Seychelles



20 people die in South African pub, cause unclear

At least 20 young people have died at a township pub in South Africa's southern city of East London, but the cause of the deaths is still unclear. Senior officials from the provincial government rushed to the scene, where at least six mortuary vehicles were
Seychelles News Agency

20 people die in South African pub, cause unclear

At least 20 young people have died at a township pub in South Africa's southern city of East London, but the cause of the deaths is still unclear. Senior officials from the provincial government rushed to the scene, where at least six mortuary vehicles were lined up in the residential street waiting to collect the bodies, according to an AFP correspondent. Drinking is permitted in South African township pubs, commonly known as taverns or shebeens which are sometimes located in family homes, where safety regulations are rarely enforced. «The number has increased to 20, three have died in hospital. But there are still two who are very critical,» the head of the provincial government safety department Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe said on local TV. A visibly shocked head of the Eastern Cape Province Oscar Mabuyane spoke from outside the scene, a building surrounded by houses in an area called Scenery Park. «It's absolutely unbelievable, we can't understand it, losing 20 young lives just like that,» he told reporters, condemning «this unfortunate consumption, unlimited consumption of liquor». «You can't just trade in the middle of society like this and think that young people are not going to experiment,» he said. Empty bottles of alcohol, wigs and even a pastel purple «Happy Birthday» sash lay strewn on the dusty street outside the double-storey Enyobeni Tavern, according to Unathi Binqose, a safety government official who arrived at the scene at dawn. - 'No obvious signs of injury' - Provincial police spokesman brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana told AFP that police were investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. He said the victims at Enyobeni Tavern were aged between 18 and 20 years, but provincial community and safety department official Binqose said some could be as young as 15. Ruling out a stampede as the cause of death, Binqose told AFP «there are no visible open wounds to those dead». «Forensic (investigators) will take samples and test to see if there was any poisoning of any sort,» he said. «One thing for sure, the place had a lot more people than it normally takes,» he added. A local newspaper website, DispatchLive, reported that «bodies are lying strewn across tables, chairs and on the floor; with no obvious signs of injury». Binqose said he understood many of the patrons were students «celebrating pens down, a party held after writing (high school) exams». Local television showed police officers trying to calm down a crowd of parents and onlookers gathered outside the club in the city, which lies on the Indian Ocean coast, nearly 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) south of Johannesburg. «Parents whose children did not sleep at home are gathered here and they want to enter the tavern to look for their loved ones,» said Binqose. © Agence France-Presse

«Lost and Found»: 44 artists to exhibit works at Seychelles Biennale

Forty-four artists from 19 different countries including Seychelles will take part in this year's edition of the Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art scheduled for July 31 - August 28. According to the event's curator, Martin Kennedy, the Biennale will b
Seychelles News Agency

«Lost and Found»: 44 artists to exhibit works at Seychelles Biennale

Forty-four artists from 19 different countries including Seychelles will take part in this year's edition of the Seychelles Biennale of Contemporary Art scheduled for July 31 - August 28. According to the event's curator, Martin Kennedy, the Biennale will be held be held under the theme «Lost and Found,» which relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, «because during those difficult times people lost their lifestyle and then began to find it again.» The Seychelles Biennale will include sideshows and exhibitions at locations such as the National History Museum, Kenwyn House, the Carrefour Gallery of the National Art and Craft Council and at the Eden Art Space Gallery. The main event will be held at the Chinese cultural centre known as the Pagoda at Benezet Street in the capital of Victoria. Artists from Seychelles will join those from Austria, Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Mauritius, India, and South Africa in several events which will include paintings, drawings, printmaking, sculptures, interactive art, photography installation and assemblage. Kennedy said that to get participants for the event  an an open call was made to both artists in Seychelles and internationally through the different art councils that the National Art and Craft Council (NACC) had links with. «We received applications from all over the world. Artists were invited to submit their applications with examples of how they intended to respond to the theme and what they were going to produce [...] we looked at the quality of the concept, we wanted the artist to respond to the theme in a powerful and a positive way. We also looked at the track record of the artist, their past works, and the diversity of media,» he explained Kennedy said that some artists who will not be able to be present physically for the event sent in their artwork to be exhibited. The artworks will be assessed by five judges, namely three local ones, one from Kenya and one from South Africa. The chief judge will be Seychellois artist Georges Camille who won the competition in 2019. Camille is also the first Seychellois artist to take part in the Beijing International Art Biennale. Camille said that «aside from the main piece of artwork for the exhibition there will be other artwork that the artists will provide along with their text. The winner will be the one who has responded well to the theme, and the impact left on the viewers with regards to the work done.» As for prizes for the event, the top prize will be a Golden coco de mer worth around SCR120,000 ($9,321), the second prize valued at SCR60,000 ($4,664) and a special prize of SCR30,000 ($2,332) for the best emerging/ developing artist. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will also be receiving assistance from two technicians from the Venice Biennale, provided by the European Cultural Centre (ECC) whose president, Rene Rietmeyer, has supported the island nation's participation in the present Venice Biennale and the previous three editions of this famous international art exposition. This is the second Seychelles Biennale for Contemporary under the theme «Lost and Found». The first one was in 2017 and with the COVID pandemic in 2020, the one scheduled for April 2020 could not be held physically, so a Lockdown Virtual Biennale was organised instead.

Seychellois boxer Agnes wins silver medal at Athens cup, Roselie claims bronze

Seychelles' well-known heavyweight boxer Keddy Agnes won a silver medal at the Acropolis Cup in Athens, Greece, one of the most prestigious European competitions, which took place from June 16-19. Agnes lost the final of the +92kg category to Ukraine's Alex
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois boxer Agnes wins silver medal at Athens cup, Roselie claims bronze

Seychelles' well-known heavyweight boxer Keddy Agnes won a silver medal at the Acropolis Cup in Athens, Greece, one of the most prestigious European competitions, which took place from June 16-19. Agnes lost the final of the +92kg category to Ukraine's Alexander Grytsiv at the Panathenaic Stadium and took home a silver medal. «It was a good competition, I actually won the first round of the final, where I was leading on points, but I got a cut above my eye which bothered me a bit and eventually fatigue crept in,» Agnes told reporters upon his return in Seychelles. This was Agnes' second medal in an international competition this year after winning gold at the Africa Zone 4 Boxing Championship in Maputo, Mozambique last month. Another Seychellois boxer at the competition, Fabio Roselie, won the bronze medal. He advanced to the semi-final after defeating Greek Minas Savvopoulos 3-0. Roselie lost his semi-final bout by 3-0 against Artur Ghazaryan of Armenia, who won the gold medal after beating Cyprus' Odysseas Atmatzidis in the final. «I think we need a lot more international exposure if we are to get better. I faced a boxer who was only 18 years old, but had already had over 200 bouts under his belt,» said Roselie, who added that competing is vital in helping the boxers get better. The three Seychellois boxers (from left) Boniface, Roselie and Agnes with PS Jean-Louis and coach Payet(Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Another boxer representing Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, at the competition was Shain Boniface. Boniface lost his opening fight 0-3 to Ukrainian Bozorboy Matyakubov in the 67kg category. The Ukrainian won the gold medal in the category. Boniface told reporters that «it was a good tournament, where I used it as preparation for the Commonwealth Games.» He added that his opponent is ranked number two in the world and this was an opportunity to learn more. The Seychellois boxers were accompanied by coach Rival Payet who said that the boxers did well but still need to continue training hard. «I am satisfied with their performance in the tournament, where we did well but I felt that Keddy could have even won a gold medal, had things gone better,» he added. The boxers from Seychelles are using international competitions to prepare actively for the next edition of the Commonwealth Games which will be starting on July 29. «Up till now we have not heard of any tournament or training camps coming up, but in the meantime, I will be trying what I can here. I hope there can be another tournament to help us better prepare,» said Agnes.

