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Seychelles joins international pact to better manage and reduce plastic waste

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

Winner of Miss Bikini bodybuilding competition in Seychelles encourages more women to lift weights

Jade Simeon is the winner of Miss Bikini, a competition organised late last month as part of the Seychelles' first Regis Delorie Classic bodybuilding competition. The competition was a chance for athletes who train at the Animal Kingdom Gym to show off thei
Seychelles News Agency

Winner of Miss Bikini bodybuilding competition in Seychelles encourages more women to lift weights

Jade Simeon is the winner of Miss Bikini, a competition organised late last month as part of the Seychelles' first Regis Delorie Classic bodybuilding competition. The competition was a chance for athletes who train at the Animal Kingdom Gym to show off their ability. This was Simeon's third competition. She participated in her first local competition in 2016 and two weeks later competed on a regional level in the Eric Favre bodybuilding competition. Simeon hopes to inspire other women to venture into the sport despite its reputation of being just for men.  SNA met with the 24-year-old sales and administration supervisor to learn more about her experience in the competition and as a female bodybuilder.   SNA: What is it like to own the Regis Delorie classic bodybuilding ‘Miss Bikini’ title? JS: It is a great achievement for me as I have worked really hard and have really pushed my limits. I wear the title with grace and honour but I realise that behind the title is great discipline, hard work, mental and emotional focus and support from loved ones and the Animal Kingdom team. As a woman, I hope to inspire other women to be the best versions of themselves both internally, as working out definitely has positive effects on one’s health, mental health and happiness, as well as physically. It is equally important for people to understand that it is okay for their bodies to progress differently than others, as long as they are comfortable with their progress. Simeon won the  Miss Bikini in the first Regis Delorie Classic bodybuilding competition. (Jade Simeon/Instagram) Photo License: CC-BY   SNA: How long have you been training for the Regis Delorie classic bodybuilding competition? JS: After the competition in 2016, there was sadly no competition held for a good two years. Despite that, I kept on training as it had already become a lifestyle. In 2019, Mr Regis Delorie held his first-ever competition and I decided to take part. We had at least 12 weeks to get in shape. I was offseason and was not really eating clean so I really had to work extra hard especially when it came to adjusting my diet in order to lose weight for the competition.   SNA: Leading up to the competition what was your exercise and diet schedule like? JS: I trained every day except for Saturdays. My workout schedule consisted of lightweight and higher reps and I increased my cardio to a minimum of 30 minutes to one hour. As for dieting we had to cut out sugar, dairy, oil, sauce and processed foods. The hardest part was the last week before the competition where we had to completely remove salt from our diet in order to lose water weight or water retention.  For dieting, Simeon had to cut out sugar, dairy, oil, sauce and processed foods. (Jade Simeon) Photo License: CC-BY   SNA: When and how did you get into bodybuilding? How did you become a bikini model? JS: I started working out during my last year of nursing school in 2015. At that time, I was more or less clueless about everything to do with bodybuilding. I knew I wanted abs and a toned physique but it was not something that I was completely devoted to. I went to school and then would work out at least three to four times a week. I established a routine and before I knew it, I started to see results. In 2016 my friends at the Animal Kingdom gym convinced me to take part in the first-ever Miss Bikini competition held in Seychelles. I was reluctant at first as I never saw myself taking part in a bodybuilding competition but with much convincing, I signed up for it and under the guidance of Mr Regis Delorie I started to train and diet for the competition. It was then that I began to understand the fitness life and fell in love with it.   SNA: What’s your favourite muscle group to train? JS: I enjoy training all body parts as they are equally important. But my favourites are legs, abs and glutes.   SNA: What supplements do you take? JS: I do not take supplements every day and sometimes I will take a break especially if I have been using them for a while. BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are my go-to supplements as they trigger muscle protein synthesis and prevent the breakdown of muscles. I love having my BCAA or Amino acid on hand intra and post-workout to increase energy productivity and to boost my metabolism. I drink whey protein post-workout to promote muscle growth and also as a meal if I’m hungry. I also take multivitamins and fish oil.   SNA: Why do you think not many women practice bodybuilding? JS: I feel that perhaps many have the wrong perspective of the sport. Perhaps they think that they will end up looking like men, as I have had people judge me before for looking too muscular. On the other hand, from personal experience, some women are unable to commit to a regular schedule due to personal reasons. For example, working mums, career-driven women who work long hours. Lack of affordable childcare coupled with lack of finances to be able to afford a babysitter and gym membership at the same time. There may be various reasons that are not really intrinsic preventing girls or women from joining the gym world. Lastly, I believe that a lot of girls are interested but the Miss Bikini category has only been introduced recently. I am sure that more girls will join soon enough. Simeon said women think they will end up looking like men if they practice bodybuilding. (Jade Simeon/Instagram) Photo License: CC-BY   SNA: How would you encourage more women to join the sport? JS: I would love to see more girls participate in the future. My advice is not to expect results right away, it's going to take time and consistency allow yourself to be a beginner as no one is born looking fit. A little workout a day adds up to the process. Be patient and keep going. Enjoy the experience and the journey and it is always handy to find a good support group!   SNA: What are people’s reactions when you tell them you’re a bikini model? JS: Most people are supportive and happy for me. I am forever grateful to those people.   SNA: What are your plans for the future? JS: I would love to represent Seychelles and compete internationally and hopefully one day earn my pro card. But more importantly, I would also love to get in a position where I can inspire, help and educate more people on healthy choices and keeping a good body image. 

Global meet to mull trade rules to protect endangered species

Specialists will meet in Geneva from Saturday to try to tighten rules on trade in elephant ivory, rhino horns and other endangered animal and plant species amid growing alarm over accelerating extinctions. Thousands of conservationists and policymakers from
Seychelles News Agency

Global meet to mull trade rules to protect endangered species

Specialists will meet in Geneva from Saturday to try to tighten rules on trade in elephant ivory, rhino horns and other endangered animal and plant species amid growing alarm over accelerating extinctions. Thousands of conservationists and policymakers from more than 180 countries will meet for 12 days to evaluate changes to regulations and species protection listings under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The treaty, created more than four decades ago, regulates trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals and contains mechanisms to help crack down on illegal trade and sanction countries that break the rules. CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero said the conference would «focus on strengthening existing rules and standards while extending the benefits of the CITES regime to additional plants and animals threatened by human activity.» The meeting follows warnings about rapid species decline, with a UN report in May indicating that one million species are being pushed to the brink of extinction. - Poaching crisis - The devastation caused to many species by poaching and booming illegal wildlife trade will be in the spotlight during the meeting, as will new challenges arising as the illicit commerce increasingly moves online. As is often the case, the plight of African elephants is expected to dominate the discussions. Global trade in elephant ivory has largely been outlawed since 1989 after their numbers plunged from millions in the mid-20th century. The African Elephant Database estimates that by 2015, fewer than 415,000 of the giant mammal remained on the continent. The CITES meeting, which is held every three years, will consider three competing elephant proposals. Two proposals from countries in southern Africa, where elephant populations have more protection and are healthier, urge the resumption of ivory stockpile sales. They argue this could satisfy the demand, especially from Asia, that is fuelling illegal poaching and would provide funds for conservation programmes. Animal protection activists counter that previous experiments with stockpile sales actually boosted demand for tusks, and more poaching, since it is hard to distinguish between legal and illegal ivory. «We should not be repeating this again when the poaching crisis is still so severe,» Matthew Collis, policy chief at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), told AFP. Several countries in western, eastern and central Africa meanwhile want all elephant populations, including healthier southern ones, to be placed in the most-protected category, effectively barring all ivory sales. None of the proposals are expected to be voted through however. - Mammoth ivory - Collis said attention should focus on legal and illegal ivory markets that are driving demand, to shut down «avenues for criminals to launder their ivory.» One of 56 proposals on the meeting's agenda aims to prevent traffickers from passing off illegal elephant ivory as coming from mammoths, by listing the long-extinct mammals as a threatened species and thus subject to regulated trade. CITES scientific chief Tom De Meulenaer said the idea raises interesting philosophical questions about the boundaries of the treaty, but noted that the practice did not seem to be taking place on a large scale. - Rhino horn trade? - Southern white rhinos that have been heavily poached in recent years will also figure on the agenda, with Swaziland seeking to sell its existing rhino horn stock. Collis termed such an idea «disastrous», and «deeply flawed» as there is currently no legal market for rhino horn. Giraffes are on the agenda for the first time, with a number of African countries calling for a so-called Appendix II listing that would require tracking and regulation of trade in giraffe parts. The African giraffe population is considered threatened after shrinking by an estimated 40 percent over the past three decades. But the CITES secretariat voiced scepticism that trade was a major factor behind the decline, which has largely been linked to habitat loss. Collis questioned this, pointing to US data indicating that in the decade prior to 2015, around 40,000 giraffe parts, mainly bones, had been traded. Finally, three proposals for Appendix II listings of 18 heavily fished shark and ray species have been sponsored by dozens of countries, indicating strong support. © Agence France-Presse

Museum in Germany permanently displaying 6 pieces by Seychellois artist

Renowned Seychellois artist Nigel Henri now has six permanent art pieces being exhibited in the Museum Zündorfer Wehrturm in Cologne, Germany.  The pieces were part of his exhibition held there from June 16 to July 14 this year. “I am proud of this
Seychelles News Agency

Museum in Germany permanently displaying 6 pieces by Seychellois artist

Renowned Seychellois artist Nigel Henri now has six permanent art pieces being exhibited in the Museum Zündorfer Wehrturm in Cologne, Germany.  The pieces were part of his exhibition held there from June 16 to July 14 this year. “I am proud of this. My artwork will be permanently displayed at this museum where many will visit, and my hope is that this will inspire younger artists in Seychelles,” said Henri. He told SNA that despite Seychelles being a small island nation, such an achievement goes to show that the country has already made it into the international art circle. During the four-week-long exhibition, visitors got to see 43 paintings by Henri. Inspired from an early age by his environment and experiences, Henri’s eye for colour and form captures and conveys the richness of specific aspects of Creole culture and island life. Henri was informed five years ago by the museum that he had been chosen to exhibit there and that the theme of his work would be ‘Underwater’. This came after his artwork had been studied closely and it was deciding that this is the area in which he excels. Visitors got to see 43 paintings by Henri conveying specific aspects of island life and Creole culture. (Nigel Henri) Photo License: All Rights Reserved The artist chose to show an array of styles which show his development as an artist during the over 40 years he has been painting. Walking through the exhibition, visitors had the chance to see the vibrant colours of the market place in Victoria, the capital, and the diversity of the Seychellois people. He expressed that exhibiting in such a museum feels like taking part in the Olympics for an artist. “Being invited to a museum is not an everyday thing. It means that you have a certain reputation and it means that there is a certain level that you have reached to be able to exhibit with such a museum,” said Henri. He feels that having exhibited in over 45 international solo and collective exhibition and countless local ones paved his way to where he is today. Internationally, his work has been displayed in many African, Asian and European countries and locally, his painting hangs in the arrival lounge of the airport, in banks and in hotels. Speaking about the exhibition at the Zündorfer Wehrturm museum Henri said that such exposure was not just for him but for Seychelles as a whole. “It is not about Nigel Henri, it is about my country. It will help with the marketing of Seychelles as a tourist destination, and as we know, the German market is very good here.” He wishes to see other artists follow in his footstep, getting recognition on the international platform and making the archipelago proud. 

