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Seychellois visitors highly impressed by Japanese Training Squadron ships

A Japanese Training Squadron on a friendly port call in Seychelles has been described as an interesting experience and having impeccable standards by Seychellois who visited the ships. The two ships, JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze of the Japan Maritime Self-Def
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois visitors highly impressed by Japanese Training Squadron ships

A Japanese Training Squadron on a friendly port call in Seychelles has been described as an interesting experience and having impeccable standards by Seychellois who visited the ships. The two ships, JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), organised an open day on Tuesday where the public could tour the ships as part of the activities during their time in Seychelles.  Visitors walked around and asked the crew questions about different features of the ships such as the weapons and other equipment. There were also signs translated into English all around describing certain features as well as certain points of interesting history regarding the ships. SNA spoke to several visitors who were touring the ship at the time. Debra Denis said, «I was expecting something smaller, so when we arrived, we were impressed. Both ships are very large. Ever since my son was small, we've been going on visits on the visiting ships, so now we bring all the kids. It's not every day that we get this sort of opportunity to experience these kinds of ships.» An open day was organised on Tuesday where the public could tour the ships. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Elna Fanchette said, «We heard that they would be allowing visitors on board today so we wanted to check it out, especially for the kids. It was a nice visit.» Another visitor Randolph Accouche shared that «It was a nice experience, especially for my son. It's not always that we have the opportunity to experience things like this.» Jude Marie said he was very impressed with the visit and he has «always been interested in experiencing new cultures and also infrastructure especially mega structures, my daughter also. Every time there's a new ship, we like to go see what it's like. I found the standards aboard the ship to be impeccable, even better than others that I've seen. And I've seen several different navy ships from different countries over the years. This one has by far impressed me with their standards.» Onboard the two ships are approximately 570 officers and crew members, including the 200 newly commissioned officers who recently graduated from the Maritime Officer Candidate School. The visit is part of an almost six-month training cruise and the squadron experts to visit 13 ports around the world. The purpose of this Overseas Training Cruise is to develop the seamanship of the newly commissioned officers through various training at sea, as they foster their international perspectives, while at the same time promoting friendly relationships with port of call countries. As part of their visit, the officers from the Japanese Training Squadron will also participate in visits to different Seychelles Defence Forces facilities as well as participating in cultural events. 

India's IndiGo airline expresses interest in flying to Seychelles

InterGlobe Aviation Limited (IndiGo), India's largest passenger airline, has expressed strong interest in starting flights from the South Asia country to Seychelles, Seychelles' Ministry of Transport said on Wednesday. The ministry said in a press release th
Seychelles News Agency

India's IndiGo airline expresses interest in flying to Seychelles

InterGlobe Aviation Limited (IndiGo), India's largest passenger airline, has expressed strong interest in starting flights from the South Asia country to Seychelles, Seychelles' Ministry of Transport said on Wednesday. The ministry said in a press release that this development follows bilateral aviation talks held in New Delhi, India, in May 2024, where negotiations between IndiGo and Seychelles authorities began. The commencement of flights by IndiGo to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is set to strengthen the bilateral ties with India and enhance the visibility of both destinations. The Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques, said, «The intent expressed by IndiGo to launch direct flights to Seychelles represents a significant milestone in our efforts to enhance connectivity and foster strong bilateral relations with India. We are excited about the potential for increased tourism and business opportunities that this new route will bring.» IndiGo is one of India's fastest growing airlines with a fleet of over 367 aircraft connecting passengers to more than 121 destinations worldwide. The airline's commitment to providing an affordable, reliable, and efficient travel experience has made it one of the fastest-growing airlines globally. If confirmed, the launch of the new flight route is anticipated to significantly enhance tourism and business exchanges between the two nations. Visitor arrivals from India to Seychelles have shown a positive trend over the past few years, with 4,957 visitors in 2022, 7,602 in 2023, and 3,268 in 2024. This new flight route is expected to boost these numbers, providing more opportunities for tourism and business exchanges. The chief executive officer of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), said, «The operation of IndiGo to Seychelles will represent a milestone achievement in our air transport development, connecting Seychelles to the geographically vast and rich nation of India via Mumbai.» The Seychelles' authorities remain committed to fostering strong international aviation partnerships, and this new development with IndiGo marks a promising step towards achieving that goal, according to the press statement.

Kenya scraps most new tax hikes amid protest clashes

Kenya's government on Tuesday scrapped plans to impose multiple tax hikes, the presidency said, amending a controversial bill that sparked protests where hundreds of demonstrators were arrested. The East African economic powerhouse has struggled with a cost-
Seychelles News Agency

Kenya scraps most new tax hikes amid protest clashes

Kenya's government on Tuesday scrapped plans to impose multiple tax hikes, the presidency said, amending a controversial bill that sparked protests where hundreds of demonstrators were arrested. The East African economic powerhouse has struggled with a cost-of-living crisis, which critics warned would only worsen under the levies laid out in a bill due to be debated this week and passed before June 30. Hundreds of mostly young protesters assembled near parliament on Tuesday, with police firing tear gas, according to AFP journalists. The human rights commission KNHCR said 335 arrests were made. Hours later, the presidency announced that it would scrap many of the bill's most contentious provisions, including taxes on bread purchases and car ownership. «The Finance Bill has been amended to remove the proposed 16 per cent VAT on bread, transportation of sugar, financial services, foreign exchange transactions as well as the 2.5 per cent Motor Vehicle Tax,» the presidency said in a statement. «Additionally, there will be no increase in mobile money transfer fees, and Excise Duty on vegetable oil has also been removed,» it added. The cash-strapped government had earlier defended the hikes -- which were projected to raise some 346.7 billion shillings ($2.7 billion), equivalent to 1.9 percent of GDP -- as a necessary measure to cut reliance on external borrowing. Lawmakers were due to debate the bill on Tuesday afternoon but postponed the discussion to Wednesday, just before the presidency announced the changes following recommendations made by a parliamentary committee. «Because the people's representatives have listened to the people... they have adjusted the proposals,» President William Ruto told lawmakers. - 'Fighting for my future' - The bill sparked fury among many Kenyans, who staged protests on Tuesday dubbed «Occupy Parliament». Black-clad protesters were forced into a cat-and-mouse situation with police, with officers lobbing tear gas and -- in one instance -- chasing people into a church. KNHCR said there were «arbitrary arrests» and an «unnecessary and disproportionate» use of force by security forces. A police report seen by AFP said one officer was seriously hurt when a tear gas grenade exploded in his hands. «I am fighting for my future,» one protester, 23-year-old Wangari, told AFP. «With such taxes, with such exploitation, I don't see how we can build a life,» she said. «This is making it very hard for us, especially us, that are not a part of the one percent.» Her thoughts were echoed by others like 29-year-old Rara Eisa who was protesting for the first time. «I am tired. The prices of everything have gone up, life is no longer affordable,» she said, adding that the taxes «are not lenient in any way». Many demonstrators waved signs emblazoned: «Do not force the taxes on us», referring to Ruto as Zakayo, the Swahili name for the biblical tax collector Zacchaeus. «This finance bill must be revised to reflect what the 'mwananchi' (ordinary citizen) wants and can do,» demonstrator Yvonne Muthoni told AFP after the withdrawal of the measures was announced. «The government is here to serve Kenyans and freedom... better economic outcomes must be accessed by all Kenyans, not just the privileged few.» - Discontent - Ruto came to power in 2022 on a promise to revive the economy and put money in the pockets of the downtrodden, but his policies have sparked widespread discontent. He has raised income tax and health insurance contributions and doubled VAT on petroleum products to 16 percent. While Kenya is among the most dynamic economies in East Africa, roughly a third of the 51.5 million population lives in poverty. Overall inflation has remained stubbornly high at an annual rate of 5.1 percent in May, while food and fuel inflation stood at 6.2 percent and 7.8 percent respectively, according to central bank data. The World Bank said this month that while Kenya's real GDP growth had accelerated last year to 5.6 percent from 4.9 percent in 2022, it was expected to slow to five percent this year. © Agence France-Presse

Putin hails N. Korea's support for Ukraine war ahead of Pyongyang visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed North Korea on Tuesday for «firmly supporting» Moscow's war in Ukraine ahead of a visit to Pyongyang set to boost defence ties between the two nuclear-armed countries. Putin is scheduled to touch down on Tu
Seychelles News Agency

Putin hails N. Korea's support for Ukraine war ahead of Pyongyang visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed North Korea on Tuesday for «firmly supporting» Moscow's war in Ukraine ahead of a visit to Pyongyang set to boost defence ties between the two nuclear-armed countries. Putin is scheduled to touch down on Tuesday night for his first trip to the isolated nation in 24 years, with a confrontation between North and South Korean troops on their shared border highlighting regional security tensions. Huge banners with a smiling photograph of the Russian leader reading «we ardently welcome President Putin!» were hung from lamp-posts across Pyongyang alongside Russian flags, images in Russian state media showed. Moscow and Pyongyang have been allies since North Korea's founding after World War II and have drawn even closer since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to the West isolating Putin internationally. The United States and its allies have accused North Korea of supplying Russia with much-needed arms, including ballistic missiles to use in Ukraine. The North has denied giving Russia military hardware but, ahead of his trip, Putin thanked Kim Jong Un's government for helping the war effort. «We highly appreciate that the DPRK (North Korea) is firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine,» Putin wrote in an article published by Pyongyang's state media on Tuesday. Russia and the North are «now actively developing the many-sided partnership», Putin wrote. Both countries are under rafts of UN sanctions -- Pyongyang since 2006 over banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine. Putin praised North Korea for «defending their interests very effectively despite the US economic pressure, provocation, blackmail and military threats that have lasted for decades». He also hailed Moscow and Pyongyang for «maintaining the common line and stand at the UN». North Korea said the visit showed bilateral ties «are getting stronger day by day», the official Korean Central News Agency reported. - US concern - The North has described allegations of supplying weapons to Russia as «absurd». However, it did thank Russia for using its UN veto in March to effectively end monitoring of sanctions violations just as UN experts were starting to probe alleged arms transfers. The United States voiced «concern» on Monday about Putin's trip because of the security implications for South Korea as well as Ukraine. The two Koreas have remained technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict and the border dividing them is one of the most heavily fortified in the world. «We know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets (and) there could be some reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean peninsula,» National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters. Highlighting those security concerns, South Korea said its troops fired warning shots at soldiers from the North who briefly crossed the border on Tuesday and then retreated. The South's military said it believed the North Korean soldiers accidentally crossed as they were fortifying the border, but said some of them were wounded after detonating landmines. - 'Lonely bromance' - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin's trip showed how he was «dependent» on authoritarian leaders. «Their closest friends and the biggest supporters of the Russian war effort -- war of aggression -- (are) North Korea, Iran and China,» Stoltenberg said. Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the international community to counter «the lonely bromance» between Putin and Kim by increasing arms supplies to Kyiv. «The best way to respond to it is to continue strengthening the diplomatic coalition for just and lasting peace in Ukraine and delivering more Patriots and ammunition to Ukraine,» Kuleba told AFP. North Korea is eager for high-end military technology to advance its nuclear, missile, satellite and nuclear-powered submarine programmes, according to experts. The Kremlin released a document on Tuesday confirming that Russia plans to sign a «strategic partnership» treaty with North Korea. Given North Korea's chronic resource shortages, Pyongyang is expected to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in areas such as tourism, agriculture and mining, «in exchange for providing military supplies» to Russia, an Institute for National Security Strategy report said. Other issues including «cooperation on the deployment of North Korean workers or the supply of energy to North Korea -- both of which would violate sanctions... are also likely to be discussed» behind the scenes, INSS researcher Kim Sung-bae wrote. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles celebrates Constitution Day with flag raising ceremonies on 3 main islands