US braces for more protests after Supreme Court abortion ruling

Protesters were expected to pour onto streets across the United States on Saturday as anger flared over the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the right to abortion. Several right-leaning states imposed immediate bans on abortion after the court on Frid
Seychelles News Agency

US braces for more protests after Supreme Court abortion ruling

Protesters were expected to pour onto streets across the United States on Saturday as anger flared over the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the right to abortion. Several right-leaning states imposed immediate bans on abortion after the court on Friday shredded five decades of constitutional protections for the procedure, prompting leaders around the world to voice concern. The conservative-dominated court overturned the landmark 1973 «Roe v. Wade» decision enshrining a woman's right to an abortion, saying individual states could restrict or ban the procedure themselves. «The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,» the court said in a 6-3 ruling on one of America's most bitterly divisive issues. «The authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.» A somber President Joe Biden called the ruling a «tragic error» stemming from «extreme ideology». «The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,» Biden said, warning that other rights such as same-sex marriage and contraception could be threatened next. The Democratic president urged Congress to restore abortion protections as federal law and said Roe would be «on the ballot» in November's midterm elections. Criticism of the Supreme Court decision also came from abroad, including from US allies like Britain, whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it «a big step backwards.» Canada's leader Justin Trudeau said it was «horrific», and French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his «solidarity with women whose freedoms are today challenged.» Acknowledging the international concerns, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted his department would «remain fully committed to helping provide access to reproductive health services and advancing reproductive rights around the world.» - 'You have failed us' - Hundreds of people -- some weeping for joy and others with grief -- gathered outside the fenced-off Supreme Court on Friday as the ruling came down. «It's hard to imagine living in a country that does not respect women as human beings and their right to control their bodies,» said Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, 49, a mother of two daughters who was choking back tears. «You have failed us,» read a sign held up by one protester. «Shame,» said another. But Gwen Charles, a 21-year-old opponent of abortion, was jubilant. «This is the day that we have been waiting for,» Charles told AFP. «We get to usher in a new culture of life in the United States.» Just hours after the ruling, Missouri banned abortion -- making no exception for rape or incest -- and so did South Dakota, except where the life of the mother is at risk. Protesters took to the streets in St. Louis to decry the ban, gathering at what had been Missouri's last abortion clinic. «It's absolutely disturbing,» said Lilian Dodenhoff, 32, standing outside the facility. «So I just immediately reached out to people that I knew shouldn't be alone right now.» As of Friday evening, at least seven states had already banned abortion -- Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Many more are expected to follow suit or severely restrict the procedure. Protesters also marched in New York, Boston and other US cities as anger grew. «Abortion is a human right, not just for the rich and white,» protesters in New York chanted on Friday. Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul met the crowd at Union Square, telling reporters abortion rights were «secure» in New York, and that the state would be a «safe harbor» for those unable to receive the procedure in their own states. «We took action already, we allocated $35 million to support our abortion providers to be able to help our sisters across this nation find their way here,» she said. «This is their safe harbor.» There were incidents at some demonstrations on Friday, including one in the Iowa city of Cedar Rapids, where a pickup truck drove through a group of protesters, running over at least one woman's foot, according to local media reports. In Arizona, CNN reported that authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters on Friday night after they «repeatedly pounded on the glass doors of the State Senate Building,» according to Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bart Graves. - 'Egregiously wrong' - In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said Roe v. Wade was «egregiously wrong.» «Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views,» he said. «The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion.» The court tossed out the legal argument in Roe v. Wade that women had the right to abortion based on the constitutional right to privacy with regard to their own bodies. While the ruling represents a victory for the religious right, leaders of the Christian conservative movement said it does not go far enough and they will push for a nationwide ban. «While it's a major step in the right direction, overturning Roe does not end abortion,» said the group March for Life. «God made the decision,» said former Republican president Donald Trump while praising the ruling. The decision was made possible by Trump's nomination to the court of three conservative justices -- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. - 'Will not stop there' - The three liberal justices on the court dissented from the ruling. «One result of today's decision is certain: the curtailment of women's rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,» they said. Abortion providers could now face criminal penalties and «some States will not stop there,» they warned. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 13 states have adopted so-called «trigger laws» that will ban abortion virtually immediately. Ten others have pre-1973 laws that could go into force or legislation that would ban abortion after six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. Women in states with strict anti-abortion laws will either have to continue with their pregnancy, undergo a clandestine abortion, obtain abortion pills, or travel to another state where it remains legal. © Agence France-Presse

Seychellois boxer Agnes wins silver medal in Athens cup, Roselie claims bronze

Seychelles' well-known heavyweight boxer Keddy Agnes won a silver medal at the Acropolis Cup in Athens, Greece, one of the most prestigious European competitions, which took place from June 16-19. Agnes lost the final of the +92kg category to Ukraine's Alex
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois boxer Agnes wins silver medal in Athens cup, Roselie claims bronze

Seychelles' well-known heavyweight boxer Keddy Agnes won a silver medal at the Acropolis Cup in Athens, Greece, one of the most prestigious European competitions, which took place from June 16-19. Agnes lost the final of the +92kg category to Ukraine's Alexander Grytsiv at the Panathenaic Stadium and took home a silver medal. «It was a good competition, I actually won the first round of the final, where I was leading on points, but I got a cut above my eye which bothered me a bit and eventually fatigue crept in,» Agnes told reporters upon his return in Seychelles. This was Agnes' second medal in an international competition this year after winning gold at the Africa Zone 4 Boxing Championship in Maputo, Mozambique last month. Another Seychellois boxer at the competition, Fabio Roselie, won the bronze medal. He advanced to the semi-final after defeating Greek Minas Savvopoulos 3-0. Roselie lost his semi-final bout by 3-0 against Artur Ghazaryan of Armenia, who won the gold medal after beating Cyprus' Odysseas Atmatzidis in the final. «I think we need a lot more international exposure if we are to get better. I faced a boxer who was only 18 years old, but had already had over 200 bouts under his belt,» said Roselie, who added that competing is vital in helping the boxers get better. The three Seychellois boxers (from left) Boniface, Roselie and Agnes with PS Jean-Louis and coach Payet(Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Another boxer representing Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, at the competition was Shain Boniface. Boniface lost his opening fight 0-3 to Ukrainian Bozorboy Matyakubov in the 67kg category. The Ukrainian won the gold medal in the category. Boniface told reporters that «it was a good tournament, where I used it as preparation for the Commonwealth Games.» He added that his opponent is ranked number two in the world and this was an opportunity to learn more. The Seychellois boxers were accompanied by coach Rival Payet who said that the boxers did well but still need to continue training hard. «I am satisfied with their performance in the tournament, where we did well but I felt that Keddy could have even won a gold medal, had things gone better,» he added. The boxers from Seychelles are using international competitions to prepare actively for the next edition of the Commonwealth Games which will be starting on July 29. «Up till now we have not heard of any tournament or training camps coming up, but in the meantime, I will be trying what I can here. I hope there can be another tournament to help us better prepare,» said Agnes.