Seychelles’ plan for clean-beach ‘White Flag’ designation interrupted by fraud allegations

The Seychelles government has cancelled plans to have 40 more of its beaches recognised with the White Flag certification for being clean and plastic-free. The announcement was made on Wednesday by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate change afte
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ plan for clean-beach ‘White Flag’ designation interrupted by fraud allegations

The Seychelles government has cancelled plans to have 40 more of its beaches recognised with the White Flag certification for being clean and plastic-free. The announcement was made on Wednesday by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate change after it learned of allegations against the president of the organisation that hands out the designation.  The organisation is the Ocean Alliance Conservation Member; its president is  Kristijan Curavic. According to international press reports, Guravic faces fraud allegations and other legal issues in Malta and his native country of Croatia. On Tuesday, Curavic, met with President Danny Faure at State House and later told reporters that “discussions with the president is to certify 40 to 80 beaches in Seychelles. That is the biggest number of beaches committed by any country.”   On Wednesday the ministry said it “has decided to put on hold the White Flag project following certain allegations which surfaced on an independent online news platform.” “The Ministry has been made aware of the articles and the allegations published and has seen it fit to seek further clarifications from the organisation.” In September last year, the island nation’s first White Flag was put on Beau Vallon beach – a popular beach with visitors. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY According to the press release, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Wallace Cosgrow, Minister for Tourism, Didier Dogley and the Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Maurice Lousteau Lalanne met with Curavic on Wednesday afternoon to discuss these allegations. The ministry noted that at this point, the government through the Ministry has only been in consultation with the organisation, for certification of more beaches. “There has been no financial implications or commitments and pointed out that discussions on the White Flag Project will only resume after satisfactory clarifications have been received from the organization,” the communique added. At the time of writing, SNA has been unable to reach Curavic for a comment. Through online research, SNA found several links of different reports regarding the organisation - Ocean Alliance Conservation Member (OACM) and the white flag project. The most recent article was published only three days ago. Several articles on The Shift - a digital newspaper dedicated to investigative journalism based in Malta– reported the allegations against OACM and Curavic. The Croatian is allegedly wanted in his country and has fraud and other legal issues in Malta – where the white flags have been put on seven beaches.  The articles also reported that Curavic is also using logos of supposed partners when in reality there is no partnership. One such is the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. The Shift News also reported that former actress and human rights advocate Bianca Jagger - the founder of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and a Council of Europe goodwill ambassador — denied claims that she was a Board member of an affiliated organisation put forward by White Flag International. In September last year, the island nation’s first White Flag was put on Beau Vallon beach – a popular beach with visitors - in the north of the main island of Mahe, one of 115 islands of the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.  The White Flag indicates that the zone is among the world’s first Certified Safe Marine Areas. The certification recognises the beach as having been physically cleaned from plastic and other marine debris. 

Golden swimmer Felicity Passon to carry Seychelles’ flag at African Games in Morocco

Swimmer Felicity Passon will be the flag bearer for Seychelles at the opening ceremony of the 12th African Games in Morocco from August 19 to 31. Vice President Vincent Meriton on Wednesday handed the Seychelles’ flag to Passon, who won seven gold med
Seychelles News Agency

Golden swimmer Felicity Passon to carry Seychelles’ flag at African Games in Morocco

Swimmer Felicity Passon will be the flag bearer for Seychelles at the opening ceremony of the 12th African Games in Morocco from August 19 to 31. Vice President Vincent Meriton on Wednesday handed the Seychelles’ flag to Passon, who won seven gold medals in the Indian Ocean Games in Mauritius. Team Seychelles which is made up of 35 athletes and 13 coaches will compete in seven events -- athletics, badminton, boxing, canoeing, swimming, volleyball and weightlifting. The Team got its official send-off on Wednesday by the Designated Minister, Macsuzy Mondon, who also holds the portfolio for sports. In her address, Mondon said, “The government has invested a sum of SCR 4.5 million ($330,000) for the Seychelles’ participation in the Games. I have the pleasure to announce rewards for medals for this competition. A gold medal will receive 60,000 ($4,385), silver medal 30,000 ($2,193) and bronze 15,000 ($1,096). This again is an increase on what was given in 2015.” She wished all athletes success saying “you can do it – believe and succeed.” Team Seychelles for the 12 edition of the African Games in Morocco. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY The flag bearer of Team Seychelles, Passon, who had a strong performance in the Indian Ocean Island Games, said, “I am going to carry on this momentum for the African Games. Hopefully, all goes well and I will be able to perform well.” The Africa Games, previously called All Africa Games, is a continental multi-sport event held every four years, organised by the African Union with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa and the Association of African Sports Confederations. All of the competing nations are from the African continent. The 12th edition of the games which will coincide with the commemoration of the Youth Day will serve as a qualifying step for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. At the last Games in Congo Brazzaville, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, won 12 medals – three gold, four silver and five bronze.  The Seychellois gold medalists were weightlifter Ruby Malvina, high jumper Lissa Labiche and the badminton women's doubles of Juliette Ah-Wan and Alisen Camille. Over 7,000 African athletes are expected to participate in the competition taking place in Morocco for the first time. In the last games in Congo, Brazzaville in 2015, Egypt topped the medal table with 217 medals among which were 85 gold.

UN Security Council to discuss Kashmir behind closed doors: diplomats

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a rare meeting on Kashmir after India stripped the region of its autonomy, sparking a row with Pakistan, diplomats told AFP Thursday. The meeting will take place behind closed doors on Friday morning,
Seychelles News Agency

UN Security Council to discuss Kashmir behind closed doors: diplomats

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a rare meeting on Kashmir after India stripped the region of its autonomy, sparking a row with Pakistan, diplomats told AFP Thursday. The meeting will take place behind closed doors on Friday morning, the diplomats said. Poland, which currently holds the council's rotating presidency, has listed the matter for discussion at 10:00 am (1400 GMT), the diplomats added. It is extremely rare for the Security Council to discuss Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947. The last time there was a full Security Council meeting on the Himalayan region was in 1965. Friday's discussion is not considered a full security meeting but rather referred to as closed door consultations, which are becoming increasingly more common, diplomats said. Parts of Kashmir that India controls have been under lockdown since August 4, with freedom of movement restricted and phones and the internet cut. A day later, New Delhi scrapped Article 370 in the Indian constitution that had granted Kashmir special autonomy, splitting the state of Jammu and Kashmir in two and downgrading their status to union territories. In a speech marking Indian Independence Day Thursday Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the decision was one of several «path-breaking» moves by his newly re-elected administration. He said «fresh thinking» was needed after seven decades of failure to ensure harmony in the picturesque but tragic former kingdom, where tens of thousands have died in the past 30 years. Pakistan observed «Black Day» on Thursday to coincide with India's independence day celebrations. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has warned of possible «ethnic cleansing» in Kashmir, replaced his Twitter profile photo with a black circle. Kashmir has been the spark for two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals, most recently in February when they conducted tit-for-tat air strikes. © Agence France-Presse

President of Seychelles to attend southern Africa heads of state meeting in Tanzania

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, will attend the 39th summit of Heads of State of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from August 17 to 18. Faure will leave Seychelles on Friday for the summit which is takin
Seychelles News Agency

President of Seychelles to attend southern Africa heads of state meeting in Tanzania

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, will attend the 39th summit of Heads of State of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from August 17 to 18. Faure will leave Seychelles on Friday for the summit which is taking place under the theme ‘A Conducive Business Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development.’ The main objectives of SADC are to achieve economic development, peace and security, and growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. Tanzania which is hosting the summit assumed chairmanship of the SADC Council of Ministers on Tuesday taking over from Namibia. The Council of Ministers meeting which preceded the summit of Heads of State focussed on key issues in the region, such as the state of SADC's finances, as well as reports from the various committees. The head of state of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, will return on August 19.

Medal-winning athletes receive monetary prizes after Indian Ocean Island Games

Seychellois athletes who won medals at the 10th edition of the Indian Ocean Island Games in Mauritius received their monetary rewards on Wednesday. The financial rewards for medal winners is a government incentive to encourage and motivate athletes at inter
Seychelles News Agency

Medal-winning athletes receive monetary prizes after Indian Ocean Island Games

Seychellois athletes who won medals at the 10th edition of the Indian Ocean Island Games in Mauritius received their monetary rewards on Wednesday. The financial rewards for medal winners is a government incentive to encourage and motivate athletes at international competitions. In her sending off address before the games, the Designated Minister who also holds the sports portfolio, had announced that for the Indian Ocean Island Games 2019, the government was offering SCR 40,000 ($2,937) for a gold medal, SCR 25,000 ($1,836) for a silver medal and SCR 12,000 ($876) for a bronze medal. Seychelles won 111 medals, among which were 28 gold, 32 silver and 51 bronze. Over SCR 2.5 million ($185,600) was distributed among the athletes who brought home medals in a ceremony at the International Conference Centre in the capital Victoria. Swimmer Felicity Passon pocketed the highest amount -- SCR 367,000 ($26,900) --  for her seven gold medals, three silver and one bronze. “I feel really happy. I feel honoured and I’m really excited by everything that’s happening. I just want to thank everyone for all the support. I really couldn’t have done it without them,” Passon told reporters after the ceremony. Top financial rewards also went to Steven Baccus, Clementina Agricole and Romantha Larue who all won three gold medals in weightlifting. The weightlifters brought home 9 gold medals. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY Baccus has had a 100 percent success in six consecutive Indian Ocean Games, winning 18 gold medals in total.  Asked how he felt after receiving the financial rewards, Baccus said, “I see it as a good thing that the government has done because after working hard you need to be rewarded. Like in everything that you do where you make many sacrifices there comes the day that you have to be rewarded.” In her address at the ceremony, Minister Mondon congratulated all athletes whom she said made maximum efforts to win medals, especially gold. “Believe and succeed was the motto of team Seychelles for the competition. Seychellois athletes went with positive thinking to believe that yes, they can succeed in bringing medals and that is exactly what many of them did in Mauritius from the 19 to 28 July,” she said. She added that: “Today I am honouring the commitment I made to you on behalf of the government to reward those who performed better according to the medals you won.” The chief executive of the National Sports Council, Jean Larue, also congratulated the athletes not only for their performances but the exemplary behaviours they had at the Games. Volleyball was the only team sport to win gold for the third consecutive games. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY “Today I am happy because 60 percent of what we achieved was from the young athletes. They went and they showed us that they are able to do perform. Of course, they had the more experienced next to them who helped them grow during the 10 days,” said Larue. He added that the athletes had said they were going to bring medals and they did and “the work they have done for a long time brought success and for that, they and their parents should be proud.” Athletes who won gold also received a voucher to the value of SCR 10,000 ($730) from the All Weather Builders company.    The biggest sponsor of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, for Games, was the Mauritius Commercial Bank. The next competition for Team Seychelles is the All Africa Games which will start August 19 in Morocco.

