Seychelles



Russia toughens penalty for voluntary surrender, refusal to fight

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed amendments toughening penalties for voluntary surrender, desertion and refusal to fight by up to 10 years in prison, just days after ordering a partial mobilisation. The announcement of the mobilisation of
Seychelles News Agency

Russia toughens penalty for voluntary surrender, refusal to fight

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed amendments toughening penalties for voluntary surrender, desertion and refusal to fight by up to 10 years in prison, just days after ordering a partial mobilisation. The announcement of the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists on Wednesday sparked protests across Russia and a fresh exodus out of the country. A day before, Russia's parliament had approved amendments toughening penalties for military crimes in times of mobilisation. Now that the legislation is signed, servicemen who desert, surrender «without authorisation», refuse to fight or disobey orders can face up to ten years imprisonment. Looting will be punishable by 15 years imprisonment. The changes come as the Kremlin seeks to bolster the ranks of its army fighting a military operation in Ukraine. A separate law, also signed on Saturday, facilitates access to Russian citizenship for foreigners who enlist in the Russian army. Foreigners who spend at least a year in the Russian army will be eligible to request citizenship, bypassing the normal requirement for five years of residency in the country. This measure seems primarily aimed at Central Asian migrants from former Soviet republics, who are typically hired for strenuous, low-paying jobs. On Tuesday Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced the opening of a recruitment centre in the Sakharovo migration centre, an important passage point for migrants. Even before the law came into effect, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan had warned their citizens not to take part in any armed conflicts. © Agence France-Presse

Wrestler 'JPR' from Seychelles becomes UK wrestling champion

The first ever wrestler from Seychelles, Justin Pierre Robert, known as JPR, is the new UK wrestling champion. JPR defeated British wrestling champion Monti Schemi known as Mustafa Khan in the UK wrestling championship on August 4 at the Wrestlebration 13 ev
Seychelles News Agency

Wrestler 'JPR' from Seychelles becomes UK wrestling champion

The first ever wrestler from Seychelles, Justin Pierre Robert, known as JPR, is the new UK wrestling champion. JPR defeated British wrestling champion Monti Schemi known as Mustafa Khan in the UK wrestling championship on August 4 at the Wrestlebration 13 event. JPR who was contacted by local media said, «My mother is from Baie Lazare and my father is from Pointe Larue, with all my siblings actually living in Seychelles, aside from one sister who lives in Australia.»   Although wrestling is not a sport practised in Seychelles, it was something he always wanted to do as a child. «I loved watching it when I was younger and I was captivated by the production, the characters and costumes and I just really wanted to be a part of it,» he said. He added that he did not really feel there were any of those characters that he wanted to be, as there was a lack of representation of people of different colour at that time. He wanted to get into wrestling to change that. JPR in a T-Shirt with the colours of the Seychelles' flag. Photo License: All Rights Reserved While performing, JPR proudly displays the flag of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, at these events. «Yes, I always use the Seychelles flag, whether it is wearing the Seychelles flag or concept football jersey made up of the flag's colours. I am very proud to be from Seychelles and will continue to promote it,» added JPR. On winning the UK Wrestling championship, JPR, who is 34 years old, said that this has been his biggest achievement to date and hopes to continue wrestling until he is 40 years old. According to its website, UK Wrestling is a leading brand in the British wrestling industry. It offers some of the very best action from some of the most talked about wrestlers on the independent scene. All the events leading to the final annual event called Wrestlebration. «My advice to young Seychelles looking to make it internationally in sports is to never give up. Even if I am 34 now, I am still not giving up on my goals,» he said. 

Prince Albert of Monaco and Sylvia Earle expected to visit Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles

Prince Albert of Monaco together with Sylvia Earle, one of the philanthropists in climate change, expect to visit Aldabra atoll in the coming weeks to see how they can promote one of Seychelles World Heritage sites, President Wavel Ramkalwan told reporters
Seychelles News Agency

Prince Albert of Monaco and Sylvia Earle expected to visit Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles

Prince Albert of Monaco together with Sylvia Earle, one of the philanthropists in climate change, expect to visit Aldabra atoll in the coming weeks to see how they can promote one of Seychelles World Heritage sites, President Wavel Ramkalwan told reporters on Saturday. Ramkalawan was speaking to reporters after his return to Seychelles on the meeting he held on the margins of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York. He said that “as far as Seychelles is concerned, I believe the side meetings were the most important.« Ramkalawan met with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) group and discussion focused on the Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) and a new concept which is called Loss and Damage. “The MVI takes into account the vulnerability of small island states be it through COVID, and how our economy was battered. It also touches on other aspects of climate and poverty which bring out the vulnerability of small island states,» he said. When it comes to the new Loss and Damage concept, the alliance is seeking to look at how industrialised countries will make contributions toward vulnerable island states as compensation for the damages caused as a result of industrialisation. “I am a member of the high-level committee set up by the UN and we will continue to pursue the MVI and the Loss and Damage for us to see how Seychelles can benefit from financing,” said the President. Ramkalawan also held a bilateral meeting with the UAE Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan, at which it was announced that the UAE will be funding the second phase of the Orchid Housing project at Barbarons where they will be donating 40 units.  The third phase is on the table, and soon the Seychelles government will provide further details.  Another important meeting was one on climate financing and he shared that investors are now keen to see how they can intervene.  “The Blue Leaders, an initiative of which Seychelles is part, has the aim of pushing states to protect at least 30 percent of the oceans that fall under their care by the year 2030. Seychelles has already reached the target and we are now at 32 percent. Seychelles was again acclaimed as a leader in the area,«  said the president. During his transit in Dubai, Ramkalawan met with the general manager of Emirates airlines where discussions looked focused on the construction of the new Seychelles airport as well as how Seychelles can be used as a hub for Emirates airlines when operating within the region. “This of course will be beneficial to the country. I believe that Seychelles is on the right track and we are doing our best to see how we can help promote the country and how through partnerships, the people of Seychelles can expect greater investment in the country, and this will mean better prosperity for our nation,» said Ramkalawan. 

Green protest hits DR Congo ahead of climate summit

Climate activists protested in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa on Friday ahead of a climate summit in the city next month. Kinshasa is due to host the pre-COP27 talks in October, before the main summit begins in Egypt in November. But th
Seychelles News Agency

Green protest hits DR Congo ahead of climate summit

Climate activists protested in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa on Friday ahead of a climate summit in the city next month. Kinshasa is due to host the pre-COP27 talks in October, before the main summit begins in Egypt in November. But the pre-COP27 meeting comes after the DRC put 27 oil and gas blocks up for auction in July, ignoring warnings from environmentalists that drilling in peatlands and forests could release huge volumes of carbon dioxide. On Friday, about 200 protesters marched in Kinshasa toting banners bearing slogans such as «No to new fossil fuels». Rose Mathe, a 22-year-old climate activist, said developing the oil and gas blocks contradicted the government's push to brand the DRC as a «solution country» for climate change. «The world is transitioning towards 100-percent renewable energy,» she said, adding that drilling for oil is environmentally destructive. Roughly the size of western Europe, the DRC enjoys vast mineral riches, including huge reserves of cobalt and lithium that are critical for battery production. Peatlands in the Congo Basin also store around 30 billion tonnes of carbon, according to a 2016 Nature study. The figure is roughly equivalent to three years' of global emissions. Patient Muamba, a campaigner for Greenpeace Africa who attended the protest, told AFP petrol has no future. «We're asking the government cancel these offers,» he said, referring to the oil and gas auction. The DRC's government has argued that drilling will be conducted using methods that minimise harm to the environment. It has also stressed that exploiting oil and gas will help diversify the mining-reliant economy. About three-quarters of the DRC's population of 90 million people lives on under $1.9 a day, according to World Bank figures. © Agence France-Presse

Gary Pouponneau qualifies as Seychelles' third pro golfer, plans to grow game locally

Gary Pouponneau has become the third Seychellois professional golfer after qualifying as a Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) class A player in South Africa. Pouponneau, who is the director of golf at the Constance Lemuria Golf Course, on the second mos
Seychelles News Agency

Gary Pouponneau qualifies as Seychelles' third pro golfer, plans to grow game locally

Gary Pouponneau has become the third Seychellois professional golfer after qualifying as a Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) class A player in South Africa. Pouponneau, who is the director of golf at the Constance Lemuria Golf Course, on the second most populated island of Praslin, successfully completed a three-year course at the Bryanston Country Club in South Africa. He was presented his certificate earlier this month to become Seychelles' third pro-golfer. The other two are his mentor William Weidner and Yves Edmond. SNA spoke to Pouponneau to learn more about his future plans as a professional.   SNA: How did you make your start in golf? GP: I started playing golf at what was previously called the Reef Golf Club attached to the Reef Hotel at that time. I was first introduced to golf by a friend of my brother. His dad was a member of the Reef Golf Club at that time. One day, he asked my brother to come and play with him at the golf course on a Sunday afternoon. We would sneak on the golf course at hole 7, which was very close to my parents' house. The clubhouse closes around 5 pm on Sundays and at that time there was no one on the course. We took the opportunity to try and play. Without knowing anything, we just took the golf club and try to swing it our own way. A few times we were spotted by the Golf Club Manager and we ran away as we didn't know how to play and were just digging holes around the course. Being interested in the sport, we started to go and caddy for the players. The golf club hosted a tournament for the caddies and I was the winner of that event. As a prize, I won a membership and this is how playing golf started for me.   SNA: What have been the highlights for you in local golf tournaments? GP: I competed in a lot of local tournaments as a junior and won lots of them, some such as the Seybrew Classic, Barclays Mug, Cable & Wireless, and match play. My most memorable win was the Club Championship.   SNA: When did you decide that you wanted to be a professional golfer? GP: I'm very grateful to have my hobby that became a passion and now my career. Since I joined Lemuria, I've worked with six different golf professionals and I've picked up a little from everyone to better myself as I wanted to follow this path. My goal was to one day play professionally or be a manager of a golf club. In 2011, I did a certification course in teaching and golf instruction with the South African Golf Teachers Federation (SAGTF) and was also a member of the World Golf Teachers Federation (WGTF). After successfully passing the course forfeited my amateur status and became a Teaching Pro. Pouponneau is the director of golf at the Constance Lemuria Golf Course on Praslin. (Vanessa Lucas, Tourism Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY   SNA: How was it training to be a pro in South Africa? GP: The training with the PGA of South Africa was a challenging journey and fun learning. I got to explore deeper into the golfing industry. Got to meet other golfers, and make friends and contacts in this industry. I've discovered that there are a lot of opportunities to grow and develop your golf skills.   SNA: As a professional in the sport what are your future plans? GP: The plan is to grow the game of golf locally by introducing it to more youths and ladies. Encourage and support the youths as they are the future of golf in Seychelles. My personal plan is to play in professional events and bring trophies.   SNA: What sacrifices have you made to get to where you are now? GP: There's been a lot of sacrifices and efforts during the three year-programme. Considering that you have a daily job and responsibilities that come along, a family and finding the balance and time to study and submitting assignments was a challenge. There's been a lot of sleepless nights, even though I was taking holidays from work, I still had to keep up with the assignments and studies. My goals from the start were to ensure I pass all my exams and follow the standards to become a fully qualified PGA Professional. I was surprised and even more proud of myself when I was announced as the runner-up for the 2022 Associates out of 33.   SNA: What would you say it takes to be a good golfer? GP: It depends on how you define good. It takes years to be good at golf. Some people who are exceptionally talented and hard-working can learn the game in a year or so, most people will take a few years. Golf is complicated and it involves more than just the physical side, there is a huge mental side to golf as well. It is nearly impossible to get better at golf without at least putting some time into practice. The more time you get in the better you can get and ensure that your practice is effective.     SNA: What do you think of the level of golf in Seychelles at the moment? GP: We've come a long way and still have room for improvement. We do have good and talented golfers in Seychelles. To get to the next level we need to have more exposure to international competition. The more you get to play at other venues you get to test your ability with other players and help to bring your best game.    SNA: What advice do you have for young golfers from Seychelles now who want to become professionals? GP: Should you want to make it to the Pro level, you need to be fully involved and dedicate your time to golf. There are a lot of sacrifices and as in any other sport, it requires hours and hours of practice to develop your game. Be committed to working very hard and have self-discipline. Golf has taken a new trend in the last couple of years. To be able to make it at the highest level, players should be willing to spend hours in the gym for physical fitness but not only concentrate on their game as they need both fitness and a good golf swing to play their best. And nutrition regimes so they make sure that every part of their body can work to swing the club as efficiently as possible. There's also the mental part to keep the focus in order to achieve your goals.    SNA: Do you have any words of encouragement for aspiring golfers? GP: Golf is a fascinating and interesting game; it is difficult and can be frustrating at the beginning. The most important thing is to learn to have fun and enjoy it. 