World's biggest nut: New coco de mer products expected on market in Seychelles

New businesses are expected to enter the coco de mer value-added production sector while existing ones may get their permit renewed when a selection committee announces who has been successful with their proposals next week. The head of the committee assessi
Seychelles News Agency

World's biggest nut: New coco de mer products expected on market in Seychelles

New businesses are expected to enter the coco de mer value-added production sector while existing ones may get their permit renewed when a selection committee announces who has been successful with their proposals next week. The head of the committee assessing the businesses looking for permits, Dr. Lindsay Chongseng told SNA that «following site visits to the premises of those who have shown an interest in producing value added products, the results should in essence be made public by the end of the month.» Chongseng is among the five individuals on the committee to determine whether the production ideas are sustainable or viable and evaluate their level of hygiene among other criteria. He added that for those «companies already doing what they set out to, it is a given that their licenses will be renewed.» After a ban imposed in February 2017 by Danny Faure, the president of Seychelles at the time, was lifted in May the same year, three businesses obtained a permit to produce and trade the coco de mer kernel. The three companies - Willow Ventures, Island Scent and Bill &Co Pty Ltd - were successful following a call for proposals in May 2017. Currently, some of the products from the coco de mer available on the market are brandy, jams and perfumes. The principal forestry officer in the department of environment, John Quilindo told SNA that «we have companies that have shown an interest to produce pharmaceutical products – adding to other products already available.» The plant takes 20–40 years to grow and start flowering and bearing fruits. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY The coco de mer is the world's biggest nut and is endemic to Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. It grows naturally only on two of Seychelles' islands, on Praslin, the second most populated island, in the Vallee de Mai special reserve, which is one of the island nation's UNESCO World Heritage sites, and on Curieuse Island, located close to Praslin. As part of the initiative, the businesses with permits also had to contribute five percent of their turnover to the government during the three years they had the permit. To ensure this industry is sustainable, the authorities in Seychelles, launched programmes aimed at planting the rare nut all over the country. «While it will take some time before we see the benefits of the initiative, this goes a long way to keeping the industry sustainable,» said Quilindo. The coco de mer seed needs two years to germinate and the plant takes 20–40 years to grow, start flowering and bearing fruits Chongseng said that the initial reason for launching the industry was, not only to focus on transforming the nut but ensure that those doing so are sourcing it legally. «Poaching was a huge problem at some point,» Chongseng added.

Commonwealth nations free to chart own course: Prince Charles

Prince Charles told Commonwealth leaders Friday that the choice to become a republic or abandon the queen as head of state was «a matter for each member country to decide». Speaking at the opening of a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda, the British h
Seychelles News Agency

Commonwealth nations free to chart own course: Prince Charles

Prince Charles told Commonwealth leaders Friday that the choice to become a republic or abandon the queen as head of state was «a matter for each member country to decide». Speaking at the opening of a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda, the British heir to the throne said the 54-member club of mainly former British colonies would always be «a free association of independent, self-governing nations». The Prince of Wales is representing Queen Elizabeth II as the head of the Commonwealth in Rwanda at a time of renewed discussion over its purpose and profile in a modern world. Republican movements are taking root in a number of Commonwealth nations and some are seeking reparations for colonial-era injustices like slavery. Charles acknowledged the change underfoot and said the Commonwealth was a diverse and evolving family. «The Commonwealth contains within it countries that have had constitutional relationships with my family, some that continue to do so, and increasingly those that have had none,» Charles told an audience of presidents and prime ministers. «I want to say clearly, as I have said before, that each member's constitutional arrangement, as republic or monarchy, is purely a matter for each member country to decide. »The benefit of long life brings me the experience that arrangements such as these can change, calmly and without rancour." Queen Elizabeth has championed the Commonwealth since she took the throne in 1952, but in the decades since some member states have cast off the monarch as head of state. Republican movements in some of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK where the queen is head of state are gathering pace. Member state Barbados became the world's newest republic last year, and other Caribbean nations are pushing to follow suit. Another member, Australia, has also appointed a minister for the republic, in a sign of constitutional change on the horizon. There have also been questions about the future role of the royal family at the helm of a group representing one-third of humanity in rich and poor countries across the globe. At its last meeting in 2018, the Commonwealth designated Charles the queen's successor as head of the organisation and delegates in Rwanda praised the royal family for its dedication to the cause. The Commonwealth has come under scrutiny over its relevance but supporters say the expansion of membership from nations with no historic ties to Britain underscores its health. The two newest members are Mozambique and host Rwanda, and west African states Togo and Gabon are expected to join the club at this summit. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles Revenue Commission collects $490 million in revenue in 2021

The Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) has collected $490 million (SCR6.5 billion) in revenue for 2021, an increase of 9 percent over the 2020 figure, and $14 million in arrears, a top official said on Thursday. The report was presented to Seychelles' fina
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Revenue Commission collects $490 million in revenue in 2021

The Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) has collected $490 million (SCR6.5 billion) in revenue for 2021, an increase of 9 percent over the 2020 figure, and $14 million in arrears, a top official said on Thursday. The report was presented to Seychelles' finance minister Naadir Hassan by SRC's commissioner general Veronique Herminie in a short ceremony at Liberty House in the capital Victoria. In his address, Hassan said that SRC plays an important role in the country's development and its work is a very crucial one. «As we all know, we need to earn money in order to be able to spend it and this is the role that SRC plays, as they are tasked with collecting the revenue that the government can use to invest in the national budget,» said Hassan. Emmaline Camille, director for corporate planning and research, gave a brief summary of the report, which showed an increase in revenue compared to 2020, where a total of $474 million (SCR6.3 billion) was collected. Therefore, the amount of revenue collected represents an increase of $28 million compared to the fiscal year 2020 which amounts to a 9 percent increase. The report also shows an increase in the number of registered taxpayers in 2021 at 19,993, compared to 18,376 in 2020. «SRC also came up with numerous outreach programmes such as kiosks in numerous areas, which was to encourage people to pay their taxes and this has helped bring in more revenue,» said Camille.   SRC also had an amnesty programme in 2021 to encourage people who had arrears to come forward to pay to avoid penalties. In 2021, a total of $14 million was collected for arrears.   «We intend to do other similar programmes in the future and we will also work on a compliance improvement plan which will be piloted soon,» said Camille. She added that the focus is not on enforcement but on making it easier for people to comply. In terms of the breakdown of revenue collection, 69 percent of the total revenue collected was from domestic taxes, the main source of revenue, while the other 31 percent came from customs operations. The Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) is the body responsible for the administration of revenue laws in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