India's Modi hails 'path-breaking' Kashmir move

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed on Thursday his «path-breaking» move to strip the restive region of Kashmir of its autonomy, in a tub-thumping speech marking Indian Independence Day. Parts of Kashmir that India controls -- it is split with ar
Seychelles News Agency

India's Modi hails 'path-breaking' Kashmir move

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed on Thursday his «path-breaking» move to strip the restive region of Kashmir of its autonomy, in a tub-thumping speech marking Indian Independence Day. Parts of Kashmir that India controls -- it is split with arch-rival Pakistan -- have been under lockdown since August 4, with freedom of movement restricted and phones and the internet cut. A day later New Delhi scrapped Article 370 in the Indian constitution that had granted Kashmir special status, splitting the state of Jammu and Kashmir in two and downgrading them to union territories. Modi, in a speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi, said Thursday that the decision was one of several «path-breaking» moves by his newly re-elected administration. He said «fresh thinking» was needed after seven decades of failure to ensure harmony in the region. «We do not believe in creating problems or prolonging them. In less than 70 days of the new government, Article 370 has become history. And in both houses of parliament, two-thirds of the members supported this step,» said Modi, 68. «Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh will become a big inspiration for India's growth journey, comfort, progress and peace,» he said. Ladakh is the newly carved-out union territory. «The old arrangement in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh encouraged corruption and nepotism, as well as injustice when it came to rights of women, children, (low-caste) Dalits, tribal communities,» he said. «Their dreams get new wings,» he said. - Extra troops - Pakistan has launched a diplomatic offensive aimed at reversing the order and formally asked the United Nations Security Council late Tuesday to hold an emergency session to address India's «illegal actions». Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has compared Modi's government to Nazi Germany, said Wednesday that time had come to teach Delhi a lesson and promised to «fight until the end» against any Indian aggression. «The Pakistani army has solid information that they (India) are planning to do something in Pakistani Kashmir, and they are ready and will give a solid response,» Khan said in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947, and has been the spark for two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals. Fearing protests and unrest over India's latest move, tens of thousands of extra Indian troops have been deployed to Kashmir -- joining 500,000 already there -- turning parts of the main city of Srinagar into a fortress of roadblocks and barbed wire. University professors, business leaders and activists are among more than 500 people taken into custody in the region, some of them spirited away to other locations around India, according to press reports. Restrictions have been lifted in the Jammu region, where Hindus are in a majority, according to the government, but remain in place in the Kashmir Valley, the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule over decades. «Restrictions imposed in Jammu have been completely removed and schools and other establishments there are functioning,» local police official Munir Khan told Indian media. «Restrictions will continue in some places of Kashmir for some time,» he said. The lockdown has not completely prevented anger bursting out into the open, however. According to residents around 8,000 people protested after Friday prayers, with security forces firing tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to break up the rally. Only on Tuesday did the Indian government confirm that clashes, blaming them on stone-throwing «miscreants» and saying its forces reacted with «restraint». Footage filmed by AFP on Monday showed hundreds of people protesting in the Soura area of Srinagar, shouting slogans such as «We want freedom» and «India go back» as helicopters buzzed overhead. Modi's 90-minute speech ended with the prime minister leading chants of «Jai Hind» («Long live India») with schoolchildren dressed in the saffron, white and green of the Indian flag, before a rendition of the national anthem. © Agence France-Presse

Ecological disaster on Greek island as fire burns on

Firefighters on the Greek island of Evia were still battling Wednesday to contain a fire that has caused massive damage to a pristine mountain wildlife habitat after threatening four communities. «It's a huge ecological disaster in a unique, untouched
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Ecological disaster on Greek island as fire burns on

Firefighters on the Greek island of Evia were still battling Wednesday to contain a fire that has caused massive damage to a pristine mountain wildlife habitat after threatening four communities. «It's a huge ecological disaster in a unique, untouched pine forest,» said acting regional governor Costas Bakoyannis. The fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday on Greece's second-largest island prompted the evacuation of the villages of Kontodespoti, Makrymalli, Stavros and Platana, and threatened the town of Psachna during the night, officials said. «From Psachna to Kontodespoti and Makrymalli everything has been burned down. It's fortunate that we do not have human victims,» Thanassis Karakatzas, a deputy regional civil protection officer, told state agency ANA. Over 200 firefighters were in action backed by 75 fire trucks, nine water-bombing helicopters and seven planes along a 12-kilometre (seven-mile) front, managing to avert damage to inhabited areas. - Power outages and water cuts - «We succeeded in protecting human lives and saving properties,» said citizen's protection minister Michalis Chrisohoidis. «We should be able to tackle the fire by the end of the day,» Yiannis Razos, a local official, told Athens municipal radio. The area faced power outages and water cuts on Wednesday, residents said. An Italian water bomber was expected to join the fray later in the day after Greece requested EU assistance. A second Italian plane and two more from Spain were due to arrive by the evening. EU Humanitarian Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who held talks with senior officials in Athens, called the mobilisation of Greek forces «exemplary». «I think we will be able to limit the ecological losses...European solidarity is tangible,» Stylianides told reporters. However, the fire has caused major damage to the 550-hectare wildlife habitat of Agrilitsa. No injuries or respiratory problems that required hospitalisation wre reported at the height of the emergency on Tuesday, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said in a tweet. But three ambulances were stationed close to the area as a precaution. Greece has been hit by a spate of wildfires since the weekend, fanned by gale-force winds and temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who cancelled his summer vacation and returned to Athens on Tuesday, acknowledged that the fire crews had had a gruelling battle, with the fire department handling about 50 blazes daily. «I am aware that our firefighters, particularly over the last five days, have given their all, they are without sleep and often without food,» Mitsotakis said. Other fires on Tuesday were contained on the island of Thassos, the central region of Viotia, and in the Peloponnese region. On Monday, a major forest fire threatening homes in Peania, an eastern suburb of Athens, was brought under control. At least two houses were burned but there were no reports of injuries. On Sunday, a fire on the small island of Elafonissos, in the Peloponnese, was brought under control after a two-day battle. Two more fires were doused on Saturday in Marathon, close to Mati, the coastal resort where 102 people died last year in Greece's worst fire disaster. © Agence France-Presse

Supermarket in Seychelles fined $ 7,000 for selling goods past date of expiration

An international supermarket chain in Seychelles has been fined SCR 100,000 ($7,000) by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) for failing to comply with consumer protection regulations.  SPAR Eden Island supermarket was found to have sold goods past their expir
Seychelles News Agency

Supermarket in Seychelles fined $ 7,000 for selling goods past date of expiration

An international supermarket chain in Seychelles has been fined SCR 100,000 ($7,000) by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) for failing to comply with consumer protection regulations.  SPAR Eden Island supermarket was found to have sold goods past their expiry dates, without prices, without an expiry date, and without labels in plain language. The FTC Board of Commissioners has given the supermarket 60 days to make the payment. SNA contacted SPAR supermarket but store officials declined to comment. The supermarket located at Eden Island, a reclaimed land along the eastern coast of the main island of Mahe, is the first SPAR retail shop to open in Seychelles in 2015.  SPAR is an international group of independently owned and operated retailers and wholesalers who work together in partnership under the SPAR international brand from the Netherlands. The chief executive of FTC, Francis Lebon, told SNA on Wednesday that the commission is working very hard to ensure that consumers get a fair deal. “We are constantly doing our routine checks in shops and other businesses to ensure that they are selling products that are good and meet the general safety requirements,” said Lebon. Fines are currently being imposed on companies or individuals found to be in breach of the Consumer Protection Act 2010 of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. Last year, 97 complaints were related to consumer goods. The Fair Trading Commission is an independent government body established under the Fair Trading Commission Act, 2009. The Commission’s aim is to safeguard the interests of consumers, promote competition and fair trade in Seychelles to benefit consumers, businesses, and the economy. The Commission is empowered to carry out investigations in relation to the conduct of business to determine if any enterprise is engaging in practices that in breach of the Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

Want to visit the outer islands? Prices for Seychellois citizens just became more affordable

More Seychellois will be able to afford visiting some outer islands of Seychelles when the Islands Development Company (IDC) lowers transportation and accommodation prices in September. IDC manages Silhouette and 13 outer islands of the 115-island archipelag
Seychelles News Agency

Want to visit the outer islands? Prices for Seychellois citizens just became more affordable

More Seychellois will be able to afford visiting some outer islands of Seychelles when the Islands Development Company (IDC) lowers transportation and accommodation prices in September. IDC manages Silhouette and 13 outer islands of the 115-island archipelago of the western Indian Ocean, including Desroches, Astove, Remire, Alphonse and Platte. “To encourage more Seychellois to visit the outer islands therefore, the Board of Directors has taken the decision to lower the fares for return flights to the islands which are most distant from Mahe. The fares will now be the same as for Desroches, which is relatively close,” said Michael Payet the company’s public relations and communications manager. Between September 2019 and May 2020, coinciding with the peak tourist season during which there are regular flights to the islands, return fares will be $215 per night plus $36 for accommodation and meals. Flights fares to the outer islands currently vary between $215 to $716 and accommodations and food per person per day is $54. IDC has accommodation on six outer islands – Desroches, Farquhar, Astove, Alphonse, Remire and Platte. On Farquhar, cyclone-proof guesthouses facilities have been built and are being used by visitors.  (www.idc.sc) Photo License: All Rights Reserved The bedrooms in the IDC guesthouses at the disposal of Seychellois only are air-conditioned, apart from the ones on Silhouette. Meals are offered on a full board basis, consisting of breakfast, lunch and dinner and some islands offer complimentary bicycles and canoes. Depending on the island, between two to 12 persons can be accommodated at a time. Due to infrequent flights to Remire and Platte, the new schemes will not apply to those two islands. This will be the case until planned projects on the two islands are completed. Over the past five years, IDC has noticed a slow increase in the number of local visitors to the islands. Silhouette is the most visited by Seychellois. Between March 2018 and March 2019, 714 locals stayed on the island. “Over the same period, 147 visitors stayed in the guesthouses on the outer islands and spent a total of 123 room nights there,” said Savy. IDC doesn't think more visitors will affect wildlife unduly or increase pollution significantly if visitors abide by the rules. "We are very conscious of the need to preserve the fragile environment in those special places,” said Savy. The company’s board is also considering two further schemes.  These will be a scheme for residents of the Homes for the Elderly to visit Silhouette. Another will be directed at primary and secondary school students who have excelled in environmental activities and projects. The board members and senior management of the company sought the opinion of the government, National Assembly and public during the preparation of IDC’s five-year Development plan for 2018 to 2023. Improving accessibility to the islands was a point made during the consultation, after which this point was included in the plan as one of IDC’s strategic objectives.

C.Africa militias abuse peace deal to tighten grip, say experts

After years of bloodshed in the poor and largely lawless Central African Republic, renewed hopes of peace are being eroded by the country's militia groups, experts say. The military situation across the landlocked country has been considered stable since th
Seychelles News Agency

