Seychelles



Seychelles' beloved Anglican Archbishop French Chang Him passes away

The Seychelles islands woke up Friday to the news that the island nation's first Anglican priest and bishop, Archbishop Emeritus French Chang Him, had passed away. Chang Him was 85 years old.  The beloved bishop was hospitalised a fortnight ago and underwen

Seychelles launches National Aquaculture Policy 2023-2027

Seychelles has launched its second National Aquaculture Policy for 2023-2027 to guide and support an effective aquaculture industry that contributes to food security and wealth creation. The new policy was launched on Tuesday at the Seychelles Maritime Acade
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles launches National Aquaculture Policy 2023-2027

Seychelles has launched its second National Aquaculture Policy for 2023-2027 to guide and support an effective aquaculture industry that contributes to food security and wealth creation. The new policy was launched on Tuesday at the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA), in the presence of the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Seychelles, Oskar Benedict, and the French Ambassador to Seychelles, Olivia Berkeley-Christmann. In his address at the launching, Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean-Francois Ferrari, said that this event marks a pivotal moment in the advancement of sustainable aquaculture in Seychelles. «As we gather here today, we are reminded of the critical role our oceans play in our lives. In Seychelles, the ocean is not just a natural resource; it is the lifeblood of our economy, culture, and sustenance,» said Ferrari. He added that: «By optimising the use of our expansive ocean territory, we aim to enhance food security, generate income, create jobs, and provide environmental benefits such as climate change adaptation and mitigation.» The aquaculture sector was opened for investment in October 2021 and since then, the Seychelles Fishing Authority has worked with the private sector to support investment and assist new aquaculture farmers in becoming operational. There has been diverse interest in investment in the sector, including species such as seaweeds, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and fin fish. Ambassador Benedikt received a copy of the Policy. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY.   To date, the Aquaculture Department has issued 11 licenses and is currently reviewing a number of applications as well. Ferrari said, «The aquaculture sector holds immense potential for our nation. By providing a sustainable solution to meet the growing global demand for seafood, we can also alleviate pressure on our natural fish stocks, support conservation efforts, and promote economic diversification.» In developing the policy, Seychelles had help from the EU to draft a comprehensive framework that aligns with global best practices and the country's national objectives. «We are pleased to mention that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EDA) programme has for instance provided technical support to identify via research and develop the proof of concept for at least five aquaculture species, including the Sea urchins and Marine fin fish,» said Benedict. He added that special support has been provided to local private operators in developing business plans, while technical mentorship support has been provided to existing aquaculture permit holders in order to assist them in the establishment of farming operations. «With the new Aquaculture Policy that is being launched today, key challenges will be addressed notably those related to licensing and permitting systems and to the use of non-indigenous culture species in aquaculture. A series of technicalities will also be clarified including, for instance, freshwater and small-scale aquaculture operations,» said Benedict. Seychelles launched its aquaculture industry over more than a decade ago in a bid to diversify its economy in a sustainable manner within the concept of the Blue Economy.

Half of mangrove ecosystems at risk: conservationists

Half of the world's mangrove ecosystems are at risk of collapse due to climate change, deforestation and pollution, according to a study published Wednesday. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), known for its red list of threatened spec
Seychelles News Agency

Half of mangrove ecosystems at risk: conservationists

Half of the world's mangrove ecosystems are at risk of collapse due to climate change, deforestation and pollution, according to a study published Wednesday. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), known for its red list of threatened species, has for the first time taken stock of the world's mangroves, evaluating 36 different regions. IUCN director general Grethel Aguilar said the assessment «highlights the urgent need for coordinated conservation of mangroves -- crucial habitats for millions in vulnerable communities worldwide». Mangroves are trees or shrubs that grow mainly in seawater or brackish water along coastlines and tidal rivers, in equatorial climes. Released on the International Day for Biodiversity, IUCN said its findings show that «50 percent of the mangrove ecosystems assessed are at risk of collapse» -- categorised as either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. According to the assessment, 20 percent were at severe risk of collapse. Mangroves are threatened by deforestation, development, pollution, and dam construction. However, the risk is increasing due to sea-level rise and the greater frequency of severe storms associated with climate change. Disastrous disappearance - Climate change threatens a third of mangrove ecosystems assessed, due to rising sea levels. According to estimates, at the current rate, a quarter of the global area of mangroves is expected to be submerged in the next 50 years, IUCN said. The northwest Atlantic Ocean, the northern Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the South China Sea, and the Gulf of Aden coasts are expected to be particularly severely affected. «Mangrove ecosystems are exceptional in their ability to provide essential services to people, including coastal disaster risk reduction, carbon storage and sequestration, and support for fisheries,» said Angela Andrade, chair of the IUCN commission on ecosystem management. «Their loss stands to be disastrous for nature and people across the globe.» The study said looking after mangroves was essential for mitigating the effects of climate change, with healthy ecosystems coping better with sea level rise and providing inland protection from the effects of severe storms. Without significant improvement by 2050, climate change and rising sea levels will lead to the loss of 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon stored in mangroves. Mangroves currently store nearly 11 billion tons of carbon -- almost three times the amount of carbon stored by tropical forests of the same size. Maintaining good sediment circulation and allowing mangroves to expand inland will help them cope with sea level rise, IUCN said. It also called for the restoration of mangroves which have already disappeared. «A very good study of mangrove change globally that was published in 2022 indicates about 5,000 square kilometres of mangrove were lost» between 1996 and 2020, IUCN's Marco Valderrabano told AFP. © Agence France-Presse

One dead, dozens injured as Singapore-bound flight hits turbulence

A 73-year-old British man died and more than 70 people were injured Tuesday in what passengers described as a terrifying scene aboard a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence, triggering an emergency landing in Bangkok. An initial data analysi
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One dead, dozens injured as Singapore-bound flight hits turbulence

A 73-year-old British man died and more than 70 people were injured Tuesday in what passengers described as a terrifying scene aboard a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence, triggering an emergency landing in Bangkok. An initial data analysis by the aviation tracking service Flightradar24 suggested the London-Singapore flight experienced more than one minute of extreme turbulence at around 11,300 metres (37,000 feet) over Myanmar, during which it violently rose and plunged several times. Flight SQ321 had taken off from London's Heathrow airport and «encountered sudden extreme turbulence» over Myanmar's Irrawaddy Basin, according to Singapore Airlines. The aircraft later affected a sharp, controlled descent and diverted to Bangkok. Andrew Davies, a British passenger aboard the Boeing 777-300ER, told BBC Radio 5 that the plane «suddenly dropped» and there was «very little warning». «During the few seconds of the plane dropping, there was an awful screaming and what sounded like a thud,» he said, adding that he helped a woman who was «screaming in agony» with a «gash on her head». He described seeing people with head lacerations and bleeding ears: «I was covered in coffee. It was incredibly severe turbulence». Most of the injured passengers on the flight suffered blows to the head, said the director of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, Kittipong Kittikachorn, who confirmed the age and nationality of the deceased man. Emergency vehicles raced onto the tarmac at the Thai capital's main airport with lights flashing and sirens blaring after the plane touched down at 3:45 pm (0845 GMT). «At 3:35 pm the airport received a distress call from the Singapore Airlines flight saying there were passengers on board injured by turbulence, and requesting an emergency landing,» Suvarnabhumi Airport said in a statement. «The plane landed at the airport and the medical team was sent to treat all the injured.» A large number of those aboard the plane -- 131 passengers and 12 crew members -- finally arrived in Singapore on a relief flight just after 5:00 am Wednesday, the airline said. Another 79 passengers and six crew members remained in Bangkok, including those receiving medical care. Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong meanwhile sent his «deepest condolences» to the family and loved ones of the deceased, posting on Facebook that his country was «working closely with Thai authorities.» - Passengers 'too casual' - Bangkok's Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital said a total of 71 people had been sent for treatment, six of them severely injured. «We deeply apologise for the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight. We are providing all necessary assistance during this difficult time,» Singapore Airlines said. Of the passengers, 56 were Australians, 47 British and 41 Singaporeans, the airline said. «In terms of exactly what happened, it's too early to tell. But I think passengers are too casual on board commercial aircraft,» US-based aerospace safety expert Anthony Brickhouse told AFP. «The moment the captain turns off the seatbelt sign, people literally unbuckle.» Davies, the passenger, said that at the very moment a seatbelt sign came on, «the plane suddenly dropped». Allison Barker told the BBC her son Josh, who was aboard the plane, texted her that he was on «a crazy flight» that was making an emergency landing. «It was terrifying,» she said. «I didn't know what was going on. We didn't know whether he'd survived, it was so nerve-wracking. It was the longest two hours of my life.» - Singapore to send investigators - Singapore's transport ministry said it would send investigators to Bangkok, while the city-state's President Tharman Shanmugaratnam said «we must hope and pray» for the injured to recover. The episode marks the latest drama involving a Boeing plane, after a fuselage panel blew out of an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX in January as well as two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. Boeing said it was «ready to support» Singapore Airlines. «We extend our deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one, and our thoughts are with the passengers and crew,» Boeing said on social media platform X. Scientists have long warned that climate change is likely to increase so-called clear air turbulence, which is invisible to radar. A 2023 study found the annual duration of clear air turbulence increased 17 percent from 1979 to 2020, with the most severe cases increasing over 50 percent. © Agence France-Presse

EnSEL: Seychelles to benefit from €2m EU technical agreement 

Seychelles and the European Union signed a €2 million technical cooperation agreement called the European Solidarity Action (EnSEL) on Tuesday. The agreement was signed by Seychelles' Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, and the E
Seychelles News Agency

EnSEL: Seychelles to benefit from €2m EU technical agreement 

Seychelles and the European Union signed a €2 million technical cooperation agreement called the European Solidarity Action (EnSEL) on Tuesday. The agreement was signed by Seychelles' Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, and the European head of delegation, Ambassador Oskar Benedikt, in the presence of the French Ambassador to Seychelles, Olivia Berkeley-Christmann. EnSEL (pronounced in Creole), is a Technical Cooperation Facility provided by the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), which is the main financing tool of the EU to contribute towards eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development, prosperity, peace and stability. Following the signing, Radegonde said that it is still undecided which projects will benefit from the grant. «The Seychelles and the European delegation will work together to decide on the areas that we will focus on, mainly environment, resilience and climate change as well as governance,» said Radegonde. On his side, Benedikt said this fund is meant exclusively for Seychelles. «The idea is to support Seychelles as a friend and partner with the additional facility of €2 million in non-repayable grants and they should be used in the best way for you. I think we have some common priorities which are becoming the priorities of the world. We are hoping that we can support you in different ways in sustaining and diversifying your economy based on a sound and pristine environment,» added the ambassador. Benedikt said, «We will decide together what to use it for, it will be a little bit different from the previous one in so far as the EU delegation itself will manage the projects and not a consultant. This will be done of course together with Seychelles.» He clarified that this new modality is meant to remove unnecessary steps along the way and make the process more efficient.  