Seychelles is celebrating the 31st anniversary of its Constitution on Tuesday, June 18, in flag-raising ceremonies on the three most populated islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. The events commemorate the day the Constitution of the Third Republic of S
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles celebrates Constitution Day with flag raising ceremonies on 3 main islands

Seychelles is celebrating the 31st anniversary of its Constitution on Tuesday, June 18, in flag-raising ceremonies on the three most populated islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. The events commemorate the day the Constitution of the Third Republic of Seychelles was adopted by the Seychellois nation. On June 18, 1993, the island nation took a new direction guided by fundamental principles essential for its development as a sovereign and democratic state. The first flag-raising ceremony took place on the main island of Mahe at the 'Lavwa Lanasyon' monument in the capital of Victoria. Attending the ceremony were Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan, Vice President Ahmed Afif, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Roger Mancienne, the Chief Justice, Rony Govinden, and other high-level government officials and members of the diplomatic corps. Attending the ceremony were President Wavel Ramkalawan, high-level officials and dignitaries. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY   In his opening address, the master of ceremony for the event, Ahmadou Sylla, said the event celebrates «our people's unity and diversity. We are celebrating everything that unifies us and makes us strong as a nation.» Sylla, said, «Amid great challenges that our country and the world is going through, we have come here to shout very loud that we are one people under one sun, united under one flag and the protection of our creator. Today we especially celebrate our Constitution, the fundamental document that guides us in our everyday lives and that shows us which direction our country should go.» After the flag was hoisted, a blessing was done through a gospel song of the late Father Gustave Lafortune ''En Soley Pe Leve« (A Sun is Rising) performed by youths of the Seychelles National Youth Council with Taniah Entertainments. A late Father Gustave Lafortune song was performed by SNYC youths and Taniah. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   This was followed by the reading of a poem written and delivered by Elodie Ah-Time, a student from the School of Advanced Level Studies, entitled 'Monn Konnen', (I Have Known) accompanied by Jael Ellen, a member of the National Youth Troupe. The ceremony ended with a performance of a patriotic song, »Mon Sesel", (My Seychelles) written by singer Simon Amade. Two other flag-raising ceremonies will be done on La Digue, the third most populated island and on Praslin, the second most populated island.  

Japan Training Squadron ships arrive in Seychelles as part of worldwide tour

The Japan Training Squadron, JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) arrived in Seychelles' Port Victoria on Monday for a friendly port call. Onboard the two ships are approximately 570 officers and crew members, includin
Seychelles News Agency

Japan Training Squadron ships arrive in Seychelles as part of worldwide tour

The Japan Training Squadron, JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) arrived in Seychelles' Port Victoria on Monday for a friendly port call. Onboard the two ships are approximately 570 officers and crew members, including 200 newly commissioned officers who recently graduated from the Maritime Officer Candidate School. The visit is part of an almost six-month training cruise, where they expect to visit 13 ports around the world. The purpose of the Overseas Training Cruise is to develop the seamanship of the newly commissioned officers through various trainings at sea, as they foster their international perspectives, while at the same time promoting friendly relationships with port of call countries. At the arrival of the ships were representatives of the Seychelles Defence Forces, the Embassy of Japan, the Seychelles Japan Alumni Association as well as the School for the Deaf in Seychelles.   The Seychelles Japan Alumni Association is a group of people from the island nation who have studied in Japan.  The Chief of Staff of the Seychelles Defence Forces, Jean Attala, greeted the officers from the squadron. (Embassy of Japan in Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   Speaking to SNA, the Chief of Staff of the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), Jean Attala said, «These courtesy visits are an opportune moment to exchange best practices on both sides. This is especially helpful during the times when several countries are participating in certain operations and everyone is aware of how each side usually operates.» He added that during their visit to Seychelles, the cadets from the Japanese Training Squadron will also be participating in this kind of exchange. «There will be visits organised for the cadets on board in which they will have the opportunity to observe different facilities such as the Coast Guard at Perseverance and the Airforce base at Pointe Larue. There will, of course, be interactions between the senior officers on board and high officials from Seychelles,» said Attala. As part of the activities during their visit, there will be an open day on Tuesday, June 18, the day on which Seychelles celebrates its Constitution Day, for an hour and a half starting from 10 am. Members of the public will be able to visit the ships. As a special treat, on Monday morning, the group welcoming the ship into port got a chance to go aboard.  Part of the group, Dolores Savy, the secretary of the Seychelles Japan Alumni Association said, «This visit is nice, the boat was very interesting.»

African Union condemns rebel 'massacres' in DR Congo

The African Union on Monday condemned «massacres» in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed 150 people in June. African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said he had learned with «dismay of the increasing massacre
Seychelles News Agency

African Union condemns rebel 'massacres' in DR Congo

The African Union on Monday condemned «massacres» in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed 150 people in June. African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said he had learned with «dismay of the increasing massacres of innocent civilians» by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), in Beni and Lubero in North Kivu province. «The Chairman of the Commission strongly condemns these attacks, which have claimed the lives of 150 people since the beginning of June,» the statement said. Mahamat encouraged «Congolese authorities, in collaboration with the countries of the region, to intensify their efforts to curb the spread of the terrorist threat in the Great Lakes region». He also reiterated the African Union's «ongoing commitment to the countries of the Great Lakes region in their fight against terrorism». The attacks are attributed to the ADF, which originated in neighbouring Uganda. The group has operated in eastern DR Congo for decades and in 2019 it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which portrays the ADF as its central African branch. Since the end of 2021, the Congolese and Ugandan armies have conducted joint operations against the ADF in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province, but have so far failed to stop the deadly attacks on civilians. The east of the country has been plagued by violence from armed groups for decades. © Agence France-Presse

Lull in Gaza fighting despite blasts in south

Israel struck Gaza on Monday and witnesses reported blasts in the besieged territory's south, but fighting has largely subsided after a day of relative calm and as Muslims marked Eid al-Adha. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved his war cabin
Seychelles News Agency

Lull in Gaza fighting despite blasts in south

Israel struck Gaza on Monday and witnesses reported blasts in the besieged territory's south, but fighting has largely subsided after a day of relative calm and as Muslims marked Eid al-Adha. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved his war cabinet, a government spokesman said, reflecting fractures at the top of the country's politics. David Mencer, spokesman for the prime minister's office, said the body had been disbanded following the resignation earlier this month of centrist leader Benny Gantz, who had required a war cabinet's formation in order to join a unity government. «So with Mr Gantz leaving government, there is no need for the cabinet,» whose duties Mencer said will be taken over by the pre-existing security cabinet. The security cabinet had finalised decisions proposed by the war cabinet. Israeli media said the move, which was not expected to trigger any major policy shift, was meant to counter pressure from far-right politicians seeking a greater say in decision-making. A daytime «pause» for aid deliveries around a southern Gaza route, announced at the weekend by Israel's military, appeared to be holding on Monday. But witnesses told AFP they could hear blasts in the centre and west of the southernmost city of Rafah on Monday morning. Elsewhere in the Palestinian territory an AFP correspondent said strikes and shelling have decreased. In Gaza City, medics at Al-Ahli hospital said at least five people were killed in two separate air strikes, and witnesses reported tank shelling in the southern neighbourhood of Zeitun. At least one strike hit Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, residents said. Palestinian officials in Rafah reported tank shelling early on Monday, before the start of the daily «local, tactical pause of military activity» announced by the army. It said the pause «for humanitarian purposes will take place from 8:00 am (0500 GMT) until 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) every day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah al-Din road and then northwards». Earlier, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP «there was no change» in the military's policy and stressed fighting «continues as planned». - 'Catastrophic hunger' - An army spokesperson told AFP the pause was in effect on Monday, and the military in a statement said troops were still operating in Rafah and central Gaza, reporting «close-quarters combat» that killed several militants. A map released by the army showed the declared humanitarian route extending up to Rafah's European Hospital, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Kerem Shalom. Mahmud Basal, spokesman for the civil defence agency in the Hamas-ruled territory, said that apart from the deadly Gaza City strikes overnight, «the other areas of the Gaza Strip are somewhat calm». He reported military movements and gunfire in parts of Rafah as well as Bureij camp in central Gaza. On Sunday, the first day of Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim feast of the sacrifice, the spokesman said «calm has prevailed across all of Gaza». The Gaza health ministry said on Monday it had recorded 10 deaths over the past 24 hours, in one of the lowest daily tolls since the war began. The United Nations welcomed the Israeli announcement of the pause, although «this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need», said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA. He called for «further concrete measures by Israel to address longstanding issues» on humanitarian needs. Gazans «urgently need food, water, sanitation, shelter, and health care, with many living near piles of solid waste, heightening health risks,» Laerke said. Dire shortages of food and other essentials in the Gaza Strip have been exacerbated by overland access restrictions and the closure of the key Rafah crossing with Egypt since Israeli forces seized its Palestinian side in early May. After discussion with US President Joe Biden that month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi agreed to temporarily divert aid from Rafah by sending it into Gaza via Israel's nearby Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel's military said the pause was in effect as part of efforts to «increase the volumes of humanitarian aid» following discussions with the United Nations and other organisations. The head of the World Health Organization said last week that much of Gaza's population faces «catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions.» - 'End the war' - The pause was announced a day after eight Israeli soldiers were killed in a blast near Rafah and three more troops died elsewhere, in one of the heaviest losses for the army in more than eight months of war against Hamas Palestinian militants. The war was triggered by Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures. The militants also seized 251 hostages. Of these, 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 are dead. Israel's retaliatory offensive aimed at eliminating Hamas has killed at least 37,347 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the territory's health ministry. In an Eid message late Sunday, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month, saying it was «the best way to end the violence in Gaza» and to help civilians suffering «the horrors of the war between Hamas and Israel». Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators have been pushing for a new Gaza truce, so far without success. Biden's truce plan would bring an initial six-week pause to fighting. «I strongly believe that the three-phase ceasefire proposal Israel has made to Hamas and that the UN Security Council has endorsed is the best way to end the violence in Gaza and ultimately end the war,» the US president said. Hamas has insisted on the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire -- demands Israel has repeatedly rejected. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' President congratulates South African President on 2024 re-election

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan has congratulated Cyril Ramaphosa on his re-election as President of South Africa. South Africa's parliament re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as President last Friday after a landmark coalition deal between the governing Afr
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' President congratulates South African President on 2024 re-election

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan has congratulated Cyril Ramaphosa on his re-election as President of South Africa. South Africa's parliament re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as President last Friday after a landmark coalition deal between the governing African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties. According to a communique from the Foreign Affairs Department, Ramkalawan said, «I equally wish to congratulate you and the people of South Africa for the successful and peaceful general elections. This democratic process stands as a testament to the enduring strength and vitality of South Africa's commitment to democratic governance. The peaceful and transparent conduct of these elections reaffirm South Africa's unwavering dedication to upholding democratic principles and ensuring the voices of its citizens are heard and respected. In this context, South Africa will continue to be an example for the region as well as for the rest of Africa.» He added that Ramaphosa's re-election «underscores the continued faith of the South African people in your vision and leadership. Your recent call for broader national unity in South Africa has resonated well with many around the world. I am confident that under your continued stewardship, South Africa will further advance its goals of social justice, economic growth, and regional stability.»  «Our two countries share strong and dynamic ties since the establishment of diplomatic relations which have evolved and grown stronger over the past few decades. I have every confidence, that during your tenure in office, the bonds that exist between Seychelles and South Africa will be further strengthened for the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples. I am very much looking forward to continuing our working relationship bilaterally, regionally and in the multilateral fora,» said Ramkalawan. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, established diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1993.