African economies see reasons for optimism despite crises

From Covid-19 to the war in Ukraine, external crises have put pressure on African economies, but many on the continent see opportunities to undertake radical reforms. Africa already showed some resilience during the pandemic as its economic contraction was l
Seychelles News Agency

African economies see reasons for optimism despite crises

From Covid-19 to the war in Ukraine, external crises have put pressure on African economies, but many on the continent see opportunities to undertake radical reforms. Africa already showed some resilience during the pandemic as its economic contraction was less severe than in the rest of the world, shrinking by two percent compared to 3.3 percent globally in 2020. While Russia's invasion of Ukraine is weighing on the world economy, Africa faces a better outlook again in 2022. «Africa is headed towards growth of around 3.7 percent, while in North America and Europe there is a real risk of recession», said economist Lionel Zinsou, formerly prime minister of Benin. «We haven't been the biggest victims of the pandemic, and we won't be the biggest victims of the collateral consequences of the war in Ukraine», added Zinsou. The conflict in Europe has fuelled a surge in global inflation, but Zinsou said growing prices for raw materials will compensate for the higher costs of imports in Africa. Another positive signal is that investor confidence in Africa is up to a higher level than that before the pandemic. Of 190 business owners in Africa who were questioned, 78 percent voiced confidence about their development prospects -- compared to 61 percent before the Covid crisis, according to a report by the Deloitte accountancy firm. - 'Opportunity to transform' - The fallout from the war in Ukraine, however, remains a threat as it has driven up prices for wheat and other key agricultural products, sparking fears of famine in some countries. «We are concerned about the slowdown in global growth and the availability for Africa of certain products such as wheat or fertilisers», Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said during the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan this month. Makhtar Diop, general director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank, said African economies «have taken a hit and haven't regained their pre-2019 growth rates». «The situation remains particularly difficult with inflation which disproportionally affects the poorest populations,» he added. But some see the situation as a chance for African countries to map out new strategies. «We lose a good part of our crops each year due to lack of electricity and cold chain,» said Zinsou, referring to the transport of goods that need to be kept cool across the supply chain. These losses could be reduced through infrastructure investment, he added. For Diop, «every crisis is an opportunity to transform the situation structurally. There is potential for the economic transformation of African countries by increasing the added value created on the continent.» - 'Gain independence' - Some countries have stepped up the pace in recent years. Ivory Coast has built new cashew processing plants, while Nigeria is building a major oil refinery in Lagos. In Guinea, foreign companies have recently been tasked with building bauxite processing plants. «One of the consequences of the pandemic is that many groups wanted to depend less on foreign imports,» said Emmanuel Gadret, head of Deloitte in francophone Africa. Georges Wega, deputy director of international banking networks for the Africa region at France's Societe Generale financial group, believes that Africa has «a lot of potential» to finance its essential projects. «This is the time for Africa to gain its independence in many aspects. We need to rely more on funds raised on the continent versus external debt,» he said. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to harmonise customs tariffs across the continent, which is gradually happening, holds out hopes of boosting intra-African trade. «Africa has been extraordinarily responsive (to the pandemic), financially and technically, and it will be again,» said Zinsou. © Agence France-Presse

Record floods threaten southern China

Record floods were expected in parts of southern China Thursday as heavy rains pushed water levels in the Pearl River delta to their highest in almost a century. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from the worst-hit parts of the region, whic
Seychelles News Agency

Record floods threaten southern China

Record floods were expected in parts of southern China Thursday as heavy rains pushed water levels in the Pearl River delta to their highest in almost a century. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from the worst-hit parts of the region, which includes Guangdong province, a manufacturing and logistics hub that is home to China's tech capital Shenzhen. China's ministry of water resources on Wednesday placed its highest flood alert on the Pearl River basin, saying water levels at one location «surpassed historical records» and that the provincial capital Guangzhou would be impacted. Images from the city of Shaoguan, north of Guangzhou, showed residents on Wednesday making their way through flooded main roads, as water in some areas reached the tops of cars. The muddy floodwater inundated shops and buildings, and people were seen clearing away the debris. The low-lying Pearl River delta is home to the economic powerhouses of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as several smaller but densely populated cities with major manufacturing and other industries. Provincial emergency management authorities said earlier this week that direct economic losses were estimated at 1.7 billion yuan ($253 million). Under the highest alert level, at-risk areas in Guangdong have been ordered to take all necessary measures including suspending work at factories and closing schools to minimise damage. Other regions in southern China, including coastal Fujian province and Guangxi, have also been affected by record rains this month, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate. Summer floods are common in parts of China, but these have been getting more extreme in recent years as a result of climate change. Chinese authorities so far have not directly linked this year's extreme floods to climate change. Some local media have dubbed it a «once-in-a-century flood», reporting that water levels have surpassed the highest recorded in 1931 and are approaching the area's worst floods in 1915. © Agence France-Presse

British government donates drone to SPGA under Green Footprint Seychelles project

The Seychelles Park and Garden Authority's (SPGA) received a donation of a drone on Thursday, intended to improve its ability to efficiently monitor the country's terrestrial parks and safeguard the preservation of protected areas. Donated by the British Hig
Seychelles News Agency

British government donates drone to SPGA under Green Footprint Seychelles project

The Seychelles Park and Garden Authority's (SPGA) received a donation of a drone on Thursday, intended to improve its ability to efficiently monitor the country's terrestrial parks and safeguard the preservation of protected areas. Donated by the British High Commission, the two Mavic Air 2 drones will also help the authority in fulfilling its duty of protecting habitats and ecosystems from anthropogenic and human threats. The authority's chief financial officer, Lya Docteur, said that with the added equipment, the team will have the much-needed advantage in monitoring the vast Morne Seychellois National Park and other protected areas. «Our team, who have been involved with the Green Footprint Seychelles Project from the beginning, are especially appreciative of the donation. We recognise the hard work which has been directed towards the project and this donation further reflects the strong and fruitful ongoing collaboration between SPGA and the British High Commission,» said Docteur.  Deputy British High Commissioner, Matthew Harper handed the drones to the authority's chief financial officer, Lya Docteur. (British High Commission) Photo License: CC-BY The authority protects three terrestrial parks, five marine parks and three gardens, including the Praslin National Park, the Veuve Special Reserve on La Digue Island and the Sainte Anne Marine Park, among others. The authority can now increase its reach in these locations at a lower cost by using the drone. Globally, drones are already being used in conservation for wildlife studies, management, law enforcement, environmental management, and disaster response. Following the handover ceremony, which took place at the Salazie Trail in the Morne Seychellois National Park, the Deputy British High Commissioner, Matthew Harper, said that the particular location was chosen so as to «reflect the ongoing work the SPGA has done to help in the reforestation of the Salazie Trail, supported by the British High Commission.» «The Green Footprint Seychelles project demonstrates the excellent cooperation between our partners at SPGA and other local environmental experts. The donation builds on the British High Commission's continued relationship with SPGA. It is one small part of a much broader project - which has thus far culminated to around SCR 400,000 [$30,700] - supporting sustainability and conservation in Seychelles,» said Harper. The Green Footprint Seychelles project is a large-scale tree-planting initiative supporting local experts to test a marketable and scientifically developed tree-planting scheme as part of Seychelles' green recovery of tourism. 

