,» said Laurence. He added that «conservation in school shouldn't only be about getting kids' heads stuck in books but also going on field trips and exploring our nature and have a better understanding of our ecosystem.» The 29-year-old Seychellois has been working on Cousin Island, one of the country's special reserves, since he was 21. Cousin Island is managed by the environmental not-for-profit organisation, Nature Seychelles. The 29-year-old Seychellois has been working on Cousin Island since he was 21. (Dailus Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY «I would like to thank Dr. Nirmal Shah for nominating me and to have put his trust in me when he decided to promote me to chief warden. I would also like to thank Eric Blais our island coordinator for mentoring me and also the whole management team of Nature Seychelles,» he continued. The award also includes $10,000 worth of prize money, which Laurence has decided to share with the team on Cousin Island, saying «we are more than just a team - we are a family and we depend on each other on a daily basis. Just like the saying goes 'no man is an island.'» A typical day for Laurence on Cousin Island starts with a short briefing from the science officer and then in pairs, Laurence and his team go out to monitor either the Seychelles magpie robin or other sea birds. Laurence (3rd from right) with part of his team on Cousin. (Dailus Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY «Most of the time we are involved in monitoring, beach cleaning and tour guiding and maintenance work. We also do beach cleaning and trash sorting, beach profiling, clean trails to remove debris and do maintenance on our boat engines and water pump. We normally do guide tours around the island whereby we explain about the wildlife and what is the importance of protecting them. As we are now in the turtle nesting season, we do beach patrol around the island to check turtles that have come to nest,» he added. The chief warden wishes for adults to lead by example that the younger generation can follow as conservation is not only the work of rangers and warden but also that of the whole community.

New President: Amid turbulent finances, Seychelles to close 3 embassies, forego 13th month salary

Seychelles will close three of its overseas embassies and government and private sector employees will not be paid a 13th month of salary this year, two major steps the government is taking to curb expenditures amid the financial crunch caused by COVID-19. T
Seychelles News Agency

New President: Amid turbulent finances, Seychelles to close 3 embassies, forego 13th month salary

Seychelles will close three of its overseas embassies and government and private sector employees will not be paid a 13th month of salary this year, two major steps the government is taking to curb expenditures amid the financial crunch caused by COVID-19. The announcement was made by President Wavel Ramkalawan in his first address to the National Assembly on Tuesday. In a bit of unexpected good news, the president announced that an anonymous donor has pledged to buy 100,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for Seychelles when it becomes available. Before the vaccine arrives, though, Seychelles is in for rough financial times. The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, said that in the 24 days he has been in his office his worse fears have been confirmed. «In just a few words let me say that the Seychelles' economy is really bad. In view of this situation, there are several measures that will be implemented to ensure that our expenditures is done in a more efficient manner possible by prioritising our expenditures and ensuring that our budget is sustainable,» he said. Ramkalawan said that the debt of Seychelles is already unsustainable and if this continues, the result will be catastrophic for the island nation. «We have in fact seen that the situation in our key tourism markets in Europe has deteriorated and some have gone back into lockdown. This has resulted in some airlines suspending their operations to Seychelles such as Ethiopians Airlines and British Airways,» he added. Ramkalawan announced that with the present economic situation where the rupee keeps devaluating and the dollars into the government coffers continues to drop, «the government finds it impossible to pay the 13th month salary. The payment of the 13th month salary will have been a total of 541 million rupees ($26 million).» The president also announced the cancellation of the scheduled elections of district councils in January. «With the economic situation we are going through, the country is not in a position to spend 20 million rupees to organise this election and according to the tariff for the payment of the regional council members, to spend 3.12 million for the chairmen of the district councils, and another 15.28 million per month. This means that per month we would have to spend a total of 18.4 million and for a year it gives a total of 38.4 million ($1.65million). We don't have this money,» said Ramkalawan. He also announced that with the aim of reinforcing all efforts to relaunch the economy, the government is already in negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist Seychelles to address high public debt, price stability and balance of payment crisis. The President also said that as part of the government’s efforts to address the cost of living, the Indian government has agreed to make a donation to put photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) hypermarket at Bois de Rose to reduce its electricity bills. Ramkalawan said that the government's offices in Sri Lanka, Cuba and Geneva will close in order to reduce expenses. «We will also make more effort for our embassies to work closely with our tourism offices. Seychelles will take the approach of working tougher as a government where its foreign relations are concerned. So all ministries, departments and agencies that their functions have an impact on our foreign relations will work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism,» he said. The President also shared some good news he received after the announcement that a new vaccine with around 95 percent effectiveness against COVID has been produced by a company called Moderna. «The good news is that an investor who wants to remain anonymous for now has promised to give Seychelles 100,000 of the vaccines the moment it is commercialised early 2021. On behalf of the people of Seychelles I would like to thank the investor for the support that gives us great encouragement,» he said. Ramkalawan said that until such time every citizen needs to practice the measures of prevention. «As we relaunch our economy and welcome more visitors it is absolutely important that all of us citizens without exception practice prevention measures with more personal and collective engagement. We must do this so that the nightmare of community transmission does not happen... We have to thank the team led by Dr. Jude Gedeon and Dr. Louange for the extraordinary work,» he added. The president called on citizens of Seychelles to put «working hard, a change in attitude and a bigger sense of patriotism as the new philosophy so that when things improve in our country no one will stop this little Seychelles. For all workers, I would like to tell you courage and all the best.»

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