Seychelles' Constitutional Court to review petition on 10th amendment to Constitution – should the army work alongside the police?

A petition by the Seychelles Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the Bar Association of Seychelles has been lodged with the Constitutional Court for a review of the constitutionality of the 10th amendment to the Constitution. The 10th amendment to th
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Constitutional Court to review petition on 10th amendment to Constitution – should the army work alongside the police?

A petition by the Seychelles Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the Bar Association of Seychelles has been lodged with the Constitutional Court for a review of the constitutionality of the 10th amendment to the Constitution. The 10th amendment to the Constitution empowers the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) to carry out internal law enforcement in Seychelles outside the context of a public emergency. In a joint press release on Friday, the three entities said that «our organisations share the concern that this Tenth Amendment undermines the democratic protections afforded by the Constitution, in particular due process, the rule of law and human rights.» The case will be mentioned for the first time on Tuesday, September 27 in the Constitutional Court. The amendment of article 3 of the Constitution of Seychelles was approved by the National Assembly, the legislative body on June 2nd, effectively giving a fifth function to the military and enabling it to work alongside the Seychelles Police outside of states of emergency. It was assented to by the island nation's President Wavel Ramkalawan on June 14. «We hold the view that the Constitution has a clear democratic purpose. The basic contention of our petition is that the Constitution may not be amended to erode any of those basic democratic structures or guarantees or otherwise undermine its democratic purpose – at least not by the procedure adopted in the Tenth Amendment,» reads the statement. The three entities said that they raised their concerns before the amendment was presented to the National Assembly but regrettably were not given the opportunity to engage with the National Assembly or the Bills Committee. «We believe that the legislative process followed has impacted the fundamental principles on which our democracy is founded. We believe these to be of sufficiently high national importance to merit a determination of the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the Tenth Amendment, including the process involved in its enactment. Such determination will provide guidance for future amendments to the Constitution and contribute to the jurisprudence of our sovereign democratic Republic,» the statement said further. The Seychelles Human Rights Commission was established in 2018 to promote and protect human rights in the island nation. It is a self-governing, neutral and independent body that is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authorities. The Ombudsman was established by the Constitution of 1993 in Articles 143 and 144 and can investigate any public authority up to and including the President and complaints of violations of fundamental human rights and allegations of corruption by public officials. The Bar Association of Seychelles is registered under the Registration of Associations Act 1959 and was founded in 1988 by members of the Seychelles Bar. Its key objectives are to represent and promote the interest and welfare of the members of the Association and to disseminate and encourage the dissemination of information on legal subjects. Recent joint anti-drug operations by Police and SDF Since the amendment to the Constitution was made, some elements of the SDF are currently used in the fight against drug trafficking and dealing in the Seychelles. Recent joint anti-drug operations caused controversy as members of the public claimed that excessive force was used by the military during searches and abuses of their rights occurred. The Seychelles authorities have said that joint operations will continue and that they are following all protocols put into place. 

Seychelles' St. Michel to face DRC's Motema Pemba in CAF Confederation Cup 2nd preliminary round

Seychelles' St. Michel football club is looking forward to its match against Daring Club (DC) Motema Pembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo in October. The Anse Aux Pins-based club progressed to the second preliminary round of the Confederation Cup of t
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' St. Michel to face DRC's Motema Pemba in CAF Confederation Cup 2nd preliminary round

Seychelles' St. Michel football club is looking forward to its match against Daring Club (DC) Motema Pembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo in October. The Anse Aux Pins-based club progressed to the second preliminary round of the Confederation Cup of the  Confederation of African Football (CAF) by a walk-over after their opponent Inter Littoral Academy of Guinea Equatorial failed to turn up for the first leg match. St. Michel's spokesperson, Andrew Jean-Louis, told SNA that the players are looking forward to playing at this level.   «For a while now, we have been absent in this competition, especially this new generation of players. They have never had the opportunity. Some of the older ones had the opportunity of passing the preliminary round. The players we have are looking forward to playing at this level.   The match for the preliminary round was scheduled to be played on Friday, September 12 in the Mauritius Sports Complex as Seychelles' Stad Linite - the national stadium - is still unable to host international matches until repairs are complete. Inter Littoral did not turn up for the match and through a letter to CAF, the Guinean side said the team had flight difficulties and could not arrive in Mauritius on the match day. According to the CAF rules, »if for any reason whatsoever, a team withdraws from the competition or does not report for a match ‒ except in case of force majeure accepted by the organising committee ‒ or if it refuses to play or leaves the ground before the regular end of the match without the permission of the referee, it shall be considered as loser and shall be eliminated from the competition.« Jean-Louis said that although the match did not take place »we managed to have a friendly match in Mauritius. Our players have geared up for the next match.  Although we do not know Daring Club from Congo, we are conscious that this match will be at a higher level and we are going to give it our best.« St. Michel will be playing both the first and second leg of the match away from home and the team sees it as a disadvantage. »Definitely this will have an impact on our players.  When you play at home you have many advantages and the environment is more conducive. We are used to our weather conditions compared to our opponent so we have home advantage and we also have the backing of our supporters,« he added. Jean-Louis pointed out that the situation in Seychelles concerning its main stadium is »saddening and I implore those responsible to do something about it as soon as possible. We had ample time to fix the Stad Linite but now the competition is here and there is nothing we as a team can do about it but we will do the best we can." St. Michel will meet Daring Club (DC) Motema Pembe (DCMP) of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first leg on October 7. St. Michel has gone past the first-round hurdle before, since they started participating in the CAF club competitions in 1997 but has so far not reached the group stage. In the 2001 Champions League qualifying rounds, St. Michel reached the second round after defeating AS Fortior of Madagascar 3-1 in the preliminary round. The team progressed to the first round and defeated AS Marsouins of Reunion on the away goals rule after a 4-4 draw (2-3 away loss and 2-1 home win) in the preliminary and first rounds. The team was eliminated in the second round losing 6-0 against Egyptian side Al Ahly. Seychelles' other club in the CAF champions league, La Passe is still awaiting CAF's decision after their opponent Volcan Club de Moroni of Comoros did not turn up for the second leg match on Friday, September 16. La Passe lost the away leg of the preliminary round 1-0 to Volcan Club de Moroni. Meanwhile, Seychelles' national team could only manage a goalless draw against the lowest Fifa ranked nation, San Marino on Wednesday night.   The friendly is part of a cooperation agreement between the two nations that are both among the smallest on their respective continents. The aim is to continue to empower local players and also give the national teams chances to go up against European opposition in the future. Led by coach Vivian Bothe, the team is expected back in the country on Saturday. 

Death toll mounts in Iran protests as online services cut

At least 17 people have been killed as popular unrest flared Thursday across Iran over the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, local media reported, as online services were cut in a security crackdown. Amini, 22, died last week after her arrest b
Seychelles News Agency

Death toll mounts in Iran protests as online services cut

At least 17 people have been killed as popular unrest flared Thursday across Iran over the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, local media reported, as online services were cut in a security crackdown. Amini, 22, died last week after her arrest by the Islamic republic's feared morality police for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an «improper» way, and news of her death sparked widespread outrage. Protesters have been heard shouting «death to the dictator» and «woman, life, freedom» in video footage shared widely online during the biggest wave of demonstrations to rock the country in almost three years. The US Treasury placed the morality police on its sanctions blacklist, holding it responsible for Amini's death and citing the «abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters». Some Iranian women have burnt their headscarves and symbolically cut their hair in protest at the strict dress code, echoed in solidarity demonstrations from New York to Istanbul. The official death toll rose to at least 17, including five security personnel, according to local media. But Iran Human Rights (IHR), an Oslo-based NGO, said it had counted at least 31 civilian deaths. Iranians have rallied «to achieve their fundamental rights and human dignity... and the government is responding to their peaceful protest with bullets,» said its director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam. Security forces have fired at crowds with birdshot and metal pellets, and deployed tear gas and water cannon, said Amnesty International and other human rights groups. Demonstrators have hurled stones at them, set fire to police cars and chanted anti-government slogans, the official IRNA news agency said. Unprecedented images have shown protesters defacing or burning images of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and late Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani. On Thursday, authorities arrested two female photographers, Niloufar Hamedi, of the reformist newspaper Shargh, and Yalda Moayeri, who works for the local press, as well as activist Mohammad-Reza Jalaipour, Iranian media said. Iran International, a London-based television channel, said prominent freedom of expression campaigner Hossein Ronaghi was arrested as he was giving an interview to them. - 'I'm frightened' - There were fears violence could escalate after Iran restricted internet access and blocked messaging apps including WhatsApp and Instagram, as in past crackdowns. The two apps were the most widely used in Iran after authorities blocked other platforms in recent years, including Facebook and Twitter. «People in Iran are being cut off from online apps and services,» Instagram chief Adam Mosseri tweeted, adding that «we hope their right to be online will be reinstated quickly». IHR said mobile internet was completely cut off in the major northern city of Tabriz. Activists have said that Amini, whose Kurdish first name is Jhina, suffered a fatal blow to the head after her arrest in Tehran -- a claim denied by officials. Iranian women on the streets of Tehran told AFP they were now more careful about their dress to avoid run-ins with the morality police. «I'm frightened,» said Nazanin, a 23-year-old nurse who asked to be identified by her first name only for safety reasons, adding she believed the morality police «shouldn't confront people at all». Veteran CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour said a Wednesday interview with Iran's ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in New York was scrapped after an aide insisted she wear a headscarf. «I politely declined. We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves,» Amanpour, who was born in Britain to an Iranian father, wrote on Twitter. - 'Enemy conspiracy' - Speaking in New York, where he attended the UN General Assembly, Raisi complained of a «double standard», pointing to Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories and the deaths of Indigenous women in Canada. But he later told reporters that Amini's death «will certainly be investigated», confirming an earlier announcement by authorities that there would be a probe. In a speech at the UN on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid accused Tehran's leadership of conducting an «orchestra of hate» against Jews. He said Iran's ideologues «hate and kill Muslims who think differently, like Salman Rushdie and Mahsa Amini». The protests are among the most serious in Iran since November 2019 unrest sparked by a sharp rise in petrol prices. The crackdown then killed hundreds, according to Amnesty. The unrest comes at a particularly sensitive time for the leadership, as the Iranian economy remains mired in a crisis largely caused by sanctions over its nuclear programme. Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps labelled the protests a «conspiracy of the enemy» and «a vain attempt doomed to failure», while praising the «efforts and sacrifices of the police». A rally in support of the hijab and a conservative dress code for women was announced for Friday by Iran's Islamic Development Coordination Council, IRNA reported. © Agence France-Presse

Russia holds breakaway polls in Ukraine

Moscow-held regions of Ukraine began voting Friday on whether to become part of Russia, in referendums that Kyiv and its allies have condemned as an unlawful land grab. The referendums in eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, as well as in the southern Kherso
Seychelles News Agency