Oil exploration: Environment and ocean protection come first, says Seychelles' President

During a presidential press conference on Monday, Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan responded to a question from SNA asking for information concerning last month's announcement of a proposed agreement for oil exploration by a British oil company in Seych
Seychelles News Agency

Oil exploration: Environment and ocean protection come first, says Seychelles' President

During a presidential press conference on Monday, Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan responded to a question from SNA asking for information concerning last month's announcement of a proposed agreement for oil exploration by a British oil company in Seychelles' territorial waters. The signing of a petroleum exploration agreement with Adamantine Energy Ltd, which has its regional headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Ramkalawan told the press that the country is for the time being only encouraging oil exploration but protection of the environment and ocean remains key to the island nation. His comments attracted attention and, therefore, further clarification was sought from the Minister responsible for fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean-Francois Ferrari, who will be signing the agreement with Adamantine Energy. Ferarri emphasised that the Blue Economy concept concerns the sustainable exploitation of ocean resources. Furthermore, 30 percent of Seychelles' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been declared as Marine Protected Areas. Oil exploration is, however, still within the scope of Blue Economy, if it is a sustainable form of exploitation of oceanic resources. «It will give us a second option, where should the big nations not help us in finding and implementing green energy solutions, as they promised in big international conferences, then we will have no choice, but to drill for oil,» said Minister Ferrari. He added that for the time being though, the main focus is to find out what Seychelles has beneath its waters. The chairperson of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Oliver Bastienne, has welcomed Ramkalawan's statement as he had written a letter to the president stating a number of concerns that need to be addressed especially given Seychelles' stance on the environment and ocean protection. Bastienne said that «we are happy to see that the government is reflecting hard on the matter and we do welcome the idea to use this as a means for the country to be able to benefit from such pledges.» He added that SCCI is not completely opposed to the idea of oil exploitation but that careful consideration must be taken on the matter to ensure that it does not adversely impact the Seychelles' environment and fisheries. Bastienne sent a working paper to the president on behalf of the SCCI, and among the concerns raised were the whole process, from exploration to exploitation and how this could have immense negative consequences for the natural and business environment.   «The SCCI is of the view that exploration, drilling and other associated activity should not be undertaken near any tourism area, including high-end, investment-heavy island resorts,» added Bastienne. In 2012, the US Geological Survey (USGS) concluded an oil survey of the western Indian Ocean region including Seychelles, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique. A total of 793 MMbls (millions of barrels) has been estimated to be present in the rift area of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.   

At least 1,000 killed in Afghan quake, with fear toll will rise

Desperate rescuers battled against the clock Thursday under pouring rain to pull survivors from the rubble after a powerful quake struck a mountainous border region of Afghanistan, killing at least 1,000 people. The 5.9-magnitude quake struck hardest in the
Seychelles News Agency

At least 1,000 killed in Afghan quake, with fear toll will rise

Desperate rescuers battled against the clock Thursday under pouring rain to pull survivors from the rubble after a powerful quake struck a mountainous border region of Afghanistan, killing at least 1,000 people. The 5.9-magnitude quake struck hardest in the rugged east, where people already lead hardscrabble lives in the grip of a humanitarian crisis made worse since the Taliban takeover in August. «People are digging grave after grave,» said Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in hard-hit Paktika, adding that at least 1,000 people had died in that province alone. He said more than 1,500 people were injured, many critically. «People are still trapped under the rubble,» he told journalists. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the global agency has «fully mobilised» to help, deploying health teams and supplies of medicine, food, trauma kits and emergency shelter to the quake zone. The death toll climbed steadily Wednesday as news of casualties filtered in from hard-to-reach areas in the mountains, and the country's supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned it would likely rise further. The earthquake struck areas that were already suffering the effects of heavy rain, causing rockfalls and mudslides that hampered rescue efforts. «It was a horrible situation,» said Arup Khan, 22, recovering at a hospital in Paktika's provincial capital Sharan. «There were cries everywhere. The children and my family were under the mud.» - 'Like a tsunami' - Sharan Hospital director Mohammad Yahya Wiar said they were doing their best to treat everyone. «Our country is poor and lacks resources,» he told AFP. «This is a humanitarian crisis. It is like a tsunami.» Photographs and video posted on social media showed scores of badly damaged houses in remote areas. The UN humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, told reporters nearly 2,000 homes are likely destroyed. Footage released by the Taliban showed people in one village digging a long trench to bury the dead, who by Islamic tradition must be laid to rest facing Mecca. The disaster poses a huge challenge for the Taliban, who have largely isolated the country with their hardline Islamist policies -- particularly the subjugation of women and girls. Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan's emergency response teams were stretched to deal with the natural disasters that frequently strike the country. But with only a handful of airworthy planes and helicopters left since they returned to power, any immediate response to the latest catastrophe is further limited. «The government is working within its capabilities,» tweeted Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official. «We hope that the International Community & aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation.» - Offers of help - The United States, whose troops helped topple the initial Taliban regime and remained in Afghanistan for two decades until Washington pulled them out last year, was «deeply saddened» by the earthquake, the White House said. «President Biden is monitoring developments and has directed USAID (US Agency for International Development) and other federal government partners to assess US response options to help those most affected,» National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement. The European Union was also quick to offer assistance. Tomas Niklasson, EU special envoy for Afghanistan, tweeted: «The EU is monitoring the situation and stands ready to coordinate and provide EU emergency assistance to people and communities affected.» Neighbour Pakistan, where officials said one person was killed in the quake, said it would send emergency aid -- including tents -- across the border. - Prayers for victims - Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. Scores of people were killed in January when two quakes struck the western province of Badghis. In 2015, more than 380 people were killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake ripped across the two countries. Afghanistan's deadliest recent earthquake killed 5,000 in May 1998 in the northeastern provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan. From the Vatican, Pope Francis offered prayers for victims of the latest quake. «I express my closeness with the injured and those who were affected,» the 85-year-old pontiff said concluding his weekly audience. The quake struck in the early hours of Wednesday at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), according to the United States Geological Survey. It was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan, 480 kilometres from the epicentre. © Agence France-Presse