Zelensky seeks internationally agreed peace plan to present to Russia

As world leaders lined up to offer their support at summit for peace in Ukraine Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky voiced hope of garnering international agreement around a proposal to end the war that he could present to Moscow. More than two years afte
Seychelles News Agency

Zelensky seeks internationally agreed peace plan to present to Russia

As world leaders lined up to offer their support at summit for peace in Ukraine Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky voiced hope of garnering international agreement around a proposal to end the war that he could present to Moscow. More than two years after Russia invaded, leaders and senior officials from more than 90 states gathered in a Swiss mountainside resort for a two-day summit dedicated to Kyiv's plan to end the largest European conflict since World War II. Most voiced strong support for Ukraine, demanding a «just peace». Others, however, criticised Moscow's exclusion and warned Kyiv it would need to compromise if it wanted to end the war. In his opening remarks, Zelensky told the assembly: «We must decide together what a just peace means for the world and how it can be achieved in a lasting way. »Then it will be communicated to the representatives of Russia, so that at the second peace summit we can fix the real end of the war.« Kyiv has previously said Russia would be invited to a second summit -- a position many countries backed Saturday. - 'Capitulation' - The summit comes as Ukraine is struggling on the battlefield, where it is outmanned and outgunned. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded Ukraine's effectively surrender if it wanted to even begin peace talks. Putin's call for Ukraine to withdraw from the south and east of the country -- already rejected by Zelensky as an »ultimatum« -- were widely dismissed. »He is not calling for negotiations, he is calling for surrender,« US Vice President Kamala Harris said. »All us are committed to build a sustainable peace... Such a peace cannot be a Ukrainian capitulation,« French President Macron said. »There is one aggressor and a victim,« he added. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that any ceasefire without »serious negotiations with a roadmap towards a lasting peace... would only legitimise Russia's illegal land grab«. EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen took a similar line, arguing: »Freezing the conflict today with foreign troops occupying Ukrainian land is not an answer. «In fact, it is a recipe for future wars of aggression.» - 'Difficult compromise' - It was a more mixed message, however, from outside Ukraine's traditional circle of backers. Saudi Arabia, an energy ally of Russia, told Kyiv it would have to make a «difficult compromise» if it wanted to end the conflict. «And here it is essential to emphasise that any credible process will need Russia's participation,» Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said. China, which struck a «no-limits» strategic partnership with Moscow days before the February 2022 invasion, did not send a delegation to the conference in protest at Russia's exclusion. And Kenya's President William Ruto criticised the latest Western measures against Russia, this week's G7 deal to offer a $50-billion loan to Ukraine secured against profits of frozen Russian assets. «Just as Russia's invasion of Ukraine was unlawful and unacceptable, the unilateral appropriation of Russian assets is equally unlawful,» Ruto said. The range of positions on display hints at the difficulty Kyiv faces in securing agreement for any settlement that it would be happy to send to Russia. Turkey, a potential mediator, issued a stark assessment of the need for action, warning the war risked spilling outside Ukraine or ending in the use of nuclear weapons. «This conference ... might be the last exit before the bridge,» Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan cautioned. - Gaza comparisons - Attendees at Saturday's summit were wrangling over a possible final joint declaration, according to sources close to the discussions cited by Swiss public news agency Keystone-ATS. Kyiv has insisted that terms like «Russian aggression» and references to its «territorial integrity» appear in any joint communique. It was not clear, however, if more than 90 countries could get behind such wording. And as Zelensky lent heavily on the UN Charter and international law to criticise Russia's invasion, some world leaders drew parallels with the Israel-Hamas war. «Only the respect of international law and human rights can guarantee peace. The same applies to the conflict in Gaza,» said Chile's President Gabriel Boric. Zelensky did not say whether he was prepared to engage with Putin directly in talks to end the conflict, though he has in the past ruled out direct talks with him. On Sunday, delegates will focus on three areas: nuclear safety, freedom of navigation and food security, and humanitarian issues. That includes prisoners of war and the issue of Ukrainian children taken to Russia or Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine. G7 leaders this week agreed its $50-billion loan for Ukraine, and Kyiv also inked a 10-year security agreement with Washington for military aid and training. On Friday, the European Union's 27 member states agreed «in principle» on beginning accession negotiations with Ukraine. © Agence France-Presse

«Creole Rendez-Vous» brings delicacies and delights to Seychelles' Praslin island

Visitors to Seychelles and locals had the chance during the weekend to appreciate the Creole culture during a cultural tourism event called the «Rendez-Vous Praslinois» on Praslin, the second most populated island. The initiative, called «C
Seychelles News Agency

«Creole Rendez-Vous» brings delicacies and delights to Seychelles' Praslin island

Visitors to Seychelles and locals had the chance during the weekend to appreciate the Creole culture during a cultural tourism event called the «Rendez-Vous Praslinois» on Praslin, the second most populated island. The initiative, called «Creole Rendez-Vous, that was launched by the Department of Tourism last year, is also held on La Digue Island to give the local community a place to market and sell their locally made products. Artisans and entrepreneurs on Praslin mounted their stalls all around the Berjaya Praslin Beach Hotel's beachfront area while various local handicrafts, drinks and dishes were also on sale. Bernadette Sofola, a well-known entrepreneur from Anse Kerlan, in the district of Grand Anse, showcased her products in her stall that day. »Kot Dadette« - the name of her business, produces an assortment of jams made with various fruits, coconut nougat (coconut fudge), cassava cake, pickles and curry powder. »I acquired these skills from my great grandparents so I decided to put into practice what I have learned,« she said. Bernadette Sofola, a well-known entrepreneur from Anse Kerlan, in the district of Grand Anse. (Mandy Bertin) Photo License: CC-BY   Mikaela Marie, owner of Chaquell tailoring, sold her locally-made products but decided not to stick to only tailoring but to venture into another avenue. For the past two years, the young artisan has been working with resin, a semi-solid natural and synthetic compound that can be hardened into a durable plastic material. She uses resin to make a selection of jewellery items such as necklaces and earrings and the main attraction at her stall was the handbag she has sewn with the map of Praslin on it. There were also various stalls selling scrumptious dishes such as the fruit bat curry, cooked in coconut milk and the much-loved salted fish chutney. Another stall that attracted a lot of visitors was one belonging to Florette Barbe and her 89-year-old mother Eloise Barbe. Both artisans were weaving dried up leaves of a type of palm tree called Latanier or Seychelles stilt palm. Aside from Latanier, they also use coconut leaf sheath, which is known as tanmi koko in the local language. With latanier leaves, handbags, table mats in the form of the famous coco de mer nut and the giant tortoises of Aldabra are made. An artisans were weaving dried up leaves of a type of palm tree called Latanier or Seychelles stilt palm. (Mandy Bertin) Photo License:  CC-BY  Handmade coconut soy wax candles, coconut wax melts and coconut vegan reed diffusers were also on sale by Sey Glow, a local business owned by Beverley and Craig Green. Sey Glow focuses on natural, clean and sustainable handmade products that bear Creole names such as Moutya, kanmtole, Dan Marmit and Fanm Kreol. The cultural experience would not be complete without the traditional Moutya dance, which has been added to UNESCO's list of intangible heritage, and this is exactly what was on the programme to close the curtains on this event. Speaking to SNA, the director general for Destination Planning and Development in the Tourism Department, Paul Lebon, said the event falls under the Creole Rendez-Vous umbrella that the Tourism Department is promoting, to enhance visitor experience in terms of cultural tourism activities. »Many visitors have voiced out that there is a lack of cultural experience and activities that will enable them to enjoy and learn about the Seychellois culture, so we have taken the lead through these series of events," he said.

Seychelles' Footballer of the Year 2023/24: St.Louis' Dean Mothe

St. Louis football club winger Dean Mothe has been named Seychelles' Footballer of the Year for the 2023/24 season. Mothe, who received the award in a ceremony on Friday, was rewarded for a great season of football, where he helped his side to win the Seyche
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Footballer of the Year 2023/24: St.Louis' Dean Mothe

St. Louis football club winger Dean Mothe has been named Seychelles' Footballer of the Year for the 2023/24 season. Mothe, who received the award in a ceremony on Friday, was rewarded for a great season of football, where he helped his side to win the Seychelles Premier League title. In second place was Foresters' Brandon Labrosse, who scored eight times in the league this season, while another St. Louis player, Justin Riaze, came out in third place.   Lorenzo Hoareau,  also a St. Louis Football Club player, who earlier this week scored his second goal for the Seychelles national team, won the title of the Young Player of the Year.    Lorenzo Hoareau won the title of the Young Player of the Year. (Seychelles News Agency)  Photo License: CC-BY  Hoareau made football history as the youngest player from an African nation to score a goal with the senior team in an international match in 2021. Hoareau was 14 when he scored for Seychelles and won the youngest African striker award in September 2021. He is the second youngest player in the world to achieve the feat, behind Aung Kyaw Tun of Myanmar. There were other individual awards presented on Friday evening and St Louis' Malagasy goalkeeper, Michel 'Toldo' Ramandimbisoa was named the goalkeeper of the season as his side conceded only 18 goals in 18 games.  St Louis' Malagasy goalkeeper, Michel 'Toldo' Ramandimbisoa was named the goalkeeper of the season. (Seychelles News Agency)  Photo License: CC-BY  St. Louis made it a clean sweep of individual titles with their coach, Gavin Jeanne, receiving the award for Coach of the Year, after leading his side to a first league title since 2017. There were also awards for the top scorers in the three divisions of Seychelles football. The award for the top scorer in the Premier League went to Lightstars Rennick Esther in the Premier League with 15 goals. For the Championship, the top scorer was Madagascar's Jocelyn Fenosoa, who scored a massive 34 goals for champions Real Maldives and Fabrice Radriamanantenasoa of Beau Vallon, won the top scorer award in League 1, after finding the net 24 times. Officials were also rewarded in the ceremony and the Best Male Referee went to Hensley Petrousse. Deidrey Roucou won the Best Female Referee and Rio Dubignon won the award for Young Referee of the Year.

Leaders head to Ukraine peace summit under shadow of Putin demands

World leaders headed to Switzerland on Saturday for a first summit on peace in Ukraine, after Vladimir Putin demanded Kyiv effectively surrender if it ultimately wants negotiations with Moscow. The two-day gathering at the luxury Burgenstock resort brings to
Seychelles News Agency