Russia holds breakaway polls in Ukraine

Moscow-held regions of Ukraine began voting Friday on whether to become part of Russia, in referendums that Kyiv and its allies have condemned as an unlawful land grab. The referendums in eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, as well as in the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions have been roundly dismissed as a sham by Kyiv's Western allies. They come after Putin announced this week a mandatory troop call-up for about 300,000 reservists, which also sparked resounding condemnation in the West. The mobilisation comes after Ukrainian forces seized back most of the northeastern Kharkiv region in a huge counter-offensive that has seen Kyiv retaking hundreds of towns and villages under Russian control for months. The four regions' integration into Russia -- which for most observers is already a foregone conclusion -- would represent a major new escalation of the conflict. «We cannot –- we will not -– allow President Putin to get away with it,» US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a UN Security Council session on Thursday, lashing out against the referendums as a «sham». «The very international order we've gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes... (Defending Ukraine's sovereignty) is about protecting an international order where no nation can redraw the borders of another by force,» he said. The referendums are reminiscent of one in 2014 that saw Ukraine's Crimea annexed by Russia. Western capitals have maintained that the vote was fraudulent and hit Moscow with sanctions in response. In New York this week, Western leaders have unanimously condemned the ballots and the troop call-up, with French President Macron telling the UN General Assembly that the referendums were a «travesty». Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out at the accusations, condemning Ukraine for driving «Russophobia». «There's an attempt today to impose on us a completely different narrative about Russian aggression as the origin of this tragedy,» Lavrov told the Security Council. - 'A farce' - In the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions -- already recognised as independent by Putin right before he launched the invasion in February -- residents are answering if they support their «republic's entry into Russia», according to Russian news agency TASS. Ballots in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions have the question: «Are you in favour of secession from Ukraine, formation of an independent state by the region and its joining the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation?» Russian news agencies reported that the voting process began on Friday at 0500 GMT. Earlier, TASS said the balloting in the four regions would be untraditional. «Given the short deadlines and the lack of technical equipment, it was decided not to hold electronic voting and use the traditional paper ballots,» it added. Instead, authorities would go door-to-door for the first four days to collect votes, and then polling stations would be open on the final day, Tuesday, for residents to cast ballots. Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic, told TASS they have been waiting for this referendum since 2014, calling it «our common dream and common future». But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the referendums as a «farce», and hailed Western allies for their condemnation of Russia's moves. «I am grateful to everyone in the world who supported us, who clearly condemned another Russian lie,» he said during his daily address on Thursday. Putin said Moscow would use «all means» to protect its territory -- a statement that former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said on social media would mean including «strategic nuclear weapons». Medvedev also predicted the voting regions «will integrate into Russia». - Russians fleeing - Moscow on Thursday began its mandatory troop call-up, after Putin's call for about 300,000 reservists to bolster the war effort. Amateur footage posted on social media purported to show hundreds of Russian citizens across the country responding to the military summons, and the Russian military said that at least 10,000 people had volunteered to fight in 24 hours since the order. But men were also leaving Russia in droves before they were made to join, and across Russia on Wednesday, more than 1,300 people were arrested during protests, a monitoring group reported. Flights to neighbouring countries, mainly former Soviet republics that allow Russians visa-free entry, are nearly entirely booked and prices have skyrocketed, pointing to an exodus of Russians wanting to avoid going to war. «I don't want to go to the war,» a man named Dmitri, who had flown to Armenia with just one small bag, told AFP. «I don't want to die in this senseless war. This is a fratricidal war.» Military-aged men made up the majority of those arriving off the latest flight from Moscow at Yerevan airport and many were reluctant to speak. The Armenian capital has become a major destination for Russians fleeing since war began on February 24, drawing fierce international opposition that has aimed to isolate Russia. Looking lost and exhausted in Yerevan airport's arrivals hall, 44-year-old Sergei said he had fled Russia to escape being called up. «The situation in Russia would make anyone want to leave,» he told AFP. Calling on Russians to resist the mobilisation, Zelensky urged them to protest, fight back «or surrender» to the Ukrainian army. «You are already complicit in all these crimes, murders and torture of Ukrainians. Because you were silent,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles to ban fishing of small red snappers and groupers in October to protect stock

A ban on fishing certain fish species that have not reached maturation will start on October 1 as the Seychelles Fishing Authority takes measures to protect the fish stocks on the Mahe plateau. The ban will apply to red snappers (bourgeois) and groupers (jo
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles to ban fishing of small red snappers and groupers in October to protect stock

A ban on fishing certain fish species that have not reached maturation will start on October 1 as the Seychelles Fishing Authority takes measures to protect the fish stocks on the Mahe plateau. The ban will apply to red snappers (bourgeois) and groupers (job fish), targeted by hand line fishery and for rabbitfish, parrotfish, and emperors in the trap fishery, fishermen will not be allowed to set a trap on spawning sites. The announcement was made during a meeting on Thursday where the implementation committee for the Mahe plateau trap and line fishery co-management met with relevant partners to iron out the details of the upcoming ban on certain fish before they reach a certain size. «We have decided to take severe actions as on October, 1 because during all that time we had no control on fishing and it would not have been fair to impose measures on people and punish them all of a sudden,» said Darell Green, vice chair of the committee, who was also representing the Praslin fishermen.  The Fisheries (Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Fishery) Regulations came into force on January 1, 2022. «People have had until September to adapt to the new law, which I believe was enough time for fishermen to realise that we need to work for our tomorrow,» said Green. Local authorities will start implementing the ban in earnest as of October 1, following assessment results showing overfishing of certain species on the plateau. The management plan was set up following concerns raised by fishermen over the decreasing catch rates and the sizes of the species in the list of those banned. The plan to protect the species and the committee set up to implement the plans brings together all those concerned such as fishermen associations, the government and representatives from the tourism sector. The announcement was made during a meeting on Thursday. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   As of October 1, those found with the endangered fish smaller than the set fork size - which is 32 cm for red snapper and grouper – after a year of grace period, will be fined SCR 20,000 ($1,541). Green said that the measure is not one of punishment, but rather «to guarantee that our children have bourgeois and job fish to eat in the future and for fishermen to be able to continue fishing in order to sell. If we kill all the small ones, we will not have the bigger fish later on.» To ensure that fishermen abide by the law, the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) has been given the power to monitor and enforce the ban. «So far we have carried out some soft enforcement where we have gone to landing sites and inspected boats,» said the head of monitoring and enforcement at SFA, Johnny Louys. «While this also applies to vessels taking part in sports fishing, we have been mainly focusing on commercial fishing boats; our results from the risk assessment have shown us that these are the areas that we would find instances of non-compliance,» he added. There are about 40 landing sites where fishermen bring in their catches that the SFA officers are inspecting randomly. During the meeting, one of the main concerns raised was that those involved in sports fishing were more prone to not complying with the law and this is also where there was a lack of monitoring and enforcement. «Since the concern was raised, we will look into the possibility of adjusting our plans and focus more on sports fishing boats and recreational fishing as well,' said Louys. He added that there were challenges in doing so as recreational fishing vessels are more spread out compared to sports and commercial fishing where SFA knows where the boats will land. To ensure the monitoring aspect is one that is well covered, SFA will be working with its other partners since it has manpower constraints. »We have other instruments and requirements that we have to implement, which is why it is always a challenge although we do maximise the resources we have at our disposal,« said Louys. An extensive education campaign is set to start in the coming days to inform members of the public of the consequences of breaking the law. This will include a 45-minute-long documentary, television adverts and four banners on buses among others will be used to inform members of the public of the changes. The plan will be implemented in two phases over 24 months to ensure key measures can be introduced immediately, while others are done over time to allow for their comprehensive development before coming into force. »On the fishers' part we are ready, as fines will be imposed as of the first of October, whether we like it or not,« said the chairperson of the Fishers and Boat Owners Association, Nancy Onginjo. She explained that everyone will have to abide by the rules so as to protect the species »as we also form part of the committee implementing the plan." 

Drier climate expected in coming months, say experts from Seychelles and southwestern Indian Ocean region

Seychelles and several other countries in the southwestern Indian Ocean will experience less rain and lower temperatures in the coming four months compared to yearly norms, the Pre-Climate Outlook carried out this year shows. A meteorologist at the Seychelle
Seychelles News Agency

Drier climate expected in coming months, say experts from Seychelles and southwestern Indian Ocean region

Seychelles and several other countries in the southwestern Indian Ocean will experience less rain and lower temperatures in the coming four months compared to yearly norms, the Pre-Climate Outlook carried out this year shows. A meteorologist at the Seychelles Meteorological Authority, Egbert Quatre, explained that there are different drivers that they look at before releasing the seasonal forecast. «The most dominant factor this year is La Niña, which usually means we get less rain. La Niña is based on the temperature of the sea in the Pacific Ocean,» said Quatre. Quatre explained that from October to December 2022, «we expect to have less rain than usual and the same is true for November through to January, even though there will be a slight improvement, getting closer to the normal levels.» This finding was shared during the 11th Session of the Regional Seasonal Forecast Forum of the Southwest Indian Ocean Region (SWIOCOF-11) held in Seychelles from September 19 to 22 in Seychelles. The event was organised by the Seychelles Meteorological Authority, in collaboration with the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and Météo France. The forum brings together national, regional, and international climate experts on an operational basis to produce regional climate outlooks based on input - climate predictions - from all participants. By bringing together countries with common climatological characteristics, the forum ensures consistency in the access to and interpretation of climate information. Through interaction with users in the key economic sectors of each region, extension agencies and policymakers, the forum assesses the likely implications of the outlooks on the most pertinent socio-economic sectors in the given region and explores the ways these outlooks could be used by them. The forum includes meteorologists from 9 countries - Comoros, Reunion - a French overseas department - Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, and South Africa. A climatologist at Météo France, Laurent Labbe, said that the weather will be mostly dry and cold in the northern basin of the Indian Ocean, of which Seychelles is part. «The zones that will be touched by the reduced rainfall will experience difficulties in terms of water resources and irrigation for agricultural purposes. Seychelles, Tanzania, Northern Mozambique, and Madagascar will be affected,» said Labbe. Quatre explained that it is important to come together annually to do these forecasts for the rainy season as it is a matter that most preoccupies countries of the region.« »Coming together allows us to compare methods, ensuring that we use a common method allowing for coherence on forecasts that we issue. It is also a time during which we can have exchanges and get training from Météo France, based in France," said Quatre. After January it will be the responsibility of the national meteorological offices of each country to issue these forecasts.

Seychelles’ finance minister: First half of 2022, tourism revenue is $257m

The Seychelles’ tourism industry is performing better than the forecast made when the 2022 budget was finalised last year, said the finance minister on Wednesday. Naadir Hassan made the conclusion during the review of the budget performance from January t
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ finance minister: First half of 2022, tourism revenue is $257m

The Seychelles’ tourism industry is performing better than the forecast made when the 2022 budget was finalised last year, said the finance minister on Wednesday. Naadir Hassan made the conclusion during the review of the budget performance from January to February 2022 before the members of the National Assembly. Last year, the National Assembly approved a budget of around SCR 10 billion which was expected to bring a fiscal deficit of $17.5 million (SCR 232.1 million) or 0.81 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). “We had foreseen a gross domestic growth of 7.9 for the year 2022 but with new development in the tourism sector, our projection has been revised to reach 10.8 percent for the year 2022. Our indicators are showing that we can have an increase of 75 percent in tourism arrivals when we compare with the year 2021,” said Hassan. The minister said that for the first six months of 2022, the revenue of the tourism sector has increased and reached $257 million compared to the last year which was $87 million for January to June. Hassan said that Seychelles has also done well on its fiscal performance and that “we have reached a fiscal surplus of $44.9 million (SCR580 million) or 2.1 percent of the GDP compared to a deficit of $52.4 million (SCR 693 million) or 2.5 percent of the GDP that we had forecast for the end of June 2022. This means that we have collected more revenue than we had foreseen and we have spent less than we anticipated.” While the tourism industry has bounced back after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seychelles’ government still requires a supplementary budget to function. Seychelles’ finance authorities have asked the parliament for a supplementary budget of SCR 472,807,402 ($35.5 million) which will be financed by a reduction in the spending in the budget of a sum SCR 887,451,324 ($67 million). Hassan said one of the major expenses is that the government plans to use the additional funds for its debt repayment with Etihad Airlines. Seychelles signed an agreement in 2021 with Etihad to the sum of $13 million to pay Air Seychelles’ debt in the midterm. “Based on the negotiations with the administrators and creditors, the government has taken out a loan with the Trade Development Bank to repay this liability with Etihad which helps to remove the securities on the two twin otters,” explained Hassan. 