C.Africa militias abuse peace deal to tighten grip, say experts

After years of bloodshed in the poor and largely lawless Central African Republic, renewed hopes of peace are being eroded by the country's militia groups, experts say. The military situation across the landlocked country has been considered stable since the deal -- the 13th in a decade -- was signed in February between the government and 14 armed groups But assaults on civilians and fighting among the militias themselves continue unabated in the provinces, and some armed groups are even misusing terms of the pact to tighten their grip. A new report to the UN says impediments to peace range from attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers to «doublespeak» from rebel forces, banditry and arms trafficking. «There is little evidence to demonstrate that there has been a significant change in the behaviour of combatants or that leaders have made efforts to identify and discipline those responsible,» according to the report, authored by experts. The panel was founded to advise the UN on enforcing sanctions on the CAR, including travel bans on targeted individuals, the freezing of assets and an arms embargo. The CAR has been struggling to recover from the bloodletting that broke out when former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown in 2013 by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels. Former colonial ruler France intervened militarily under a UN mandate, pushing the Seleka from power, and a UN peacekeeping mission was set up to help stability. But the country is still engulfed in regular clashes and armed groups control about 80 percent of the country. Murders, rapes, hold-ups, kidnapping and arbitrary detention account for anything between 10 and 70 violations of the CAR peace agreement recorded each week by MINUSCA, the 15,000-strong UN stabilisation force in the country. - Disarmament task - The only force capable of rapid deployment across the country to tackle violence, MINUSCA favours dialogue over military action, critics say, especially since the latest peace accord was signed. UN troops intervened in April to clear the supply corridor from the capital Bangui to neighbouring Cameroon, when it was temporarily blocked by militias loyal to Abdoulaye Miskine. But no military action was taken against militia of the force known as «3R» (Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation and Force) who massacred 46 civilians in the northern town of Paoua on May 22. The 3R arms trafficking lines to obtain weapons from Chad are detailed in the report. 3R leader Souleyman Bi Sidi, alias «Abbas Sidiki», is one of several leaders named by the experts for attempting to use provisions of the peace pact, «in particular the establishment of joint security units, as a way to legitimise their control over parts of the country.» The Paoua massacre will not be forgotten, Mankeur Ndiaye, the UN special representative in the country has pledged, adding that the UN is putting pressure on those responsible. Although they faced possible prosecution, several leaders of armed groups were integrated into the new «inclusive» government formed on March 3, as part of the peace agreement signed in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Yet, according to the report issued last month, some of these leaders are reluctant to respect the provisions of the agreement. One of the biggest blanks is their participation in a «disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation» programme -- a keystone initiative launched last December aimed at dialling down tension and returning militiamen to civilian life. - Troubled centre - More than 450 militiamen belonging to smaller groups have been disarmed in the west, an area where government authorities are slowly regaining control. But disarmament will be more complex in the central regions. These are occupied by the two most powerful armed groups: the former Seleka militia the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (FPRC) led by Abdoulaye Hissene and Nourredine Adam, and the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) commanded by Ali Darassa. «The FPRC made multiple declarations of peace, but does not intend to disarm its men,» one FPRC source said. MINUSCA also condemns armed groups in FPRC- and UPC-controlled areas for failing to lift illicit checkpoints where merchants are forced to pay tolls. «They remove one, then install another one,» said Balla Keita, commander of the UN force. As well as illegal tolls, armed groups earn revenue from exploitation of gold and diamond deposits in areas they control. According to the UN report, the FPRC and the UPC also continue to source war material from the borders of  © Agence France-Presse

Wonderful creatures’ and a first dive shaped outgoing British diplomat’s work in Seychelles

Maritime security, the Blue Economy and democracy development have been the highlights of the work of the outgoing British High Commissioner throughout her four-year tenure in Seychelles. Caron Rӧhsler, the outgoing High Commissioner, paid a farewell cal
Seychelles News Agency

Wonderful creatures’ and a first dive shaped outgoing British diplomat’s work in Seychelles

Maritime security, the Blue Economy and democracy development have been the highlights of the work of the outgoing British High Commissioner throughout her four-year tenure in Seychelles. Caron Rӧhsler, the outgoing High Commissioner, paid a farewell call to President Danny Faure on Tuesday at State House. “It was a very warm meeting. The president and I reviewed the last four years of my time here working on a range of issues of interest for the UK and Seychelles,” Rӧhsler told reporters. She said that it was “quite remarkable to look back on the number of things we have been doing and I would say it has been in three key areas.” Rӧhsler and Faure touched on democratic development including transparency, accountability, good governance and setting up institutions for which Seychelles gained the support of the Commonwealth. “All countries have the responsibility to maintain and build democracy. Little development will take place if we don’t emphasise the importance of democracy,” she said.   Another area of cooperation discussed was regional maritime security.   “There is more work to be done in maritime security. We have a further announcement that I am sure my successor would be able to make in the near future about UK strengthening support in maritime security,” said Rӧhsler.  The meeting also touched on several subjects including the Blue Economy and democratic development. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY The Blue Economy of which Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the Western Indian, is seen as champion, was also touched on. “There are foundations to build on the Blue Economy.  It is a subject that needs to be understood in Seychelles by the people so that they can really participate and benefit,” said Rӧhsler. She added that “I have been able to work with the grain of initiatives and ideas that were being championed in Seychelles and that is always a good thing for a diplomat to be able to do.”  Rӧhsler said that working in Seychelles “has been a wonderful experience to live in Seychelles. It is a very beautiful set of islands. I have learned to dive here. I have seen so many wonderful creatures and plant life living under the ocean. I suppose that was a revelation to me.” The outgoing British High Commissioner will be taking up another post in the Maldives, another country located in the Indian Ocean. “I really hope that I would be able to build the experience and understanding of small island states or large oceanic state. I will also keep on working with Seychelles and Maldives on the issue of climate change and preparation for the next climate change negotiations so that we can preserve our islands and the ocean,” Rӧhsler said.

40 more beaches in Seychelles being considered for White Flag certification, a symbol of clean seas

Forty more beaches in Seychelles are being considered for the White Flag certification, meaning that these areas will be recognised internationally as having clean seas. The President of the Ocean Alliance Conservation Member (OACM), Kristijan Curavic, mad
Seychelles News Agency

40 more beaches in Seychelles being considered for White Flag certification, a symbol of clean seas

Forty more beaches in Seychelles are being considered for the White Flag certification, meaning that these areas will be recognised internationally as having clean seas. The President of the Ocean Alliance Conservation Member (OACM), Kristijan Curavic, made the announcement on Tuesday after meeting with President Danny Faure at State House. Curavic said that “discussions with the president is to certify 40 to 80 beaches in Seychelles. That is the biggest number of beaches committed by any country.” According to Curavic in the next two months, these beaches will be identified and revealed. In September last year, the island nation’s first White Flag was put on Beau Vallon beach – a popular beach with visitors - in the north of the main island of Mahe. The White Flag indicates that the zone is among the world’s first Certified Safe Marine Areas. The certification recognises the beach as having been physically cleaned from plastic and other marine debris. Since its launch in Monaco in 2012, White Flag International has become a leading symbol representing clean, plastic-free zones for inhabitants and tourists, as well as the marine life. The President of the Ocean Alliance Conservation Member, Kristijan Curavic, (left) said discussion with President Danny Faure is to certify 40 to 80 beaches in Seychelles. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY Seventy-nine beaches across the world have been designated with the White Flag.  The island nation is a member of the OACM group and Certified Safe Marine Area (CSMA) is now eligible for financing to develop more sustainable tourism practices. White Flag international has developed a financing system which allows contributions to countries that are implementing national laws and are committed to environmental protection in the tourism sector. “Seychelles is now certified as a top tourist environmental destination which means the beaches of Seychelles is certified free of plastic. The islands are being promoted as giving visitors plastic-free beaches and more fundamental clean oceans,” Curavic told reporters. To proceed with the certification, a group of divers from OACM will be in the country soon to carry out cleaning exercises of beaches, ports, and harbours as well as installing different signboards. The collection of plastic wastes and certified safe marine area signs is only the first step of this process. ”The second step is to make a movie about Seychelles with all the operations happening. This will be presented at the World Oceans Plastic summit next year. We want also to have this initiative promoted to big organisations such as the United Nations, the United Nations Environment Programme and others,” explained Curavic. Curavic added that the certification of Beau Vallon beach last September was only the beginning and it is now that the real process is starting. More importantly, the maintenance of these zones to ensure that they remain litter- and plastic-free is key for Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - in keeping its White Flag.

Australia offers climate funding to Pacific islands

Australia announced a Aus$500 million ($340 million) climate change package for Pacific countries Tuesday but received a lukewarm response from low-lying island nations demanding urgent action from their powerful neighbour to curb its carbon emissions. Prim
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Australia offers climate funding to Pacific islands

Australia announced a Aus$500 million ($340 million) climate change package for Pacific countries Tuesday but received a lukewarm response from low-lying island nations demanding urgent action from their powerful neighbour to curb its carbon emissions. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding, drawn from Australia's existing international aid budget, would help Pacific island nations invest in renewable energy and climate change resilience. The climate-sceptic leader made the announcement before travelling to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu, where island nations threatened by rising seas have vowed to put global warming at the top of the agenda. Smaller members of the 18-nation grouping have been sharply critical of Australia's climate policies ahead of this year's summit amid a diplomatic push from Canberra to counter China's growing power in the region. High-level representatives from the likes of Tuvalu, Palau and Vanuatu have criticised Australia for not doing enough, with Fiji's Frank Bainimarama saying Canberra's reliance on coal poses an «existential threat» to low-lying islands. There has also been disquiet in the Pacific that Australia recently approved the giant Adani coal mine in Queensland state. Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga did not directly address islanders concerns. «No matter how much money you put on the table it doesn't give you the excuse not to do the right thing,» he told reporters in the tiny nation's capital Funafuti, which is hosting the PIF meet. «(The right thing) is cutting down your emissions, including not opening your coal mines. That is the thing we want to see.» - 'Slap in the face' - Morrison has staunchly defended Australia's climate record, insisting the country will meet its 2030 emissions reduction target set under the Paris Agreement. «The $500 million we're investing for the Pacific's renewable energy and its climate change and disaster resilience builds on the $300 million for 2016-2020,» he said in a statement. «This highlights our commitment to not just meeting our emissions reduction obligations at home but supporting our neighbours and friends.» Greenpeace said the package was nothing more than a diversion of funds from Australia's Pacific aid programme and «a slap in the face to regional leaders». «This Aus$500 million accounting trick will do nothing to address the cause of the climate crisis that threatens the viability of the entire Pacific,» Greenpeace's Pacific head Joseph Moeono-Kolio said in a statement. Oxfam Australia welcomed funding for climate change adaption but added «it is not a substitute for action at home to tackle the causes of this crisis –- the burning of fossil fuels». Australia's opposition Labor Party labelled Morrison's package «cynical window dressing» ahead of the PIF summit. «It will not repair Australia’s reputation with our Pacific neighbours that has been damaged by this government’s reactionary stance on climate change,» Labor climate change spokesman Pat Conroy said. The tussle over climate action comes as Australia attempts to reassert its influence in the Pacific through its «step-up» strategy, which some regional leaders have warned is likely to fail without meaningful climate action. The PIF summit officially opens late Tuesday and continues until Thursday, with Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern due to arrive on Wednesday. © Agence France-Presse

Typhoon Lekima death toll hits 49 in China

The death toll from Typhoon Lekima rose to 49 on Tuesday and 21 were still missing after the monster storm wreaked havoc on China's eastern coast, causing huge damage with strong gales and torrential rain. Lekima hit the three Chinese provinces of Zhejiang,
Seychelles News Agency

Typhoon Lekima death toll hits 49 in China

The death toll from Typhoon Lekima rose to 49 on Tuesday and 21 were still missing after the monster storm wreaked havoc on China's eastern coast, causing huge damage with strong gales and torrential rain. Lekima hit the three Chinese provinces of Zhejiang, Shandong and Anhui over the weekend and forced more than a million residents to flee. China's official news agency Xinhua said late Monday that at least 49 people are dead with dozens still missing. Footage on state broadcaster CCTV showed flooded fields and streets, submerged vehicles, scattered debris and trees blown over as strong winds and rain pounded cities along the seaboard. Lekima made landfall in Zhejiang province on Saturday, which bore the brunt of the damage after the storm hit with winds of nearly 190 kilometres per hour (120 miles per hour) and pounded the coast with waves several metres in height. Xinhua said the rainfall recorded this weekend in Shandong province was the largest since records began in 1952. The natural disaster has inflicted economic losses of at least 26 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion), authorities said. Rescue workers were shown on CCTV using boats and rope pulleys to carry out stranded residents over the weekend. Thousands of flights were cancelled and train routes disrupted due to the typhoon, the state broadcaster reported, as Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities grounded planes. Hundreds of tourist sites along the coast, including Shanghai Disneyland, were closed ahead of the storm. © Agence France-Presse

New bank offering digital financial tools opens in Seychelles

A new bank that focuses on digital banking services opened in Seychelles on Monday. Located at Allied Plaza Building on Francis Rachel Street in the capital of Victoria, the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) will provide a broad range of products and services n
Seychelles News Agency