Seychelles' government minister awarded «outstanding alumnus» of York University, Canada

Seychelles' Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, is one of four former students to receive an award as an outstanding alumnus of York University in Canada for 2023. Joubert won the Tentanda Via award given to alumni wh
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' government minister awarded «outstanding alumnus» of York University, Canada

Seychelles' Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, is one of four former students to receive an award as an outstanding alumnus of York University in Canada for 2023. Joubert won the Tentanda Via award given to alumni who have demonstrated innovative, unconventional, and daring leadership and success, reflecting the university's motto «The way must be tried.» The minister expressed his satisfaction on Monday in a press conference. «I am very satisfied that now more than 21 years after having left the University they contacted me and informed me that they are looking at other alumnus who have gone through the uni and they are considering those who have managed to make something out of their lives,» he said. York University, also known as YorkU, is a public research university established in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1959. It is Canada's third-largest university with around 55,700 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and over 370,000 alumni worldwide. Joubert also revealed that he left Seychelles for his Masters in Environmental Studies on a Canadian Commonwealth scholarship in 2003. His thesis was on pesticide regulation and he presented a paper on the regulation of pesticides in various cities. «During this time I learned a lot not just about pesticides and their regulation, but also on the different government models that exist and their functions in the bigger countries,» he said. He added that it is «important that our people are also given the experience as it gives us a broader idea of the possibilities that exist.» Before he was appointed minister, Joubert held several key positions including director general for Wildlife Enforcement and Permits and chief executive of the Seychelles National Parks Authority and the Landscape and Waste Management Authority. When asked why he believes he was chosen among his other alumnus, Joubert said, «When I took the post as a minister in Seychelles, this has also been a chance to show that one of their alumni has reached a visible level in their chosen field and this is one of the criteria that has been used to determine whether they should receive the award or not.» He concluded that through this award «Seychelles is recognised in the world, and accompanied with the things that we are doing, this could be a good way to promote our image as a serious country on the world scene.» The other alumni to win this year are Harry S. LaForme, Fatima Israel and Temo Primrose Gare. 

Seychelles and Botswana to collaborate on agriculture, education and tourism projects

Seychelles and Botswana will continue collaborations in agriculture, education, and tourism, said the newly accredited High Commissioner of Botswana. Chandapiwa Nteta presented her credentials to Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan on Tuesday at State Hou
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles and Botswana to collaborate on agriculture, education and tourism projects

Seychelles and Botswana will continue collaborations in agriculture, education, and tourism, said the newly accredited High Commissioner of Botswana. Chandapiwa Nteta presented her credentials to Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan on Tuesday at State House. The new high commissioner expressed her wish to gain Seychelles' support from the international community «as Botswana has some issues with our diamonds.» An import restriction imposed by the Group of Seven (G7) on Russian diamonds earlier this year will have a detrimental impact on Botswana’s diamond trade. Okavango Diamond Company in Botswana has asked the G7 countries to reconsider the second phase as it will impact diamond producing countries such as themselves and raise the price of ethical diamonds. Nteta met the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, and among the subjects discussed were trade, investments and connectivity, especially the signing of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement. According to the Foreign Affairs Department, Radegonde pointed out that both countries share a very good bilateral relationship where fruitful exchanges have been made. These include Seychellois teachers pursuing their tertiary education in Botswana and teachers from Botswana working in Seychelles' state schools. To date, over 50 teachers graduated from the University of Botswana and around 20 teachers from Botswana were sent to Seychelles to teach in various primary and secondary schools. «Botswana is interested to learn from Seychelles' experiences in dealing with victims of substance abuse and rehabilitation process, Seychelles is keen to learn more from Botswana's agricultural success,» said the Foreign Affairs Department. The two diplomats also discussed matters relating to regional engagements and organisations in which both countries are members. While in Seychelles, the high commissioner will also call on the Minister for Education, Justin Valentin, the Commissioner of Police, Ted Barbe, and other high level officials. Botswana and Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean,  established diplomatic relations on September 30, 1988.

France says it 'supports ICC', where warrants sought for Israel, Hamas leaders

France said late Monday it supported the independence of the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor has requested arrest warrants for leaders from Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Islamist movement Hamas. «France sup
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France says it 'supports ICC', where warrants sought for Israel, Hamas leaders

France said late Monday it supported the independence of the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor has requested arrest warrants for leaders from Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Islamist movement Hamas. «France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence, and the fight against impunity in all situations,» its foreign ministry said in a statement. The ministry «condemned the anti-Semitic massacres perpetrated by Hamas» during the group's attack on Israel on October 7, which was «accompanied by acts of torture and sexual violence». It also said it had warned Israel «of the need for strict compliance with international humanitarian law, and in particular of the unacceptable level of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip and inadequate humanitarian access». The International Criminal Court's prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he had applied for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for crimes including «wilful killing», «extermination and/or murder», and «starvation» during the war in Gaza. He said Israel had committed «crimes against humanity», and accused it «of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population». Khan also said the leaders of Palestinian militant group Hamas, including Qatar-based Ismail Haniyeh and Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, «bear criminal responsibility» for actions committed during the October 7 attack. These included «taking hostages», «rape and other acts of sexual violence», and «torture», he said. «International law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all,» Khan said. «No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader –- no one -– can act with impunity.» Israel rejected the accusations as a «historical disgrace», while Iran-backed Hamas said it «strongly condemns» the move. The United States, Israel's top ally, also rejected the ICC's bid, with President Joe Biden denouncing it as «outrageous» and saying «there is no equivalence -- none -- between Israel and Hamas». US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the ICC move «could jeopardise» efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza. © Agence France-Presse

South Africa's top court strikes Zuma from ballot

South Africa's top court on Monday barred former president Jacob Zuma from running in general elections next week, but his upstart opposition party vowed to fight on to return the graft-tainted politician to office. The ruling has stoked fears of violent unr
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South Africa's top court strikes Zuma from ballot

South Africa's top court on Monday barred former president Jacob Zuma from running in general elections next week, but his upstart opposition party vowed to fight on to return the graft-tainted politician to office. The ruling has stoked fears of violent unrest in the run-up to the poll, already the most competitive since the advent of democracy in 1994. But Zuma's party, uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK), urged supporters to remain calm and go out and vote on May 29. «This heavily flawed and conflicted judgement is not the end but rather a pivotal moment affirming that the MK Party is the right choice for the black poor and downtrodden,» it said. The top court backed an electoral commission decision that Zuma's previous conviction for contempt of court prevents him from becoming an MP, ruling that the constitution bars anyone sentenced to more than 12 months in jail. - 'Not eligible' - Zuma, who left office in 2018 dogged by corruption allegations, was convicted of contempt in 2021 and sentenced to 15 months. Rioting after his imprisonment left more than 350 people dead. He eventually served less than three months in jail, but the court ruled that this was irrelevant as the constitution refers to the sentence imposed, not served. «Mr Zuma... is accordingly not eligible to be a member of and not qualified to stand for election to the national assembly,» Justice Leona Theron said, reading the judgement. In a South African general election, the president is chosen by MPs from among their own ranks. If Zuma is not allowed to enter parliament he cannot become president, even if his newly formed party is able to muster enough seats to propose him. The electoral commission said ballot papers would not be reprinted nine days from the vote and Zuma's photo would still appear next to his party's name. «Jacob Zuma is still the party leader, Jacob Zuma is on the ballot paper of MK party and people are still going to vote Jacob Zuma in numbers,» MK secretary general Sihle Ngubane told AFP. A few dozen supporters of the firebrand ex-leader turned opposition challenger -- some sporting the military fatigues often worn by MK members -- chanted and danced as they left the court in Johannesburg after the hearing. «We are resolute,» MK party member Lindiwe Mtshali, 39, told AFP, adding she was however «very disappointed» at the ruling. MK has attempted to portray the decision as a desperate effort from its opponents to derail its electoral hopes. The party boasts it will secure a two-third majority in the National Assembly that would allow it to change the constitution and reinstate Zuma -- but that seems highly unlikely. Opinion polls suggest MK will not do well outside of Zuma's native KwaZulu-Natal province. An Ipsos survey last month estimated support at 8.4 percent nationwide. «The country is still in shackles,» prisoner rights activist and Zuma supporter Golden Miles Bhudu declared, as he protested the verdict outside the court, his arms and legs bound by chains. «This judgement is irrational,» he said. - 'Threat of violence' - Since leaving office, Zuma, who was president between 2009 and 2018, an era that for many South Africans has become synonymous with official corruption, has fought several legal battles. He assumed control of MK to challenge his successor Cyril Ramaphosa's African National Congress (ANC), which has won every election since the country became a democracy but is struggling in the polls and risks losing its absolute majority for the first time. Outside the court, Neeshan Balton, director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which had joined the case to provide legal advice as amicus curiae, welcomed the ruling. «The former president clearly was not going to uphold the constitution, and we are happy that he's disqualified,» he said. If Zuma's outsider campaign cuts into the ANC's traditional support base, Ramaphosa may be forced to negotiate a coalition with one or more of the many small opposition parties to ensure he is re-elected. Political analyst Sandile Swana said that Zuma's ineligibility was not going to cost MK many votes. «What matters is that he is still able to campaign for the MK and be the face of it,» he said. The ANC was the leading political force in the struggle against the apartheid regime and many older South Africans remain loyal to it. But support has slumped amid corruption allegations and soaring crime and unemployment rates. Just under a third of the working age population is unemployed and the murder rate has reached 84 a day. Acknowledging the ruling, Ramaphosa said security forces were ready to deal with «any threat of violence». © Agence France-Presse

Ban on collection of sooty tern eggs in Seychelles extended for 2 more years 

The ban on the collection of sooty tern eggs in Seychelles has been extended for another two years, said an official from the Biodiversity Conservation and Management Division on Monday. The previous ban was in place since 2022 and was expected to be remove
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Ban on collection of sooty tern eggs in Seychelles extended for 2 more years 

The ban on the collection of sooty tern eggs in Seychelles has been extended for another two years, said an official from the Biodiversity Conservation and Management Division on Monday. The previous ban was in place since 2022 and was expected to be removed by May 31 2024 to allow for surveys and research on the status of the species, especially the population numbers. The director general for the Biodiversity Conservation and Management Division, Rodney Quatre, told reporters that after these surveys of 2022 as well as 2023, the results show a decline in the population of the sooty tern. The population was around 1.2 million pairs in 2021 and was around 900,000 in 2023. «Since it takes sooty tern around five years to mature, the two risk surveys that were done recently are still showing a decline therefore, we found it necessary as a precautionary measure to extend the ban for another two years. This would give more time for the population to recover as well as the possibility to do more research,» said Quatre.  He emphasised that monitoring and enforcement will continue during the ban. The sooty tern is a medium-sized, highly pelagic seabird with contrasting black and white plumage and a distinctive wideawake call. They are extremely sociable, forming very large nesting colonies on open ground. Sooty terns are found on several inner and outer islands of the Seychelles with the main populations on Recif, Aride, Farquhar, Cosmoledo, Bird Island, Desnouefs, African Banks and Etoile. Most of the islands are managed by the state-owned  DC). Two of them are privately owned, namely Bird and Aride Islands. The director for conservation, Ashley Dias, presented the findings of the National Census 2022/2023 done for the sooty tern population and showed that on most islands there have been substantial declines.    «Among the places where the census was done, the African Banks is one of the areas that have been severely affected by poaching. African Banks went from 43,300 pairs in 1955 to a 100 percent decline during the latest survey,» she said. Aride is another island that has seen a decline by 95 percent and on Cosmoledo's Grande Ile a census in 199 estimated around 1.1 million pairs and this has dropped to 262,195 in 2021, a decline of 75 percent. According to information presented by Dias, the major threats to sooty terns are overfishing of tuna and invasive alien species, and secondary threats include climate change-induced habitat alteration. «The sooty terns' ability for waterproofing its wings is not like the other birds, therefore they are not able to dive very deep for fish, so they depend on tuna driving other smaller fish to the surface for them. Consequently, the more overfishing there is, the harder it is for them to find food,» she explained. Dias said, «We have to look at all factors in its entirety that are affecting this species not just egg collecting, and this extension of the ban will allow to look at what exactly is causing the decline in the population.» The two-year extension on the ban on sooty tern egg collection was recently approved by the Cabinet of Ministers after they were presented with the findings from the National Sooty Tern Census. The cabinet also approved the revision of all relevant seabird protection legislation and improved site management on breeding islands. Additionally, an educational campaign on the importance of preserving sooty terns, the development of a national action plan involving all stakeholders, increased surveillance and enforcement during nesting seasons, and research on breeding phenology and migration patterns were also approved. 