Cocaine trafficking: Namibian man sentenced to 5 years in Seychelles prison

A Namibian national has been sentenced to five years in prison by the Seychelles Supreme Court for the offence of conspiracy to import a controlled drug, the Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) said on Wednesday. The ANB of the Seychelles Police Force said that Petr
Seychelles News Agency

Cocaine trafficking: Namibian man sentenced to 5 years in Seychelles prison

A Namibian national has been sentenced to five years in prison by the Seychelles Supreme Court for the offence of conspiracy to import a controlled drug, the Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) said on Wednesday. The ANB of the Seychelles Police Force said that Petrus Johannes Vermuelen, 31, pleaded guilty to the offence. The Namibian national was arrested by ANB officers at the Seychelles International Airport on October 26 last year in possession of 694 gramme of cocaine. He arrived on an Ethiopian Airlines flight via South Africa. ANB said that the time spent on remand will be removed from his five-year sentence. Vermuelen is the fourth foreign national to be sentenced on a drug-related charge by the Supreme Court this year. A 52-year-old Tanzanian man was sentenced to nine years in prison for the importation of a controlled drug on May 19. His sentence followed that of Elsie Esther Vambe, 45, sentenced to five years in prison for the importation and trafficking of 1.51kg of heroin and 503.70g of cocaine on March 31. Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, has a zero-tolerance drug policy and has recently put in place several measures to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs on its shores.

African Union denounces 'dishonest' Sudan talks

The African Union has said it will not be party to talks that exclude significant actors in an efort to get Sudan's transition back on track afer last year's military coup. Sudan's main civilian players have so far boycotted talks with military leaders launc
Seychelles News Agency

African Union denounces 'dishonest' Sudan talks

The African Union has said it will not be party to talks that exclude significant actors in an efort to get Sudan's transition back on track afer last year's military coup. Sudan's main civilian players have so far boycotted talks with military leaders launched under international auspices earlier this month on reaching a political accommodation that would enable the restoration of desperately needed Western aid. «The AU cannot continue these dishonest, opaque discussions which sideline participants or treat them in an unjust way,» the bloc's ambassador to Sudan, Mohammed Belaiche, told reporters late Tuesday. But the AU denied it was abandoning the so-called «troika» of sponsors of the talks process, which also includes the United Nations and East African regional grouping IGAD. That was an «erroneous interpretation» of Belaiche's comments, its delegation said in a clarification Wednesday. «The AU representative states that he will not attend some of the activities because they are not transparent, do not respect all participants and do not conform to the principle of nonexclusion from the political process.» The pan-African bloc suspended Sudan afer the military's October 27 overthrow of a joint civilian-military transitional government installed in the afermath of the army's 2019 ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir. Many foreign donors cut of aid, which accounts for 40 percent of state revenues, prompting military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to agree to the talks launched by the troika this month. But the talks have been undermined by a boycott by all significant civilian players, including both Sudan's established political parties and groups born out of the mass protests that led to Bashir's ouster. Since US envoys failed to persuade the civilians to give the talks a chance, the process has been put on hold indefinitely.

Rwanda to host Commonwealth talks after migrants, rights row

Leaders from the 54 Commonwealth countries gather in Rwanda under tight security this week for a long overdue but controversial summit that was twice postponed by Covid. Flags, from the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu to South Asian giant India, are flying at
Seychelles News Agency

Rwanda to host Commonwealth talks after migrants, rights row

Leaders from the 54 Commonwealth countries gather in Rwanda under tight security this week for a long overdue but controversial summit that was twice postponed by Covid. Flags, from the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu to South Asian giant India, are flying at the airport and the palm tree-lined road leading to the city and the Kigali Convention Centre where the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting takes place Friday and Saturday. Some $4.7 million has been spent sprucing up the capital, with President Paul Kagame keen to portray «the country of a thousand hills» in the best possible light. But the event, which was supposed to have been held in June 2020, takes place amid outrage at Britain's migrants settlement deal with Rwanda, and questions about the host's human rights record. A tussle for the leadership of the Commonwealth, which represents some 2.5 billion people or a quarter of humanity, is also expected, with renewed talk about the body's future role and relevance. - Tensions? - The fall-out from the migrant deal potentially puts Queen Elizabeth II's heir Prince Charles in a tricky spot, as he makes his first trip to the east African country as her representative. The visit -- also the first to Rwanda by a British royal -- will notably see the 73-year-old prince meet survivors of the 1994 genocide. But his reported criticisms of the planned migrant deportations as «appalling» could make for an awkward meeting with Kagame and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who back the scheme. Britain's Sunday Telegraph said the prince fears the row, which last week saw Europe's top human rights court step in to halt the first flight, could mean the wider aims of the meeting are lost. Amnesty International's director for east and southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, called on Commonwealth leaders to take a «firm and clear stance» against the policy. «Member states need to seize the opportunity in Kigali to denounce this inhumane arrangement and pressure the UK and Rwanda to end the deal,» he added. - Rights - Rwanda, currently locked in a spat with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo over its alleged support for M23 rebels, has been a controversial choice as CHOGM host since it was announced in 2018. This month, civil society organisations said there was a «climate of fear» in the country at odds with its glossy image abroad, including crackdowns on rights of assembly, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial executions. But they added: «The silence of the Commonwealth on Rwanda's human rights record risk undermining the organisation's human rights mandate, as well as its integrity and credibility.» The Committee to Protect Journalists said two foreign journalists who had written critical articles about Rwanda were denied accreditation to cover the summit. The head of Rwandan opposition Development and Liberty for All party told AFP «nothing has changed» since Rwanda joined the Commonwealth 12 years ago. «Rwanda does not respect the values of the Commonwealth, democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, freedom of expression,» said Victoire Ingabire. - Future - Charles has been anointed as the next head of the Commonwealth when he becomes king, taking over from his 96-year-old mother, who has championed the organisation since she came to the throne in 1952. But there is increased discussion about a move away from the royal family as its ceremonial head. At the same time, republican movements in some of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK where the queen is head of state are gathering pace. Member state Barbados became the world's newest republic last year, and other Caribbean nations are pushing to follow suit. Another member, Australia, has also appointed a minister for the republic, in a sign of constitutional change on the horizon. Those questions loom large over the summit, and whether a diminished global reach for the British monarchy will even affect the Commonwealth's existence. Announcing his trip, Charles said the fact that two-thirds of the grouping's population was aged under 30 can make the Commonwealth «an unparalleled force for good in our world», particularly on issues such as tackling climate change. But Commonwealth watchers said that young people, who have no emotional attachment to the royals, could determine its future, loosening Britain's dominance of the organisation, many of whose members are former British colonies. «The new generation wants to question and re-evaluate the history of the empire and that is a good thing,» the British economist and former Labour politician Meghnad Desai said recently. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' President heads for CHOGM in Kigali