New bank offering digital financial tools opens in Seychelles

A new bank that focuses on digital banking services opened in Seychelles on Monday. Located at Allied Plaza Building on Francis Rachel Street in the capital of Victoria, the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) will provide a broad range of products and services new to Seychelles. “We are coming up with new services such as E-Wallet which is new to Seychelles. We are moving towards a more digitalised service so clients can do a majority of their financial transactions online such as applying for a loan and money transfers,” said the SBM chairman, Kee Chong Li Kwong Wing, in his opening address. SBM offers retail, personal and corporate banking and anyone who wants to transact with the bank can do so right away after opening an account. “As part of the SBM Group, SBM Seychelles is able to work with Seychellois customers across the region, whether they are expanding, importing, exporting or simply travelling. We are also expecting through our network to bring additional investments into Seychelles,” added Li Kwong Wing. SBM Seychelles is a subsidiary of the Mauritian financial group SBM Holding. It is the second-largest bank in Mauritius and has subsidiary businesses in Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar and India. The State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) will provide a broad range of products and services new to Seychelles. (Joena Meme)  Photo License: CC-BY The Seychelles’ finance minister, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, said that the new bank will contribute towards the further development of the local banking sector and the entire financial system, as well as the broader economy. “For Seychelles, being a small country in terms of size and population, this underlines the fact that we have a healthy economy and a thriving financial services sector,” he said. Seychelles is “expanding to provide greater access to a wide range of banking services and facilities that are vital to facilitate the conduct of financial transactions, provide access to funding opportunities particularly to businesses, including small and medium enterprises, and to enhance financial inclusion,” added Loustau-Lalanne. The new bank will help the financial service sector in Seychelles thrive to new heights. "I would like to highlight the government’s desire to see financial institutions assisting in the expansion and modernisation of the country’s financial services sector, and ultimately, contributing towards economic growth and supporting our participation in the global financial market,” he said. The opening of SBM Seychelles brings to nine the number of commercial banks currently operating in the local banking sector in Seychelles. The bank will take into account the need to protect the environment in its operation by incorporating the use of technology. “There will be minimal paper usage and we have already several e-forms ready and clients will be able to sign documents digitally. This fits within our group’s objective to apply technology to banking services and to provide our clients with more convenient services,” said Li Kwong Wing. SBM’s journey to operate in Seychelles started in 2016 when the bank was given approval for a banking licence to operate a subsidiary by the Central Bank of Seychelles.  

New government body in Seychelles to manage commercial fishing activities

A new government body will be set up to manage all commercial activities relating to fisheries in Seychelles as part of a three-year comprehensive plan launched by the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture last weekend. “The aim of the plan is to continue
Seychelles News Agency

New government body in Seychelles to manage commercial fishing activities

A new government body will be set up to manage all commercial activities relating to fisheries in Seychelles as part of a three-year comprehensive plan launched by the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture last weekend. “The aim of the plan is to continue developing and sustaining the fisheries sector, the second pillar of our economy. The ministry, together with the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), seeks to address the challenges impacting negatively on the industry and limiting its development,” Minister Charles Bastienne said at the launch. The plan covers all aspects of the sector and outlines several new requirements for artisanal fishermen and artisanal fishing boat-owners alike. The Minister told the National Assembly on Tuesday that the new body, also referred to as a government company, will allow SFA to stick to its mandate which is to manage marine resources and conduct research, something that the Minister said the authority has been neglecting as it was compelled to deal with other issues faced by the fisheries sector. The new company "will undertake transactions relating to fisheries and fish products on the international market and ensure effective marketing of Seychelles’ fish so that the products get its due value,” explained Minister Bastienne. According to Bastienne the company will develop, own, and manage infrastructures relating to the sector, participate in aquaculture as well as managing all ice plants. It will also be responsible for baits and other fishing gear. “It will play a crucial role in food security and ensuring the availability of fish for consumption on the local market and more importantly it will ensure that during the north-westerly season, we stock fish, which will be available during the south-easterlies season,” added Bastienne.   Minister Charles Bastienne said the aim of the plan is to continue developing and sustaining the fisheries sector, the second pillar of the Seychelles' economy. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY The government company is expected to tackle many difficulties faced by the industry. Once established, shares in the company will be sold to Seychellois nationals. Members who spoke at the National Assembly had concerns about the viability of the company. What is new with this company and what will be done to ensure that this company does work? And also why the private sector was not encouraged to join in. They also wanted to know how all fisher people will benefit from the plan as well as people interested in transforming fish into value-added products. And overall how will the plan better the conditions and lives of people working in the fishing sector. The Minister gave his assurances on the plan which he said is comprehensive and action-oriented, covering all aspects of the sector and was done in consultations with all key partners. On Wednesday SNA spoke to people from the fishing sector to get their views. Andre Lesperance a fisher from Perseverance, said that the company could prove to be a success especially if it will stock up fish for when the weather does not permit artisanal fishing. “But my concern is, will they buy fish from us, and if yes, will they buy on our price or force us to lower our price so much that at the end of the day, us fishermen who have had a tough time at sea runs at loss?” said Lesperance. Darrel Green, chairperson of the Baie Ste Anne Fishers Association told SNA that what is happening is confusing. “Confusing because recently we had a meeting with the relevant authorities in which they discussed the development of infrastructures for the fishing sector on Praslin. In the same meeting, we were told that the association will run and manage the ice plant, so I really do not know what to believe!” The new plan also makes provision for leisure fishing, recreational and leisure boats. In a bid to promote sustainability of marine species relied upon by artisanal fishermen, the plan makes provisions for the ministry and SFA to intensify their work to control and eradicate illegal fishing. The plan consists of numerous other provisions geared at improving conditions for artisanal fishermen. It lays out an ambitious plan amounting to approximately $6 million for numerous projects including ice plants, jetties, places to moor fishing boats on the main island of Mahe and Praslin – the second most populated island - of the 115 islands which makes up the Seychelles archipelago. The three-year plan of which implementation will start as of 2020 is being supported by the European Union.  

Comoros president pardons four jailed opponents

Comoros President Azali Assoumani has pardoned four opposition figures jailed for life for an attempted coup in the Indian Ocean islands. In a decree issued Saturday, writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui, lawyer Bahassane Ahmed Said, Mohamed Ali Abdallah and El-Ha
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Comoros president pardons four jailed opponents

Comoros President Azali Assoumani has pardoned four opposition figures jailed for life for an attempted coup in the Indian Ocean islands. In a decree issued Saturday, writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui, lawyer Bahassane Ahmed Said, Mohamed Ali Abdallah and El-Had Ibrahim Halifa were «pardoned from all of their remaining sentences». The four were jailed for life for attempting a coup and threatening state security but had their terms reduced to 20 years in May when 17 other jailed opponents were pardoned. The charges were linked to unrest that followed a controversial constitutional referendum to extend the president's term last year. Bahassane is the younger brother of Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, a former vice-president to Azali now living in exile in Tanzania after denouncing the president's authoritarianism. The pardons follow Azali's re-election in March, in which he pledged «appeasement measures» to quell accusations of voter fraud. He was credited with nearly 60 percent of the ballot, an outcome rejected as fraudulent by the opposition. Comoros has had a volatile political history since independence in 1975, enduring more than 20 attempted coups, four of which were successful. Azali initially came to power in a coup, then ruled between 1999 and 2006. He was re-elected in 2016 in a vote marred by violence and allegations of irregularities. © Agence France-Presse 

Tanzania lays to rest dozens killed in fuel tanker blast

Tanzania on Sunday laid to rest most of the 71 people who died while trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker that exploded. The deadly blast, which took place Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Sal
Seychelles News Agency

Tanzania lays to rest dozens killed in fuel tanker blast

Tanzania on Sunday laid to rest most of the 71 people who died while trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker that exploded. The deadly blast, which took place Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa. President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday. He was represented at funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa. Majaliwa spoke at a ceremony in Kola, less than 20 minutes from where the disaster occurred some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam. He gave a new death toll of 71, along with 59 injured. White coffins were lowered into graves by members of the security forces, after which Islamic or Christian clerics said brief prayers and tossed handfuls of earth on them. A Pentecostal pastor named Mechak said in a service broadcast on television that «this should serve as a lesson to us. When there is an accident like this we should steer clear and let rescue workers do their job.» DNA tests will be carried out on bodies that were burnt beyond recognition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred. A woman who had accompanied her neighbour to retrieve the body of a victim at the hospital said: «When I saw the injured my whole body trembled. They had been burnt like pieces of meat.» - 'No one wanted to listen' - Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel. The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck's battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, according to the region's governor. Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in smoke and flames, with charred bodies and the burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis scattered on the ground among scorched trees. A video posted on social media taken before the explosion showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck. «We arrived at the scene with two neighbours just after the truck was overturned. While some good Samaritans were trying to get the driver and the other two people out of the truck, others were jostling each other, equipped with jerricans, to collect petrol,» teacher January Michael told AFP. «At the same time, someone was trying to pull the battery out of the vehicle. We warned that the truck could explode at any moment but no one wanted to listen, so we went on our way, but we had barely turned on our heels when we heard the explosion.» - 'May God heal you' - President Magufuli on Sunday visited some of those injured in the blast at a hospital in Dar es Salaam. «May God heal you,» he said to the 43 patients, some in very serious condition. Majaliwa said Sunday that a special commission would investigate whether mismanagement had contributed to the disaster. «While our now-dead compatriots were gathering to syphon fuel, did anyone try to stop them?» Majaliwa asked. Magufuli has called for people to stop stealing fuel in such a way, a common event across Africa, saying he was «very shocked» by the dangerous practice. Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel. In May, a similar incident occurred in Niger near the airport of the capital Niamey, leaving almost 80 people dead. Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi. © Agence France-Presse

North Korea says latest test was 'new weapon'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a «new weapon» test, state media reported Sunday, the latest in a series of launches that US President Donald Trump has played down as Washington seeks to restart nuclear talks with Pyongyang. The repor
Seychelles News Agency