Challenge Fund: 9 Seychelles' circular economy pitches awarded grants

Hydroponics as a cleaner way to practice agriculture and recycling tyres found in nature are among the business pitches that clinched the top prizes in the Seychelles' circular economy and a boot camp and pitch competition. Twenty-two participants who attend
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Challenge Fund: 9 Seychelles' circular economy pitches awarded grants

Hydroponics as a cleaner way to practice agriculture and recycling tyres found in nature are among the business pitches that clinched the top prizes in the Seychelles' circular economy and a boot camp and pitch competition. Twenty-two participants who attended the training camp at the Savoy Resort and Spa on Mahe were also taught how to make a successful pitch, giving them the chance to win between $15,000 to $20,000 under the Challenge Fund. The fund is a financing programme developed by the Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund. The project, launched in March, is being implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Barry Nourrice, an agriculture and environment consultant, told SNA that the plan he presented is for a hydroponics farm and is one of the nine proposals to receive the grant. Hydroponics is the method of growing plants in a nutrient solution rather than soil in a system where the roots grow into a liquid solution fortified with all the essential nutrients for healthy plants. «As with circular economy one of the things that businesses must be able to manage is the waste they produce, I believe this system will help keep farming sustainable,» he explained. Nourrice added that since farmers were unable to retrieve nutrients they add into the soil, hydroponics is a way to help them continually «re-use what they have put in the water. Seychelles generates an average amount of 80,000 tonnes of waste annually and the primary landfill at Providence is expected to reach full capacity by 2025. Faced with a scarcity of land, the country will need to adopt a sustainable solid waste management system. With this in mind, another grant winner, Andy Julie, said that he will be setting up a business to tackle the number of old tires found in nature. »It is an eyesore at the moment and while driving by, I realised that the tyres could be turned into something that people can use in their everyday lives," he said. Julie said he has done extensive research to help him present a solid project.

Search for Iran's President Raisi after helicopter goes missing

Search and rescue teams were scouring a fog-shrouded mountain area of northwest Iran Monday after President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter went missing in what state media described as an accident. Fears grew for the 63-year-old ultraconservative after contact w
Seychelles News Agency

Search for Iran's President Raisi after helicopter goes missing

Search and rescue teams were scouring a fog-shrouded mountain area of northwest Iran Monday after President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter went missing in what state media described as an accident. Fears grew for the 63-year-old ultraconservative after contact was lost with the aircraft carrying him as well as Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others in East Azerbaijan province on Sunday, reports said. After hours of searching, state TV reported early Monday that a Turkish drone appeared to have detected «the coordinates of the accident» and informed Iranian rescue teams. «Rescue teams have been dispatched to the site,» it added. State television first reported Sunday afternoon that «an accident happened to the helicopter carrying the president» in the Jolfa region of East Azerbaijan province. «The harsh weather conditions and heavy fog have made it difficult for the rescue teams to reach the accident site,» said one broadcaster, as the massive search effort later continued through the night. Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the helicopter «made a hard landing» in bad weather and that it was «difficult to establish communication» with the aircraft. He urged people to get their information «only from state television», and not listen to foreign media channels Iran deems hostile to the Islamic republic. Raisi's convoy had included three helicopters, and the other two had «reached their destination safely», said the Tasnim news agency. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iranians to «not worry» about the leadership of the Islamic republic, saying «there will be no disruption in the country's work». «We hope that Almighty God will bring our dear president and his companions back in full health into the arms of the nation,» he said in a nationally televised address as Muslim faithful prayed for Raisi's safe return. Expressions of concern and offers to help came from abroad, including Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia and Turkey, as well as from the European Union which activated its rapid response mapping service to aid in the search effort. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani expressed gratitude for «governments and international organisations for their sympathy and offer of help in the search and rescue operations.» - Massive search effort - Iran's cabinet held an emergency meeting led by Vice President Mohammad Mokhber after the incident, the IRNA news agency reported. More than 60 rescue teams using search dogs and drones were sent to the mountainous protected forest area of Dizmar near the town of Varzaghan, IRNA said. Army, Revolutionary Guard and police officers joined the search, authorities said, as TV stations showed pictures of Red Crescent teams walking up a hill in the mist, and rows of waiting emergency response vehicles. Raisi had visited the northwestern province to inaugurate a dam project together with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, on their common border. Aliyev said in a post on X that «we were profoundly troubled by the news of a helicopter carrying the top delegation crash-landing in Iran». «Our prayers to Allah Almighty are with President Ebrahim Raisi and the accompanying delegation,» he said, also offering «any assistance needed». Foreign countries were closely following the search at a time of high regional tensions over the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas since October 7 that has drawn in other armed groups in the Middle East. A US State Department spokesman said: «We are closely following reports of a possible hard landing of a helicopter in Iran carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister», adding that «we have no further comment at this time». US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the crash, an American official said on condition of anonymity. - 'Servant of the people' - Raisi has been president since 2021 when he succeeded the moderate Hassan Rouhani, at a time when the economy was battered by US sanctions over Iran's contested nuclear programme. Iran saw a wave of protests triggered by the death in custody of Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September 2022 after her arrest for allegedly flouting dress rules for women. In March 2023, regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia signed a surprise deal that restored diplomatic relations. The Gaza war sent regional tensions soaring again and a series of tit-for-tat escalations led to Tehran launching hundreds of missiles and rockets directly at Israel in April this year. In a speech following Sunday's dam inauguration, Raisi emphasised Iran's support for Palestinians, a centrepiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution. «We believe that Palestine is the first issue of the Muslim world, and we are convinced that the people of Iran and Azerbaijan always support the people of Palestine and Gaza and hate the Zionist regime,» said Raisi. Hamas, which the United States and European Union consider a terrorist group, said that «in this painful incident, we express our full solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran, its leadership, government and people».  © Agence France-Presse

DR Congo thwarts Kinshasa 'coup attempt': army

The DR Congo military on Sunday said it had thwarted an «attempted coup» near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa involving «foreigners and Congolese». It happened in the early hours of the morning outside the resid
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DR Congo thwarts Kinshasa 'coup attempt': army

The DR Congo military on Sunday said it had thwarted an «attempted coup» near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa involving «foreigners and Congolese». It happened in the early hours of the morning outside the residence of Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe, in the Gombe area in the north of the capital, near the Palais de la Nation that houses the president's offices, a spokesman said. «An attempted coup d'etat has been stopped by the defence and security forces,» said General Sylvain Ekenge in a message broadcast on national television. Shots were also heard near the Palais de la Nation at the time of the coup attempt, according to a number of sources. Later on Sunday, army spokesman General Sylvain Ekenge said several Americans and a British man were part of the group involved in the operation. The coup bid was led by Christian Malanga, a Congolese man who was a «naturalised American» and had been «definitively neutralised» -– killed -- by the security forces, Ekenge said in a broadcast on Sunday evening. The group was made up of «several nationalities», Ekenge said, adding that around 40 of the attackers had been arrested, and four -- including Malanga -- killed. «We also have a naturalised British subject, the number two of the group,» the spokesman added. Malanga's son, Marcel Malanga, was also among the attackers, he said. - Two police killed - Kamerhe and his family were not harmed in the attack but two police officers looking after them were killed, said a source close to the minister. The group had planned to attack the home of the new Prime Minister Judith Suminwa, and the residence of Defence Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba. But they «could not identify the home» of Suminwa and had not been able to find Bemba at his residence. After the attack at Kamerhe's home, the group then went to the Palais de la Nation, brandishing flags of Zaire, the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was overthrown in 1997. «I am shocked by the events this morning and very worried by the reports of American citizens allegedly being involved,» Lucy Tamlyn, the US ambassador to the DRC, posted on X, formerly Twitter. «Rest assured that we are cooperating with authorities in DRC to the fullest extent possible, as they investigate these criminal acts and hold accountable any American citizen involved.» France's ambassador had reported automatic weapon fire in the area, urging nationals to avoid it. - Zaire flags - During the day, certain streets near the Palais de la Nation remained closed to traffic, but the situation appeared calm, AFP journalists reported. «I'm a little afraid to move around like that in Gombe, there aren't many people... But I have to sell my goods,» bread-seller Jean-Mbuta said. Videos on social media showed men in fatigues at the Palais de la Nation, brandishing flags of Zaire. The Zaire flag was mostly green while the DRC one is largely blue. «The time has arrived, long live Zaire, long live the children of Mobutu,» a man who appeared to be the head of the group said in Lingala, a language spoken in parts of the DRC. «Felix has fallen... we are victorious,» he added. AFP was also unable to verify the videos. Tshisekedi was re-elected at the end of December when he received more than 70 percent of votes in the first round. The parties backing him won around 90 percent of seats in the parliamentary elections held the same day. But he is yet to form a government some five months after the elections. Kamerhe on April 23 was named as a candidate for president of the National Assembly, the DRC's main legislative body. © Agence France-Presse

Israeli leaders split over post-war Gaza governance

New divisions have emerged among Israel's leaders over post-war Gaza's governance, with an unexpected Hamas fightback in parts of the Palestinian territory piling pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli army has been battling Hamas militan
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Israeli leaders split over post-war Gaza governance

New divisions have emerged among Israel's leaders over post-war Gaza's governance, with an unexpected Hamas fightback in parts of the Palestinian territory piling pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli army has been battling Hamas militants across Gaza for more than seven months while also exchanging near-daily fire with Iran-backed Hezbollah forces along the northern border with Lebanon. But after Hamas fighters regrouped in northern Gaza, where Israel previously said the group had been neutralised, broad splits emerged in the Israeli war cabinet. Netanyahu came under personal attack Saturday from war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, who threatened to resign from the body unless the premier approved a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip. Earlier in the week, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant slammed Netanyahu for failing to rule out an Israeli government in Gaza after the war. The prime minister's outright rejection of post-war Palestinian leadership in Gaza has broken wide open a rift among top politicians and also frustrated relations with top ally the United States. Experts say the lack of clarity only serves to benefit Hamas, whose leader has insisted no new authority can be established in the territory without its involvement. «Without an alternative to fill the vacuum, Hamas will continue to grow,» International Crisis Group analyst Mairav Zonszein told AFP. Emmanuel Navon, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University, echoed this sentiment. «If only Hamas is left in Gaza, of course they are going to appear here and there and the Israeli army will be forced to chase them around,» said Navon. «Either you establish an Israeli military government or an Arab-led government.» - US pressure - Gantz said Saturday the war cabinet needed to draft and approve a broad range of plans within three weeks, including the formation of an «American, European, Arab and Palestinian administration that will manage civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip». Earlier in the week Gallant had struck out at Netanyahu, urging him «to make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza strip». Netanyahu is also under pressure from Washington to bring a swift end to the conflict and avoid being mired in a long counterinsurgency campaign. Washington has previously called for a «revitalised» form of the Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza after the war. But Netanyahu has rejected any role for the PA in post-war Gaza, saying Thursday that it «supports terror, educates terror, finances terror». Instead, Netanyahu has clung to his steadfast aim of «eliminating» Hamas, asserting that «there's no alternative to military victory». Experts say confidence in Netanyahu is running thin. «With Gallant's criticism of Netanyahu's failure to plan for the day after in terms of governing Gaza, some real fissures are beginning to emerge in the Israeli war cabinet,» Colin P. Clarke, director of policy and research at the Soufan Group think tank, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. «I'm not sure I know of many people, including the most ardent Israel supporters, who have confidence in Bibi,» he said, using Netanyahu's nickname. - Hostage 'impasse' - The Gaza war broke out after Hamas's attack on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures. The militants also seized about 250 hostages, 125 of whom Israel estimates remain in Gaza, including 37 the military says are dead. Israel's military retaliation has killed at least 35,386 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry, and an Israeli siege has brought dire food shortages and the threat of famine. Many Israelis supported Netanyahu's blunt goals to seek revenge on Hamas in the aftermath of October 7. But now, hopes have faded for the return of the hostages and patience in Netanyahu may be running out, experts said. On Friday, the army announced it had recovered bodies of three hostages who were killed during the October 7 attack. It said Saturday the body of another hostage was recovered in the same operation. After Israeli forces entered the far southern city of Rafah, where more than a million displaced Gazans were sheltering, talks mediated by Egypt, the United States and Qatar to release the hostages have ground to a standstill. «The hostage deal is at a total impasse -- you can no longer provide the appearance of progress,» said Zonszein of the International Crisis Group. «Plus the breakdown with the US and the fact that Egypt has refused to pass aid through Rafah -- all those things are coming to a head.» © Agence France-Presse