W.Africa bloc chief warns Guinea risks 'heavy sanctions'

The acting head of West Africa's regional bloc on Wednesday warned Guinea's ruling junta that the country faced «heavy sanctions» if it persisted in trying to stay in power for three years. Three years in power before a return to civilian rule i
Seychelles News Agency

W.Africa bloc chief warns Guinea risks 'heavy sanctions'

The acting head of West Africa's regional bloc on Wednesday warned Guinea's ruling junta that the country faced «heavy sanctions» if it persisted in trying to stay in power for three years. Three years in power before a return to civilian rule is «unacceptable for ECOWAS,» Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who heads the Economic Community of West African States, said. «Unacceptable and non-negotiable,» he added, in an interview with France's RFI and France 24 broadcasters, a day before an ECOWAS summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The poor but mineral-rich nation has been ruled by the military since a coup in September 2021 that ousted president Alpha Conde, in power since 2010. At the end of July, Embalo said he had recently convinced Guinea's junta to hasten the return to democracy. The authorities have continued, however, to talk of a three-year transition period. Embalo said in the interview that if the junta maintained that timetable, there would be sanctions «heavy sanctions, even». The West Africa bloc is struggling with a string of military coups in the region in the past two years. Mali underwent coups in August 2020 and May 2021, followed by Guinea in September 2021 and Burkina Faso in January. The head of Guinea's military-dominated government Colonel Mamady Doumbouya was due in the Malian capital Bamako on Wednesday for talks with junta chief Colonel Assimi Goita. The agenda for the visit was not made public. ECOWAS has lifted tough sanctions that had been imposed on Mali's military regime, accepting a March 2024 return to civilian rule. But Mali and Guinea remain suspended from ECOWAS bodies. © Agence France-Presse 

Biden: Putin 'shamelessly violated' UN charter with Ukraine invasion

US President Joe Biden tore into Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as he addressed the United Nations, saying the Russian leader «shamelessly violated» the UN Charter when he invaded neighbor Ukraine. «Russia has shamelessly violated the core ten
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Biden: Putin 'shamelessly violated' UN charter with Ukraine invasion

US President Joe Biden tore into Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as he addressed the United Nations, saying the Russian leader «shamelessly violated» the UN Charter when he invaded neighbor Ukraine. «Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter,» Biden said as he addressed the annual UN General Assembly in New York. Russian forces have attacked Ukrainian schools, railway stations and hospitals, as part of Moscow's aim of «extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state,» Biden said. While delivering a rebuke to the Kremlin, Biden notably reached out to rivals on issues he said were of global importance, including climate change and nuclear arms control. «A nuclear war cannot be won, and must never be fought,» Biden said. «We are seeing disturbing trends. Russia (is) making irresponsible nuclear threats to use nuclear weapons,» he said. However, «the United States is ready to pursue critical arms control measures.» While once again vowing that Washington will not allow Tehran to obtain atomic weapons, Biden also underlined that «diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome.» Biden's language was likewise relatively mild on China, the biggest geopolitical and economic rival to the United States. «Let me be direct about the competition between the United States and China,» Biden said. «As we manage shifting geopolitical trends, the United States will conduct itself as a reasonable leader. We do not seek conflict, we do not seek a Cold War.» He said that while «the United States will be unabashed in promoting our vision of a free, open, secure and prosperous world,» it will not force countries to «choose» sides. The US president expanded his cooperative message in addressing a longtime demand from developing economies around the world to be included in the UN Security Council, which currently only has five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. «The United States supports increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent representatives of the council,» Biden said. «This includes permanent seats for those nations we've long supported -- permanent seats for countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean. The United States is committed to this vital work,» he added. Turning again to Iran, where rare protests have broken out over the death of a young woman arrested by the state's morality police, Biden said Americans «stand with the brave women. of Iran.» «Today we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

Consumer Price Index: 12-month average inflation at 4.78% in Seychelles

The 12-monthly average inflation rate in Seychelles as of August 2022, stands at 4.78 percent driven mostly by the non-food group which makes up almost 86 percent of the weight of commodities in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket.  The Seychelles Natio
Seychelles News Agency

Consumer Price Index: 12-month average inflation at 4.78% in Seychelles

The 12-monthly average inflation rate in Seychelles as of August 2022, stands at 4.78 percent driven mostly by the non-food group which makes up almost 86 percent of the weight of commodities in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket.  The Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) makes the compilation by using a basket of goods and services classified into three main groups - fish, other food and non-food.  A senior statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Kirsten Arnephy, told SNA that «as a highly import dependent country for most of our food and non-food commodities, external shocks have a tremendous impact on the price of commodities on the local market.» Another factor that potentially contributes to price fluctuations is the exchange rate of the Seychelles Rupee vis-a-vis other major international currencies that the country trades in. These are transportation costs, increases in the costs of raw materials imported for use in local production and labour costs.  «On the whole, because Seychelles has no control over what happens on the price of commodities on the global market, it is mainly the external factors that contribute to inflation,» said Arnephy. She further outlined that when there is inflation, the purchasing power of the general public is reduced. «This is because with the same income, they will get fewer goods and services, and this in turn will affect their consumption levels. Choices will have to be made and consumption patterns adjusted based on priorities.» In the non-food group, housing, water, electricity and gas and transport account for almost 28 percent of the entire basket. According to data provided by the NBS, a price increase of 3.14 percent was recorded in August 2022 as compared to August 2021.  “The categories in this group that recorded the most notable increases were housing, water, electricity and gas which recorded the highest increase of 13.47 percent, followed by transport at 6.11 percent,« elaborated Arnephy. From August 2021 to August 2022, there has been a decrease in prices in the fish group by 0.02 percent. During the same period, a price increase was registered by 0.96 percent in the 'other food' group. Arnephy said that in that group the increases were recorded in 'Oils and fats' which went up by 18.93 percent, 'Bread and Cereals' by 6.83 percent, 'Vegetables' by 2.45 percent and 'Fish' - frozen, smoked, salted - by 1.44 percent. »However, there were decreases recorded in some categories, namely 'Meat - fresh, chilled, frozen' by 4.13 percent, 'Non-alcoholic beverages by 3.93 percent, 'Milk, cheese and eggs' by 1.90 percent and 'Food products n.e.c' [not elsewhere classified] by 1.33 percent," she added.

Seychelles' President at UNGA: Economic equity is biggest impediment to achieving SDGs

The Seychelles' President, Wavel Ramkalawan, has reiterated the call of small islands developing states (SIDS) for a globally accepted vulnerability assessment in his address at the 77th session of United Nations General Assembly debate on Tuesday. Ramkalawa
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Seychelles' President at UNGA: Economic equity is biggest impediment to achieving SDGs

The Seychelles' President, Wavel Ramkalawan, has reiterated the call of small islands developing states (SIDS) for a globally accepted vulnerability assessment in his address at the 77th session of United Nations General Assembly debate on Tuesday. Ramkalawan said that economic equity is the biggest impediment to the realisation of the sustainable development goals. «The blueprint for a better and sustainable future requires financial resources that many of us simply do not have or are unable to access since development cooperation modalities failed to consider vulnerability as a barrier to durable development,» he added. The Seychelles' head of state said that time and again small island developing states have consistently reiterated the call for a globally accepted vulnerability assessment put forward in 1992 by the United Nations Conference on environment and development. «Our island nations have experienced the greatest economic loss from the pandemic with economic contraction averaging 7 percent yet very few of us were able to access the meagre 6 percent of COVID-19 funding allocated to developing countries,» he added. Ramkalawan said that there was a need to be reminded that «multilateralism gives each one of us the opportunity and the means to solve complex challenges that we cannot overcome on our own. Never have we faced challenges of such magnitude. A world in deep crisis, climate inaction, the aftermath of the pandemic, food insecurity, the rising cost of energy, the war in Ukraine.» These inter-related challenges that the least responsible for are most affected by and the plight of states in vulnerable situations have never been more pronounced. «As floods, heatwaves and fires in the western world dominate the news and our social media feeds, let us not neglect nor forget that the impact of slow onset events like sea level rise poses existential threats to small island developing states,» Ramkalawan said.   He said that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, can attest to this fact as its shores and sea have become encumbered with plastic waste. Despite the challenges Seychelles face, the island nation has taken several measures to protect its ocean territory of 1.4 million square km.   «Healthy oceans are critical to life on earth and as a foremost proponent of the Blue Economy paradigm, Seychelles has taken bold steps to sustainably harness our ocean for the benefit of our people,» he said. Seychelles has designated 30 percent of its ocean territory as a Marine Protected Area, a total of 410,000 square kilometres of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), under the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act. The island nation has also committed to protect at least 50 percent of its seagrass ecosystems by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030 greatly contributing to ecosystem preservation. He called on small island states and ocean states to be as bold in their ocean commitment. Ramkalawan also talked about food security and energy security which have been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. «The challenge for us in Africa is how to guarantee that trade contributes meaningfully to food security.  In this regard, the African Continental Free Trade area has a vital role to play by stimulating intra-trade amongst ourselves by ensuring that we redistribute food produced from regions with a surplus to regions facing deficits,» he said. He said that the solutions to food security can be achievable.     «We firmly believe that harnessing the potential of the Blue Economy by tapping into fisheries and aquaculture resources can be a viable option to address food and nutrition insecurity that prevails at the moment,» said Ramkalawan. He concluded by saying that «we share only one planet and our fates are indivisible and let us secure a better future together.» 

French and Seychellois special forces undertake joint military training

The outgoing French Ambassador to Seychelles, Dominic Mas, says that the two country's cooperation will continue especially in areas related to maritime security during a joint military training exercise on Tuesday. The joint military training is taking plac
Seychelles News Agency

French and Seychellois special forces undertake joint military training

The outgoing French Ambassador to Seychelles, Dominic Mas, says that the two country's cooperation will continue especially in areas related to maritime security during a joint military training exercise on Tuesday. The joint military training is taking place at the Seychelles Recruit Training Centre at Barbarons, in the west Mahe, the main island, by French Special Forces officers from Reunion and the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF). The bi-annual military exercise is aimed at building the capacity of both forces in the fight against piracy, illegal fishing, smuggling as well as narco-trafficking. «This exercise is part of the continuing relationship we have with the SDF, where the French Special Forces, based in Reunion Island, are working helping in the training of various aspects, including shooting and close-combat,» said Mas. He explained that «this exercise will look at improving the security of this region of Indian ocean, be it maritime or sovereign, as well as the fight against drug trafficking.» The Ambassador visited the training centre in the company of the Chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette. (Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Mas, who will be leaving his post in Seychelles soon, said the cooperation is indispensable for both nations, along with other regional countries as they look to continue battling against the problems the region is facing. The ambassador visited the training centre in the company of the Seychelles' Chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette, and witnessed some of the training sessions, while he was also given the chance for target practice at the shooting range. Speaking to reporters, Major Archil Mondon, the SDF public relations officer, said, «We are looking to develop a new team of instructors, where this partnership with the French military has been going on for a while, where they have helped up in the past and this new batch of instructors will help to produce more soldiers for Seychelles.»   He added that the instructors will work with the special forces division, where their role will be to train, develop and assess recruits, to ensure that they can be part of the unit. The training will continue during the week and the French Ambassador has stated that despite the fact that he cannot speak on behalf of his successor, the partnership between Seychelles and France is one that is expected to continue. The two nations have a long-standing partnership, where the Reunion-based Armed Forces in the Southern Indian Ocean (FAZSOI), regularly participate in the 'Cateau Noire' exercise against maritime crime.