Leaders head to Ukraine peace summit under shadow of Putin demands

World leaders headed to Switzerland on Saturday for a first summit on peace in Ukraine, after Vladimir Putin demanded Kyiv effectively surrender if it ultimately wants negotiations with Moscow. The two-day gathering at the luxury Burgenstock resort brings together Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and more than 50 other heads of state and government, but without Russia taking part. Switzerland says the aim is to lay the early groundwork for a path to peace eventually involving Moscow, but Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday branded the summit a «trick to distract everyone». He said Moscow, which launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, would cease fire and begin peace talks «immediately» if Kyiv pulled its troops out of the east and south and gave up its NATO membership bid. Zelensky slammed Putin's demands as a territorial «ultimatum» reminiscent of Nazi Germany's dictator Adolf Hitler, while NATO and the United States also immediately rejected the hardline conditions. After almost a year of stalemate, Ukraine was forced to abandon dozens of frontline settlements this spring, with Russian troops holding a significant advantage in manpower and resources. But since mid-May, Russian progress has slowed and Zelensky hopes to swing the momentum further with the back-to-back G7 and peace summits. - G7 $50 bn, security deal - The G7 summit in Italy, which Zelensky attended, offered on Thursday a new $50 billion loan for Ukraine, using profits from the interest on frozen Russian assets. Leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies said they would support Ukraine «for as long as it takes». Zelensky said the new loan would go towards «both defence and reconstruction», while Putin branded the move as «theft», warning it would «not go unpunished». Meanwhile, a landmark 10-year security deal signed by Zelensky and US President Joe Biden on Thursday will see the United States provide Ukraine with military aid and training, with Zelensky calling it a bridge to joining the NATO defence alliance. Biden will not go from Italy to Switzerland, sending instead his Vice President Kamala Harris, while the other G7 leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy are due to attend. The EU chiefs and the presidents of Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Finland and Poland are among the others heading to Switzerland. The Summit on Peace in Ukraine aims to see the 92 attending countries agree a final declaration on some tentative basic principles. Russia's BRICS allies Brazil and South Africa are only sending an envoy, and India will be represented at the ministerial level, while China will not take part at all without Moscow's presence. - Finding common ground - The summit is being held at the ultra-exclusive Burgenstock hotel complex perched high above Lake Lucerne in classic picture-postcard Swiss scenery. The gathering will focus on narrow themes, based on common ground between Zelensky's 10-point peace plan presented in late 2022, and UN resolutions on the war that passed with widespread support. The summit aims to find paths towards a lasting peace for Ukraine, based on international law and the United Nations Charter; a possible framework to achieve this goal; and a roadmap as to how both parties could come together in a future peace process. Experts have warned against too-high expectations from the gathering. «Meaningful negotiations that could truly end the devastating war in Ukraine remain out of reach, as both Kyiv and Moscow stick to theories of victory that amount to outlasting the other,» the International Crisis Group think tank said. «Kyiv and its backers will be hard pressed to get tangible results from the meeting... beyond reaffirmations of the UN Charter's principles of territorial integrity.» - Nuclear, food, humanitarian focus - A plenary session involving all delegations will be held on Saturday. On Sunday, three topics will be discussed in detail in working groups: nuclear safety, freedom of navigation and food security, and humanitarian aspects. These will look at Black Sea shipping, prisoners of war, civilian detainees and deported children. A second summit is envisaged, and Zelensky's chief of staff Andriy Yermak said Tuesday that Kyiv hoped Russia would attend and receive a «joint plan» presented by the other attendees. The Burgenstock mountain is surrounded by the lake on three sides and the hotel complex is on a ridge some 450 metres above the water, making it relatively easy to seal off from traditional physical threats. However, the Swiss government said its websites have been repeatedly hit with cyberattacks in the build-up to the summit, and has noted a surge in misinformation. Samuel Charap, a Russia expert at the RAND think tank, said of the Swiss summit: «Russia is clearly going out of its way to demonstrate its pique with it... that tells you something. »Avoiding the expansion of the pro-Ukraine coalition: they're concerned about this," he told AFP. © Agence France-Presse

Endangered species: Seychelles steps up efforts to implement CITES

Officials from biosecurity, fisheries, conservation and customs in Seychelles participated in a familiarisation workshop on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The workshop, held at the Savoy Resor
Seychelles News Agency

Endangered species: Seychelles steps up efforts to implement CITES

Officials from biosecurity, fisheries, conservation and customs in Seychelles participated in a familiarisation workshop on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The workshop, held at the Savoy Resort and Spa, is part of the steps to implement the convention in the country and it aims to step up efforts to fight the illegal trade of wildlife. CITES is a global agreement among governments to regulate or ban international trade in species under threat. In Seychelles, it is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and the Environment and part of the ministry's role is to ensure that the trade is legal, sustainable and can be traced. The director for biosecurity conservation and the local CITES focal point, Ashley Dias, told reporters that the workshop is for the local partners to have open and frank discussions. During the session, the officials were shown presentations of the various roles the agencies involved have in the implementation. «This morning we discovered that even some of the officers involved in upholding the convention locally are not aware of what it is or entails. This shows that we have a lot of education work to carry out in that area so that everyone knows what it is,» she added. Through the talks, the authorities hope to identify the existing gaps and how they can work together to implement the convention nationally. The gaps identified so far were a lack of human and financial resources and the need for more training so that the officers concerned may identify species being traded. «CITES is a very important convention and as we know there is illegal trade in flora and fauna taking place now, this is the perfect time to talk about how this is happening,» said Dias. She said the authorities have «noticed an increase in illegal wildlife trade, as this sector is even more lucrative than trafficking in illegal drugs. We are working closely with our partners to find out what avenues are being used to do so and what countries where such trades are taking place.» The Trade of Wild Flora and Fauna Act came into force in 2021 allowing authorities to confiscate specimens and fine those found trading illegally. «What remains now for us is to be able to detect the illegal trade of flora and fauna, which at the moment is very alarming,» said Dias. She said there is a demand for endemic and rare species from Seychelles and in recent years there have been reports of illegal trading of the island nation's giant bronze gecko and potential illicit trading of the endemic Aldabra giant tortoise. Endemic to the Seychelles' island of Praslin's endangered coco-de-mer palm forests, the vulnerable giant bronze gecko seems more like a close relative of the Komodo dragon from the Galapagos Islands than a gecko. Dias added that although the authorities are detecting such cases there are many loopholes such as monitoring, control and surveillance in marine areas. The local CITES management authority says it plans to hold more training to equip all concerned with the tools needed to identify the various species being traded and know existing laws. «This is a constantly evolving topic and we have to ensure that as a small country, we are always on top of all the changes taking place,» said Dias.

Seychelles' Port Victoria extension project scaled down due to higher costs 

The Seychelles' Port Victoria extension and rehabilitation project has been revised from 600 metres to 310 metres to cater for an escalation in costs of materials and building resources since the conception of the project in 2018. This was announced by the d
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Port Victoria extension project scaled down due to higher costs 

The Seychelles' Port Victoria extension and rehabilitation project has been revised from 600 metres to 310 metres to cater for an escalation in costs of materials and building resources since the conception of the project in 2018. This was announced by the deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), Philippa Samson, in a scoping meeting with different terminal operators. «The new quay will cater for container vessels and tankers primarily and the existing quay that is 370 metres will used for lighter activities until such time that we remove it,» she said. Samson added that many things have changed «since we secured the financing for this project in 2018. We had COVID, we had a huge escalation in the prices in the construction industry. So, we had to really look at what is possible with the financing that we have.» For the extension project, the SPA received $41 million – namely $35 million from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The European Union (EU) has also provided a grant of around $6 million. Since the project was approved in 2017 and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), there have been major changes to the plan and scope of the project. The Ports Authority and the Department of Environment found it necessary to do an addendum to the ESIA. The meeting on Thursday was part of this process. Following the presentation of the changes to the project, several people, mainly terminal operators, raised concerns primarily about the fact that the new quay is also meant to be raised by a height of one metre. They were concerned about whether this would affect operations. Samson said that this raising of the level of the new quay is meant to cater to the expected sea level rise in the future. «It is understandable because it is different from what we originally advertised and what we envisioned together. So, they do have concerns about how the new port will cater to the traffic. But we would like to reassure them that we have done forecasts and we see what is planned with the existing services from the shipping lines and the planned use of mobile harbour cranes. We foresee that it will be manageable at least for the next 20 years,» he added. Samson said maybe by then «We would have renovated the next part of the quay but it is still left to be seen how things play out but the forecasts show that we can make do with these 310 metres,» she explained. Participants have been given seven days to formally submit their comments regarding the proposed change to the project. The Port of Victoria of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is the only port that handles the import and export of goods for the country.

Seychelles' Cabinet discusses proposed positions for upcoming EU-ESA negotiations

The Seychelles' Cabinet of Ministers on Wednesday discussed the island nation's proposed positions in the forthcoming European Union and Eastern Southern Africa negotiations on the liberalisation of the provision of certain services. Mauritius, Seychelles,
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Cabinet discusses proposed positions for upcoming EU-ESA negotiations

The Seychelles' Cabinet of Ministers on Wednesday discussed the island nation's proposed positions in the forthcoming European Union and Eastern Southern Africa negotiations on the liberalisation of the provision of certain services. Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Madagascar signed the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Eastern and Southern Africa in August 2009, and applied provisionally in May 2012. Comoros signed the agreement in 2017 after the consent of the European Parliament in 2013. Vice President Ahmed Afif said in a press briefing on Thursday, that the agreement «makes provision for the five countries to export their products and services via the EU to other markets with favourable conditions. Like Seychelles, we export canned tuna and we get favourable conditions such as we do not pay taxes on entry and there is no quota on the quantity we are bringing in.» Afif said that on the other hand, as a country, Seychelles has to encourage exportation towards its destination for almost the same condition that the EU is offering. «This comes with some difficulties among certain countries for certain products coming into the country without paying taxes. This will impact our revenue, so we decided to discuss with them what is permissible under the agreement that can sustain us. We are not on the same level as them and we would not be able to do the same as them in everything,» he explained. Afif added that Seychelles needs to agree with them on what the country «needs to protect and what can be done under the agreement but for others we will make concessions and compromise. This is the discussion that we have agreed upon.» He gave examples of items like fuel and transport on which there will always be taxes on them and they have accepted this. «There will always be VAT (Value Added Tax) on most products entering the country but they can say that there are certain areas Seychelles can agree on making concessions for example on dairy products that we are not producing. We can review the conditions under which they are entering the country. Also certain pharmaceutical products but we cannot offer equally what they are offering,» said Afif. 

Biden, Zelensky hail $50 billion G7 loan for Ukraine

G7 leaders agreed Thursday on a new $50 billion loan for Ukraine using profits from frozen Russian assets, a move Joe Biden said showed Moscow «we're not backing down». The US president and other G7 leaders agreed at a summit in Italy to use the
Seychelles News Agency

Biden, Zelensky hail $50 billion G7 loan for Ukraine

G7 leaders agreed Thursday on a new $50 billion loan for Ukraine using profits from frozen Russian assets, a move Joe Biden said showed Moscow «we're not backing down». The US president and other G7 leaders agreed at a summit in Italy to use the profits from the interest on the assets to back the loan to provide help this year to Kyiv as it struggles in its third year of war with Russia. Summit host Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced the «political agreement» after the first day of the Puglia talks, saying it was a hard-fought but «fundamental» step. Meloni invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to join a special session on the Ukraine war alongside the leaders of Germany, France, Canada, Britain and Japan. At a joint press conference with the Ukrainian leader afterwards, Biden said the deal emphasised to Russian President Vladimir Putin the long-term commitment of Kyiv's allies. With it, the G7 leaders «collectively show Putin he cannot wait us out, he cannot divide us», he said. Addressing leaders earlier at the luxury Borgo Egnazia resort, Zelensky said the loan was a «vital step forward in providing sustainable support for Ukraine in winning this war». He said it would go towards «both defence and reconstruction». But he said Ukrainian forces still needed more air-defence systems to help counter attacks by Moscow, which has been pummelling Kyiv's front-line troops and the country's power grid. - Loan syndicate - The EU agreed earlier this year to help Kyiv by using the profits from the interest on Russian central bank assets frozen by Western allies -- the majority of them held in the bloc. But Washington has been pushing for more and faster help through a huge upfront loan. A senior Biden administration official said the United States was willing to provide up to $50 billion, but said its contribution could be «significantly less» as it would be a shared initiative. «We will not be the only lenders. This will be a loan syndicate. We're going to share the risk, because we have a shared commitment to get this done,» the official said on condition of anonymity. He would not say how much other G7 countries would contribute, nor did any other leaders on Thursday. - 'Historic step' - G7 countries, which count the EU as their unofficial eighth member, have been Ukraine's key military and financial backers since Russia invaded in February 2022. The G7 and the EU have frozen around 300 billion euros ($325 billion) of Russian assets, much of it frozen by Euroclear, an international deposit organisation based in Belgium. EU countries say they could generate 2.5 to 3.0 billion euros a year for Kyiv from the profits on the interest. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the loan agreement as a «historic step» and a «clear signal to the Russian president that he cannot simply sit this matter out». «The basis has been created for Ukraine to be in a position to procure everything it needs... in the near future, in terms of weapons but also in terms of investment in reconstruction or in energy infrastructure,» he said. Zelensky has been engaged in a flurry of diplomacy aimed at shoring up international support, from a reconstruction conference in Berlin earlier this week to an upcoming peace conference in Switzerland at the weekend. In Puglia Thursday, he also signed what he called a «historic» 10-year security deal with Biden, and another with Japan. - Political flux - The summit comes at a time of extraordinary global turmoil. Apart from the conflict in Ukraine, the Hamas-Israel conflict in Gaza is raging and economic tensions are rising between China and Western countries. Many G7 countries are also in political flux, with summit attendees aware this could be Biden's last G7 summit if he loses to Donald Trump in November elections. Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is tipped to be ousted in July 4 elections, while France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Scholz are both under pressure after gains by the far right in EU Parliament elections last weekend. By contrast, Italy's Meloni is riding high after her far-right party came out on top in her country's EU Parliament vote. But she drew criticism from both France and the United States after reportedly seeking to remove a reference to safe access to abortion from the final G7 statement. The summit talks began Thursday with a short session on Africa, before turning to the Middle East, and on Friday the focus will turn to China -- and a visit by Pope Francis. G7 leaders on Thursday confirmed their support for a truce and hostage deal in the Hamas-Israel war. Biden said that so far, the «biggest hang-up» was Hamas, which was refusing to sign up. © Agence France-Presse