«Garden of Eden»: Seychelles' Atelier Alis exhibition launched in Cape Town

An artist couple hailing from Seychelles and Mauritius, Laurent Alis and Sasha Alis, have launched their collection 'Garden of Eden' in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Young Blood Gallery, and the exhibition will be on display for the coming months. Under th
Seychelles News Agency

«Garden of Eden»: Seychelles' Atelier Alis exhibition launched in Cape Town

An artist couple hailing from Seychelles and Mauritius, Laurent Alis and Sasha Alis, have launched their collection 'Garden of Eden' in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Young Blood Gallery, and the exhibition will be on display for the coming months. Under the banner 'Atelier Alis,' since May 2, the couple has been participating in Cape Town's monthly cultural experience, where art galleries, restaurants, and bars open their doors for a unique, walkable event. The 'Garden of Eden' exhibition features an array of large textured prints on metal, each depicting the beauty of the Vallee de Mai, one of Seychelles UNESCO World Heritage sites located on the second most populated island of Praslin. It also includes sculpted pieces inspired by the coco de mer, the largest seed in the plant kingdom, endemic to Seychelles, which has a distinct double-lobed shape that evokes the feminine form.  The couple Laurent Alis and Sasha Alis. (Atelier Alis) Photo License: All Rights Reserved  The collection on display in Cape Town also showcases framed poems by Sasha Alis, printed on German Etching fine art paper with anti-reflective glass, which she says, «explores themes of love, resilience, and the connection between humanity and nature.» Laurent Alis said that through his work, he «invites viewers to reconnect with their inner selves, much like the coco de mer, a seed that takes decades to mature and holds within it the potential for growth and renewal.» He said, «All truth, all inspiration, all creation comes from nature. Everything we've ever needed, and all the answers we search for, is within us—as an extension or part of nature.» His wife, Sasha said, «We are so grateful for this opportunity. So much went into this collection, and we are thrilled it's finally time to reveal it in another country. This is also a way for us to promote the archipelago in a new, fresh way.» She added that her poems «weaves my diverse heritage into my writings, exploring themes of community, resilience, and the female experience.» Sasha Alis is a Mauritian, born in South Africa and has travelled extensively. She said her poems, displayed alongside Laurent's sculptures, «offer a thoughtful reflection on the journey of self-discovery and the power of embracing one's roots.» Art lovers in Cape Town enjoying the Vallee de Mai prints, coco de mer sculptures, and poems at the Young Blood gallery.  (Atelier Alis) Photo License: All Rights Reserved  This is not the first time Atelier Alis' creations are featured on the international scene - the couple was at World Art Dubai, with the launch of their replica of the coco de mer. Since they started four years ago, the Alis couple has also showcased their art at various exhibitions in Mauritius and Seychelles. Their breakthrough came with the «Submerged» solo exhibition at L'Alliance Francaise des Seychelles in July 2019, with photographs taken by Laurent during his expeditions to the North and South Poles, as well as from a beach clean-up on Seychelles' Remire Island. At the exhibition, Laurent said it «illustrated the inter-connectedness of distant places and highlighted the impact of melting glaciers accelerating the rise in sea levels experienced on the archipelago.» For those unable to view the work in Cape Town,  Atelier Alis' work is available at Eden Art Gallery, the Lo Brizan boutique in Au Cap, and the Traveller's Edition airport shop in Seychelles.

East Africa hit with widespread internet outages

Internet access across several East African countries was disrupted on this week due to damaged undersea cables, global web monitor NetBlocks said. Tanzania and the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte were the hardest hit, the internet surveillance group s
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East Africa hit with widespread internet outages

Internet access across several East African countries was disrupted on this week due to damaged undersea cables, global web monitor NetBlocks said. Tanzania and the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte were the hardest hit, the internet surveillance group said. «The incident is attributed to failures affecting the SEACOM and EASSy subsea cable systems,» it said on X, formerly Twitter, referring to submarine communications cables that connect the region. The faults were on cables between Mozambique and South Africa, according to Tanzania's information and technology minister Nape Nnauye. Mozambique and Malawi were seeing a medium impact while Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, Comoros and Madagascar had less severe outages, NetBlocks said. West African nation Sierra Leone was also affected. Services had been restored in Kenya, NetBlocks said but many users reported patchy connectivity. Kenya's biggest telecoms operator Safaricom said it had «activated redundancy measures» to minimise the interruption. «You may, however, experience reduced internet speeds,» it told its users on X. Most of the world's internet traffic passes through scores of fibre optic cables laid along seafloors, with one of the longest, at 15,000 kilometres (9,300 miles), stretching from Portugal to South Africa. In 2009, SEACOM launched Africa's first fibre-optic cables connecting the eastern and southern coasts, according to its website. Several West and Southern African countries suffered similar outages in mid-March because of damage to the cables. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles to have new research station on Aldabra Atoll and «Aldabra House» on Mahe

The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) will undertake the construction of the Aldabra House at Providence and rebuild the research station on the Aldabra Atoll in the coming months to improve its services. The Royal Society, one of the oldest scientific
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles to have new research station on Aldabra Atoll and «Aldabra House» on Mahe

The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) will undertake the construction of the Aldabra House at Providence and rebuild the research station on the Aldabra Atoll in the coming months to improve its services. The Royal Society, one of the oldest scientific societies in the world and also the United Kingdom's National Academy of Sciences, built the Aldabra research station during the colonial era, and work was completed in June 1971. The station is administered today by the SIF, a non-profit charitable organisation established as a public trust by the government of Seychelles in 1979. SIF manages and protects Seychelles' two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the Aldabra Atoll and the Vallee de Mai Reserve on Praslin Island - the second most populated island. The chairperson of the SIF board of trustees, Bernard Georges, told reporters, «There is a need to rebuild the station as there has been erosion at the site, and we now have to move the building.» Another reason for rebuilding the station is that there has been an increase in the number of people now living and working on the Aldabra.   The chief executive of SIF, Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, said while the Foundation is contemplating moving the station due to the effects of climate change, «research has shown that this is the most vibrant place to have the station on Aldabra.» She said SIF will be carefully analysing the situation before making concrete decisions on the move. Georges also spoke about the two settlements on Aldabra and said the old settlement was built when the island «was still being exploited for its wood fish and tortoises for employees to live in. Although it is now dilapidated, it can still be seen.» The Aldabra Atoll consists of four main islands, namely Picard, Polymnie, Malabar and Grande Terre. Another construction that SIF will be undertaking this year is the Aldabra House, which will be built at Providence on the main island of Mahe. The previous plan to build the Aldabra House was cancelled in 2019. With the board announcing that the project was being revisited, it is expected to be completed in 2025. «We want to give people who will not have the chance to visit Aldabra, the chance to experience it on Mahe,» said Georges. He added that the building is expected to be an «iconic structure, that will house the SIF headquarters as well as provide accommodation for staff who are usually based on Aldabra.» At the time of conception, it was estimated that it would cost SIF $15 million to complete the building. The CEO said, «Some money has already been set aside for the project, although we have also received some help from the CEPF Fund in the United States.» The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is the largest in the world focused on conserving the planet's most biologically diverse and threatened ecosystems. It mobilises local, regional, and international partners to protect what nature provides for free to their communities.

Seychelles signs agreement with UK for aid in updating bathymetric charts

Seychelles has signed an agreement with the United Kingdom's Hydrography Organisation to update its bathymetric charts. The new memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will further strengthen collaboration in hydrography, was signed on Friday by Patrick A
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles signs agreement with UK for aid in updating bathymetric charts

Seychelles has signed an agreement with the United Kingdom's Hydrography Organisation to update its bathymetric charts. The new memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will further strengthen collaboration in hydrography, was signed on Friday by Patrick Andre, the principal secretary for Transport and UK's national hydrographer, Rear Admiral Angus Essenhigh. After the signing, the Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques, said this MOU «follows the decision by the Cabinet of Ministers in March to revive Seychelles' membership to the International Hydrography Organisation. The last update to the Seychelles' official hydrographic map was done back in 1976, so an update is highly necessary. The hydrographic layout is something that is constantly changing, so it needs to be documented.» A bathymetric chart depicts the submerged topography and physiographic features of ocean and sea bottoms and its primary purpose is to provide detailed depth contours of ocean topography as well as provide the size, shape and distribution of underwater features. According to the Ministry of Transport, a phase of this project began in January in the form of a survey and was done in collaboration with the UK government. Through a $3 million grant, the UK government facilitated comprehensive new surveys of Seychelles' waters, which was completed in the first quarter of this year. The deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Ports Authority, Egbert Moustache, said that the work being done to update the hydrographic charts of Seychelles will be very useful. «This is information that is needed for the port extension project. The old charts do not contain all the changes that have happened over the years. The channel will need to be dredged to allow for bigger boats for the extension but we won't be able to do that if we don't know what is there,» said Moustache. Derjaqcues clarified that the size of the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.4 million square kilometres means that not everything can be covered in the survey at the moment. Seychelles has asked that essential areas be completed first, such as around Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue, the three most populated islands, as well as areas with heavy traffic shipping trade lanes, especially around the Aldabra Atoll. The MOU also establishes a framework to enhance the existing commercial arrangements related to the sale of new charts. It can potentially lead to new income for Seychelles from the sale of bathymetric charts and establish a path for future revenue generation. «With this update in charts, Seychelles is expected to receive 12.5 percent of royalties on the sale of the charts that will be sold. We've also been made aware that there is a sum of money that has accumulated over the years from the sale of the previous chart that will be given to the Seychelles,» said Derjaqcues. He added that the money will be put towards establishing a hydrography unit and eventually a hydrography institute for Seychelles in the future.

Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation's nearly completed HQ gets new equipment from China

The Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) new headquarters are nearly complete and on Friday the Chinese Ambassador Lin Nan officially handed over the technical equipment they will use once they move in. Nan handed over the equipment to the SBC's chief e
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation's nearly completed HQ gets new equipment from China

The Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) new headquarters are nearly complete and on Friday the Chinese Ambassador Lin Nan officially handed over the technical equipment they will use once they move in. Nan handed over the equipment to the SBC's chief executive, Berard Dupres, in a ceremony held at the newly built SBC House. The SBC House project began in 2018 and after several delays, it is now nearing completion with the handing over being a significant part of the project. «This handing over is a comforting milestone that ensures us that we are indeed close to the finish line,» said Dupres. He added that while the past six years have not been easy, he acknowledges the hard work that the contractors Hunan Construction Investment, have put into the project. The building is located on the outskirts of the Seychelles' capital, Victoria, at Union Vale where the former SBC radio station was, and comprises several buildings separated by stairs and open gardens. One of the buildings will house its two radio stations, another will be home to the television operations, and an office building will be at the back end of the SBC House. Ambassador Lin Nan officially handed over the technical equipment SBC will use once they move in. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  The project is financed by a grant from the Chinese government and the contractor is Hunan 6 Engineering Company. The grant is inclusive of furniture and equipment.   «During the project implementation, we overcame many difficulties,» said Dianwei Cai, the chairman of Hunan Construction Investment, who added that the project will significantly advance the progress of digitalisation in broadcasting and television. He said, «The SBC House, which has been built on the shore of the Indian Ocean, marks the friendship and efforts of China and Seychelles.»   After the official handing-over ceremony, guests were taken on a tour of the facilities, which feature new cameras, fully equipped television studios, with cameras, lights and even an audience sitting area, among others. The project was approved and initiated by the Ministry of Commerce of China and managed by the Agency for International Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce of China.

Seychelles' government proposes fixed date of Sept. 27 for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2025

Presidential and legislative elections in Seychelles will take place on September 27, 2025, if a proposed 11th amendment to the Constitution on a fixed date for elections is approved by the National Assembly. Vice President Ahmed Afif made the statement on T
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' government proposes fixed date of Sept. 27 for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2025

Presidential and legislative elections in Seychelles will take place on September 27, 2025, if a proposed 11th amendment to the Constitution on a fixed date for elections is approved by the National Assembly. Vice President Ahmed Afif made the statement on Thursday during a Cabinet decisions briefing with reporters on Wednesday. The proposed amendment establishes a fixed date for Presidential and National Assembly elections, and other amendments. Afif said the formula that will used is to «take the last day of the President's mandate, like in the case of President Ramkalawan, he was sworn on 26th October 2020. So his mandate ends on the 25th of October 2025. So to have the date for new elections you take the 25th of October and you go back five weeks and on the Saturday of the last five weeks will be the date of the next elections.» Using the formula, the date for the elections in 2025 will be September 27 if approved by the National Assembly. Another amendment proposed is if a President dies or falls ill and cannot complete his or her mandate, Afif said, «The Vice President will continue in the place of the President until the end of the term.» If a President resigns or is removed from office for gross misconduct or violation, Afif said the Vice President will take over for a period of time probably around three months until new elections are held. He stressed that «If the Vice President takes over for two-thirds of the Presidential mandate that will count as a term for the new President.» Also included in the amendment is if a President resigns, the person cannot contest an election in the immediate next election but can do so in future elections. Afif explained that this is because a President in office can use an opportunity to resign in anticipation of something happening in the coming years but then stand as a candidate in the next election. The amendment proposed also removes the time limit set for a person to take legal action against a President after he or she is no longer in power. Afif said the current law states that legal action against a former can only be done three years after leaving office. This will be removed so a lawsuit can be made against a President anytime after the person is no longer in power.

Some New Caledonia neighbourhoods no longer under state control: official

Areas of the Pacific territory of New Caledonia have «escaped» state control, the French government's representative said Friday, announcing fresh security deployments after days of deadly violence. «Reinforcements will be arriving ... to c
Seychelles News Agency

Some New Caledonia neighbourhoods no longer under state control: official

Areas of the Pacific territory of New Caledonia have «escaped» state control, the French government's representative said Friday, announcing fresh security deployments after days of deadly violence. «Reinforcements will be arriving ... to control the areas that have escaped us in recent days, where control is no longer assured,» the High Commissioner of the Republic in New Caledonia Louis Le Franc told reporters at a briefing. A state of emergency was imposed on the French archipelago after opposition to Paris's plan to change voting rules there spiralled into arson, looting and violence that has left five dead and hundreds wounded. As part of the state of emergency, about 200 of an estimated 5,000 «rioters» have been detained, French authorities have said. One person suspected of homicide surrendered to the authorities, Le Franc said at the Friday briefing. Earlier, he said the situation around the capital Noumea was starting to look calmer after the simmering protests turned violent on Monday. The unrest began as French lawmakers pushed forward plans to allow those who moved to the territory at least 10 years ago to vote in local elections. Located between Australia and Fiji, New Caledonia is one of several territories around the globe that remain part of France. © Agence France-Presse

Slovak PM speaking but serious after shooting, suspected gunman charged

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was able to speak but remained in serious condition on Thursday, officials said as police charged a suspect for the attack they called politically motivated. President-elect Peter Pellegrini briefed journalists a day after t
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Slovak PM speaking but serious after shooting, suspected gunman charged

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was able to speak but remained in serious condition on Thursday, officials said as police charged a suspect for the attack they called politically motivated. President-elect Peter Pellegrini briefed journalists a day after the shooting, which has prompted fears of further violence in the politically polarised nation just weeks before European parliament elections. «He is able to speak but only a few sentences and then he is really, really tired... The situation is very critical,» Pellegrini said outside the hospital in the central city of Banska Bystrica. «The doctors asked me to make a really very short visit,» he added. «I told him that we stand behind him.» But he said that «very difficult hours and days» lay ahead for Fico. On Wednesday, train conductor Richard Krajcik was hoping to get a selfie with Fico after a government meeting in the central town of Handlova when shots rang out. «Everything happened so fast,» Krajcik told AFP, gazing at the spot in the main square where Fico was struck. Former police chief Stefan Hamran slammed the prime minister's bodyguards, telling AFP «they reacted late, they reacted badly». «Instead of throwing themselves at the assailant... they moved in the opposite direction and tried to dodge the shots,» he said. Wednesday's attack has stoked fears in the deeply polarised nation, as officials drew a link between the political situation and the suspect's motives. Police charged the suspect, identified as 71-year-old writer Juraj Cintula in local media, with attempted murder Thursday. «This is a lone wolf whose actions were accelerated after the presidential election since he was dissatisfied with its outcome,» Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok said. The suspect's longtime neighbour, Ludovit Mile, said Cintula was «friendly, helpful». «He must have gone crazy,» he told AFP. - 'Circle of hatred' - Pellegrini, who won last month's presidential vote and is a political ally of Fico, called for calm and urged political parties to halt campaigning for the EU parliament election when far-right parties are expected to gain votes. The biggest opposition party, centrist Progressive Slovakia, and others announced that they had already stopped their election lobbying. Slovakia's political scene has been divided for years between pro-European and nationalist-leaning camps. Disinformation and attacks on social media featured heavily during the latest election campaign. Pellegrini, who takes office in June, said in a joint statement with outgoing President Zuzana Caputova that Slovakia should avoid «further confrontation». The two politicians represent rival political camps but Caputova said they wanted «to send a signal of understanding» as she urged an end to «the vicious circle of hatred». Surgeons spent hours operating on Fico to save the life of the 59-year-old. Footage just after the shooting showed security agents grabbing a wounded Fico from the ground and bundling him into a car, while other officers handcuffed a man on the pavement. Fico, whose party won the general election last September, is a four-time prime minister accused of swaying his country's foreign policy in favour of Russia. - Unprecedented attack - Outside the hospital, shock mixed with outrage among residents of Banska Bystrica. «I'm certainly afraid that such attacks will be repeated,» said Nina Stevulova, a 18-year-old student. «There's no need to do such things. Feel free to throw a tomato or an egg at him or scold him that 'You are a thief or a murderer',» Karol Reichl, a former professional driver, told AFP. «But don't come with a gun and shoot,» the 69-year-old said. Political analyst Miroslav Radek said the attack risked causing «further radicalisation of individuals and politicians in Slovakia». «I am afraid that this attack may not have been the last,» Radek told AFP. - Ukraine weapons - Fico also headed the government in 2006-10 and 2012-18. He was forced to resign in 2018 after an investigative journalist's murder exposed high-level corruption. Since returning to office, Fico has made a string of remarks that have soured ties between Slovakia and neighbouring Ukraine after he questioned Ukraine's sovereignty. After he was elected, Slovakia stopped sending weapons to Ukraine, invaded by Russia in 2022. He also sparked protests with controversial changes, including a media law critics say will undermine the impartiality of public broadcasters. Analyst Milan Nic said the shooting was a «turning point» for Slovakia. «It's a moment that will shake society,» he told AFP. © Agence France-Presse

Xi, Putin hail ties as 'stabilising' force in chaotic world

Leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin framed their nations' ties as a stabilising force in a chaotic world as they met Thursday in Beijing, where the Russian president is seeking greater Chinese support for his war effort in Ukraine. It is Putin's first tri
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Xi, Putin hail ties as 'stabilising' force in chaotic world

Leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin framed their nations' ties as a stabilising force in a chaotic world as they met Thursday in Beijing, where the Russian president is seeking greater Chinese support for his war effort in Ukraine. It is Putin's first trip abroad since his March re-election and the second in just over six months to China, an economic lifeline for Russia after the West hit it with unprecedented sanctions over its military offensive in Ukraine. Putin was greeted by Xi at a grand welcoming ceremony outside Beijing's Great Hall of the People, footage by state broadcaster CCTV showed. In a meeting, Xi then told his «old friend» Putin that China-Russia relations were «conducive to peace». «China is ready to work with Russia to... uphold fairness and justice in the world,» Xi added. Putin, in turn, told Xi the two countries' relations were «stabilising factors in the international arena». «Relations between Russia and China are not opportunistic and not directed against anyone,» Putin said, according to a Kremlin readout. «Together, we uphold the principles of justice and a democratic world order that reflects multipolar realities and is based on international law,» he added. Following closed-door meetings, the two leaders then signed a joint statement on deepening their countries' «comprehensive strategic partnership», state news agency Xinhua said. - No 'further escalation' - The Russian leader's arrival came hours after he hailed his country's troops for advancing on «all fronts» on the battlefield in Ukraine, following a major new ground assault. And the Kremlin said Russia and China had agreed to oppose «further escalation» of the conflict in Ukraine on Thursday. «The parties note the need to stop any steps that contribute to the prolongation of hostilities,» the Kremlin's readout of their joint statement said. China has dismissed claims it is aiding Russia's war in Ukraine and insisted that the West is exacerbating the conflict by sending arms to Ukraine. Xi has also rebuffed Western criticism of his country's close ties with Moscow. But their economic partnership has come under close scrutiny from the West in recent months. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China's support for Russia's «brutal war of aggression» in Ukraine had helped Russia ramp up production of rockets, drones and tanks -- while stopping short of direct arms exports. China claims to be a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, which it has never condemned and in which it has sought to frame itself as a mediator. And in a statement to media following talks with Putin, Xi said the two sides agreed on the need for a «political solution» to resolving the war. «China's position on this issue has always been clear,» Xi said in footage broadcast by Russian TV. That position included «respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries» as well as «respecting the reasonable security concerns of all sides», the Chinese leader added. The remarks echo a paper issued by Beijing last year, which Western countries said could enable Russia to hold much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine. China also «looks forward to the early restoration of peace and stability on the European continent», Xi said, promising Beijing would «continue to play a constructive role to that end». Putin in response said he was «grateful» to Beijing for its efforts to help resolve the conflict. He also referenced Beijing's complaints about growing security cooperation between the United States and its allies in Asia, warning of «harmful» military alliances in the region. On Thursday afternoon, the Russian leader met Premier Li Qiang -- China's number two official -- who said Beijing was willing to «continue to deepen cooperation in various fields». Putin and Xi then attended a ceremony celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Beijing, Xinhua said. - Transactions slow - China-Russia trade has boomed since the Ukraine invasion and hit $240 billion in 2023, according to Chinese customs figures. But after Washington vowed to go after financial institutions that facilitate Moscow, Chinese exports to Russia dipped in March and April, down from a surge early in the year. An executive order by President Joe Biden in December permits secondary sanctions on foreign banks that deal with Russia's war machine, allowing the US Treasury to cut them out of the dollar-led global financial system. That, coupled with recent efforts to rebuild fractured ties with the United States, may make Beijing reluctant to openly push more cooperation with Russia -- despite what Moscow may want, analysts say. Putin's post-election trip to Beijing echoes Xi's own visit to Russia after his re-anointing as leader last year. The Russian leader is due to travel to the northeastern city of Harbin for a trade and investment expo on Friday. © Agence France-Presse