Zelensky blames Russia as world vows response to food shortages

Global leaders called Tuesday for urgent efforts to address global food insecurity amid fears of disastrous harvests next year, as Ukraine's president blamed Russia for the crisis and sought the world's «toughest reaction» against Moscow. On the
Seychelles News Agency

Zelensky blames Russia as world vows response to food shortages

Global leaders called Tuesday for urgent efforts to address global food insecurity amid fears of disastrous harvests next year, as Ukraine's president blamed Russia for the crisis and sought the world's «toughest reaction» against Moscow. On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, ministers from the European Union, United States, African Union and Spain met on food shortages which are seen as a key factor in conflicts and instability. Appearing by video link was Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, who directly accused Moscow of willingly triggering a food crisis. «Any state that provokes famine, that tries to make access to food a privilege, that tries to make the protection of nations from famine dependent on... the mercy of some dictator -- such a state must get the toughest reaction from the world,» Zelensky said. He blamed Russian blockades and other «immoral actions» for slashing exports from Ukraine, a major agricultural producer. «Russia must bear responsibility for this,» he said. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Russian President Vladimir Putin, with his February invasion of Ukraine, «is trying to blackmail the international community with food.» «There is no peace with hunger and we cannot combat hunger without peace,» Sanchez said. The Group of Seven major industrial powers at a June summit in Germany promised $5 billion to fight food insecurity but German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there was still «great urgency.» «The Russian war of aggression has caused and accelerated a multidimensional global crisis. Countries in the Global South with prior vulnerabilities have been hit hardest,» Scholz said. President Joe Biden will address the General Assembly on Wednesday and announce new US aid, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. In his own address Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country will finance shipments of Ukrainian wheat to Somalia which is facing risk of famine. Ukraine is one of the world's largest grain producers and the Russian invasion sent global prices soaring. Russia has cast blame on Western sanctions, an assertion denounced by Washington which says it is not targeting agricultural or humanitarian goods. Turkey and the United Nations in July brokered a deal between Russia and Ukraine to allow ships with grain to sail through the blockaded Black Sea. Putin has recently criticized the deal, pointing to shipments that have headed to Europe. US officials say some of the grain is then processed and sent to poorer countries. «Despite some of the misinformation that continues to come from Moscow, that grain and other food products are getting where they need to go to the countries most in need, predominantly in the Global South,» Blinken said. «It's also helped lower food prices around the world. So it needs to keep going, it needs to be renewed. That is urgent.» - Long-term fears - Concerns are also mounting on the long-term impacts. A recent report by the Ukraine Conflict Observatory, a non-governmental US group, found that around 15 percent of Ukraine grain stocks have been lost since the invasion began. And experts warn that disruptions in fertilizer shipments could seriously impede future harvests worldwide. «It's very clear that the current food supply disruption and the war in Ukraine is having an impact on the next harvest,» said Alvaro Lario, incoming president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. «There's one or two harvests per year, and already we're seeing that it's going to be devastating for next year,» he told AFP, warning that the impact could be «much worse» than Covid. He called for longer-term action, which would entail billions of dollars of investment, to ensure stability of food supply chains and adapt to a warming climate. «We know the solutions and we have the institutions to make that happen. What is currently lacking is the political will, in terms of the investment,» he said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said recently that the world had enough food in 2022 but that the problem was distribution. If the situation does not stabilize this year, in 2023 «we risk to have a real lack of food,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

DR Congo leader, at UN, accuses Rwanda of aggression

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday accused Rwanda of direct aggression, renewing charges as he addressed the United Nations. «Despite my goodwill and the Congolese people's outstretched hand for peace, some of our neighb
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DR Congo leader, at UN, accuses Rwanda of aggression

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday accused Rwanda of direct aggression, renewing charges as he addressed the United Nations. «Despite my goodwill and the Congolese people's outstretched hand for peace, some of our neighbors find no way to thank us other than supporting armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,» Tshisekedi said in a speech to the General Assembly. «This is currently the case with Rwanda which, in defiance of international law and the UN Charter... once more committed aggression in March with direct incursions by its armed forces into the Democratic Republic of Congo,» he said. Tshisekedi said that Rwanda has provided «massive support both in war materiel and troops» to M23, which has been increasingly active in eastern border areas and which he brands a «terrorist group.» He accused the Rwandan military of supporting the M23 in shooting down a UN peacekeeping helicopter in March in which eight people died -- six Pakistanis, a Russian and a Serb. The group has previously denied the charge and the United Nations has stopped short of blaming the rebels, while voicing alarm at the group's resurgence. «Rwanda's involvement and responsibility is no longer debatable in the tragedy that my nation and compatriots are living through in zones occupied by the Rwandan army and their M23 allies,» he said. The eastern stretch of the vast nation has been beset by violence for nearly 30 years with numerous armed groups active. The M23, a mostly Tutsi force that had been defeated in 2013, took up arms again late last year as it accused the Kinshasa government of not respecting an agreement on demobilizing and reintegrating combattants. A UN report seen last month by AFP found that the Rwandan military intervened against Congolese positions from November through June. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a visit in August to Kinshasa also said there were «credible» reports of Rwandan involvement. Rwanda, where memories of the 1994 genocide against Tutsis remain vivid, has denied the charges and vowed to defend its territory. President Paul Kagame is due to speak at the United Nations on Wednesday. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' President holds talks with UN Secretary-General and UAE Minister of State

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan held talks on Tuesday with the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on the side-lines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) taking place in New York, State House said on Wednesday. «Sey
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' President holds talks with UN Secretary-General and UAE Minister of State

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan held talks on Tuesday with the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on the side-lines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) taking place in New York, State House said on Wednesday. «Seychelles believes fundamentally in the United Nations and the principles ingrained in the UN Charter. For us, this multilateral institution remains an indispensable forum where the entire world can meet to deliberate on international development matters concerning us all, and where we all have a voice irrespective of our size or economic power. This is especially important for Small Island Developing States like ourselves,» said Ramkalawan. The UN Secretary-General noted that Seychelles is rich in marine biodiversity, which makes it a fundamental country contributing toward global equilibrium. He said that this is a great contribution to humanity and to the world. Meeting with UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs The United Arab Emirates has confirmed that it will be implementing phase two of the Seychelles Barbarons Housing project comprising 40 units, according to a State House press release. The UAE Minister of State (left) expressed his government's willingness to further enhance the country-to-country partnership. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY  The UAE Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan, made the statement in a bilateral meeting with President Ramkalawan on the sidelines of the UNGA. The housing project started in 2015 through a grant of $9 million from Abu Dhabi and the first phase covered Takamaka and Barbarons. «Seychelles is keen to engage with the UAE in new fields of cooperation of mutual interest and we are incredibly grateful for the continuously growing bonds of friendship and partnership that exist between our two governments,» said Ramkalawan.  The UAE Minister of State expressed his government's willingness to further enhance the country-to-country partnership while extending their support to an exemplary island nation such as Seychelles that is leading in key domains not only in Africa but on the worldwide platform.  Other topics discussed included border control, renewable energy projects for Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the construction of the Early Childhood Care centre, the Drug Rehabilitation project and the ongoing St. Mary's hospital project on La Digue.  The UAE agreed to fund a drug rehabilitation centre in January 2020 at a total cost of $3.6 million. Plans for its construction at the former Mont Royale rehabilitation site in the central Mahe district of Mont Fleuri, started in April last year. The meeting between President Ramkalawan and Sheikh Nahyan Al Nahyan also served as an important opportunity for the two leaders to review and agree on the way forward and expected timeline for the agreed projects, said State House. 

Seychelles mourns loss of former finance minister Peter Larose

The Seychelles' President, Wavel Ramkalawan, has sent a message of condolence to the wife and family of former finance minister Dr. Peter Larose following his passing, State House said on Tuesday. In his message, Ramkalawan said that Larose served his countr
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles mourns loss of former finance minister Peter Larose

The Seychelles' President, Wavel Ramkalawan, has sent a message of condolence to the wife and family of former finance minister Dr. Peter Larose following his passing, State House said on Tuesday. In his message, Ramkalawan said that Larose served his country with devotion and professionalism in various capacities and made significant contributions to his homeland, particularly in finance. «He will be remembered for his hard work and commitment in everything that he did. At all times he put his country first. This was clearly exhibited when his nomination as minister was approved unanimously by members of all political parties in the National Assembly. Our thoughts of comfort and courage go out to all his loved ones during their time of loss,» said the President.   A message of condolences has also been sent by the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade. In his tribute to Larose, finance minister Naadir Hassan said, «Our career crossed when I was at the Central Bank of Seychelles and when he was Minister for Finance, Trade and Economic Planning. Throughout his career, Dr. Larose has shown tenacity, commitment, discipline and seriousness.» Larose assumed the office of Minister for Finance, Trade and Economic Planning on November 1, 2016 until 2018. He worked within the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Central Bank of Seychelles. In 2008, his career achievements locally, was recognised internationally, when he joined the World Bank as an adviser. He was promoted to senior adviser in 2010 and assumed the position of Alternate Executive Director in 2012. Larose became the Executive Director of African Group 1 Constituency in 2014 where he represented 22 African countries. Hassan said that «Dr. Larose took great pride in furthering and sharing his extensive experience in his chosen fields of banking, finance, economics and accounting. His career should be a model for young Seychellois who are ambitious and serious about furthering their career, not only in Seychelles but internationally. As a nation, we are proud of Dr. Larose's career achievements.»

Luxury ecotourism: Seychelles opens doors for investment into high-end lodge on Silhouette Island

The Seychelles Islands Development Company (IDC) has called for investors to put forth their expressions of interest in the development of a small luxury eco-tourism establishment at Grand Barbe on Silhouette Island, the third largest island of the Seychell
Seychelles News Agency

Luxury ecotourism: Seychelles opens doors for investment into high-end lodge on Silhouette Island

The Seychelles Islands Development Company (IDC) has called for investors to put forth their expressions of interest in the development of a small luxury eco-tourism establishment at Grand Barbe on Silhouette Island, the third largest island of the Seychelles archipelago. The investment could total up to $12.5 million, according to IDC. The chief executive of the state-owned company, Glenny Savy, told reporters on Monday that the development should have no more than 25 rooms and that it should have a solar facility to produce electricity, as well as an excellent sewage and waste system in place. «The developer is not obliged to build 25 rooms, it could be less. We are talking about an investment of $500,000 per room. With the experience that we have acquired with smaller establishments such as Cosmoledo and Astove, we have seen that it is feasible to run such small establishments. Their activities are specific and tap into a very narrow market. People wanting such a product are ready to pay $10,000 to $15,000 per week to visit such a place,» said Savy. The IDC's CEO said that one of the aims of the development is to have a presence on that side of the island, to deter currently-ongoing poaching from taking place and guarantee the protection of Grand Barbe.  Grand Barbe is located on the northwest coast of Silhouette and is seen as one of the most captivating parts of the island, benefiting from the grandiose backdrop of Mount Dauban, the second highest peak in Seychelles at 740m.  The area also has one of the largest wetlands in Seychelles which includes a sprawling mangrove forest that provides an important refuge for an abundance of aquatic life. A 1km stretch of sand extends along the shore and provides the most important turtle-nesting beach on Silhouette. The island has an exceptional biodiversity and is home to the Seychelles sheath-tailed bat. (Gerard Larose) Photo License: CC-BY Silhouette has a rich biodiversity and is home to the endemic critically endangered Seychelles sheath-tailed bat. Savy said that should the class one Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), to be carried out before construction starts, indicate that the development will severely affect an endangered species, the endangered species will get priority over the development. The development of a smaller tourism establishment at Grand Barbe has always been in the plan of the IDC, which manages 13 outer islands and Silhouette - an inner island. Some years ago, there were plans for the construction of a similar project in the same location. The investor at the time - Universal - returned the lease for the location to IDC after the government rejected their request for the construction of a road between La Passe and Grand Barbe. The requested road would have run through the Silhouette National Park, almost similar to the road that goes through the Vallee de Mai forest, located on Praslin. «The developers came to realise that it would be too expensive, at the time, to carry out operations at Grand Barbe only via helicopter. Nevertheless, we have always wanted to see a small development take place on that side of the island. We have looked again at the viability of the project and realised that maybe today, with the revenue that a hotel can make with an ecotourism lodge, we can tap into such a project,» explained Savy. Once all the necessary processes are completed, IDC expects the establishment to be operational by the second half of 2024, all dependent on the number of rooms the investor will construct.