S. African parliament meets to re-elect weakened ANC president

South Africa's newly-elected parliament meets Friday and is expected to re-elect President Cyril Ramaphosa to form an unprecedented coalition government after his ruling ANC cobbled together a coalition deal. The African National Congress leader had called f
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S. African parliament meets to re-elect weakened ANC president

South Africa's newly-elected parliament meets Friday and is expected to re-elect President Cyril Ramaphosa to form an unprecedented coalition government after his ruling ANC cobbled together a coalition deal. The African National Congress leader had called for a government of national unity after his party lost its absolute majority in last month's general election, but two major leftist parties shunned the deal. Instead, according to ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula, the government would «gravitate to the centre» -- backed by the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA), the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and several smaller parties. «We have reached a breakthrough on the common agreement that we need to work together,» Mbalula told a news conference in Cape Town, confirming that the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had refused to join what he still called a unity government. Graft-tainted former president Jacob Zuma's new electoral vehicle, the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), has disputed the May 29 election results and warned it would boycott Friday's sitting of the 400-member assembly. Mbalula said the ANC was talking to MK, but had not reached agreement. Ramaphosa is now expected to win the secret ballot of MPs to confirm his re-election. That would see him sworn in next week in Pretoria and then unveil his new cabinet, presumably including ministers from both the ANC and the former opposition parties in the coalition. - Post-apartheid democracy - «The ANC is going into this under the guise of a government of national unity, but really it isn't,» political analyst Dr. Hlengiwe Ndlovu of the Wits University School of Governance told AFP. «It's more like coalition talks.» For 30 years since the advent of post-apartheid democracy, the late Nelson Mandela's African National Congress has held an absolute majority and elected a president from its own ranks. But the former liberation movement -- weakened by corruption and recent governments' poor economic performance -- saw its support collapse at the May 29 election, leaving it with only 159 seats out of 400. «Besides the DA and IFP, Ramaphosa will be building up support from smaller parties... as insurance,» said author and political analyst Susan Booysen, amid reports that some ANC MPs may vote against their leader. «He needs that buffer,» she told AFP. But the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters of former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, who wants to nationalise land and some privately-owned businesses, will not join the administration. At a news conference on Thursday, Malema said his members would vote for the ANC candidate for president if they were promised the speaker or deputy speaker position in parliament. But he denounced the idea of joining a unity government with white politician John Steenhuisen's liberal right DA, which has promised privatisations and market reform. «We have made it very clear to the president that we are not against the government of national unity,» Malema said, recounting a meeting he had held earlier with Ramaphosa. «We are against the inclusion of the DA and the Freedom Front Plus, because that represents imperialism, represents racism and white supremacy, represents backwardness.» The Freedom Front Plus is a right-wing party, seeking an autonomous Afrikaner homeland. - Millionaire businessman - A former trade unionist turned millionaire businessman, 71-year-old Ramaphosa first came to power in 2018 after Zuma was forced out under the cloud of corruption allegations. Once described by Mandela as one of the most gifted leaders of his generation, Ramaphosa played a key role in the negotiations that brought an end to apartheid in the early 1990s. Upon taking the reins of the country, he promised a new dawn for South Africa. But critics say he has disappointed. Under his watch unemployment has reached an almost record high, pushing the ANC towards its worst election result ever. The party's latest tilt towards the centre, with a coalition supported by centre-right and right-wing groups, might further hamper his popularity, particularly among ANC ranks. The broad-church party is a progressive outfit of the left that has overseen welfare and economic empowerment programmes for poor, black South Africans. © Agence France-Presse

Naval visit: Japan Training Squadron expected in Seychelles from June 17

The Japan Training Squadron, JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, will make a friendly port call at Victoria in Seychelles from June 17 to 20 as part of its overseas training and promotion of friendship and goodwill. In a pr
Seychelles News Agency

Naval visit: Japan Training Squadron expected in Seychelles from June 17

The Japan Training Squadron, JS Kashima and JS Shimakaze of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, will make a friendly port call at Victoria in Seychelles from June 17 to 20 as part of its overseas training and promotion of friendship and goodwill. In a press conference on Wednesday,  the Japanese counsellor and chargé d'affaires, Ono Tomoyuki, said that the visit is part of a larger training cruise visit that started in May 2024 and is expected to end in November this year. The vessels will visit different countries over a total of 35,000 nautical miles. «Their last port call was Brunei at Muara port and now the ships will come here in Victoria next week. The Commander of the training squadron is Real Admiral Nishiyama Takahiro. The ships are composed of 570 people of which 330 are crew members and 190 are trainees,» he said. «These visits are meant to give the trainees hands-on training to acquire basic knowledge and skills required for their service. They develop their global awareness through the joint exercise and other activities,» added Tomoyuki. The second secretary from the Embassy of Japan, Ishizu Tomotaka, said the training squadron will be in Seychelles for about four days and will participate in several activities. «The squadron will be entering the port in the morning of the 17th of June, so we will have a welcome event joined by Japanese nationals and residents. We also have the School for the Deaf that we financially supported in the past and some students will be joining the occasion. Of course, the Seychelles Coast Guard and the Ports Authority will also be joining us on that day we have a reception for dignitaries and also Seychelles Defence Forces in the evening, which is a closed session this time,» Tomotaka. He said on June 18, there will be an open day and the ships will be open to the public from 10 am to 11.30 am. «Thanks to the support of the National Celebrations Committee, our Commander will be attending the flag-raising ceremony in the morning. On the 19th we will have public events; a musical performance starting with our Japanese drums and martial arts demonstrations, kendo and judo, joined by Seychelles Judo Federation. So, it's kind of a cultural exchange programme. The last item is our brass band concert which will be held at the National Museum,» said Tomotaka. He added that the trainees on board the squadron will be separated into groups and visit different facilities such as the Seychelles Defence Forces. This is the second visit of a Japanese Training Squadron to Seychelles. The first one was in August 2012.

Huthis claim attack on merchant ship in Red Sea off Yemen

Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels on Wednesday claimed an attack on a merchant ship in the Red Sea, part of an ongoing campaign they say is an act of solidarity with Palestinians. The Huthis, who are at war with a Saudi-led coalition after ousting the governm
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Huthis claim attack on merchant ship in Red Sea off Yemen

Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels on Wednesday claimed an attack on a merchant ship in the Red Sea, part of an ongoing campaign they say is an act of solidarity with Palestinians. The Huthis, who are at war with a Saudi-led coalition after ousting the government from Sanaa in 2014, have launched scores of drone and missile attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November. They have said they are harassing the vital trade route in support of Palestinians during the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. In a statement on Wednesday, the rebels said they had carried out a «military operation targeting the Tutor ship in the Red Sea, using a naval drone, aerial drones and ballistic missiles». The ship was hit about 68 nautical miles (126 kilometres) southwest of the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, maritime security firm Ambrey had said earlier in the day. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by Britain's Royal Navy, said a vessel was «hit on the stern by a small craft» 66 nautical miles southwest of Hodeida. In a statement, UKMTO said the ship was taking on water and not under the crew's command. It added that the vessel was «hit for a second time by an unknown airborne projectile» and that military authorities were assisting. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) later said the Tutor had been struck by a Huthi «unmanned surface vessel» that «caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room». CENTCOM -- which along with British forces has been conducting strikes in rebel-held Yemen in retaliation for the Red Sea attacks -- also said it had destroyed three anti-ship missile launchers and a Huthi drone over the past 24 hours. © Agence France-Presse

Malawi VP, nine others, killed in plane crash

Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima was killed in a plane crash, the nation's president said on Tuesday, after searchers located the wreckage of the aircraft in a mist-shrouded forest. The military plane carrying Chilima, 51, and nine others disappeared o
Seychelles News Agency

Malawi VP, nine others, killed in plane crash

Malawi's Vice President Saulos Chilima was killed in a plane crash, the nation's president said on Tuesday, after searchers located the wreckage of the aircraft in a mist-shrouded forest. The military plane carrying Chilima, 51, and nine others disappeared on Monday, after it failed to land in the northern city of Mzuzu due to bad weather and was told to return to the capital, Lilongwe. Photographs shared with AFP by a member of the military rescue team showed army personnel standing on a foggy slope near debris bearing the registration number of the Dornier 228-202K aircraft operated by the Malawi Army Air Wing «The search and rescue team have found the aircraft... completely destroyed with no survivors, as all passengers on board were killed on impact,» Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera said, addressing the nation. «Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is,» he said, describing the accident as a «terrible tragedy.» Rescuers had been combing a fog-cloaked forest south of Mzuzu on Tuesday, after authorities located the last tower it transmitted to before the plane disappeared. Earlier, army commander General Paul Valentino Phiri said other countries, including Malawi's neighbours, had been aiding the search effort, with support including helicopters and drones. The group departed just after 9:00 am (0700 GMT) from Lilongwe on Monday to attend the funeral of a former cabinet minister some 370 kilometres (230 miles) away in Mzuzu. Malawi's former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, who was married to former president Bakili Muluzi, was also on board. - Widely loved - Chakwera said he had previously flown on the same aircraft for similar trips. The crew had successfully operated it just hours before the accident, he added. «And yet, despite the track record of the aircraft and the experience of the crew, something terrible went wrong with that aircraft on its flight back to Lilongwe, sending it crashing down,» he said. First elected vice president in 2014, the charismatic yet stern-talking Chilima was a widely loved figure in Malawi, particularly among young people. «I am deeply shocked and I am mourning. Saulos was like a son to me,» former president Joyce Banda told AFP. «This country has lost a genius, we have lost a champion who an expert in commerce and industry and he is one who believed that the private sector is the engine for growth. »Unfortunately for me, I have to be personal as well, because he was like my son.« In the 2019 election, Chakwera had stood as presidential candidate for the Malawi Congress Party, and Chilima for the rival United Transformation Movement. Both lost, but the vote was annulled over polling irregularities and when a new election was held in June 2020, the pair campaigned and won as presidential and vice-presidential running mates. - Patriotic citizen - But, in 2022, Chilima was stripped of his powers after being arrested and charged with graft over a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman. Last month, a Malawian court dropped the charges and he resumed his official duties. »Chilima was a good man, a devoted father and husband, a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction and a formidable vice president,« Chakwera said. »I consider it one of the greatest honours of my life to have had him as my deputy and counsellor for the past four years.« Condolences poured in from around the world with the African Union, the European Union, the United States and others expressing sadness at the news. »Our thoughts are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives and with the people of Malawi at this tragic time," the British High Commission in Lilongwe wrote. Chakwera said the military was in the process of taking the remains of those killed to the capital. Funeral arrangements would be announced later. © Agence France-Presse