Ukraine says halted Russian 'advance' in some Kharkiv zones

Ukraine warned on Thursday it faced a «very difficult» military situation in its northeast Kharkiv region, where Moscow has made its largest territorial gains in 18 months since launching a surprise offensive last week. As Ukrainian President Vol
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Ukraine says halted Russian 'advance' in some Kharkiv zones

Ukraine warned on Thursday it faced a «very difficult» military situation in its northeast Kharkiv region, where Moscow has made its largest territorial gains in 18 months since launching a surprise offensive last week. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv was sending yet more reinforcements to the area, the Ukrainian army said it had managed to partially halt Russia's advance. Kyiv also accused Russian troops of executing civilians in territory it had captured over the last week. The fresh Russian offensive has further stretched Ukraine's outgunned and outmanned forces. Moscow has seized 278 square kilometres (107 square miles) of Ukrainian territory between May 9 and 15, according to AFP calculations based on data from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) -- the largest territorial gain in a single operation since mid-December 2022. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday met military leaders in Kharkiv city, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Russian border to assess Ukraine's defensive efforts. «The situation in the Kharkiv region is generally under control, and our soldiers are inflicting significant losses on the occupier,» he said in a post on Telegram. «However, the area remains extremely difficult. We are reinforcing our units. Ukraine's army said earlier it had managed to halt the advancing Russian forces in some places. »Our defence forces have partially stabilised the situation. The advance of the enemy in certain zones and localities has been halted,« army spokesman Nazar Voloshin said on state TV on Thursday. In a daily briefing, Ukraine's General Staff said its forces had »significantly reduced the activity of the Russian occupiers.« »But the enemy is still trying to create the conditions for further advances,« Voloshin warned. - 'Killed by Russians' - Ukraine on Thursday also accused Russia of capturing and killing civilians in the border town of Vovchansk. »According to operational information, the Russian military, trying to gain a foothold in the city, did not allow local residents to evacuate: they began abducting people and driving them to basements,« Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said on Telegram. There were also »reports of the first shootings of civilians by the Russian military,« he said, adding that a war crimes investigation had been opened. »One of the residents of Vovchansk tried to escape on foot, refused to follow the commands of the invaders, and was killed by the Russians.« AFP could not verify the claims. There was no immediate response from Moscow to the allegations. Ukraine has been forced to evacuate around 8,800 people since Russia launched the new assault, Kharkiv Governor Oleg Synegubov said. Some were still arriving at a humanitarian centre in Kharkiv on Thursday. Among them was 85-year-old Nadezhda Borodina, who had her dog Vasik on a leash and her frightened cat Lucas packed in a plastic bag. Ukrainian »soldiers arrived and shouted 'Let's go, let's go!' and we were gone in five minutes,« she said. - 'All fronts' - Most of Russia's recent gains are in the Kharkiv area, though they have also claimed fresh territory in the eastern Donetsk and southern Zaporizhzhia regions. Following months of stalemate on the sprawling front lines, Russia has seized the initiative on the battlefield, pushing on from the capture of industrial hub Avdiivka in February. Russia's defence ministry said Thursday the army had »advanced deep into the enemy's defences« in the Kharkiv region. A day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin had said his troops were advancing on »all fronts«. Some military analysts say Moscow may be trying to force Ukraine to divert troops from other hot spots, such as around the strategic hilltop town of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region. Russia's defence ministry said Wednesday its forces had captured the symbolic village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, some 300 kilometres (185 miles) south of Moscow's new offensive. The settlement was one of the few successes for Kyiv of an underwhelming Ukrainian counter-offensive last summer. The intensification of Russian attacks on multiple fronts has underscored the acute ammunition and manpower shortages crippling the Ukrainian military. In China for a two-day state visit on Thursday, Putin said he was »grateful« to Beijing for »the initiatives they are putting forward to resolve" the war. There are no indications Moscow and Kyiv are prepared to engage in direct talks, which Ukraine says would only be used by Russia to buy time to prepare for a new assault. © Agence France-Presse

Georges Robert sworn in as Ombudsman of Seychelles 

Georges Robert is the new Ombudsman of Seychelles and was sworn in on Thursday with his family present in a ceremony at State House.   This followed the recommendations from the Constitutional Appointees Authority (CAA). He succeeds Nichole Tirant-Ghérard
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Georges Robert sworn in as Ombudsman of Seychelles 

Georges Robert is the new Ombudsman of Seychelles and was sworn in on Thursday with his family present in a ceremony at State House.   This followed the recommendations from the Constitutional Appointees Authority (CAA). He succeeds Nichole Tirant-Ghérardi. «I am truly honoured and humbled to have been appointed the fifth Ombudsman of Seychelles,  and I am ready to work for the people of Seychelles to bring the office to the level that it was envisaged since its creation in 1993,» said Robert. The new ombudsman obtained admission as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of Queensland Australia in June 2011 and after he relocated to Seychelles, obtained Admission as an Attorney at Law of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Seychelles in June 2014. His previous work experience includes solicitor at Carter Capner Law Firm in Australia from 2011 to 2012 and state counsel at the Attorney General's Chambers from 2012 to 2014. He was also an attorney-at-law in the Chambers of Francis Chang-Sam - 2014-2015, magistrate at the Judiciary of Seychelles from 2015-2017, and attorney- at-law, Office of George E Robert from January to December 2019. Before he was appointed Ombudsman, Robert served as the legal director at the Seychelles Human Rights Commission since December 2019 to date. He has 13 years of experience as an attorney-at-law. He succeeds Nicole Tirant-Gherardi, who served as Ombudsman for the past seven years and has now been appointed as the new vice-chairperson of the Seychelles Human Rights Commission. Tirant Gherardi is the new vice-chairperson of the Seychelles Human Rights Commission. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY.   Tirant Gherardi was sworn in as the new vice-chairperson of the Commission during the same ceremony along with three other members of the commission. The three new commissioners are Roger Toussaint, Barbare Corolus Andre and Elna Etienne Kumar. The commissioners of the Information Commission were also presented with their instruments, and Mumtaz Hasan was re-appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner with Peter Lalande and Egbert Rosalie appointed as new commissioners on the Commissioners. In his address, the President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, asked all those who have taken up these new roles, to perform with the utmost respect. He asked them to ensure that all their decisions remain unbiased and to not allow politics to affect their judgements. He also spoke on the lack of understanding of the roles of the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission, and the Information Commission and urged them to undertake an education campaign, so that people can better appreciate why they are very important for the country.

Seychelles formalises regulation for commercial goods that are exempt from customs declaration 

The statutory instrument (SI) 40 of 2024 for the customs management regulations for the importation of goods in Seychelles through post or courier valued lower than SCR1,500 is to formalise existing practices, said a top official on Wednesday. The principal
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Seychelles formalises regulation for commercial goods that are exempt from customs declaration 

The statutory instrument (SI) 40 of 2024 for the customs management regulations for the importation of goods in Seychelles through post or courier valued lower than SCR1,500 is to formalise existing practices, said a top official on Wednesday. The principal secretary for Trade, Francis Lebon, made the statement in a press conference on Wednesday, after members of the public expressed confusion upon learning of the SI. Lebon stressed that this SI only affects commercial goods, stating that the similar allowance for personal goods provided for by SI 82, remains at SCR3000 ($218). The SI affects only the importation of commercial goods valued lower than R1500 ($108) and these goods are exempted from customs declaration through a bill of entry and payment of customs duty. Lebon said this has been in practice since 2013 but the government decided to make it formal.   «This decision was made after seeing that there were instances where the value of the commercial goods imported was lower than what it costs to declare them,» said Lebon. He gave the example of goods that could cost $5, but the bill of entry and taxes will cost more than the $5. «Now that this has been formalised, every Customs Officer, present and future will have to abide by it, as it will be part of the normal practices,» added Lebon.

5 suspected Somali pirates remanded into police custody, 1 admitted to Seychelles Hospital

The Seychelles' Supreme Court remanded five of six suspected Somali pirates piracy for 14 days at the Seychelles Prison Services, the police said on Wednesday. According to the Sea Trade Maritime daily news service on Wednesday, «Six suspected pirates
Seychelles News Agency

5 suspected Somali pirates remanded into police custody, 1 admitted to Seychelles Hospital

The Seychelles' Supreme Court remanded five of six suspected Somali pirates piracy for 14 days at the Seychelles Prison Services, the police said on Wednesday. According to the Sea Trade Maritime daily news service on Wednesday, «Six suspected pirates involved in an attack on the Marshall Islands registered tanker Chrystal Arctic on 10 May have been handed over to the authorities in Seychelles for prosecution.» The six suspected pirates were handed over to the Seychelles authorities on May 14 by EU NAVFOR's Operation ATALANTA, added the news service. The Sea Trade Martitime news said the EU NAVFOR  issued a statement saying that «Operation ATALANTA has legal agreements with different nations in the Area of Operations, one of them being Seychelles, which allows for the trial of suspected pirates arrested by warships joining the operation.» The Seychelles Police said the suspects are aged 20 to 40 years and and three among them were taken to the hospital for treatment of the injuries on their bodies. According to the police, one of the Somalis, aged 20, was transported to Seychelles on Sunday by a Spanish military helicopter and was admitted to Seychelles Hospital for treatment.    

Seychelles' cruise ship season ends successfully, says top tourism official 

The cruise ship season is coming to an end and Seychelles has welcomed 38 vessels with around 68,000 visitors during that time, said a top tourism official on Tuesday.   The principal secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis, gave the figures and explained tha
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' cruise ship season ends successfully, says top tourism official 

The cruise ship season is coming to an end and Seychelles has welcomed 38 vessels with around 68,000 visitors during that time, said a top tourism official on Tuesday.   The principal secretary for Tourism, Sherin Francis, gave the figures and explained that despite receiving fewer ships than the 2022-2023 season, which was a total of 52. Seychelles received vessels with much larger passenger capacity this season. She described the season as a successful one coupled with the smooth running of all logistical operations.   «For that, I need to congratulate all partners in the industry, as without them we would not have been able to do it well,» said Francis. She added that all operators respected all regulations and facilities in place during the season and no incidents were reported like in previous years. «However, one of the challenges we do have is for us as a country to maximise tourists' spending when they arrive in Seychelles. Although I must say that there has been some improvement, we still can do more,» said Francis. She shared that the tourism department is doing a comprehensive study on the spending patterns of the visitors on cruise vessels. Francis described the season as a successful one coupled with the smooth running of all logistical operations. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY.  «We are being assisted by UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa) where by July or August this year, we will have a report that we could share with our partners and the media, which will give us a better idea of the benefits we receive from cruise ship passengers,» said the principal secretary. Francis added that the data collected at the moment is not enough to get the information needed. The chief executive of the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), Sony Payet, explained that with so many passengers entering the country at once, it is important that all partners work together to ensure smooth operations. «Since we are now having more visitors from cruise ships, I think that a committee must be put in place, featuring all invested parties, so that the services can improve,» added Payet. He also spoke of the need for a more vibrant Victoria, the capital, explaining that tourists need to have more things to do and to spend on, especially if they come into port on a Sunday, when everything is closed. «Many of these tourists have already been to other islands in the region and when they come to Seychelles they will not want to buy items similar to what they have already purchased in these other countries, which is why we must look at bringing our own unique products, to give them something different,» said Payet. The cruise ship season will close with the last ship expected in Port Victoria on Sunday, May 19. The next season will re-open in October 2024 and 44 ships have already been booked, a figure likely to increase in the coming months. 