Queen's death leaves Zimbabweans conflicted

On a chilly spring morning, a kilted piper playing the bagpipes led diplomats into Harare's stone-walled Anglican Cathedral for a thanksgiving service in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. But the turnout among the public was meagre -- numbering in the dozens --
Seychelles News Agency

Queen's death leaves Zimbabweans conflicted

On a chilly spring morning, a kilted piper playing the bagpipes led diplomats into Harare's stone-walled Anglican Cathedral for a thanksgiving service in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. But the turnout among the public was meagre -- numbering in the dozens -- and the flags that flew at half-mast were in honour not of Zimbabwe's former monarch but of an army brigadier who had died a week after her. Sentiments in this southern African country after the death of the queen are mixed. Many of Zimbabwe's institutions, such as its parliament and bewigged judges, are based on the British model, and food, clothing and even accents are inspired by Britain. Yet memories remain of the humiliation of the colonial era, tinged more recently by tensions under Zimbabwe's first post-independence leader, Robert Mugabe. Older Zimbabweans grew up in a country called Rhodesia -- a British colony created and named after Cecil Rhodes, an ardent imperialist. Colonial relations «were exploitative,» said historian Phatisa Nyathi. «It was about the looting of resources, minerals and a source of hostility.» In 1964, as British rule in Africa was fading, Rhodesia's white-dominated government unilaterally declared a republic, triggering a war with nationalists that ended with independence under negotiations fostered by Britain. It was the queen's successor, King Charles III, who attended independence ceremonies in 1980, where he was handed the Union Jack after it was lowered and replaced by the new multi-coloured Zimbabwean flag. - Souring ties - For the first two decades after independence, relations between Britain and Zimbabwe were cordial, even warm. Bathed in the glory of the struggle and its negotiated outcome, Mugabe in 1986 was awarded the highest royal honour granted to an African statesman, and several British universities showered him with honorary degrees. When the queen visited Zimbabwe in 1991 for a Commonwealth summit, Harare city authorities burned down shacks in parts of the capital and moved the 3,000 dwellers to a farm out of sight of the visiting monarch. But relations started to sour when Zimbabwe launched controversial reforms in 2000, kicking nearly 4,000 white farmers off the land, and Mugabe cracked down on dissent. Zimbabwe found itself expelled from the Commonwealth, and its economy started to crater. Today, in a country of agricultural riches, many Zimbabweans are poor and hungry, and inflation is running at more than 250 percent. Many Zimbabweans say they harbour a fondness for the queen, or at least disassociate her from the country's woes and its spat with the former colonial power. «I will always remember her for her love and affection. She embraced every religion and loved everyone. I have never known anyone more loving,» said Sandy Rowan, walking out of the memorial service. «Her legacy continues in the name of a school, a hotel and a courtyard» in Harare, said Takavafira Zhou, a political scientist at Masvingo State University. - Royal remoteness - But others say that the queen's hands-off approach are precisely what was wrong. «We don't feel compelled to mourn Queen Elizabeth II, considering that she presided over a lot of atrocities in Africa,» opposition leader Linda Masarira said. British colonialists took home the remains of some African fighters and leaders killed during the first anti-colonial resistance to Britain, and some are still there, she said. «We still have the heads of our ancestors in British museums which we have asked time and again to be repatriated back to Zimbabwe and that has not been done.» Wright Chirombe, a Harare resident, said «Queen Elizabeth II's main weakness was that she never raised her voice against human rights abuses,» both under Mugabe and his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa. All that Patrick Bande, another local, remembered about the queen was that «she came to Zimbabwe.» «I don't know if there is anything she did for our country,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

Climate change: Seychelles' sea cucumber stock falls by 30%

The stock of sea cucumbers in Seychelles is depleting by 30 percent due to various factors, including climate change, according to the results of a recently conducted survey. The aim of the survey organised by the Seychelles Fishing Authority was to assess t
Seychelles News Agency

Climate change: Seychelles' sea cucumber stock falls by 30%

The stock of sea cucumbers in Seychelles is depleting by 30 percent due to various factors, including climate change, according to the results of a recently conducted survey. The aim of the survey organised by the Seychelles Fishing Authority was to assess the abundance of all sea cucumber resources, not just those that are commercially exploited. In the survey, headed by Australian consultant Tim Skewes and a group of local sea cucumber divers, 206 sites from the Mahe Plateau and the Amirantes Banks were visited but data was collected on 192 sites only because of bad visibility and strong currents on 14 sites. The findings of the survey were presented to people working in the sea cucumber industry last week. The results show that one species, the black teat fish, is under threat. Since 2004 the population was more than 7.5 million but has fallen to 1.4 million in 2021. A decline has already been recorded for two other species - the white teat fish has declined from 4.5 million in 2004 to less than 500,000 in 2021 and the average stock of the pentard species decreased from around 4.5 million in 2004 to over 2.5 million in 2021.  One piece of good news is for the prickly redfish, which has increased from 3 million to more than 4.5 million in 2021. Australian consultant Tim Skewes said that the 30 percent depletion of the species is due to various factors. «Climate change is affecting the ecosystem and fisheries and there is a need to do more research on this. Other potential impacts are fishing and the fact that some species do vary on an annual scale,» said Skewes. Seychelles' minister for fisheries, Jean-Francois Ferrari, said that research will give all partners concerned guidance on the future management strategy of sea cucumber as resources.« He stressed the importance of preserving the stock and said that »you all have a responsibility to ensure that we preserve this resource. We have to think ahead because our responsibility is towards our children who will join the industry in the future." James Lesperance, a processor in the sea cucumber industry since 1999, agrees that Seychelles needs to implement some measures to ensure a healthy stock for the future. The new survey was the result of a recommendation from the 2017 fisheries stock assessment that the Marine Resource Assessment Group (MRAG Ltd) based in the United Kingdom. The group highlighted that there was a need to increase confidence in stock status and encourage SFA to do a fisheries stock assessment. Senior fishery scientist from SFA, Stephanie Hollanda, said that the last fisheries independent survey was done in 2004 and 2005 and there is a need for a new assessment. The Management Advisory Committee board composed of officers from SFA and the sea cucumber industry will meet to decide on the new measures for the new fishing season expected to open in October.

Seychelles' President and First Lady pay final respects to Queen Elizabeth

The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan and the First Lady, Linda Ramkalawan, joined world leaders and thousands of mourners for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday. State House said that Ramkalawan and the First Lady paid their final res
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' President and First Lady pay final respects to Queen Elizabeth

The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan and the First Lady, Linda Ramkalawan, joined world leaders and thousands of mourners for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday. State House said that Ramkalawan and the First Lady paid their final respects during the Lying-in-State of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall upon their arrival on Sunday. The State Funeral service took place at Westminster Abbey followed by the final procession to Wellington Arch. Ramkalawan and the First Lady departed the United Kingdom late on Monday for New York to attend the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

One dead after typhoon slams into Japan

One person was confirmed dead in Japan on Monday after Typhoon Nanmadol slammed into the country, injuring dozens, but authorities downgraded warnings as the storm weakened after landfall. The storm system, which made landfall in southern Kyushu's Kagoshima
Seychelles News Agency

One dead after typhoon slams into Japan

One person was confirmed dead in Japan on Monday after Typhoon Nanmadol slammed into the country, injuring dozens, but authorities downgraded warnings as the storm weakened after landfall. The storm system, which made landfall in southern Kyushu's Kagoshima on Sunday night, was moving off the western coast of Japan by Monday afternoon. Nearly six million people were still under evacuation warnings and authorities said in some areas «even a tiny amount of additional rainfall» could trigger flooding and landslides. In Miyazaki prefecture, some areas saw more rainfall in 24 hours than they normally receive in all of September. A man in his sixties from Miyakonojo city was confirmed dead after being found in a submerged car on farmland, authorities in Miyazaki told AFP. In western Fukuoka region, officials said they were investigating whether an additional death was linked to the storm. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who had been scheduled to leave Monday for the United Nations General Assembly, announced he would delay his trip by a day to assess the damage. But given the intensity of the storm, which came ashore packing gusts of up to 234 kilometres (145 miles) per hour, damage appeared relatively limited. «The typhoon has all but disappeared today and the rain and wind are also subsiding now,» an official in charge of crisis management in Miyazaki's Saito city told AFP. - 'I didn't feel safe at home' - In the town of Izumi in Kagoshima prefecture, 30-year-old Yasuta Yamaguchi spent the night in a local hotel to shelter from the storm. «I came to the hotel to shelter myself because it was windy and I thought it was dangerous,» he told AFP. «I didn't feel safe at home.» By Monday afternoon, over 240,000 households in Kyushu and neighbouring Chugoku region were without power, utilities said. Hundreds of flights had been cancelled, and many train services throughout the affected regions were also halted. By 4:00 pm (0700GMT), the typhoon was moving north-northeast off the coast of Shimane prefecture on the western side of Japan, with maximum gusts of around 162 kilometres per hour, according to the JMA. «The thick cloud and eye area around the typhoon's centre have already disappeared and it is weakening rapidly,» Ryuta Kurora, the head of the JMA's forecast unit, told reporters. Japan is currently in its typhoon season and faces around 20 such storms a year, routinely seeing heavy rains that cause landslides or flash floods. In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis smashed into Japan as it hosted the Rugby World Cup, claiming the lives of more than 100 people. A year earlier, Typhoon Jebi shut down Kansai Airport in Osaka and left 14 people dead in its wake. Scientists say climate change is increasing the severity of storms and causing extreme weather such as heat waves, droughts and flash floods to become more frequent and intense. © Agence France-Presse  

USA and Hungary dominate FINA world junior swimming championship in Seychelles

Swimmers from the United States and Hungary dominated the 2022 World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships, held in Seychelles for the first time over the weekend. The two nations shared a total of eight gold medals available equally between them, with ea
Seychelles News Agency

USA and Hungary dominate FINA world junior swimming championship in Seychelles

Swimmers from the United States and Hungary dominated the 2022 World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships, held in Seychelles for the first time over the weekend. The two nations shared a total of eight gold medals available equally between them, with each taking home four gold medals. Hungary was awarded the trophy as the best team of the tournament. The event took from September 16-18 at the place at the popular northern Mahe beach of Beau Vallon.  In the first race on Friday for the boys, 14-15 years covering 5km race, Nathan Szobota from the USA finished first, edging out Italian Davide Grossi. Szobota's time was 48 minutes 50.9 seconds while Grossi finished the race in 48 minutes 51.0 seconds, showing just how close the two were. Germany's Diego Heinze was third in 48 minutes 51.6 seconds. The only Seychellois swimmer in that race was Thierry Payet who ended the race in 29th place out of the 35 swimmers in 56 minutes 59.1 seconds. On the girls' side, American swimmer Claire Weinstein crossed the finishing line in 51 minutes 52.40 seconds. Behind her was Turkey's Tuna Erdogan and third place went to Noa Martin of Spain. The event took from September 16-18 at the place at the popular northern Mahe beach of Beau Vallon. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  After the opening races, it was time for the race of the 16-17-year-old covering 7.5km. America swimmer Katie Grimes came out first far ahead of the other swimmers in 1 hour 22 minutes 38.50 seconds. Turkish Narin Burgunaz was second followed by Hungary's Lisa Csulak. In the boys' category, Hungarian Hunor Kovacs-Seres ended the race in the first place, in 1 hour 16 minutes 2.10 seconds. He was followed by Mexican Paulo Strehlke-Delgado and third was another swimmer from Hungary, Mate Hartman. Seychellois Nathan Nagapin finished 39 out of 41 starters, with a time of 1 hour 40 minutes 09.20. For the 10km races on Saturday for 18-19 years old, Hungary dominated Bettina Fabian winning gold for the girls in 2 hours 3 minutes 11.40 seconds ahead of Candela Sanchez Lora of Spain. In third place was Hungarian, Mira Szimcsak.   For the boys, Hungarian, David Betlehem was the first to cross the line, with a time of 1 hour 53:10.30, followed by two Italians, Pasquale Giordano and Guiseppe Ilaria. For Seychelles, Damien Payet competed in this race and came out in 24th place out of the 35 swimmers in 2 hours 4 minutes 22.60. «It was a bit rough, but I think it was a good race,» said Payet, before adding; «I trained hard for this and I am proud of my performance today.» On the final day, there were two races of the 4x1500m mixed relays. In the 14 to 16 years old category, the U.S. team came out first in 1 hour 13 minutes and 9.80 seconds. Germany was in the second place followed by Turkey.   «It was not an easy race as we had to change the race strategy since we had already competed in the 5km and 7.5km races, so we needed a plan to ensure we got the best time,» said a representative of the U.S team.   In the 17 to 19 years old category, the team won in 1 hour 11 minutes 20.10 seconds followed by Germany and Italy. «It was really great and we enjoy it as we have been doing it for five years now, so it was a fun race,» said David Betlehem of the Hungary team. Meanwhile, FINA has said that they think the competition has gone really well, with a high level of results from the swimmers. «In terms of the organisation, it has been good to be able to come to the Seychelles, where we have been made very welcome and overall it has gone very well,» said John West, the honorary secretary of the FINA Open Water, who added that Seychelles will be given priority in the future, should the country decide to bid to host the tournament again.  