Aeroflot to resume flights to Seychelles in October 2024

The resumption of flights by Aeroflot to Seychelles in October was discussed earlier this week in a meeting between Antony Derjacques, Minister for Transport,  and a delegation of the airline led by the Ambassador of Russia to Seychelles, Artyom Kozhin. Th
Seychelles News Agency

Aeroflot to resume flights to Seychelles in October 2024

The resumption of flights by Aeroflot to Seychelles in October was discussed earlier this week in a meeting between Antony Derjacques, Minister for Transport,  and a delegation of the airline led by the Ambassador of Russia to Seychelles, Artyom Kozhin. The airline, which ceased its operation to the island nation in May, will operate three weekly flights. According to the Ministry of Transport in a communique on Wednesday, during the meeting, Derjacques highlighted the important contributions made by Aeroflot in the economic recovery of Seychelles from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that since it resumed scheduled flights to Seychelles in 2021, Aeroflot has was consistent in its performance driving up tourist arrivals from Russia from under 15,000 in 2019 to more than 38,000 in 2023. «As a result, Russia now stands in the top five of our tourist arrivals week on week. We are very pleased with this achievement. It is in this spirit and in recognition of its contribution to our socio-economic development that we are rallying the support of all stakeholders to ensure the smooth resumption of Aeroflot in Winter 2024,» said Derjacques.  On his side, Ambassador Kozhin emphasised the achievements made by Aeroflot since it resumed flights to Seychelles. He said through this operation, the tourism profile of Seychelles has seen a significant hike in Russia, spurring demand for travel to the islands, and reiterated the remarkable numbers of tourist arrivals from Russia in 2023, which is the highest on record in over a decade. Kozhin expressed appreciation for all the support extended to the airline in ensuring it can conduct flights to Seychelles as a testament of the good bilateral relations between the two countries. The representatives from Aeroflot had an opportunity to brief the minister on some operational challenges they are facing. Derjacques reassured the Russian delegation that through a multi-stakeholder approach, the government will find meaningful solutions to address any hurdles that they are facing. He called for a cohesive and collaborative approach locally among key stakeholders to ensure the airline can resume the flights as planned later this year. «We need to recognise the domino effect of Aeroflot's operation to Seychelles. Everyone in the country benefits either directly or indirectly. Henceforth, it is important that we work towards ensuring that we can achieve year-round service from the airline by creating the right conditions to facilitate their operation,» he added.  According to the latest visitor arrivals figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, there were 18,402 visitors from Russia in 2024, an increase of 3 percent from the figures of 2023. Russia is the third largest market for visitor arrivals.   Germany still leads with 29,149, a 40 percent increase from 2023, while France is second with 20,050, a decrease of 4 percent from last year. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, saw an increase of 3 percent in the total of visitors at 160,359 arrivals from January to June 12 in 2024 compared to 155,079 last year. However, for week 23 there has been a decrease of 15 percent compared to 2023. Only 4,267 visitors arrived in Seychelles in week 23 in 2024 compared to 5,001 last year. 

Seychelles scoops 8 awards at the World Travel Awards in Dubai

Seychelles has once again proven its allure as a premier travel destination by clinching eight awards at the World Travel Awards 2024 ceremony held in Dubai on May 6. SNA presents the 8 awards Seychelles won at the ceremony.   Indian Ocean's Leading Beac
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Seychelles scoops 8 awards at the World Travel Awards in Dubai

Seychelles has once again proven its allure as a premier travel destination by clinching eight awards at the World Travel Awards 2024 ceremony held in Dubai on May 6. SNA presents the 8 awards Seychelles won at the ceremony.   Indian Ocean's Leading Beach Destination  The award for Seychelles is a testament to the island nation's natural beauty and captivating landscapes. Seychelles has two beaches that have made world rankings in the past. Anse Source D'Agent, located in the southwest of La Digue, the third most populated island of Seychelles, and Anse Lazio, located on the northwest coast of Praslin Island, the second most populated island.   (Gerard Larose) Photo License: CC-BY     Indian Ocean's Leading Cruise Destination  The award shows the Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands is a destination with a commitment to innovation and excellence in hospitality. with its warm weather, tropical forests, white-sand beaches and turquoise waters is seen as the place to go on a cruise. For the cruise season 2023/2024, around 68,000 visitors came to the island nation. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY     Indian Ocean's Leading Cruise Port 2024 Port Victoria won the Indian Ocean's Leading Cruise Port once  again. For the cruise ship season 2023/2024, Port Victoria has welcomed around 38 vessels. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY     Indian Ocean's Leading Nature Destination With Seychelles' unique biodiversity both on land and at sea and its endemic flora and fauna, the archipelago is an ideal destination for visitors who love to explore the outdoors and get up close to some endemic species. (Gerard Larose) Photo License: CC-BY     Indian Ocean's Leading Cabin Crew 2024' and 'Indian Ocean's Leading Airline - Economy Class 2024'. The accomplishment caps off a period of growth for Air Seychelles, the national airline that recently signed a codeshare agreement with SriLankan Airlines, to give the airline more flexibility in its connections and destination offers. (Air Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    Indian Ocean's Leading Conference Hotel 2024 Eden Bleu Hotel on the man-made Eden Island, next to the main island of Mahe,  was honoured as it combines an idyllic setting for business and leisure with the most advanced Seychelles conference and meetings facilities in the Indian Ocean.   Indian Ocean's Leading New Resort 2024,  The Waldorf Astoria Resort, part of the Hilton Group, located on Platte Island, blends elegant hospitality with an eco-conscious travel offering. The resort was also praised for showcasing Seychelles' commitment to innovation and excellence in hospitality.  (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  

Tourism department bids farewell to director of Seychelles Tourism Academy

The Tourism Department has announced the departure of Terrence Max from his post as director of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) in a press statement earlier this week. Max took over the leadership of the Academy in 2021 after the retirement of Flavien J
Seychelles News Agency

Tourism department bids farewell to director of Seychelles Tourism Academy

The Tourism Department has announced the departure of Terrence Max from his post as director of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) in a press statement earlier this week. Max took over the leadership of the Academy in 2021 after the retirement of Flavien Joubert and has served in the role for the past three years. He resigned from the post recently. In a meeting with the staff of the Academy on Monday, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, announced that Richard Mathiot will assume the role of interim director with immediate effect for a three-month period. «The Tourism Ministry is grateful to Mr Max for the work he has done over the past three years. I am confident that Mr Mathiot's extensive experience will greatly benefit the Seychelles Tourism Academy during this transitional period,» said Radegonde. Richard Mathiot will assume the role of interim director with immediate effect. (Tourism Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY He added that the post for the new STA director will be advertised in the coming weeks and the Department will initiate a recruitment process to find a permanent successor. The Tourism Department said that the interim director brings a wealth of experience to his new role. «As a former principal lecturer at STA, he has spent the past 20 years educating full-time students in various Food and Beverage programmes, including mentoring students in the Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management programme and preparing them for their year at Shannon College,» the Department said. «A recognised chef, Mr Mathiot has refined his culinary skills globally, having worked in countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Dubai. His notable positions include serving as an executive chef at Paradise Sun and working for Air Seychelles, based in Holland. Additionally, Mr Mathiot has represented Seychelles in various international competitions,» added the Department. The Seychelles Tourism Academy was set up in 2007 at its current location at La Misere succeeding the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Training College (SHTTC). It was part of major changes towards private sector principles of management and performance measures. The STA trains students primarily for the hotel establishment in Seychelles but many graduates choose other tourism-related field or other areas. Tourism is the top contributor to the economy of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. 

Seychelles hosts regional DiDem Thematic School on reef heritage vulnerability 

Reef heritage vulnerability is the main theme being discussed through the Dialogue Science - Decision Makers for Integrated Management of Coastal and Marine Environment (DiDEM) project. The collaboration headed by experts from the French National Research
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Seychelles hosts regional DiDem Thematic School on reef heritage vulnerability 

Reef heritage vulnerability is the main theme being discussed through the Dialogue Science - Decision Makers for Integrated Management of Coastal and Marine Environment (DiDEM) project. The collaboration headed by experts from the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) has brought together experts from the University of Seychelles (UniSey), Seychelles Park and Garden Authority, institutes and universities from the region in meetings, called the Thematic School, held in Seychelles this week. The main aim is to provide doctoral and post-doctoral scientists, coral reef managers, and experts from non-governmental organisations the opportunity to share experiences, knowledge, and methods, especially about assessing the resilience of reef ecosystems. It will also help consider coral reefs as a natural heritage and build a coral social-ecological system and ultimately follow an integrated approach; bridging the final goal to put coral reef heritage as a cross-cutting body of analysis and management. Over five days, the project financed by the Monaco Expedition, will explore the concepts of resilience, vulnerability, heritage and social-ecological systems from the perspective of sustainable science.   An expert scientist from IRD, Dr Gilbert David, emphasised the importance of understanding the human aspect as part of the reef heritage and said, «You need to link human beings and resource ecosystems.» Speaking to SNA, the acting director for the Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI) at UniSey, Dr Jerome Harlay, explained that this thematic school helps. «It's important for the University of Seychelles and the Blue Economy Institute to have a network. And the regional experts that we are receiving here will help us broadcast our ideas and we will also gain knowledge from outside. We've got different islands; we've got different practices. [...] As was mentioned during one of the presentations, it's very hard to read all the literature. So sometimes we need to also convey this message by speaking to each other because it makes more of an impact,» said Harlay. One of the participants, fisheries specialist and consultant, Dr Ameer Ebrahim, said, «Such events bring great value to the country because it not only brings experts together, but we are also gaining insight into what is happening in the neighbouring countries. So far the thematic school has been very interesting, we even had an expert talking about the formation of Seychelles' different islands and the geometry of the country.» Dr Pascale Chabanet, a leading IRD scientist on Indian Ocean coral reefs, explained the importance of an interdisciplinary thematic school on coral reefs. She emphasised the need to understand reefs from both scientific and societal perspectives. «It is very important to have an interdisciplinary and multi-actor approach, including the view of the scientist as well as society. It's what we call sustainable science in IRD. If you want a sustainable solution you have to involve society,» she added. Chabanet also discussed the threats facing reefs including human pressures like pollution and climate change stresses increasing bleaching events as well as the resilience and adaptation of certain coral to cope with thermal stress.  