North Korea says latest test was 'new weapon'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a «new weapon» test, state media reported Sunday, the latest in a series of launches that US President Donald Trump has played down as Washington seeks to restart nuclear talks with Pyongyang. The report carried by the Korean Central News Agency followed Trump's comments that Kim had expressed a willingness to meet once the US-South Korean exercises are over and apologised for the slew of missile tests. Saturday's launch was the North's fifth test in two weeks as it protests the annual military drills under way between Seoul and Washington which always infuriates Pyongyang. Defence officials in Seoul said Pyongyang fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles Saturday, flying 400 kilometres (250 miles) before splashing down in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan. KCNA provided no technical specifications but said Sunday they were a «new weapon» developed to suit the country's «terrain condition». The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried several photos showing a broadly grinning Kim surrounded by his aides as he observed the test. Kim Dong-yub, a researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said the weapons were likely to be new short-range ballistic missiles that are part of Pyongyang's modernisation of its military capabilities. They were the «North Korean version of a low-cost, high-efficiency retaliation system» aimed at «incapacitating missile defence systems» in the South, Kim added. In a statement issued by KCNA on Sunday, the North's foreign ministry said the South's refusal to cancel its joint drills with the US had effectively scuppered any prospect of future talks with Seoul. «They had better keep in mind that this dialogue would be held strictly between (North Korea) and the US, not between the North and the South,» it said. - 'Small apology' - Trump has appeared determined to secure a denuclearisation agreement with North Korea ahead of next year's US presidential elections, despite a breakdown in talks since he first met Kim in a historic summit in Singapore in June 2018. Even after their abortive second summit in February -- and as Pyongyang has continued to test short-range missiles -- Trump has been reluctant to criticise the North Korean leader. On Friday the US president said he agreed with Kim's opposition to the war games -– albeit for financial rather than military reasons -- and indicated the missile launches were not important. «I'll say it again. There have been no nuclear tests. The missile tests have all been short-range. No ballistic missile tests, no long-range missiles,» Trump said. Then on Saturday, Trump said Kim had expressed in a letter his willingness to meet and resume negotiations once the US-South Korean exercises are over. Kim also offered a «small apology for testing the short range missiles,» the US leader noted, and said the tests would end once the military drills wrap up on August 20. The pair last met in late June for brief talks in the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Koreas -- and Trump became the first sitting US president ever to step inside the North. - 'Licence to fire' - Shin Beom-chul, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said Trump's downplaying of the launches were equvalent to endorsing the missile tests. «If Kim felt the missile tests could jeopardise the dialogue momentum, he would refrain. But right now, it's as if North Korea has a licence to fire short-range missiles,» Shin told AFP. The foreign ministry in Pyongyang said Trump's comments effectively recognised the North’s «self-defensive rights” as a sovereign state to conduct »small« missile tests. Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said by appealing directly to Trump, Kim was »trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul" as Pyongyang seeks to break the alliance. Washington and Seoul pledged in March to scale down their joint drills in an effort to foster denuclearisation efforts. While past exercises involved extensive combat field training -- with thousands of American troops coming in from several countries to take part -- the current games are decidedly low-key, with the emphasis on computer-simulated scenarios. © Agence France-Presse

Seychellois musician in Australia releases 3rd album as a celebration of the strength of women

Grace Barbe, a Seychellois artist living in Australia, has released her much-awaited third album FANM:WOMAN. The global launch happened July 5 through Afrotropik Records in Fremantle, Western Australia where the artist is based. Barbe told SNA throug
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois musician in Australia releases 3rd album as a celebration of the strength of women

Grace Barbe, a Seychellois artist living in Australia, has released her much-awaited third album FANM:WOMAN. The global launch happened July 5 through Afrotropik Records in Fremantle, Western Australia where the artist is based. Barbe told SNA through email that she was relieved and happy to finally release the album which has been six years in the making. “In 2018 we were planning to release the album but we encountered a few setbacks recording-wise so we decided to wait. These things happen sometimes in the music industry and as an independent artist you want to make sure you are ready,” she told SNA. She added that: “The album is a beautiful celebration of women worldwide and the contribution women have made and continue to make towards the development of our communities. A recognition of our mothers, our grandmothers, our elders and our daughters,” says Grace. The album is Barbe's third and follows ‘Welele’ in 2013. The singer, who moved to Australia at the age of 16 with her parents, added that the songs Fanm and Woman - the two songs which make the album title – speak to that. “The Seychelles is a matriarch society so it was fitting for me to dedicate this album at this stage of my career and as a woman, to celebrate the strength of women worldwide,” said Barbe. Barbe who moved to Australia at 16 said the album is a celebration of women worldwide. (Grace Barbe) Photo License: All Rights Reserved The ‘FANM:WOMAN’ album is a continuation of her love affair with the music of her native Indian Ocean region with songs from the Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. For her third album, Barbe has not restricted her songs to her island nation but rather focussed on the Indian Ocean region as a whole. The artist, whose music fuses the tropical rhythms and dances of the slaves with psychedelic rock, afrobeat, reggae and pop, has this time around included other sounds of the Indian Ocean.  Heavily featured on FANM:WOMAN is seggae, the brain-melting fusion of Jamaican reggae and Indian Ocean sega pioneered by Mauritian musician Kaya, whose song Simé La Limière is covered. Barbe says she wanted to pay homage to Kaya who also campaigned for the rights of the Mauritian Creole people. “It was important to me to include the Indian Ocean island region as I feel we share similar culture and history, and each island has something beautiful to offer musically such as sega, tsinge moutya, maloya and saleg rhythms which I absolutely love”, says Barbe. Grace sings in Creole, English, French and Malagasy. The singer says an Indian Ocean tour is in the pipeline to promote her album. For now, fans can order and download her music online at www.music.gracebarbe.com Grace released her debut album Kreol Daughter in 2008, followed by Welele in 2013 which won her five WAMi (Western Australian Music industry) awards for ‘Best World Act.’

Seychelles’ government re-acquires land purchased by ruling party

The government of Seychelles has bought back ten plots of land purchased by the ruling party, United Seychelles, formerly Parli Lepep. The Minister for Habitat, Lands, Infrastructure and Land Transport Pamela Charlette said Friday that the plots were acquir
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Seychelles’ government re-acquires land purchased by ruling party

The government of Seychelles has bought back ten plots of land purchased by the ruling party, United Seychelles, formerly Parli Lepep. The Minister for Habitat, Lands, Infrastructure and Land Transport Pamela Charlette said Friday that the plots were acquired following negotiations with the party. “Following President Faure’s announcement in his last live Presidential press conference, we are ready to give an update on what has been achieved so far. Our negotiations have gone well. And we have ten plots which has been transferred back to the government,” Charlette told a news conference.  The plots are amongst 40 owned by the party and bought from the state. The ministry is discussing with the party to buy back other plots. Charlette added that the agreement made with the party is that the lands were acquired at the same price which they were sold for. “What we are negotiating now are plots that have infrastructure on them,  including party offices and commercial buildings, and this process will take some time and require a more lengthy negotiation,” said the minister, adding: “What has been acquired back were vacant plots and those which had infrastructure on such as community centres.”3 United Seychelles bought properties from the state on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue - the three main islands of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. According to Charlette, the government will now see what the land use of the different properties is. “We will definitely look at redeveloping these and have projects for the community such as day care centers as well as facilities for the industries,” explained the minister. The fact that the ruling party owned properties bought from the state was an issue which the opposition with a majority in the parliament raised in the National Assembly. The Linyon Demokratik Seselwa, LDS, had used every opportunity in the National Assembly, since 2017 to question this issue. Charlette said that she is confident that by the end of this year, her ministry would have completed negotiations with the party.

New book highlights crucial role of Seychelles’ National Biodiversity Centre

A new collaboration between Steen Hansen and Damien Doudee highlights the crucial role and richness of the island nation’s only biodiversity centre.  The book, illustrated with beautiful photos, focuses on the 115 plants found at the centre, amongst whic
Seychelles News Agency

New book highlights crucial role of Seychelles’ National Biodiversity Centre

A new collaboration between Steen Hansen and Damien Doudee highlights the crucial role and richness of the island nation’s only biodiversity centre.  The book, illustrated with beautiful photos, focuses on the 115 plants found at the centre, amongst which are 29 endemic and 16 indigenous to Seychelles. The centre located in the western district of Grand Anse Mahe is described as a unique forest to preserve the endangered species of the fragile ecosystems of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The 17-hectare centre managed by the National Botanical Gardens Foundation acts as an ex-situ conservation area of the rare and endemic species of plants that are only found within the archipelago. This is the fifth book authored by Hansen, who is Danish and has been living in the island nation since 2005. Hansen said that through the book, one can visit the centre without having to physically be there. The book will help people enjoy the centre to its fullest, especially for first-time visitors, Hansen said.   The National Biodiversity Centre features an Arboretum, the Aldabra garden, a palm forest, a living collection garden, a Small Islands Developing States garden, as well as a medicinal garden. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY-NC Seychellois Damien Doudee has worked in the environmental field for 23 years and this is his first publication. Doudee was involved in the conceptualization of the centre where he worked for nine years. “That is why we have a biodiversity centre, to bring the rare plants closer to people so that they can learn to appreciate its value, its uniqueness and help with conservation efforts. Our islands are blessed with unique and rare biodiversity, and that is why conservation is important,” said Doudee. Doudee said through the book, which took around three years to realize, they want to educate Seychellois and visitors on the species and the importance of the sustainability of such fragile plants and ensure that the future generation enjoys such marvels of nature. Hansen noted that with “three animals or plant species becoming extinct every hour round the clock, and that natural sanctuaries are disappearing for good at a tremendous rate. Time is, therefore, running short for the global environment.” The book, yet to be launched locally, is seen as a marketing tool for the centre, which visitors can use as guides when visiting the gardens. The National Biodiversity Center features an Arboretum, the Aldabra garden, a palm forest, a living collection garden, a Small Islands Developing States garden, as well as a medicinal garden. The Arboretum, the first of its kind in Seychelles, provides the general public and visiting dignitaries a landmark opportunity to propagate endangered species. Elvina Henriette – biodiversity consultant – has welcomed the new book and said it gives publicity to the centre “which acts as a stock for genetic resources available for research and educational purposes.”  The other books published by Hensen are ‘The Flora of the Seychelles’, ‘Striking Nature of Curieuse Island’, ‘The Tea Factory - its nature trail and Morne Blanc' and 'The National Botanical Garden of Seychelles' launched in October last year. 

Huge power outage creates travel mayhem in Britain

Nearly one million people were affected by a major power outage for several hours across areas of England and Wales on Friday, including parts of London, causing rush-hour transportation chaos. Problems with two generators caused the massive electricity cut
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Huge power outage creates travel mayhem in Britain

Nearly one million people were affected by a major power outage for several hours across areas of England and Wales on Friday, including parts of London, causing rush-hour transportation chaos. Problems with two generators caused the massive electricity cut, the National Grid said. «This evening we had an unexpected and unusual event, the loss of two generators that connect to the GB transmission system, which led to a fall in the frequency of the electricity system,» National Grid said on Twitter. The power was restored around 6:30 pm (1930 GMT) and «the system is now operating normally,» it said. But the power outage led to many delays and cancellations of trains on Britain's national rail network. National Rail said the disruptions would continue on Friday and into Saturday morning «due to trains and traincrew in the wrong locations.» It also affected road travel, with traffic lights not working on London streets. Air traffic was disrupted at the airport in Newcastle. According to power utilities around the country, nearly one million people had to grapple with the blackout, including 300,000 in London and southeast England and 500,000 in the Midlands, southwest England and Wales. Some 110,000 were affected in Yorkshire and northeast England. The British energy regulator Ofhem has called for the National Grid to provide an urgent and detailed report on the incident. © Agence France-Presse Britain | transport | electricity | outageLondon, United Kingdom | AFP | Friday 8/10/2019 - 02:57 UTC+4 | 224 words Nearly one million people were affected by a major power outage for several hours across areas of England and Wales on Friday, including parts of London, causing rush-hour transportation chaos. Problems with two generators caused the massive electricity cut, the National Grid said. «This evening we had an unexpected and unusual event, the loss of two generators that connect to the GB transmission system, which led to a fall in the frequency of the electricity system,» National Grid said on Twitter. The power was restored around 6:30 pm (1930 GMT) and «the system is now operating normally,» it said. But the power outage led to many delays and cancellations of trains on Britain's national rail network. National Rail said the disruptions would continue on Friday and into Saturday morning «due to trains and traincrew in the wrong locations.» It also affected road travel, with traffic lights not working on London streets. Air traffic was disrupted at the airport in Newcastle. According to power utilities around the country, nearly one million people had to grapple with the blackout, including 300,000 in London and southeast England and 500,000 in the Midlands, southwest England and Wales. Some 110,000 were affected in Yorkshire and northeast England. The British energy regulator Ofhem has called for the National Grid to provide an urgent and detailed report on the incident. © Agence France-Presse

Air Seychelles launches new Airbus A320neo, and looks forward to its second

The arrival of a second Airbus A320neo aircraft for Air Seychelles in February or March next year will greatly improve connectivity within the Indian Ocean region, the airline’s chief executive said. Remco Althuis was speaking in Mauritius at the inaugura
Seychelles News Agency