Britain and the world bid adieu to Queen Elizabeth II

Britain said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at a state funeral attended by world leaders, before a historic last ceremonial journey through the streets of London packed with sorrowful mourners. Huge crowds gathered in near silence to watch as the q
Seychelles News Agency

Britain and the world bid adieu to Queen Elizabeth II

Britain said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at a state funeral attended by world leaders, before a historic last ceremonial journey through the streets of London packed with sorrowful mourners. Huge crowds gathered in near silence to watch as the queen's flag-draped coffin, topped with the Imperial State Crown, her orb and sceptre, was carried slowly to a gun carriage from parliament's Westminster Hall where it had lain in state since Wednesday. To the tune of pipes and drums, the gun carriage -- used at every state funeral since Queen Victoria's in 1901 -- was then drawn by 142 junior enlisted sailors in the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey. The thousand-year-old church's tenor bell tolled 96 times at one-minute intervals -- one for every year of her life -- stopping a minute before the service began at 11:00 am (1000 GMT). In his funeral sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the queen's life of duty and service to the UK and Commonwealth. «People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer,» he told the 2,000 guests, who included US President Joe Biden and Japan's reclusive Emperor Naruhito. «But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered,» the Anglican leader added, before the coffin was borne on another procession towards her final resting place in Windsor Castle, west of London. The longest-serving monarch in British history died at Balmoral, her Scottish Highland retreat, on September 8 after a year of declining health. Her eldest son and successor, King Charles III, dressed in ceremonial military uniform, followed the solemn processions, alongside his three siblings. - 'She was my boss' - Charles's eldest son Prince William accompanied them alongside William's estranged brother, Prince Harry, and other senior royals. William's two eldest children, George and Charlotte, who are next in line to the throne, also walked behind the coffin inside the abbey. Late Sunday, Charles, 73, and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, said they had been «deeply touched» by the public's flood of messages. «As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you,» he said. Britain, a country much changed since the queen's coronation in the same abbey in 1953, has dug deep into its centuries of tradition to honour the only monarch that most of its people have ever known. «It's once in a lifetime,» said student Naomi Thompson, 22, camped out in the crowds at London's Hyde Park. «It's a moment of history... She's everyone's granny,» added engineer Alice Garret, 28. Others unable to be in London gathered in cinemas and churches around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to watch the service and procession on big screens. Auto engineer Jamie Page, a 41-year-old former soldier, stood on Whitehall to observe the funeral procession, wearing his military medals from service in the Iraq war. «Sixteen years old, I swore an oath of allegiance to the queen. She's been my boss. She means everything, she was like a gift from God,» he said. - Two minutes of silence - But on Charles, the oldest person yet to ascend the British throne, Page added: «Who knows, time will tell.» The funeral lasted just under an hour, brought to an end by a bugler playing «The Last Post», before two minutes of silence and the reworded national anthem, «God Save the King». After an hour-long procession that was to go past Buckingham Palace, the coffin was to be taken west by road to Windsor Castle, where thousands had lined the route since early morning. Some 6,000 military personnel have been drafted in to take part in proceedings in what Britain's highest-ranking military officer has called «our last duty for Her Majesty the Queen». The queen will be buried alongside her father king George VI, her mother queen Elizabeth and sister princess Margaret, reuniting in death the family who once called themselves «us four». The coffin of her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99, will also be transferred to lie alongside her. Elizabeth's funeral could not be more different from Philip's at St George's Chapel, Windsor, in April 2021. Coronavirus restrictions limited mourners to just 30, led by the queen, a solitary figure in mourning black and a matching facemask. The contrast was profound on Monday, the abbey packed with dignitaries and some ordinary Britons who were honoured for their military or community service, especially during the Covid pandemic. - Biden's tribute - «You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years; we all were,» Biden said on Sunday after signing a book of condolence. «The world is better for her.» In the abbey pews was Liz Truss, whom the queen appointed as the 15th British prime minister of her reign just two days before her death, in her last major ceremonial duty. All of Truss's living predecessors were there plus her counterparts and representatives from the 14 Commonwealth countries outside Britain where Charles is also head of state. Whether they remain constitutional monarchies or become republics is likely to be the defining feature of Charles's reign. The queen's death has prompted deep reflection about the Britain she reigned over, the legacy of its past, its present state and what the future might hold, as well as the values of lifelong service and duty she came to represent during her 70-year reign. Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have queued, sometimes for up to 25 hours and overnight, to file past the queen's coffin as it lay in state. Chrissy Heerey, a serving member of the Royal Air Force who joined the marathon queue twice, was the last person through the doors and described the experience as «amazing». «When they came to me and said, 'right, you're the last person', I said, really?!» she told AFP, before heading off to join the crowds for the coffin's procession through London. - Big Ben tolls - Throughout the procession after the funeral, Big Ben, the giant bell atop the Elizabeth Tower at one end of the Houses of Parliament, tolled and military guns fired at one-minute intervals. At Windsor, the Sebastopol Bell -- captured in Crimea in 1856 -- and the Curfew Tower Bell also sounded. A vast television audience was expected to watch the funeral worldwide and live online, in a sign of the enduring fascination with the woman once described as «the last global monarch». Those lining the streets of London -- already jammed at sunrise on Monday -- said they had to bear witness. «I will talk about this moment to my children,» said Jack Davies, 14, camped out for the procession with his parents at Hyde Park Corner, where the coffin will be transferred from the gun carriage for the drive to Windsor. «I'll say: 'I was there!'» At Windsor, the queen's crown, orb and sceptre will be removed and placed on the altar. The most senior officer of the royal household, the lord chamberlain, breaks his «wand of office» and places it on the coffin, symbolising the end of her reign. The lead-lined oak casket, draped with the queen's colours, will be lowered into the Royal Vault as a lone bagpiper plays a lament. A private interment ceremony will take place at the adjoining King George VI Memorial Chapel at 1830 GMT. © Agence France-Presse

Experts from FAO and Seychelles meet to draft antimicrobial resistance action plan 

Authorities in Seychelles have joined forces with experts from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to draft an antimicrobial resistance action plan for the island nation. This is being done through a five-day workshop being held at Eden Blue Hote
Seychelles News Agency

Experts from FAO and Seychelles meet to draft antimicrobial resistance action plan 

Authorities in Seychelles have joined forces with experts from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to draft an antimicrobial resistance action plan for the island nation. This is being done through a five-day workshop being held at Eden Blue Hotel on the main island of Mahe where representatives will evaluate Seychelles' current action plan and assess its surveillance of antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobials include antibiotics and antivirals among others used to treat diseases in humans, animals and plants. However, the misuse of these drugs could result in other micro-organisms that can become resistant to them and threaten not only people's health but also food safety and security. «This workshop is one that is very important to us as we are focusing on our people's capacity to deal with the issues as well as evaluating the national surveillance system we have in place,» the Minister for Agriculture, Flavien Joubert, said at the opening of the workshop on Monday. Health professionals and representatives from the local department of agriculture are receiving assistance from experts of FAO to ensure that Seychelles' action plan covers all bases. «We know that this is a problem in the health system as well as one in livestock production, as we know there is a connection between animals in the wild and those on farms,» said Joubert. The Seychelles draft national action plan on antimicrobial resistance, which was developed in 2017 and validated in 2018, was used during the workshop. «The country is reviewing the draft with FAO today, which is a good thing as there are new elements that have been included,» said an independent Seychellois veterinarian, Dr Jimmy Melanie. «This will ensure that we have an action plan that is more up to date with developments in the field. This will especially apply in the field of surveillance, control and resistance and at the same time we will learn how to report on the issue,» he added. Melanie explained that «in the previous draft there were already things that were being implemented especially in the public health lab, now with the new one we will also include animal tests.» Despite having drafted an action plan, Seychelles had not really started the surveillance that it will undertake with the new action plan. The workshop aims to re-emphasise the national plan on the surveillance of the various microbes that exist in the environment and the treatments used to control them. In order to ensure that it is comprehensive, the representatives will use tools provided by the FAO to map and assess the laboratory capacity to analyse and detect antimicrobials in the food and agricultural sectors, how the data collected is analysed as well as find ways to further improve the system put in place. Melanie said that the draft is not one that stands alone and that «it is under the one health umbrella, once we have a one health committee established we will go ahead with the programme.» Once the review is completed, Seychelles will have an action plan that it may use for the coming three to five years and work to achieve the world goal of health and prosperity through sustainable means.

King to host world leaders as UK counts down to queen's funeral

US President Joe Biden was to pay his last respects in London to Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday, as ordinary mourners waiting in marathon lines were warned that time was running out to view her coffin lying in state. After witnessing the sombre scene in parlia
Seychelles News Agency

King to host world leaders as UK counts down to queen's funeral

US President Joe Biden was to pay his last respects in London to Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday, as ordinary mourners waiting in marathon lines were warned that time was running out to view her coffin lying in state. After witnessing the sombre scene in parliament's Westminster Hall, Biden, Japan's Emperor Naruhito and other world leaders were due to attend a reception with King Charles III. Biden, who flew in late Saturday, has said that Charles's mother «defined an era» after she reigned for a record-breaking 70 years leading up to her death on September 8, aged 96. Australia's anti-monarchy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who viewed the lying-in-state and met Charles on Saturday, told Sky News Australia that the queen was «a constant reassuring presence». There was also a private audience at Buckingham Palace for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, which like Australia and 12 other Commonwealth realms now counts Charles as its sovereign. «You could see that it meant a huge amount (to Charles) to have seen the sheer scale and outpouring of people's love and affection for her late Majesty,» she told BBC television Sunday. But in a sign of challenges ahead for the new king, Ardern added that she expected New Zealand to ditch the UK monarchy «over the course of my lifetime». The first members of the public were already camping out in advance to catch a glimpse of Monday's grand farewell at Westminster Abbey, which is expected to bring London to a standstill and be watched by billions of viewers worldwide. - Country's 'glue' - E.J. Kelly, a 46-year-old school teacher from Northern Ireland, secured a prime spot with friends on the route the procession will take after the funeral. «Watching it on television is wonderful but being here is something else,» she told AFP, equipped with camping chairs, warm clothing and extra socks. «I will probably feel very emotional when it comes to it, but I wanted to be here to pay my respects.» Fiona Ogilvie, 54, who served in the Royal Air Force, had taken up position outside Westminster Abbey. «When you join the RAF you swear an allegiance to the queen, and that kind of stays with you,» she said. «She was still doing her duty up to two days before she died, and you can't ask more than that,» Ogilvie added, after the queen appointed Liz Truss as her 15th prime minister in one of her last official acts. Starting with a single toll from Big Ben, Britain will hold a minute's silence at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Sunday to reflect on the «life and legacy» of the queen. Near the Scottish town of Falkirk, 96 lanterns were to be lowered into a «pool of reflection» at the foot of the Queen Elizabeth II Canal, before wreaths are placed in the water. Those wanting to view the flag-draped casket have until 6:30 am (0530 GMT) on Monday to make it into the cavernous Westminster Hall opposite the abbey. As the queue continued to snake for miles (kilometres) along the River Thames on Sunday, the waiting time stood at more than 13 hours, and the line is likely to be closed by the evening. «To avoid disappointment please do not set off to join the queue,» the government said. Andy Sanderson, 46, a supermarket area manager, was in the line and finally reaching parliament. «She was the glue that kept the country together,» he said. «She doesn't have an agenda whereas politicians do, so she can speak for the people.» - Grandchildren's vigil - As mourners slowly filed by on Saturday evening, Prince William and his estranged younger brother Prince Harry led the queen's eight grandchildren in a 12-minute vigil around the coffin. Harry -- who did two tours with the British Army in Afghanistan -- wore the uniform of the Blues and Royals cavalry regiment in which he served. The move appeared to be the latest olive branch offered by Charles towards Harry and his wife Meghan after they quit royal duties and moved to North America, later accusing the royal family of racism. Queen Elizabeth's state funeral, the first in Britain since the death of her first prime minister Winston Churchill in 1965, will take place Monday at Westminster Abbey in London at 11:00 am. Reflecting on the queen's wishes for the hour-long ceremony, the former archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said she «did not want what you call long, boring services». «The hearts and people's cockles will be warmed and at the same time, there will be a moment of saying this is a funeral service that is glorious in its setting,» he told BBC television. - Tributes from Camilla, Andrew - Leaders from Russia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria and North Korea were not invited to join the 2,000 guests. Moscow's foreign ministry last week called the decision «deeply immoral», and «blasphemous» to the queen's memory. China will attend at the abbey, but was barred by parliamentary leaders from the lying-in-state. After the funeral, the queen's coffin will be driven to Windsor Castle, west of London, for a private burial when she will be laid to rest alongside her late husband Prince Philip, her parents and her sister. The Queen's second son Prince Andrew, in disgrace over his links to billionaire US paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, paid tribute Sunday to the queen's «knowledge and wisdom infinite, with no boundary or containment». Camilla gave her first public comments as the new queen consort, recalling her mother-in-law's smile and «wonderful blue eyes». «It must have been so difficult for her being a solitary woman» in a world dominated by men, Charles's wife said in televised comments. «There weren't women prime ministers or presidents. She was the only one so I think she carved her own role.» © Agence France-Presse