Seychelles' government endorses candidature of former VP Vincent Meriton for chairperson of AUC

The Seychelles' government has endorsed the candidature of former Vice President Vincent Meriton for the position of chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).  According to the Foreign Affairs Department in a communique on Wednesday, the election
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Seychelles' government endorses candidature of former VP Vincent Meriton for chairperson of AUC

The Seychelles' government has endorsed the candidature of former Vice President Vincent Meriton for the position of chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).  According to the Foreign Affairs Department in a communique on Wednesday, the election is scheduled for February 2025. The Department said that during his career as a politician, Meriton held numerous portfolios in the government, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Health and Social Affairs, Information Technology, the Blue Economy and Entrepreneurship Development. Meriton was the Vice President during Danny Faure’s presidency from 2016 to 2020. It added that Meriton has also championed Seychelles’ position on the Blue Economy on the international stage. “Meriton’s core objective as chairperson of the AUC is to significantly improve the implementation rate of the Commission’s executive decisions by addressing barriers to implementation and promoting accountability and compliance,” said the Department. The chairperson of the Commission is elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once. If elected, Meriton will succeed Moussa Faki Mahamat from Chad, who has held the position since 2017.

Blinken vows US will back Ukraine till security 'guaranteed'

The United States will back Ukraine until its security is «guaranteed», US Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed on a trip to Kyiv on Tuesday, after Russian forces claimed further advances in the northeastern Kharkiv region. Blinken's visit cam
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Blinken vows US will back Ukraine till security 'guaranteed'

The United States will back Ukraine until its security is «guaranteed», US Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed on a trip to Kyiv on Tuesday, after Russian forces claimed further advances in the northeastern Kharkiv region. Blinken's visit came just weeks after the US Congress finally approved a $61-billion financial aid package for Ukraine following months of political wrangling, unlocking much-needed arms for the country's outgunned troops. «We're with you today. And we will stay by your side, until Ukraine's security, sovereignty, and ability to choose its own path is guaranteed,» Blinken said in a speech. «The assistance is now on its way. Some of it has already arrived. More will be arriving,» he had told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting earlier. «That's going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield,» he said. Zelensky thanked Washington for the aid, which he said was «crucial» -- but stressed it was «important to get it as quickly as possible». «We need a noticeable acceleration of supplies. Now too much time passes between the announcement of packages and the actual appearance of weapons on the frontline,» he said in an evening address. Zelensky said air defence was the «biggest problem» for Ukraine and requested two Patriot batteries for the Kharkiv region, where Russian forces have been advancing and pounding villages along the border since Friday. Blinken was on his fourth visit to Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. After meeting Zelensky, he met Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Veterano, a pizzeria set up by a military veteran in the city centre. Driving his point home at a visit to an underground Kyiv bar, the Barman Dictat, later on Tuesday, Blinken picked up a guitar and sang the Neil Young classic «Rockin' in the Free World», accompanied by Ukrainian musicians. - 'Minimal human losses' - Russia's surprise ground offensive in the Kharkiv region has forced thousands to evacuate and pushed Kyiv to mobilise troop reinforcements. Ukraine said several civilians have been killed by Russian fire in the region, including on Tuesday two people aged 80 and 83. Officials in the region's main municipality, also called Kharkiv -- Ukraine's second-biggest city -- said Russian strikes hit the centre, injuring 20 people. One civilian, a 47-year-old man, was also reported killed in the city of Nikopol in southern Ukraine. Russia's defence ministry meanwhile said its forces had captured another village in the Kharkiv region. «Units of the North group of troops liberated the village of Bugruvatka in the Kharkiv region and advanced deep into the enemy defences,» the ministry said. The advance is the latest in a string of tactical successes for Russia on the battlefield this year after initial setbacks in a conflict that Moscow hoped would be wrapped up in days. Russia's incoming defence minister, economist Andrei Belousov, said the priority was to secure victory on the battlefield while minimising human losses. «The key task, of course, remains achieving victory and ensuring the military-political goals of the special military operation, set by the president, are achieved,» Belousov told a session of the Russian parliament on Tuesday. «In this respect, I want to especially emphasise 'with minimal human losses'.» - 'Firing on everything' - The Ukrainian army has acknowledged Russian successes in Kharkiv but Zelensky has stressed that reinforcements have been sent there and Ukrainian «counterattacks are ongoing». At a checkpoint outside the city of Kharkiv, a Ukrainian official said Russian forces had entered Ukraine through «villages on the very border that were complicated for us to defend». Russian forces «are on high ground and are shelling us from there», added Volodymyr Usov, head of the Kharkiv district military administration. The head of Ukraine's security council, Oleksandr Lytvynenko, said Moscow had massively upped its troop deployment for the new offensive in the Kharkiv region. In an interview this week with AFP, he said Russia had sent more than 30,000 troops over the border, but insisted there was no threat of an assault on Kharkiv city. Usov, the Kharkiv district head, estimated there were still around 300 residents left in Lyptsi, a border village under Russian bombardment. «They are shelling the villages, firing on everything they can,» Sergiy Kryvetchenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian military administration in Lyptsi, told AFP. State power operator Ukrenergo said it was forced to introduce emergency blackouts in all regions of the country on Tuesday after weeks of Russian strikes on power plants left the country unable to meet demand during a cold snap. © Agence France-Presse

$2.2b pledged to end deadly planet-heating cooking methods

The International Energy Agency announced on Tuesday that $2.2 billion had been pledged by governments and companies to improve access to less deadly and polluting cooking methods in Africa. More than two billion people cook on basic stoves or over open fire
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$2.2b pledged to end deadly planet-heating cooking methods

The International Energy Agency announced on Tuesday that $2.2 billion had been pledged by governments and companies to improve access to less deadly and polluting cooking methods in Africa. More than two billion people cook on basic stoves or over open fires and exposure to this smoke is a leading cause of early death around the world. These cooking methods also harm the planet, with carbon-absorbing forests stripped for firewood and emissions from burning these dirty fuels a major contributor to global warming. Only around one-third of the money needed to drive the global switch to cleaner cooking methods like LPG or electric stoves is raised every year, according to the IEA. At a world-first summit, representatives from 60 nations and leaders from business and development sectors pledged $2.2 billion to help African households combat the scourge. «This summit has delivered an emphatic commitment to an issue that has been ignored by too many people, for too long,» said IEA executive director Fatih Birol, whose agency co-hosted the Paris gathering with the African Development Bank. «We still have a long way to go,» he added. A little over half of the money pledged came from the private sector, with around 30 percent in the form of favourable loans from public funds and the rest in carbon credits. It is still modest: the IEA says around $8 billion is needed annually to address the problem, half of that in Africa, but only around $2.5 billion is raised worldwide. Progress has been made in Asia but in sub-Saharan Africa, four out of five households still reply on highly polluting cooking fuels like wood, charcoal, coal, animal dung and agricultural waste. Burning these pollute indoor and outdoor air with fine particles that penetrate the lungs and cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including cancer and strokes. The threat is particularly acute for women and children, who are also prevented from accessing education or earning a wage as they spend hours looking for fuel. Switching to clean cooking methods would save 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030 -- roughly the amount emitted by ships and planes last year, according to the IEA. «Successfully advancing the clean cooking agenda in Africa would contribute towards protecting the environment, climate, health, and ensuring gender equality,» said Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who attended the summit. Birol said the IEA would «rigorously track the commitments announced today to make sure they’re met on time and in full». © Agence France-Presse

Nichole Tirant-Gherardi ends term as Ombudsman of Seychelles on a positive note

After seven years in office, the Ombudsman of Seychelles, Nichole Tirant-Gherardi, will end her mandate at the end of May. Prior to her appointment as the Ombudsman, she served as the chief editor for the Today in Seychelles newspaper and was also the secre
Seychelles News Agency

Nichole Tirant-Gherardi ends term as Ombudsman of Seychelles on a positive note

After seven years in office, the Ombudsman of Seychelles, Nichole Tirant-Gherardi, will end her mandate at the end of May. Prior to her appointment as the Ombudsman, she served as the chief editor for the Today in Seychelles newspaper and was also the secretary general of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) from 1999 to 20101. She is a barrister and attorney-at-law with a diverse experience and background. As she comes to the end of her term as Ombudsman, despite the challenges, Tirant-Gherardi told SNA she can count many accomplishments during her tenure.   SNA: You are leaving your position as Ombudsman, after seven years, how does that feel? NTG: The mandate of an Ombudsman is quite long, it is for seven years. I am now past retirement age, and I don't think I can continue giving the same amount of energy to the job for another seven years. So, I do not want to start something that I will have to quit after two years. Plus, I think it's time for somebody else to come in, with new ideas and bring this work further.   SNA: Tell us about your achievements and challenges as Ombudsman. NTG: What I have done before my departure is to create what I have called a handover report, which I have given a copy to the Constitutional Appointees Authority (CAA). This will help prepare questions for the interviews with my potential successor. I also wish that the report can be published, as I spoke about my work for the past seven years. I also believe that I have improved this institution during my time. This is a very important institution and unfortunately, I think that it has fallen by the wayside. I have gone overseas and also worked a lot locally, to give it the visibility it deserves. There needs to be a lot of education to ensure people understand the role of the Ombudsman and other government institutions, but that is not something I can do on my own.   SNA: Have you made any changes to the office itself? NGT: Yes. I have changed a lot in the Office of the Ombudsman and I feel it will make it easier for whoever comes after me to settle into the job, and look to continue what I started and even improve upon it. We have put a lot of procedures in place concerning how we process reports and how we deal with them. We have also worked to give the office more visibility and for that, I want to thank the media for coming to us and giving us a space to share what we do with the public. I have noticed that every time we appear on the local media, the number of cases we receive go up. The Ombudsman presenting her annual to President Wavel Ramkalawan. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY    SNA: Do you receive a lot of complaints at your office? NGT: We have received over 2,000 complaints here and so we have created a database, called a case management system, which allows us to have quick access to all documents linked to any of the cases we work on. This is something we are really proud of and has made things more effective for us. We have also re-branded the logo and made some small changes to it aimed at making the office more visible to the public. We are also affiliated with two international bodies, and in both of them, I was elected on the executive committee. We also have updated our website, where all information about us can be seen.   SNA: Is there anything you feel you have not achieved or could have done better during your time as Ombudsman? NGT: Well, what I wish we could have done better is to see the office focus more on what we call 'own motions'. This allows the Ombudsman to verify complaints and remove the person from this problem and focus instead on the problem itself, which could be at a particular ministry or multiple ministries, then make a more detailed investigation. When we finish with this type of investigation, we will be able to come out with a report that covers that particular issue in all aspects with recommendations on how to solve such issues. This will allow for the identification of issues within the ministries themselves, which can help reduce the number of grievances reported.   SNA: Now that you are leaving this position can you tell us more about your professional journey? NGT: I have had a long career doing a lot of different things. For me, variety is the spice of life. I have never been happy when I am not learning something new, and I always want to push myself and get to a higher level. I started my career in administration at the Ministry of Agriculture in 1978, after completing my law degree. After that I went back to complete my final year of my law studies and became a lawyer, working with the Attorney General's office for some years. Then I worked for two years at a parastatal law agency, Francis Rachel Law Centre, and then went back to University in France where I specialised in international marketing, which was my first departure from law. In 1994, I returned to Seychelles for good, where I went back to being a lawyer and did not like it as I felt I was not moving forward. I left to become the secretary general of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce. I spent 11 years there because there was a lot to learn.   Then a bit of political interest brought me to the media world, where I joined Today in Seychelles at its inception, another completely new job for me. But if you ask me, where I enjoyed the most, it was there, although it was also the toughest place I worked. Then, finally, I moved to be Ombudsman. I had always wanted to become a judge, and sent a lot of applications, but that never worked out, and so being an ombudsman was the closest I could get to that dream.   SNA: You said you want to take things a little lighter now, what can we expect from you then? NGT: Yes, I think you might see me somewhere else soon enough. I have done a lot of research and learned a lot of things, and that increased my interest in NGOs that's something that I would like to see myself in and look to bring more awareness to the work of the Ombudsman and also look at ways where I can transmit the things I have learned to the younger generation.   SNA: Is there anything final message that you wish to share? NGT: The only thing I want to add is that I have really enjoyed my time here. Honestly, I never thought I would last the whole seven years, but these seven years went by so fast. I think I got a lot of respect from the Seychellois public and I have really appreciated that. 