Seychelles' President, Wavel Ramkalawan, will join other world leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place from June 20-25 in Kigali, Rwanda, State House said on Tuesday. The meeting will open officially on Friday 24 by the P
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' President heads for CHOGM in Kigali

Seychelles' President, Wavel Ramkalawan, will join other world leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place from June 20-25 in Kigali, Rwanda, State House said on Tuesday. The meeting will open officially on Friday 24 by the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles is representing Queen Elizabeth, the head of the Commonwealth. The opening will be followed by the main high-level meetings of heads of government on Friday. Ramkalawan will also participate in the Heads of Government Retreat as well as various side events. One of the side events will be the Ocean Conference, which will be co-hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal under the theme «Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions.» CHOGM usually takes place every two years and was due to take place in June 2020 but was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 30 heads of government including high-level officials and diplomats will be participating. Fifty-four independent countries make up the Commonwealth which is a voluntary association. Although the Commonwealth roots date back to the British empire, today any country can join and the last one to join was Rwanda in 2009. President Ramkalawan leaves the country on Wednesday and will return on Sunday, June 26.   

Malians march for state protection after massacre

Thousands of Malians demonstrated Tuesday in the central town of Bankass to demand protection from the state after suspected jihadists massacred more than 130 civilians in nearby neighbouring villages. The mass killing -- the latest in a series of attacks ac
Seychelles News Agency

Malians march for state protection after massacre

Thousands of Malians demonstrated Tuesday in the central town of Bankass to demand protection from the state after suspected jihadists massacred more than 130 civilians in nearby neighbouring villages. The mass killing -- the latest in a series of attacks across the Sahel -- resulted in one of Mali's highest civilian death tolls. Villagers continued to search for the missing Tuesday, raising fears of an even greater toll. The government says fighters from the Fulani religious leader Amadou Koufa's armed group, the Macina Katiba, killed 132 civilians in Diallassagou and two surrounding villages, a few dozen kilometres (miles) from Bankass. Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita has declared three days of mourning and a government delegation was sent to the scene Tuesday. Political leaders expressed compassion with the victims' families, while rallying around the armed forces. But a group of political parties named the «Cadre d'echange», or Exchange Framework, demanded Goita make an in-person visit and said the authorities had a responsibility to take «the necessary measures so that such tragedies are not replicated». Residents of Bankass, the main town in the region, held a demonstration on Tuesday. Photos sent by a Dogon community association show several dozen people gathered in the street. «We have gathered despite the rain to call for security, and to condemn the crimes,» Oumar Togo, a member of the Bankass youth association, told AFP by telephone. «The government must ensure our security.» - 'Absolute priority' - Local officials said dozens of jihadists appeared on motorcycles, then rounded up and massacred dozens of men over the weekend. They also said the armed men burned down shops, looted villages and stole cattle. The bloodbath is believed to have culminated on Saturday night, with many people fleeing their homes. Central Mali has been plagued by violence since the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Katiba Macina emerged in 2015. Much of the area is beyond state control and is prone to violence by self-defence militias and inter-community reprisals. On March 23, 2019, more than 160 Fulani civilians were massacred in the village of Ogossagou. Since 2012, Mali has been rocked by an insurgency by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group. Violence that began in the north has since spread to the centre and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. Thousands of civilians and combatants have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced in one of the world's poorest regions. The military seized power in 2020 after months of protests against the civilian government's failure to stop the deadly spiral. Junta leaders on Monday said the safety of Mali's citizens remained their «absolute priority». They have recently turned away from Mali's former military allies, including France, and towards the Russians. - Local agreements - But Mali has seen a series of mass killings in recent months, including in the so-called three-border area on the border with Niger and Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso experienced one of the worst massacres in its history earlier this month, with 86 civilians killed in Seytenga, in the north. Civilians are often subjected to reprisals by jihadists who accuse them of collaborating with the enemy. Some areas of Mali, especially in the centre, have fallen under the jihadists' control. Civilians are also frequently caught in the crossfire between armed groups, including those affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. No one has claimed responsibility for the Diallassagou massacre. Such mass killings are typically attributed to Islamic State-affiliated groups rather than Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. However, it is normally the Katiba Macina that operate in the Bankass area. Nouhoum Togo, a local elected official in Bankass, told AFP the attack was a reprisal against locals after the Malian army on June 10 carried out an operation there, in which it said it had «neutralised» six jihadists. Two thirds of Mali remains beyond state control. © Agence France-Presse

Air Seychelles' financial woes resolved, says Seychelles' President

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan has announced that the financial difficulties Air Seychelles was previously facing have been resolved and that the government is considering an increase in social assistance for people earning less than SCR8,500 ($645).
Seychelles News Agency

Air Seychelles' financial woes resolved, says Seychelles' President

Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan has announced that the financial difficulties Air Seychelles was previously facing have been resolved and that the government is considering an increase in social assistance for people earning less than SCR8,500 ($645). In his introduction at the second presidential press conference for this year at State House on Monday, Ramkalawan talked about the cost of living and the prices of commodities. He said that all items on the RRP (recommended retail price) list purchased by merchants from the state-owned Seychelles Trading Company (STC) should be sold at the same price. «I am appealing to all shop owners who buy goods from STC to sell the goods on RRP the same price instead of adding a few rupees more. Let us think of our population,» said Ramkalawan. He said that the government is following the situation closely and will take the necessary measures if needed. Air Seychelles A petition filed by the Apex Trustees Bondholders last August for the winding up of Air Seychelles to recuperate their investment made in the airline was withdrawn in May. This came after the airline was able to provide the settlement funds of approximately $28 million in escrow, which means it is being held by a third party until all transactions are fulfilled. President Ramkalawan said that now that the airline's problems have been solved and that «Air Seychelles is doing chartered flights to Afghanistan through a contract with the United States to take Afghans relocating to the United States.» He said that although there have been several readjustments in salaries at the airline, no one was made redundant. Ramkalawan also revealed plans to remove ground handling operations from the airline's activities as the government wants to turn the section into a separate profitable entity. Sports infrastructure Seychelles' national football teams have to play their home matches in other countries since the Stad Linite, the main playing field was banned by FIFA for not being up to international standards. «We are talking to FIFA through the local football federation to overhaul the football pitch and the tracks,» said the president. He said the authorities are negotiating with FIFA to determine how much financing the organisation is willing to provide for the reparation of the football fields, due to be completed in 2023. «This should bring the infrastructure in the country up to par to deliver in the new sports tourism initiative that has been set up,» said Ramkalawan. He added that contracts have already been given to repair the Palais de Sports, an indoor sports facility built in 1993 when Seychelles hosted the Indian Ocean Island Games for the first time. Sports infrastructures on Praslin and La Digue, the other two most populated islands, will also be included in the overhaul of sporting infrastructures. Social assistance President Ramkalawan said that the government is using around $20 million of international assistance to help with the welfare system and currently around 100 people are being assisted with higher benefits payments. He said that this will increase as «we are looking into changing the weights used to assist people with welfare. These are the requirements set to determine whether those applying for the assistance qualify for them.» Ramkalawan said that the government is also considering a raise for those earning less than SCR8,500 ($645) per month to cope with the difficult times. Pensioners who are currently receiving SCR 5,060 ($388) a month will also be included.   Travizory online platform On the question of the alleged corrupt practices of transport minister Antony Derjacques, the President said that «there are many allegations but up to now no-one has come forward with concrete evidence that there have been corrupt practices. So, I believe in the rule of law so I will accuse a person when there is no evidence.» Ramkalawan mentioned the local The Independent newspaper as one of the papers writing about the alleged corruption. The newspaper's editor, Ralph Volcere, who was present at the press conference said he stood by what has been written in The Independent and he can provide relevant documents. War on drugs The Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) has been closed down and the president said that the officers of the bureau are being interviewed and, if successful, they will be trained to join the Seychelles Police Force. Ramkalawan said that decision came after an analysis of the unit showed that it was unable to tackle the drug issues in the country. He said that this has forced the authorities to recall over 80 officers based on Praslin and La Digue as they were deemed unable to tackle the drug problems. «Following their training they will use new tools at their disposal such as trained sniffer dogs and officers who have been trained. We are entering a new level of work in the war against drugs, we have five young dogs working on the force,» he said.