Air Seychelles launches new Airbus A320neo, and looks forward to its second

The arrival of a second Airbus A320neo aircraft for Air Seychelles in February or March next year will greatly improve connectivity within the Indian Ocean region, the airline’s chief executive said. Remco Althuis was speaking in Mauritius at the inaugural flight ceremony of Air Seychelles’ first Airbus A320neo aircraft on Thursday. “An additional Airbus A320neo in spring next year will bring our fleet to seven aircraft which will enable us to connect the islands in the Seychelles’ archipelago as well as connect the island nations of the Indian Ocean,” said Althuis. The airline’s first Airbus A320neo, named ‘Veuve,’ was welcomed on its inaugural flight to the neighbouring island of Mauritius by a ceremonial water cannon salute upon landing at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. A celebratory cocktail at the Airports of Mauritius (AML) Receptorium was held with high government officials, key partners, and local travel trade and representatives of the media from both Mauritius and Seychelles. Air Seychelles CEO (2nd left) with partners in Mauritius and Airbus marketing. (Air Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY  The plane which arrived in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, last week is the first for the region and for Africa. Althuis said Air Seychelles is focusing on the regional network due to the global aviation market forces which are very competitive and operated by bigger carriers like British Airways, Qatar Airways, Air France and Emirates. Air Seychelles presently has daily flights to Johannesburg, six weekly flights to Mumbai, seasonal flights to Madagascar and five flights a week to Mauritius. The chief executive of Air Seychelles said with its 168-seat capacity, the new aircraft will also greatly increase the number of passengers. “The A320neo has 24 percent more seats than the current A320ceo which means it will enable us to bring a lot more passengers to travel between our two island nations and more profit.” However, he said the real impact of the new arrival will not be apparent immediately on all daily flights, but rather gradually. “We have to wait until the second aircraft next spring before we can operate all of our routes with this aircraft all the time,” said Althuis. He further added that the benefit will not be restricted to the region only. On his side, the tourism minister of Mauritius, Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, said air connectivity is crucial for the development of the two islands and this should be the main focus of all regional governments. “There is a demand by people in the region to have more aircraft operating between the islands. I know that four governments in the Indian Ocean have been working to have an Indian Ocean pass that will enable people to travel from one island to another,” said Gayan. He added that “I don’t know why this is taking so long but I do hope this will happen soon and thus increase the presence of other carriers in the region and enable people to travel between the islands.” Air Mauritius resumed its twice-weekly flight to Seychelles in July this year. 

7 Sri Lankans are detained in Seychelles on suspicion of illegal fishing

The Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) and the police are conducting an investigation into a case of suspected illegal fishing by a foreign vessel in the island nation’s waters. In a joint communique on Thursday, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture
Seychelles News Agency

7 Sri Lankans are detained in Seychelles on suspicion of illegal fishing

The Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) and the police are conducting an investigation into a case of suspected illegal fishing by a foreign vessel in the island nation’s waters. In a joint communique on Thursday, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, SFA and the Seychelles Coast Guard said that the flagless vessel was intercepted on Saturday during a routine patrol. Seven crew members of Sri Lankan nationality were found onboard. After Initial search by the Coast Guard officers, fresh fish, salt and fishing gears were found onboard the vessel which was escorted to Port Victoria for further investigation. This is the fifth suspected illegal fishing case since the beginning of 2019. Three out of the five resulted in prosecution by the Supreme Court of Seychelles. Last month, the Supreme Court ordered that a Comorian national who pleaded guilty for illegal fishing in the island nation’s waters be repatriated to his country of origin or residency. Ben Attoomani, 51, was on the vessel Pevoni that was intercepted by the Coast Guard in March. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres, which presents a challenge when it comes to the monitoring of illegal fishing.

Seychellois musician Patrick Victor is appointed as honorary cultural ambassador

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, has appointed the local musical icon Patrick Victor as Honorary Cultural Ambassador to promote the Seychellois culture locally, regionally and internationally. According to State House, Victor, 67, received his instr
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois musician Patrick Victor is appointed as honorary cultural ambassador

The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, has appointed the local musical icon Patrick Victor as Honorary Cultural Ambassador to promote the Seychellois culture locally, regionally and internationally. According to State House, Victor, 67, received his instrument of appointment on Thursday. His appointment takes effect immediately. The President congratulated Victor for the enormous contribution he has made to Seychellois music and culture and wished him the very best in his new role. He also discussed ongoing cultural projects that Victor has been spearheading, particularly in sensitising and educating school children on Seychelles' history and culture with a focus on traditional music. Victor told reporters that he felt honoured that his contribution and work for so many years in the domain of culture was being recognised.   Victor spoke of the role he could play in giving back to society, further imparting his knowledge to Seychellois children and young people, whilst also preserving and promoting Seychelles’ cultural heritage both locally and internationally. Victor felt honoured his work to promote the Seychellois culture has been recognised.  (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  State House said that “the appointment is not the same as the appointment of Ambassadors to represent Seychelles abroad, for which there are different procedures. In his capacity as Honorary Cultural Ambassador, Mr Victor's function will be to promote the Seychellois culture locally, regionally and internationally.” Last month, the government had proposed the appointment of Patrick Victor as ambassador at large to the National Assembly for approval. A motion to that effect was tabled by the leader of government business Charles De Commarmond in accordance with Article 64(1) of the Constitution. In his presentation, De Commarmond said, “We have observed that our culture is fading away and we have to re-invigorate it. For this to happen, it is important that we look into all means to do so and therefore the president decided that it would be of significant help to have a dedicated person tasked with creating cultural links on international platforms, whether it be regionally, in Africa or in organisations such as the UNESCO.” The appointment of Victor was deemed essential as the well-known and respected Seychellois musician, songwriter, singer, playwright and actor is to play a key role in next year’s 250th celebration of the first arrival of the settlers in Seychelles. The appointment of Victor as ambassador at large was delayed after members of the opposition coalition, Linyon Demokratik Seselwa, voted for the adjournment of the debate.    

British student was 'depressed' before jumping from plane: Madagascar police

A British student in Madagascar who apparently jumped from a plane after opening the aircraft's door mid-air was «depressed» and disappointed by her studies, the African island police said Thursday. Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, 19
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British student was 'depressed' before jumping from plane: Madagascar police

A British student in Madagascar who apparently jumped from a plane after opening the aircraft's door mid-air was «depressed» and disappointed by her studies, the African island police said Thursday. Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, 19, who was on a research trip, fell from a light aircraft shortly after it took off from an airport in remote northwestern Madagascar last month. Her body was found by villagers on Tuesday in the Mahadrodroka forest, and transported to the capital Antananarivo on Thursday. The chief investigator told AFP they found anti-malarial pills in her bag, but only two were taken, although it is unclear when exactly she took those. Some sleeping pills were also found in her hotel room. «We found in her bag, a box of anti-malaria medication and we were told that she also had sleeping pills on the table in her hotel room,» the lead investigator Spinola Edvin Nomenjanahary told AFP by phone. He said she had mumbled during a phone call with her parents who then suggested she return home. «The parents had difficulties recognising their daughter during their last phone conversation and had asked her to take the same flight as Mrs Ruth Johnson, a British woman who was staying at the same hotel as her,» said Nomenjanahary. «Before leaving, on July 25th, (Johnson) went looking for her in her room, and found Alana, sitting on a chair, looking lost and staring into space,» added Nomenjanahary. Cutland's uncle previously said she had become ill during her trip, possibly due to prescription medication, according to British newspaper reports. Another investigator, Colonel D'y La Paix Ralaivaonary, told reporters that the natural sciences student was studying crabs and «she became depressed» apparently after she concluded her research may not succeed. She also contacted her supervisor, according to police. She was «disappointed» when her parents asked her to drop the research and return to London, he said. Around five minutes into the flight, which took off from a small airport at Anjajavy to the capital Antananarivo, she apparently opened the plane door and jumped. The pilot and Johnson, who was a passenger on the flight, say they tried in vain to stop her. «She jumped, no one pushed her,» said Ralaivaonary. Anjajavy villagers only found her body two weeks after the incident. The student was supposed to have stayed 45 days in Anjajavy but quit after 10 days. In a statement issued through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the family described her as «a bright, independent young woman». «She was particularly excited to be embarking on the next stage of her education, on an internship in Madagascar complementing her studies in natural sciences,» it said. «Her thirst for discovering more of the world always ensured she made the most of every second of her action-packed young life.» © Agence France-Presse

Trump slammed as pressure mounts for gun controls

Pressure built on the US Congress to pass tough gun control legislation Thursday as the mother of the man arrested for the slaughter of 22 people in El Paso, Texas said she had called police out of concern he had a military-style weapon. But President Donal
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Trump slammed as pressure mounts for gun controls

Pressure built on the US Congress to pass tough gun control legislation Thursday as the mother of the man arrested for the slaughter of 22 people in El Paso, Texas said she had called police out of concern he had a military-style weapon. But President Donald Trump and most Republicans continued to rebuff calls for action against an epidemic of mass shootings, conscious of the importance of gun owners to the party in next year's national elections. The White House, meanwhile, was accused of using the two shootings last weekend to promote Trump, after it released a video of his visit to hospitalized shooting victims. An aide gushed it showed him being greeted like a «rock star.» Lawyers for the mother of Patrick Crusius, the accused El Paso shooter, said she had called police in Allen, Texas weeks before the August 3 attack because she was concerned about his owning an AK-47-type assault rifle. The lawyers, Chris Ayres and R. Jack Ayres, of Dallas, told CNN that Crusius' mother was worried given her son's age, maturity level and lack of experience with such a weapon. But a police officer told her that her 21-year-old son was legally allowed to purchase the weapon, and nothing was done about the «informational» call, according to the lawyers. - Angry US mayors - The news fed into mounting anger in the wake of the back-to-back shootings in El Paso on Saturday and Dayton, Ohio on Sunday, which together left 31 dead and many more wounded. Both attacks were carried out by solitary white men armed with assault weapons. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the country's most senior Democratic politician, wrote a letter to Trump urging him to call the Republican-controlled Senate back from its summer break to consider «gun violence prevention» legislation. «This extraordinary moment in our history requires all of us to take extraordinary action to save lives,» Pelosi wrote. In an open letter, 214 US mayors made the same demand. Their letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and senior Democrat Chuck Schumer, noted there have been more than 250 mass shootings in the United States this year. «The tragic events in El Paso and Dayton this weekend are just the latest reminders that our nation can no longer wait for our federal government to take the actions necessary to prevent people who should not have access to firearms from being able to purchase them,» the letter said. Like Pelosi's letter, the one from the mayors pointed to two background check bills passed by the House that McConnell has essentially blocked from consideration in the Senate. McConnell indicated Thursday he would not reconvene the Senate, saying lawmakers would have «bipartisan discussions» and «when we get back, hopefully be able to come together and actually pass something.» Pelosi and Schumer spoke on the phone with Trump later Thursday, and said the president «gave us his assurances that he would review the bipartisan House-passed legislation and understood our interest in moving as quickly as possible to help save lives.» Trump said Wednesday that he supported legislation to block gun sales to people with mental health issues, but did not endorse stronger measures. «I can tell you there is no political appetite for that at this moment,» Trump said. Those measures include universal background checks for all gun sales contained in the House measure, and bans on the assault rifles used in many mass shootings. The head of America's powerful gun lobby on Thursday rejected tougher restrictions on firearms, saying they would not have stopped the shootings in Texas and Ohio. «The NRA opposes any legislation that unfairly infringes upon the rights of law-abiding citizens,» Wayne LaPierre said in a statement. - Trump assailed for self-promotion - Meanwhile, Trump was assailed for using his Wednesday trip to the sites of the two shootings to promote himself. Trump visited hospitals in El Paso and Dayton and the White House released photographs and video footage showing doctors and nurses applauding him. «The President was treated like a Rock Star inside the hospital, which was all caught on video. They all loved seeing their great President!» tweeted Dan Scavino, the White House social media director. «The love, the respect for the office of the presidency -- I wish you could have been in there to see it,» Trump told journalists. Protestors against Trump's visit to El Paso said he was not focusing on the victims and the tragedy. «The only thing we're talking about is Trump right now, we're not talking about the victims, and Trump needed to stay in Washington and get some new ... gun laws,» said Bill Cooks. Democrats slammed Trump, accusing him of exploiting the mass shootings «for his personal gain.» «Innocent Americans were slaughtered. And you spin a presidential visit like a vanity project,» said New York legislator Hakeem Jeffries. © Agence France-Presse