Mbappe wins award for France's player of the year

Kylian Mbappe was named France's player of the year on Monday at an awards ceremony in Paris, as he comes to the end of his seven-season stay with Paris Saint-Germain. Mbappe, 25, picked up the prize for the best player in Ligue 1 at the UNFP (French players
Seychelles News Agency

Mbappe wins award for France's player of the year

Kylian Mbappe was named France's player of the year on Monday at an awards ceremony in Paris, as he comes to the end of his seven-season stay with Paris Saint-Germain. Mbappe, 25, picked up the prize for the best player in Ligue 1 at the UNFP (French players' union) Trophies gala for the fifth time in a row after a season in which he has scored 44 goals in all competitions for PSG. The France captain last week confirmed he will leave PSG at the end of the campaign when his contract expires, with Real Madrid expected to be his next destination. «It is a page that is turning, a chapter of my life that is going to close,» Mbappe said. «Ligue 1 will always have an important place in my life. It is the only league I have known in my career up to now. »I have always tried to be an honourable representative of this league,« he added. »I will miss it for sure. It is a part of my life that is coming to an end. What is coming next is very exciting but that is something else." Mbappe played his final home game for PSG on Sunday and scored as the champions suffered a shock 3-1 defeat against Toulouse. That goal took him to 27 for the season in Ligue 1, eight goals more than the next best marksman, Lille's Canadian striker Jonathan David. The season is not finished yet, with Mbappe's PSG having two more Ligue 1 games to play this week before the French Cup final against Lyon on May 25. Mbappe saw off the other nominees for an award voted for by his fellow players and handed over by Marie-Jose Perec, the French former 200m and 400m Olympic champion. His PSG teammate Ousmane Dembele had also been in contention along with Pierre Lees-Melou of Brest, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Marseille and Edon Zhegrova of Lille. PSG's domestic dominance was reflected in the other awards, with teenage midfielder Warren Zaire-Emery named young player of the season and Gianluigi Donnarumma the best goalkeeper. Eric Roy of Brest was named coach of the year after leading the modest Brittany club to European qualification for the first time in their history -- with one game left they are guaranteed to finish at least fifth, meaning a Europa League place at worst. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles Islands Foundation starts community «give back campaign»

The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) aims to foster closer relationships with the communities located around two of the reserves it manages in a «give back campaign.» The announcement was made in a press conference on Monday and the chief ex
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Islands Foundation starts community «give back campaign»

The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) aims to foster closer relationships with the communities located around two of the reserves it manages in a «give back campaign.» The announcement was made in a press conference on Monday and the chief executive of SIF, Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, said, «A subject that has always come up, was the relationship between Vallee de Mai and the Praslinois.» The Vallee de Mai Reserve consists of a well-preserved palm forest, and the flagship species is the island's endemic coco de mer with five other endemic palms. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 and is managed by SIF, a public trust mandated to protect and manage the UNESCO World Heritage properties of the island nation. The two sites are the Vallee de Mai and the Aldabra Atoll and SIF also manages the Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve on Praslin, the second most populated island of Seychelles. One of the events of the «Give back campaign» of SIF was a donation of SCR 100,000 ($7,203) worth of equipment to the hospital on Praslin. «This was our first gesture to the Praslinois and this is when we decided that this should not be a one-off but a continuous thing,» said the CEO. Among the other activities of the campaign will be creating a fund to give back to Praslin residents as part of the celebration 130th anniversary of the Fond Ferdinand.  «Next year will be 130 years since the government at the time bought the property with the aim of protecting coco de mer. [...] SIF wants to talk about it both internationally and nationally to show the importance of the site,» said Fleischer-Dogley SIF is planning to open Fond Ferndinand's doors to the public with more information. The CEO revealed that as there are apple tree forests on the site it comes with a lot of culture and «we want to turn it into something that resembles Domaine Val de Pres.» Domaine de Val des Pres, located at St Roch Au Cap on the main island of Mahe, is a re-creation of a traditional Creole village to promote the culture and provide a platform for local artisans to sell their work. The Fond Ferdinand concept is to also help artisans on Praslin to have a platform to display their works. «We are very excited, as this aligns with the government's view on cottage industry and will also bring in a new product that will make a difference on Praslin, » said Fleischer-Dogley. At the SIF's last annual general meeting, it was decided that the organisation should have a policy in place that clearly outlines how much it will donate annually and what criteria to follow when deciding how to give back. At the moment, the Foundation is giving back through sponsoring prizes in schools such as the winners at the Seychelles Maritime Academy. Finally, it was also revealed that work will begin in earnest on the Aldabra House project since its new locations at Providence have been agreed upon. «We want to bring a taste of Aldabra on Mahe for tourists and Seychellois alike who cannot visit the atoll,» explained SIF board of trustees chairperson, Bernard Georges. Aldabra House project was cancelled in August 2019 following a proposed widening of the road at Providence in the designated area designated for the project. 

Zambian expert to assist setting up agricultural education in Seychelles' secondary schools

A training expert from Zambia is in Seychelles to assist the island nation to bring agricultural education to secondary schools so that the sector can continue to grow.   Vistah Medenda, an agricultural education and training expert, is on a one week visit
Seychelles News Agency

Zambian expert to assist setting up agricultural education in Seychelles' secondary schools

A training expert from Zambia is in Seychelles to assist the island nation to bring agricultural education to secondary schools so that the sector can continue to grow.   Vistah Medenda, an agricultural education and training expert, is on a one week visit and will be meeting with various people to discuss the way forward. The focus will be on capacity building and pedagogical development of agriculture in secondary schools, as well as the Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture (SIAH). One of the main parts of this programme is the development of an agriculture curriculum for secondary schools, as well as the creation of agriculture textbooks that are tailor-made for Seychellois students. «The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Energy want to make agriculture a core subject, rather than part of other subjects taught in schools,» Mudenda told reporters on Monday. In his meeting with the Ministry of Education, Mudenda shared part of a presentation on the use of digital technology in agriculture. He said this can entice more young people to want to take up the subject. «At the moment, agriculture is seen as something that should be done mainly by the uneducated and that it is a dirty job, but the use of digital technology will hopefully help to change that perception,» he added. Mudenda said the visit will help him better understand agriculture in Seychelles and enable him to work on creating a curriculum for the island nation's needs. Mudenda has already written numerous textbooks on agriculture that are being used in schools in Zambia for over 30 years. During his visit, he will visit SIAH, meet with ministers and other experts, and visit a local farm, to get a better sense of the sector in Seychelles. Discussions on the future of agricultural education in Seychelles started last year. This was through a meeting of the Minister of Education, Justin Valentin and the Minister responsible for agriculture, Flavien Joubert.   The government will now work to facilitate exchanges between Seychelles and Zambia and look for internship opportunities for teachers, lecturers and students. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, imports around 90 percent of its food and has, in the past couple of years, started refining its plans for food security.

India vote resumes with Kashmir poised to oppose Modi

India's six-week election resumed Monday including in Kashmir, where voters appeared eager to express discontent with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cancellation of their disputed territory's semi-autonomy and the security crackdown that followed. Modi remai
Seychelles News Agency

India vote resumes with Kashmir poised to oppose Modi

India's six-week election resumed Monday including in Kashmir, where voters appeared eager to express discontent with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cancellation of their disputed territory's semi-autonomy and the security crackdown that followed. Modi remains popular across much of India and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win the poll when it concludes early next month. But his government's decision in 2019 to bring Kashmir under its direct rule -- and the subsequent clampdown -- have been deeply resented among the region's residents, who voted Monday for the first time since the move. «I voted for changing the current government. It must happen for our children to have a good future,» civil servant Habibullah Parray told AFP. «Everywhere you go in Kashmir today you find people from outside in charge. Everyone wants that to change.» Boycotts called by rebel groups left few Kashmiris willing to participate in past elections, with just over 14 percent of eligible voters in Srinagar casting a ballot during the last national poll in 2019. By the time polls closed on Monday, nearly 36 percent of eligible voters in the constituency had cast a ballot, well below India's average turnout but the highest figure in the constituency in nearly three decades. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947. Both claim it in full and have fought two wars over control of the Himalayan region. Rebel groups opposed to Indian rule have waged an insurgency since 1989 on the side of the frontier controlled by New Delhi, demanding either independence or a merger with Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of backing the insurgents, a charge that Islamabad denies. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of soldiers, rebels and civilians in the decades since, including a spate of firefights between suspected rebels and security forces in the past month. - 'Referendum' - Violence has dwindled since the Indian portion of the territory was brought under direct rule five years ago, a move that saw the mass arrest of local political leaders and a months-long telecommunications blackout to forestall expected protests. Modi's government says its cancelling of Kashmir's special status has brought «peace and development», and it has consistently claimed the move was supported by Kashmiris. But his party has not fielded any candidates in the Kashmir valley for the first time since 1996, and experts say the BJP would have been roundly defeated if it had. «They would lose, simple as that,» political analyst and historian Sidiq Wahid told AFP last week. For voters, the election was «a referendum in order to voice their disagreement» with the Modi government's actions in Kashmir, he added. The BJP has appealed to voters to instead support smaller and newly created parties that have publicly aligned with Modi's policies. But voters looked set to back one of two established Kashmiri political parties calling for the Modi government's changes to be reversed. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah, whose National Conference party is campaigning for the restoration of Kashmir's special status, said his allies had urged voters to make their feelings known. «The point of view that we want people to send out is that what happened... is not acceptable to them,» he told AFP. Before the changes in 2019, permanent residents in the Muslim-majority territory had enjoyed land and jobs protections. In rural districts outside Srinagar, the region's biggest city, army soldiers patrolled roads in convoys of bulletproof vehicles. Several polling booths around the constituency had more than two dozen paramilitary troops guarding voter queues. - Nearly one billion voters - India's election is conducted in seven phases over six weeks to ease the immense logistical burden of staging the democratic exercise in the world's most populous country. More than 968 million people are eligible to vote in India's election, with the final round of polling on June 1 and results expected three days later. Voter turnout elsewhere in India has so far declined significantly from 2019 to around 66 percent, according to election commission figures. Analysts have blamed widespread expectations that Modi will easily win a third term and hotter-than-average temperatures heading into the summer. India's weather bureau has forecast more hot spells in May and the election commission formed a taskforce last month to review the impact of heat and humidity before each round of voting. © Agence France-Presse

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