G7 leaders gather in Italy for talks dominated by Ukraine

Leaders of the G7 wealthy nations gather in southern Italy this week against the backdrop of global and political turmoil, with boosting support for Ukraine top of the agenda. US President Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Fumi
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G7 leaders gather in Italy for talks dominated by Ukraine

Leaders of the G7 wealthy nations gather in southern Italy this week against the backdrop of global and political turmoil, with boosting support for Ukraine top of the agenda. US President Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are among the Group of Seven leaders heading to the luxury resort of Borgo Egnazia in Puglia for the June 13-15 summit. It comes at a sensitive time, with wars raging in Ukraine and Gaza and  with Biden, Macron and Britain's Rishi Sunak all facing elections in the coming weeks and months. With an eye to the global challenges, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the host, has also invited around a dozen non-G7 heads of government, from Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan to India's Narendra Modi. Pope Francis will also fly in on Friday to talk about artificial intelligence. - Support for Ukraine - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend a discussion Thursday on Russia's war on his country, now into its third year, where he will again press for more help from Western allies. G7 leaders hope to agree a deal on using the profits from the interest on 300 billion euros ($325 billion) of frozen Russian central bank assets to help Kyiv. The idea is to use the profits as collateral for a loan of up to $50 billion, but there is still debate over who would issue the debt as well as a raft of technical issues -- including what would happen if the assets were unfrozen in the event of peace. John Kirton, director of the University of Toronto's G7 Research Group, said he expected an agreement. «This issue has been the signature test of the summit's performance on Russia's aggression against Ukraine, so the G7 leaders will not do too little here,» he told AFP. The leaders are also expected to discuss their concerns over China's support for Russia's military expansion. While the summit is officially three days, the sessions end on Friday, with Zelensky and some other leaders heading Saturday to a conference on Ukraine in Switzerland. Biden will not attend, instead sending Vice President Kamala Harris. - 'Difficult moment' - The summit of G7 leaders -- including Germany's Olaf Scholz and Canada's Justin Trudeau -- comes at a «particularly difficult moment on the international stage», an Italian government source said. The Hamas-Israel war is now in its ninth month, with the conflict to be addressed at the summit as part of a wider discussion on the Middle East. G7 leaders last week endorsed a proposed peace deal. Tensions in the Indo-Pacific will also feature on the agenda in Puglia, as will economic security, including rising trade tensions with China on green technologies. Non-G7 guests will join an «outreach session» on Friday afternoon. They were set to include Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Erdogan and Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva -- whose country holds the rotating G20 presidency this year -- Argentina's Javier Milei, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and representatives from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have also been invited. All the guests are invited to a dinner Friday night at the Borgo Egnazia luxury hotel complex built in the style of a traditional village, an evening which will also include a short artistic show. With security to be extremely tight, the venue is far away from protesters and journalists, with the media centre located some 60 kilometres away in Bari. - Migration, Africa - Migration and relations with Africa are two priorities for Meloni for the summit, and she has invited leaders from Kenya, Algeria and the African Union. On climate change, G7 environmental ministers have already committed in April to phase out unabated coal-fired power plants by the mid-2030s -- though they left some wiggle room. The Group of Seven is a political forum of largely like-mind democracies, but their economic weight is not what it once was -- and without China, some question its relevance. It could be the last G7 summit for several participants. Biden is up for re-election in November, while Britain's Sunak faces voters on July 4, when his Conservatives are expected to lose power. Macron is also facing trouble at home: on Sunday he called snap legislative elections after his centrist alliance was routed by the far right in weekend European Parliament elections. Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party, by contrast, came out top in the vote in Italy. © Agence France-Presse

Hamas offers response to Gaza truce plan as fighting rages

Hamas gave its official response to the latest truce proposal for Gaza on Tuesday, calling for a «complete halt» to Israeli «aggression» as fighting raged in the Palestinian territory. The response came after US Secretary of State Ant
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Hamas offers response to Gaza truce plan as fighting rages

Hamas gave its official response to the latest truce proposal for Gaza on Tuesday, calling for a «complete halt» to Israeli «aggression» as fighting raged in the Palestinian territory. The response came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his eighth Middle East tour since the October 7 Hamas attack that sparked the war, pushed the group to accept the deal. «The response prioritises the interests of our Palestinian people and emphasises the necessity of a complete halt to the ongoing aggression on Gaza,» Hamas said in a joint statement with Islamic Jihad. A source with knowledge of the talks said Hamas proposed amendments to the plan, including a ceasefire timeline and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. Talks were expected to continue via Qatari and Egyptian mediators, coordinated with the United States. During his visit, Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had «reaffirmed his commitment» to the proposed six-week ceasefire, which was also backed by a UN Security Council vote. «Everyone has said yes, except for Hamas,» Blinken said. «And if Hamas doesn't say yes, then this is clearly on them.» Blinken then attended a summit in Jordan, alongside leaders from the Arab world and beyond, addressing Gaza's humanitarian crisis. The Israeli siege has left Gaza's 2.4 million people without adequate food, clean water, medicines and fuel, pushing many to the brink of starvation. Only occasional aid shipments provide temporary relief. - 'Carnage and killing' - «The horror must stop,» UN chief Antonio Guterres told the conference, voicing his support for the truce plan first outlined by US President Joe Biden late last month. «The speed and scale of the carnage and killing in Gaza is beyond anything in my years as secretary-general,» he told the gathering on the shores of the Dead Sea. UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths labelled the Gaza conflict a «stain on our humanity» and called for $2.5 billion in funding until year-end. Amid diplomatic efforts to address the crisis, Israel conducted further strikes on Gaza, resulting in casualties according to hospital sources. The Israeli army said four soldiers were killed in the southern city of Rafah on Monday in what Hamas called a booby-trap explosion. Israel has faced mounting international criticism over the escalating death toll in the conflict. Health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza reported 274 people were killed during an Israeli special forces raid on Saturday to rescue four hostages. The UN human rights office expressed deep concern over the civilian casualties in the Nuseirat raid and said it was «deeply distressed» over the ongoing hostage situation in Gaza. And on Monday the UN Security Council endorsed the three-phrase truce proposal Biden set out last month. Netanyahu suffered a setback on Sunday when Benny Gantz, a centrist former army chief, quit his war cabinet, citing the lack of a post-war governance plan for Gaza. Blinken met Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid, both of whom have been vocal critics of Netanyahu and his handling of the conflict. Washington has also pushed for a «day-after» plan for Gaza, promoted a governance role for Hamas's rival, the Palestinian Authority, and urged steps toward a two-state solution. Netanyahu and his far-right coalition partners reject the idea of Palestinian statehood, arguing it would endanger Israel's security and effectively «reward terrorism». - 'Siege and destruction' - The war broke out after Hamas's October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures. The militants also seized 251 hostages, more than 100 of whom were released during a November truce. After special forces rescued four captives on Saturday, 116 hostages remain in Gaza, though the army says 41 of them are dead. The Israeli army launched a devastating offensive on Gaza that has left at least 37,164 people dead, the majority of them civilians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory's health ministry. The latest Israeli deaths in Rafah took to 298 the military's overall losses in Gaza since its ground offensive began on October 27. In Jabaliya, Soad al-Qanou said her young child Amjad was suffering from malnutrition, as aid shipments failed to adequately address Gaza's needs. «This war has destroyed our lives and turned them upside down,» she said. «There is no food, no drink. There is siege and destruction everywhere.» Violence has also surged in the already restive Israeli-occupied West Bank since the start of the war. On Tuesday, six people were killed during an Israeli army raid in the village of Kfar Dan, the Palestinian health ministry said. Among aid pledges made at the Jordan meeting, the United States promised $404 million for food, water, health supplies and other aid. A joint statement at the end of the summit called for «immediate, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and sustained provision and delivery throughout Gaza». It also backed the «indispensable and irreplaceable role of UNRWA», the UN agency for Palestinian refugees which coordinates aid in Gaza but has been the target of severe criticism from Israel. Blinken, hitting back at critics of US support for Israel, noted the UN appeal for the Palestinians was only one-third funded. «Some who have expressed great concern over the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza, including countries with the capacity to give a lot, have provided very little or nothing at all,» Blinken said, likely referring to US adversaries China and Russia. «It is time for everyone -- everyone -- to step up.» The United States is the largest donor to the Palestinians. It also provides Israel with $3.8 billion in annual military aid. © Agence France-Presse  

Seychelles' law enforcement agencies building networks and presence to fight entry of drugs

Law enforcement agencies in Seychelles are building networks and increasing police presence in the communities in renewed efforts to fight the increase in synthetic drugs entering the country. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ned Wirtz, announced in a pres
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' law enforcement agencies building networks and presence to fight entry of drugs

Law enforcement agencies in Seychelles are building networks and increasing police presence in the communities in renewed efforts to fight the increase in synthetic drugs entering the country. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ned Wirtz, announced in a press conference held at the Seychelles Police Headquarters on Tuesday. The press conference also updated the public on its progress in the fight against drugs, following the recent arrests of nine Iranians on suspicion of drug trafficking. «We are intensifying our efforts on the borders of both seaports and airports and working with all our partners. Given the size of our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), we have been working very closely with the Seychelles Coast Guard to reach areas we cannot,» explained Wirtz. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has an EEZ of 1.4 million square kilometres making it difficult for surveillance of illegal activities at sea.  Wirtz said, «We are still challenged where sea entry points are concerned.» In addition to intercepting the entry of illicit drugs into the country at the entry points, Wirtz said the authorities were working to establish more reliable networks to receive credible intelligence. «The fight against drugs is not exclusive to the police, we also need the help of citizens who have information on drug trafficking to give us,» he added. According to police figures for the year 2023, a total of 623 kilogrammes of heroin, 10.5 kilogrammes of cocaine, 1.8 kilogrammes of herbal cannabis, 4.9 kilogrammes of resin, and 388.6 kilogrammes of methamphetamine were seized. «Our work with our international partners shows an increase in synthetic drugs entering the western Indian Ocean,» said Wirtz. He added that the local police force has been trained to recognise and deal with such drugs entering the island nation. In February last year, six law enforcement officers from Seychelles, participated in an 'Undercover and Surveillance Techniques' training by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Mauritius. Wirtz revealed that the officers are working with various agencies to keep an eye on «any information such as bills of lading that may show certain people plan on making methamphetamine here.» He said while the police have made some successes there are still areas where they face challenges. Wirtz said that law enforcement agencies will be conducting more patrols in the community to have more of a presence despite the need for manpower. 

High-level delegation from China-Africa TVET Alliance visits Seychelles to enhance exchanges

Seychelles and China are looking to improve their collaborative exchanges in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to enhance the skills of the youth of the island nation as they enter the world of work. Seychelles signed an agreement with t
Seychelles News Agency

High-level delegation from China-Africa TVET Alliance visits Seychelles to enhance exchanges

Seychelles and China are looking to improve their collaborative exchanges in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to enhance the skills of the youth of the island nation as they enter the world of work. Seychelles signed an agreement with the China-Africa TVET Alliance in 2022, which allows for exchanges and training for Seychellois teachers and students. This was organised to develop local teachers as well as the curriculum and also to help in developing the leadership of the schools. A delegation from the China-Africa TVET Alliance consisting of high Chinese officials and heads of technical schools is in Seychelles to discuss the possibilities of establishing training cooperation and exchanges with the professional centres in the island nation.   «We periodically bring the flagship TVET institutions from China to the Seychelles, so that they can meet physically with the Ministry of Education and the institutions, to discuss potential areas of collaboration,» said Mark Gong Zhiwu, the director general for Africa in in the China-Africa TVET Alliance. The Chinese delegation on Tuesday joined members of local professional institutes  to share what their schools offer as well as learn what the institutions in Seychelles are doing, during a meeting held at the Seychelles Maritime Academy. The director general for TVET, Jean Alcindor, with members of the Chinese delegation.  (Seychelles News Agency)  Photo License:  CC-BY  Zhiwu shared that already there are numerous activities done as part of the collaboration and teachers and students have gone for short courses in China. «For the students, they will have the opportunity to study both in China and Seychelles, and the best performing students will also be given the chance to earn a dual degree recognised by both countries,» Zhiwu added. Meanwhile, the director general for TVET in the Ministry of Education, Jean Alcindor, said Seychelles has really benefitted a lot from this collaboration. A fourth cohort of teachers will head to China soon while Seychelles is looking for China's expertise to develop a proper TVET curriculum. «The four institutions that have visited Seychelles have numerous expertise, such as mechanical-electronic engineering, automotive engineering, agriculture, artificial intelligence, and other areas, which Seychelles greatly benefit from,» said Alcindor. He added that the visit will allow the local institutions to look for their own personal partnerships to offer better and more courses to their students. China was expected to help Seychelles set up a specialised TVET school and Alcindor explained that they are searching for alternate locations. «The ministry though is exploring their options, such as working more closely with professional institutions to be able to offer more opportunities for our young students, until such time that the school, which we desperately need, is ready,» added Alcindor.