1,800 dead as malaria 'epidemic' rages in Burundi: UN

Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN's humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivalling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the
Seychelles News Agency

1,800 dead as malaria 'epidemic' rages in Burundi: UN

Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN's humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivalling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 5.7 million cases of malaria had been recorded in Burundi in 2019 -- a figure roughly equal to half its entire population. Of those cases, a total of 1,801 died from the mosquito-born disease in Burundi between January 1 and July 21, OCHA said. The tiny country of 11 million people in the African Great Lakes region has still not declared a national emergency, despite OCHA saying the outbreak crossed «epidemic proportions» in May. «The national malaria outbreak response plan, which is currently being validated, has highlighted a lack of human, logistical and financial resources for effective response,» OCHA said in its latest weekly bulletin on humanitarian emergencies. «All stakeholders, including the national authorities and partners are called upon to provide the requisite resources to mount a robust response to this event before it escalates.» A lack of preventative measures like mosquito nets, climatic changes and increased movements of people from mountain areas with low immunity to malaria were driving the crisis, OCHA said. - 'Many crises' - A World Health Organisation (WHO) official told AFP that «the decision to declare an epidemic is the sovereignty of the Burundian state». The country declared a malaria epidemic in March 2017, when the country had recorded 1.8 million cases and 700 deaths, but was resisting doing the same now. A senior government official, who declined to be named, said the government did not want to admit weakness with elections set for 2020. «We are less than a year away from the presidential election. (President Pierre) Nkurunziza, who is facing many crises, does not want to recognise what could be considered a failure of his health policy,» the official told AFP. Burundi has been in crisis since 2015, when Nkurunziza ran for a third term and was re-elected in elections boycotted by most of the opposition. At least 1,200 people were killed and more than 400,000 displaced in violence the UN says was mostly carried out by state security forces. Nkurunziza announced in 2018 that he would not stand again, confounding critics who accused him of working to extend his grip on power. UN investigators said in July that «drastic» steps were needed to boost democratic freedoms in Burundi if the government wanted the elections to be considered credible. Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the region, abuts DR Congo, where the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history has killed more than 1,800 people amid fears the infectious fever could spread beyond its borders. But malaria is a much bigger killer on the continent. The WHO recorded nearly 220 million cases of the parasitic illness in 2017, with an estimated 435,000 deaths. More than 90 percent of malaria cases and deaths were in Africa. © Agence France-Presse

Seychellois brand KATITI to be showcased for the first time at London’s Africa Fashion Week

Couture and fashion from the Seychellois brand KATITI will for the first time be á la une at the Africa Fashion Week London.  Johanna Didon, fashion designer and creator of the brand, will be showcasing some of her best creations at the August 9-10 event.
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois brand KATITI to be showcased for the first time at London’s Africa Fashion Week

Couture and fashion from the Seychellois brand KATITI will for the first time be á la une at the Africa Fashion Week London.  Johanna Didon, fashion designer and creator of the brand, will be showcasing some of her best creations at the August 9-10 event. Jewellery and craftwork from other local entrepreneurs will also be on display and on sale at a boutique dedicated to the island nation. Seychelles’ participation at the event came after the island nation’s first fashion week held last year. It is a collaboration between Telly’s Modelling Agency, Enterprise Seychelles Agency (ESA), Seychelles Heritage Foundation and the Culture Department. The week is described as a modern African cultural experience and is the largest and longest-running, culturally diverse fashion and trade exhibition in Europe. The event has over 3.3 million views across multiple platforms and 34 million impressions online.   Seychelles’ participation at the event came after the island nation’s first fashion week held last year. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  “It all started through the Seychelles Fashion Week held last year. The first fashion week has resulted in many invitations globally to Telly’s Modelling Agency to either invite designers or models to represent Seychelles,” Terry Carolla, of Telly’s Modelling Agency, told local reporters last week at a press conference. Carolla added that “the aim is to promote our creative industries as we believe that one day it will be a pillar of our economy.” A proud Didon said that part of her collection from last year will form the base of what she will present in London and will include some new pieces produced especially for the event. “I think I am the first Seychellois designer to reach such a level. I feel very privileged and I wish to thank all those who support me and who believe in my creations and believe that I have the skills, talent, and capacity because, without them, I would not have made it this far,” said Didon. The chief executive of ESA said, “Our mandate is to promote entrepreneurs and as Johanna Didon is one of our successful entrepreneurs, we did not hesitate to support her idea.” Angelic Appoo explained, “Additionally, we have secured a luxury boutique whereby we will display and showcase local products, locally-produced garments, jewellery and all things fashion-related.”   Part of the event this year is an African Souk which promises to showcase new and aspiring African fashion designers and accessory companies. This will also include some of Africa’s most innovative designs. A business forum workshop offering guidance and advice to aspiring designers through talks and panels from leading manufacturers, retailers, and government officials and in all areas relating to fashion will also be held. Appoo from ESA has been invited and will talk about "the creative industries of Seychelles, our fashion, our industry where it came from to where it is now,” explained Appoo. Two Seychellois models -- Dean Savy and Rynia Tamboo -- were selected through online auditions to showcase the island nation’s fashion. The participation of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – is possible through the support of the National Arts and Culture Fund. “It is a sector that requires a lot of investment and artists need support and the fund is there for that to ensure that we can give them some support to bring their arts forward and to broaden their horizons and explore more,” Cecile Kalebi, Principal Secretary of the Culture Department added. The National Arts and Culture Fund was established earlier this year and supports the development of culture, arts, and heritage in the local context.

4 stamp collections in Seychelles commemorating world sporting events

The dust has barely settled on the closing ceremony of the 10th edition of the Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG) - a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from Indian Ocean island nations on July, 28. With the regional sporting competi
Seychelles News Agency

4 stamp collections in Seychelles commemorating world sporting events

The dust has barely settled on the closing ceremony of the 10th edition of the Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG) - a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from Indian Ocean island nations on July, 28. With the regional sporting competition still in mind, SNA brings you four stamp collections produced by the Seychelles Postal Services immortalising world sporting events.   1980 Summer Olympics This Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in July 1980 in Moscow, Soviet Union - now known as Russia. It was the first Olympic Games to be staged in Eastern Europe, and remain the only Summer Olympics held there, as well as the first to be held in a Slavic language-speaking country and also the first to be held in a communist country. Eighty nations were represented at the Moscow Games – the smallest number since 1956, as many nations, including the United States, boycotted the games.  Seychelles -- 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean -- attended with a delegation of 11 athletes.   (Seychelles Postal Services/Salifa Karapetyan Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   1988 Seoul Games This Summer Olympics was held from 17 September to 2 October in Seoul, South Korea. 159 nations were represented by a total of 8,391 athletes; 237 events were held and 27,221 volunteers helped to prepare the Olympics. These were the last Olympic Games for the Soviet Union and East Germany, as both ceased to exist after. The Soviets dominated the medal table, winning 55 gold and 132 total medals. No country came close to this result after 1988. The games were boycotted by North Korea and its ally, Cuba. Ethiopia, Albania, and Seychelles did not respond to the invitations sent by the International Olympic Committee.  (Seychelles Postal Services/Salifa Karapetyan Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   1993 4th edition of the Indian Ocean Islands Games In 1993, Seychelles is entrusted with the organisation of the Islands Games for the first time in its history. Major sports infrastructure was needed for the games and led to the development of the Roche Caiman sports complex including a 25-metre swimming pool, a dojo, tennis courts, the Palais des Sports for volleyball and basketball and a new stadium: Stad Linite.  Six countries took part in the games held from August 20-29 on Mahe, the main island of the archipelago. Seychelles came out fourth winning 75 medals: 19 gold, 24 silver, and 32 bronze.  (Seychelles Postal Services/Salifa Karapetyan Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   1996 Centenary of modern Olympics The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta also referred to as the Centennial Olympic Games, was held in August in Atlanta, USA. These Games, the fourth Summer Olympics to be hosted by the United States, marked the centenary of 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens --the inaugural edition of the modern Olympic Games. They were also the first since 1924 to be held in a different year from a Winter Olympics, under a new International Olympic Committee practice implemented in 1994 to hold the summer and winter Games in alternating, even-numbered years. Nine Seychellois attended the Atlanta games.   (Seychelles Postal Services/Salifa Karapetyan Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

Venezuela's Maduro halts talks with opposition after US sanctions

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed Washington on Wednesday in cancelling scheduled talks with the political opposition, as his embattle regime struggles under the weight of US sanctions. The oil-rich leftist regime has been hurt especially hard sinc
Seychelles News Agency

Venezuela's Maduro halts talks with opposition after US sanctions

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed Washington on Wednesday in cancelling scheduled talks with the political opposition, as his embattle regime struggles under the weight of US sanctions. The oil-rich leftist regime has been hurt especially hard since US President Donald Trump on Monday ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities. Maduro «has decided to not send the Venezuelan delegation» for talks Thursday and Friday mediated by Norway in Barbados with representatives of opposition leader Juan Guaido, a government statement read. Maduro attributed the cancellation to «the grave and brutal aggression» being «continuously... carried out by the Trump administration against Venezuela, which includes the illegal blocking of our economic, commercial and financial activities,» the statement read. Trump's measures were just the latest in a string of sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime in a bid to force the socialist leader from power. The crisis-wracked country has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido, speaker of the National Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president. He is now recognized as Venezuela's leader by more than 50 countries. In the talks Guaido has called for new elections, while Maduro, who retains support from Venezuela's military, is calling for a «democratic cohabitation» and refuses to leave office. - 'Yankee go home!' - In Caracas, thousands of government supporters dressed in red and waving Venezuelan flags marched against the US sanctions. Washington has threatened to «use every appropriate tool» to oust Maduro, and warned Venezuelan allies Russia and China on Tuesday against doing business with the regime. China responded to the sanctions by telling the US to stop «bullying» other countries. Made up mostly of civilian militia and public sector employees, the crowd chanted: «Yankee go home!» and «Hands off Venezuela!» «We're struggling against this war that's making life impossible,» Elena Flores, a 62-year-old government worker, told AFP. Trump «is nervous, he's anxious, he's power-hungry, he wants to get his hands on Venezuela,» she added. Speaking at a small meeting in the east of Caracas, Guaido insisted the US sanctions would affect only top regime officials and not the general population. «They're against the regime, against Maduro, the product of arrogance,» he said as he called for the release of opposition legislator Juan Requesens, who was arrested a year ago and is accused of being behind an alleged drone attack against Maduro. Venezuela's opposition considers Maduro a usurper over his re-election last year in a poll widely viewed as rigged. © Agence France-Presse

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