IMF preliminary report concludes VAT tax regime performs well in Seychelles

An IMF delegation preliminary report on a review of the Seychelles Value Added Tax Regime (VAT) concluded that VAT has performed as well as it could but there are risks of it being eroded if the broadening of the exemptions beyond the strict necessity cont
Seychelles News Agency

IMF preliminary report concludes VAT tax regime performs well in Seychelles

An IMF delegation preliminary report on a review of the Seychelles Value Added Tax Regime (VAT) concluded that VAT has performed as well as it could but there are risks of it being eroded if the broadening of the exemptions beyond the strict necessity continues. According to a press statement from the finance ministry, the IMF delegation was in Seychelles from September 6-15 to conduct a comprehensive review of the current VAT regime at the government's request. The aim of the review was to determine whether the VAT regime is the most efficient tax regime in place for a small economy such as Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The review was announced by finance minister Naadir Hassan last year in his 2022 budget address. «With the assistance of the IMF, we will conduct a review of the implementation of the VAT tax regime, in order to minimise abuse in the collection of this tax,» said Hassan. The assessment looked at the suitability of having a VAT regime in a country with a small population and economy like Seychelles and if a Good and Services Tax (GST) is a better fit. The IMF report stated that a return to the GST is unlikely to solve the current discontent with VAT and that the finance ministry would need to work on a strategy where the shortfalls in the current VAT regime could be reformed. The Value Added Tax was introduced in Seychelles in July 2012 and replaced the GST. VAT is a broad-based tax of 15 percent on most goods and services imported, sold and consumed in Seychelles. It is a consumption tax which is paid ultimately by final consumers. At the presentation of the preliminary report last Wednesday, Hassan expressed his appreciation to the IMF delegation for the «excellent work done in such a short time, and that more follow up work will have to be undertaken, once the final report is presented.» The final report is expected in less than two months. 

Seychelles to host 4th international skydiving event in October

Seychelles will host its fourth international skydiving event in October, dubbed 'Birds of Paradise Boogie' with around 45 participants including six Seychellois. The event, which is being organised by the FlySeychelles Skydiving centre, will see participant
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles to host 4th international skydiving event in October

Seychelles will host its fourth international skydiving event in October, dubbed 'Birds of Paradise Boogie' with around 45 participants including six Seychellois. The event, which is being organised by the FlySeychelles Skydiving centre, will see participants from all over the world completing 15 jumps over the islands of Praslin, La Digue and Bird Island.   «We wanted to include more islands in this event but we have some difficulties in getting permissions from those responsible for the islands and so we had to settle for these three for now,» said Franchesco Drosi, the co-owner of FlySeychelles, along with Gabor Vizko. Drosi told SNA that among the participants are four world champions and world record holders. They are Italian Roberta Mancino, Norwegian Event Rokny, American Will Penny and German Ralph Wilhelm. The event will take place from October 2 - 8 and Drosi explained that while skydiving is the main event, these activities will also bring a lot to Seychelles, especially as the participants will bring along their families and will be exploring the island nation.   «When we land on these islands, we have arranged for them to be able to have lunch and dinner and also visit places of interest on the island,» he added. Drosi stressed that they are hoping for clear skies in order for the event to be successful, as it is crucial that it is not cloudy or rainy. «When we are about to jump, we need clear skies as we have to see the ground. If we cannot see where we are jumping then it is not safe, so if the weather is not favourable on the day of a jump, it will have to be cancelled,» he explained. In the upcoming competition, six Seychellois skydivers who have recently received their licences will also be participating. They are members of the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) who have been receiving training for over a year now.  The six Seychellois need to complete over 300 jumps in order to get a higher level license, which will enable them to jump towards smaller targets. Drosi added that the collaboration between the SDF is going well and despite the cost of training, the SDF is determined to have highly trained personnel for their special operations. This will be the fourth skydiving event in Seychelles following the first ever Seychelles Innhop experience in 2021, the Seychelles Boogie in March 2022 and the Seychelles Innhop in April. Drosi, a Seychellois of Italian origin, also revealed plans for Seychelles to host the biggest skydiving event in the world in 2024 called the Tsunami Boogie. «The Tsunami Boogie is one of the biggest events in the world of Skydiving and has been held in Hawaii, Costa Rica and even the Maldives. Now we want to bring it to Seychelles and it will help to bring a large number of visitors to the islands,» added Drosi. Fly Seychelles Skydiving is located on Praslin, the second-most populated island of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. 

Ukraine official says '450 graves' found near recaptured Izyum

About 450 graves were counted at one burial site near the eastern Ukraine city of Izyum which was recently recaptured by Kyiv's forces, a senior presidential aide said Friday. «Four hundred and fifty graves... This is just one of the mass burial sites
Seychelles News Agency

Ukraine official says '450 graves' found near recaptured Izyum

About 450 graves were counted at one burial site near the eastern Ukraine city of Izyum which was recently recaptured by Kyiv's forces, a senior presidential aide said Friday. «Four hundred and fifty graves... This is just one of the mass burial sites discovered near Izyum. In the occupied territories, rampant terror, violence, torture and mass murders have been reigning for months,» Mykhaylo Podolyak said. He published a photo on social media showing rows of wooden crosses and recently dug mounds in a wooded area, along with the claim. The statement comes after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an evening address to the nation that a «mass grave» had been discovered near Izyum. But he did not give details about the number of bodies that had been discovered or any indication of whether they were civilians or military personnel, or the cause of any of the deaths. Russia has been accused of carrying out attacks on civilians that amount to possible war crimes, particularly in towns outside the capital of Kyiv. Dozens of civilians bearing signs of extrajudicial killings were found in places like Bucha, outside the capital, after they were recaptured by Ukraine's forces in March. The recapture of Iyzum and swathes of territory in the eastern Kharkiv region has delivered a serious blow to Russia's ambitions to capture and hold the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. © Agence France-Presse

King Charles surprises huge London queue for queen's coffin

King Charles III and his heir Prince William on Saturday staged an unscheduled London walkabout to the delight of people queueing all night to see Queen Elizabeth's coffin, ahead of her grand state funeral. Cries of «God save the king» came from
Seychelles News Agency

King Charles surprises huge London queue for queen's coffin

King Charles III and his heir Prince William on Saturday staged an unscheduled London walkabout to the delight of people queueing all night to see Queen Elizabeth's coffin, ahead of her grand state funeral. Cries of «God save the king» came from the riverside crowd opposite parliament as the new monarch and his elder son thanked the well-wishers waiting patiently in line, before Charles went on to meet some of the many world leaders arriving for Monday's lavish send-off. «I'm so happy. He was so calm, and friendly and he was so gentle,» said Geraldine Potts-Ahmad, a secretary in her late 50s, as she struggled to contain her emotions after shaking hands with Charles. «He is going to make the best king. That gentleness and that tenderness, I saw the queen in that.» The queen's death on September 8 aged 96, after a record-breaking 70 years on the throne, has sparked an outpouring of emotion. Tens of thousands of people are braving waits that have stretched to more than 25 hours to view her flag-shrouded coffin. Volunteers handed out blue blankets to guard against the night-time chill. Princes William and Harry were later set to lead a vigil of Queen Elizabeth II's eight grandchildren on the four corners of the coffin, as it lies in state inside parliament's Westminster Hall. The sombre occasion was briefly disrupted late on Friday when a man burst out of the line and approached the coffin, which sits topped with the Imperial State Crown. A live television feed of the mourners briefly cut away around 10:00 pm (2100 GMT) as police detained the man, two hours after Charles and his three siblings had held their own vigil in the cavernous hall. But otherwise, the mood remained reverential on Saturday as people walked slowly past the catafalque, bowing their heads, clasping their hands in prayer, or saluting in the case of some medal-bedecked veterans. - Fainting - Some 435 people in the queue have needed medical treatment, often for head injuries after fainting, the London Ambulance Service said. But Alison Whitham, an ex-nurse from Ashby in the English Midlands, said her 14-hour wait was well worth it after paying her final respects in the hall. «It was very moving, very dignified, blissfully quiet,» the 54-year-old said. «The fact that you could just concentrate, with nobody holding phones up, was so lovely.» Police are mounting Britain's biggest-ever security operation for Monday's funeral, as hundreds of dignitaries including US President Joe Biden are set to jet in. Less than two weeks since she was appointed by the late queen, British Prime Minister Liz Truss was on Saturday beginning a packed series of meetings with world leaders including New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern and Australia's pro-republic Anthony Albanese. Ardern, Albanese and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were among leaders who paid their own respects at Westminster Hall. US President Joe Biden was expected to do so Sunday. Charles himself was on Saturday scheduled to meet the prime ministers of the Commonwealth realms -- the 14 former colonies over which he now reigns in addition to the United Kingdom. From Australia and Canada to Jamaica and Papua New Guinea, they have formally proclaimed him their new sovereign. But republican movements are gaining ground in many of the countries, and efforts to keep them all in the royal fold will likely be a feature of his reign. - 'Tide of emotion' - After visiting Wales, Charles joined the 15-minute vigil with his siblings -- Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward -- around their mother's casket on Friday night. They stood, silent and eyes lowered, while members of the public filed past. The vigil will be repeated on Saturday evening by the grandchildren, including Prince William and his estranged younger brother Harry. The duke of Sussex -- who served two tours with the British Army in Afghanistan -- has been given special permission by his father to wear military uniform despite no longer being a working royal. The move appeared to be the latest olive branch offered to Harry by Charles after the duke and his wife Meghan, now living in California, accused the royal family of racism. The personal sorrow of the queen's family has been playing out in the glare of intense international attention. But her youngest son Edward said: «We have been overwhelmed by the tide of emotion that has engulfed us and the sheer number of people who have gone out of their way to express their own love, admiration and respect.» The public have until 6:30 am (0530 GMT) on Monday to view the coffin before the queen is honoured with Britain's first state funeral in nearly six decades. The spectacular ceremony at Westminster Abbey -- expected to be watched by billions around the globe -- will see 142 sailors pulling the gun-carriage bearing her lead-lined coffin. It will be attended by more than 2,000 guests, but leaders from countries at loggerheads with the UK such as Russia, Belarus and Afghanistan have not been invited. China's vice president Wang Qishan will attend, Beijing's foreign ministry confirmed, after a diplomatic spat saw Chinese officials barred from visiting the coffin inside parliament. © Agence France-Presse

Human trafficking: Iranian nationals charged in Seychelles, remanded for 14 more days

Eleven Iranian nationals charged with human trafficking in Seychelles have been remanded for a further 14 days by the Supreme Court on Friday. The men, who are represented by their counsel, Clifford Andre, will reappear in court for their trial on September
Seychelles News Agency

Human trafficking: Iranian nationals charged in Seychelles, remanded for 14 more days

Eleven Iranian nationals charged with human trafficking in Seychelles have been remanded for a further 14 days by the Supreme Court on Friday. The men, who are represented by their counsel, Clifford Andre, will reappear in court for their trial on September 20. The case involved the biggest drug bust in Seychelles of 130.58 kilogrammes of cannabis resin. Two Seychellois brothers, Fabio and Dario Soopramanien, and their co-conspirator Gerard Bastienne in the case have been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment on four counts under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016 and Prohibition in Trafficking in Persons Act 2014. The 11 foreign nationals were intercepted on a dhow outside Seychelles' Exclusive Economic zone on November 7, 2021, during a joint military operation by the Seychelles Coast Guard in collaboration with the Indian and French navies. A Seychellois national, Andy Bistoquet, was rescued from the dhow, who had been reported missing since November 7, 2021. Bistoquet was being held captive as a drug guarantee. The Iranian men are aged between 19 and 50 and if found guilty may face punishment set at a maximum of 14 years imprisonment with a fine of up to $35,457, under the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act. Seychelles, an archipelago in the Western Indian Ocean, has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres and has stepped up efforts to combat illicit drug trafficking and illegal fishing in its waters.  

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