Seychelles expresses support for Emirates flight to Madagascar with stopover on Mahe Island 

Seychelles' Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques, has expressed his strong support for Emirates Airline's announcement to introduce four weekly flights between Dubai and Madagascar, with a stopover in Mahe, Seychelles, starting September 3. Emirates ann
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles expresses support for Emirates flight to Madagascar with stopover on Mahe Island 

Seychelles' Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques, has expressed his strong support for Emirates Airline's announcement to introduce four weekly flights between Dubai and Madagascar, with a stopover in Mahe, Seychelles, starting September 3. Emirates announced on June 7 that it will launch flights to Madagascar in September and the flights will operate via a linked service with Seychelles. According to a press communique from the Ministry if Transport on Monday, Derjacques highlighted the significance of this new route and said, «The introduction of these flights marks a substantial advancement in our efforts to boost trade, commerce, and tourism. This development is poised to enhance Seychelles' connectivity with key markets, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange.»Derjacques also emphasised the importance of this initiative in the context of South-South cooperation in aviation. He said, «By linking Seychelles with Dubai and Madagascar, we are not only enhancing our own strategic position but also strengthening the ties between developing nations. This cooperation is crucial for mutual growth and development, paving the way for more collaborative efforts in the future.»The new Emirates flight route is anticipated to position Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, as a pivotal travel and trade hub within the region, offering enhanced opportunities for the business and tourism sectors.The Ministry of Transport of Seychelles said it is dedicated to improving the nation's transport infrastructure and services, aiming for sustainable growth and development within the sector. Through strategic collaborations and innovative initiatives, the ministry seeks to enhance connectivity and accessibility, benefiting both local communities and international visitors, according to the press statement.

Seychelles and South Korea sign agreement for cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture

Seychelles and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish cooperation in the fields of fisheries and aquaculture. The MOU was signed by the Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean-Francois Ferrari, and Do-Hyung Kang, t
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles and South Korea sign agreement for cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture

Seychelles and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish cooperation in the fields of fisheries and aquaculture. The MOU was signed by the Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean-Francois Ferrari, and Do-Hyung Kang, the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries of Korea, in the margins of the Korea-Africa Summit, which took place in Seoul from June 4 to 5. Th Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy said the agreement aims to enhance bilateral collaboration, facilitate knowledge transfer, information sharing, and capacity-building initiatives, and promote the trade of fish and fishery products. It will also increase private sector cooperation, as well as combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing within these vital sectors. According to the ministry, the MOU underscores the shared commitment of Seychelles and Korea to address global challenges such as climate change, overfishing, and marine pollution. It also highlights the mutual benefits of technological and scientific collaboration, and it paves the way for future projects that will strengthen the resilience and sustainability of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Fisheries is the second top contributor to the economy of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, after tourism.  

Macron urges French to make 'right choice' in election gamble

President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that he was confident French voters would make the «right choice» in snap elections he called after the far right crushed his centrist alliance in Sunday's EU ballot. His surprise move came after mainstream c
Seychelles News Agency

Macron urges French to make 'right choice' in election gamble

President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that he was confident French voters would make the «right choice» in snap elections he called after the far right crushed his centrist alliance in Sunday's EU ballot. His surprise move came after mainstream centrist parties kept an overall majority in the European Parliament in Sunday's elections, but the far right notched up a string of high-profile victories in Italy, Austria and France. Analysts say Macron has taken the risky gamble of dissolving the national parliament in a bid to keep the far-right National Rally (RN) out of power when his second term ends in 2027. «I am confident in the capacity of the French people to make the right choice for themselves and for future generations,» Macron wrote on X on Monday. His announcement of elections for a new National Assembly on June 30, with a second round on July 7, has sparked widespread alarm, even from within the ranks of his party. «By playing with fire, the head of state could end up by burning himself and dragging the entire country into the fire,» Le Monde wrote in an editorial. Despite the storm of criticism, Macron appeared unfazed on Monday as he visited the southwestern French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, site of a massacre by Nazi soldiers during World War II, together with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Steinmeier said: «Let us never forget the damage done in Europe by nationalism and hate.» - A far-right premier? - Meanwhile, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist, described the prospect of elections just weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics as «extremely unsettling». But International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach played down any direct impact on the event. Uncertainty around the election also sapped market confidence, with Paris's CAC 40 index closing 1.35 percent lower and the interest rate on French government debt gaining 10 basis points, to 3.22 percent. In a televised address late Sunday, Macron warned of the danger of «the rise of nationalists and demagogues» for France and its place in Europe. He noted that, including the RN, far-right parties in France had managed to take almost 40 percent of the EU Parliament vote. Macron is hoping to win back the majority he lost in France's lower house in 2022 legislative elections after winning a second term. But some fear the anti-immigration RN could instead win, forcing Macron to work in an uncomfortable coalition with a far-right prime minister. RN co-leader Marine Le Pen said the party's fellow leader and her protege, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, would be its contender for prime minister. Le Pen, who was runner-up in the last two presidential elections, is largely expected to tilt for the top job again in 2027. However, it will not be plain sailing for the RN as the party still provokes widespread hostility. Demonstrators took to the streets of Paris, Marseille, Rennes, Lyon and several other large cities on Monday evening to show their opposition to the far right. Five labour unions also called for mass protests this weekend, warning that «our republic and our democracy are in danger» if the far right wins again at the end of the month. - 'Admiration for Putin' - The RN came in first in the French EU parliament voting with more than 31 percent, a score more than double that of Macron's list with 14 percent. The Socialists and hard-left France Unbowed trailed behind with 13 and nine percent each. The Socialists and three other left-wing parties -- France Unbowed, the Communists and the Ecologists -- announced late Monday that they would unite for the legislative elections as part of a «popular front... to fight the far-right's racist project». On the far right, Marion Marechal, deputy head of the Reconquest party founded by pundit Eric Zemmour and seen as even further to the right of the RN, was meeting Marine Le Pen -- who is her aunt -- and Bardella at the RN headquarters. Bardella said he had also «stretched out his hand» to the mainstream conservative Republicans party and had spoken with senior members. Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia Group, said Macron appeared to believe he could defy the polls by confronting France with a choice between the pro-European status quo and a far right that has «a history of admiration for -- and funding by -- Vladimir Putin». The RN appears to be going into the snap parliament voting from a position of force, garnering 33-34 percent of voter intentions according to separate polls by Harris Interactive-Toluna and Opinionway published Monday -- more than 15 points above its score in the 2022 legislative election. That would place them well ahead of any united left-wing grouping (22 percent) and Macron's centrist camp (19 percent), according to the Harris Interactive-Toluna poll. © Agence France-Presse

Search continues for Malawi VP's missing plane

Malawi's president on Monday said he was sparing no resources in a search operation for a missing military aircraft carrying the country's vice president Saulos Chilima. «I know that this is a heartbreaking situation... but I want to assure you that I
Seychelles News Agency

Search continues for Malawi VP's missing plane

Malawi's president on Monday said he was sparing no resources in a search operation for a missing military aircraft carrying the country's vice president Saulos Chilima. «I know that this is a heartbreaking situation... but I want to assure you that I am sparing no available resource to find that plane and I am holding on to every fibre of hope that we will find survivors,» president Lazarus Chakwera said. The plane, which took off just after 9:00 am (0700 GMT), was carrying 51-year-old Chilima and nine others when it failed to land due to bad weather, according to the leader who was speaking in a televised address to the nation. Malawi's former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri (Muluzi) was also on board. The group was travelling from the capital Lilongwe over 370 kilometres (230 miles) to the city of Mzuzu for the funeral of a former cabinet minister. «Upon arrival in Mzuzu the pilot was unable to land the plane due to poor visibility occasioned by bad weather, and aviation authorities advised their aircraft to return to Lilongwe, but the authorities soon lost contact with the aircraft,» Chakwera said. The head of state dismissed claims published by local media that search operations had been discontinued for the night. Soldiers are «still on the ground carrying out the search and I have given strict orders that the operation should continue until the plane is found», he said, adding that the army would give the public regular updates. Chakwera ordered regional and national forces to conduct an «immediate search and rescue operation» earlier in the day. - International support - He said he had already contacted the governments of  various countries including the US, Britain, Norway and Israel, who had all offered support «in different capacities». «Including the use of specialised technologies that will enhance capacity to find the plane sooner.» Chakwera said that a telecommunication signal located the plane within a 10 kilometre radius of Riaply, a timber milling company in the poor southern African nation located south of Mzuzu. Soldiers are said to be looking for the missing aircraft with torches and on foot, according to local media reports. Various unconfirmed reports have circulated that eye witnesses saw a plane crashing into the forest earlier on Monday. Chakwera has cancelled a visit to the Bahamas. First elected vice-president in 2014, the charismatic yet stern-talking Chilima is widely loved in Malawi, particularly among the youth. But in 2022 during his second stint in the job, Chilima was stripped of his powers after being arrested and charged with graft over a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman. Last month, a Malawian court dropped the charges. © Agence France-Presse

Drug trafficking: 9 Iranians arrested in Seychelles, remanded for 14 days

The Seychelles Supreme Court has remanded nine Iranian nationals for 14 days in police custody after they arrested on a dhow last week on suspicion of drug trafficking. Justice Melchior Vidot remanded the suspects aged 27 to 61 years on Monday while the poli
Seychelles News Agency

Drug trafficking: 9 Iranians arrested in Seychelles, remanded for 14 days

The Seychelles Supreme Court has remanded nine Iranian nationals for 14 days in police custody after they arrested on a dhow last week on suspicion of drug trafficking. Justice Melchior Vidot remanded the suspects aged 27 to 61 years on Monday while the police continue their investigation. According to the police in a communique on Friday, the Seychelles Coast Guard intercepted the Iranian dhow, Al Rahmani, in the island nation's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The police said following a search on the dhow, a consignment of suspected illegal drugs was discovered and seized by the Coast Guard. The police revealed that the initial findings on the intercepted vessel show 897.33 kilogrammes of cannabis resin, 9.65 kilogrammes of herbal material, 7.3 kilogrammes of heroin and 3 kilogrammes of methamphetamine. The nine suspects have started the process to get legal representation and will reappear before the court on June 24. 

Participation of leaders from India’s neighbourhood and Indian Ocean region in the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

The swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Council of Ministers took place in Rashtrapati Bhavan on 09 June 2024. Leaders from India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region participated in the ceremony as honoured guests. 2.
Seychelles News Agency

Participation of leaders from India’s neighbourhood and Indian Ocean region in the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers

The swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Council of Ministers took place in Rashtrapati Bhavan on 09 June 2024. Leaders from India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region participated in the ceremony as honoured guests. 2. The leaders who attended the ceremony included President of Sri Lanka, H.E. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe; President of Maldives, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Muizzu; Vice-President of Seychelles, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Afif; Prime Minister of Bangladesh, H.E. Sheikh Hasina; Prime Minister of Mauritius, H.E. Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth accompanied by his spouse; Prime Minister of Nepal, H.E. Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’; and Prime Minister of Bhutan, H.E. Mr. Tshering Tobgay. Leaders of Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan were accompanied by Ministers. 3. Following the swearing-in ceremony, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi met with the visiting leaders in Rashtrapati Bhavan. The leaders congratulated him for taking oath as the Prime Minister of India for the historic third consecutive term. Thanking them for gracing the occasion, Prime Minister reaffirmed India’s commitment to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and ‘SAGAR Vision’. Prime Minister emphasized that in his third term, India will continue to work for the peace, progress and prosperity of the region in close partnership with the countries, even as it pursues its goal of VIKSIT BHARAT by 2047. In this context, he called for deeper people-to-people ties and connectivity in the region. He further added that India would continue to amplify the voice of the Global South in the international arena. 4. The leaders also attended a Banquet hosted by President Smt. Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan. President while welcoming them and conveying her wishes to Prime Minister Modi in the service of the nation, stated that India’s democratic exercise was not only a moment of pride for its people, but an inspiration to millions around the world. 5. The participation of leaders from India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region on the momentous occasion of swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister and Council of Minister, underlines India’s deep-rooted bonds of friendship and cooperation with the region.