Seychelles and Australia in lockstep in defending interests of small island states, says diplomat

The work to ensure that the vulnerability of small island states is recognised and supported by the international community is one of the greatest accomplishments of the outgoing Australian High Commissioner to Seychelles, Kate O'Shaughnessy. O'Shaughnes
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles and Australia in lockstep in defending interests of small island states, says diplomat

The work to ensure that the vulnerability of small island states is recognised and supported by the international community is one of the greatest accomplishments of the outgoing Australian High Commissioner to Seychelles, Kate O'Shaughnessy. O'Shaughnessy made the statement to the press after she paid a farewell visit to Seychelles' President, Wavel Ramkalawan, at State House on Tuesday. She outlined that both Seychelles and Australia are in lockstep when it comes to defending the interest of small island states. «Australia straddles both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. We work closely with small island states in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean and we think that it is an issue that is poorly understood by the international community. It has been a real pleasure to work with Seychelles on this really important issue,» said O'Shaughnessy. The discussion also touched on the relations between the two islands, which O'Shaughnessy described as warm. Seychelles and Australia established diplomatic relations in 1976. «We work very closely together in international organisations and I thanked the president for the principal position that Seychelles takes on many international issues. We finally talked about our shared commitment to combating the challenge of climate change. Australia has just had a general election and announced some new commitments to reduce our emissions and work towards net-zero by 2050,» said the outgoing high commissioner. She added that Australia is looking forward to working with Seychelles in international meetings like COP27, scheduled for later this year. O'Shaughnessy also called on Vice President Ahmed Affif and talks were centred on the blue economy and maritime security. «I have a colleague visiting Seychelles with me from our headquarters to particularly explore ways that we might be able to work together to combat illegal fishing in the western Indian Ocean,» she said. O'Shaughnessy served two years as the Australian High Commissioner to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. She was based in Mauritius from August 2020 and presented her credentials to Ramkalawan in October 2021 due to the COVID-19 border closure that was in place. Her tenure was shortened due to a family emergency.  She said that her successor can be expected to present her credentials in late August or in September «because Seychelles and Australia are co-hosting a search and rescue exercise towards the end of August so she will be looking forward to making her first visit then.»

Witnesses accuse rebels of killing hundreds in Ethiopia

Hundreds of people belonging to the Amhara ethnic group were killed by rebels in Ethiopia's Oromia region over the weekend, survivors said Monday, but the insurgents denied the claims, blaming government forces for the deaths. Fighting erupted on Saturday mo
Seychelles News Agency

Witnesses accuse rebels of killing hundreds in Ethiopia

Hundreds of people belonging to the Amhara ethnic group were killed by rebels in Ethiopia's Oromia region over the weekend, survivors said Monday, but the insurgents denied the claims, blaming government forces for the deaths. Fighting erupted on Saturday morning in Oromia's Gimbi district between pro-government forces and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a rebel group which is branded a terrorist organisation by the Ethiopian government. Together, Amharas and Oromos make up the vast majority of Ethiopia's 115 million people and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government has previously accused the OLA of ethnic massacres. Eyewitnesses, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity for safety reasons, said the attack lasted several hours, with unclaimed bodies still lying on the streets. «I lost my 16-year-old daughter in the attack shot by a bullet from the (OLA) gunmen,» one Amhara man said, adding that the rebels had blocked the main highway. Another man told AFP he had «personally helped bury 61 bodies on Sunday, with the total number of buried bodies on Sunday being 351 in total.» «The intention of all these attacks is to force us to leave,» he said, adding that «our houses and properties have been destroyed.» «I want to leave this area, go to my ancestral region... that at least would allow me to live in peace,» he said. The Oromia regional authorities said in a statement that the OLA had «committed a cruel attack on innocents» and vowed to take strong measures against the insurgents. But OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii blamed the region's own pro-government militia for the killings and called for an independent investigation into the matter. «The Abiy regime is again blaming the OLA for atrocities committed by its own retreating fighters,» he said on Twitter. - 'Zero tolerance' - Prime Minister Abiy said on Twitter that his government had «zero tolerance for horrific acts claiming lives.» «Attacks on innocent civilians and destruction of livelihoods by illegal and irregular forces is unacceptable,» he said. News of the Amhara killings comes days after the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission accused security forces of summarily executing residents in Gambella, suspecting them of collaborating with OLA fighters who attacked the southwestern region last week. The EHRC, a state-affiliated independent rights body, said in a statement that security forces had carried out «door to door executions» in Gambella, which borders Oromia. The OLA last year forged an alliance with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been locked in conflict with federal forces in northern Ethiopia since November 2020. Ethiopia's government declared a «humanitarian truce» in March, allowing limited supplies of international aid into Tigray for the first time since mid-December. © Agence France-Presse

Covid health measures: no more mandatory mask-wearing outdoors in Seychelles

Temperature screening at points of entry in public places in Seychelles is no longer necessary and wearing of mask outdoors is optional as health authorities have revised public health measures.    The announcement was made on Friday after a meeting of th
Seychelles News Agency

Covid health measures: no more mandatory mask-wearing outdoors in Seychelles

Temperature screening at points of entry in public places in Seychelles is no longer necessary and wearing of mask outdoors is optional as health authorities have revised public health measures.    The announcement was made on Friday after a meeting of the COVID-19 Platinum Command. The Public Health Commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, said that the wearing of masks remains mandatory in buses and other public transport such as taxis, boats and planes. «With immediate effect, places of leisure and entertainment will operate under their specific standard operating procedures (SOPs). Places of worship will also operate according to their SOPs. In both cases SOPs may be reviewed in collaboration with the Public Health Authority to allow the intake of more attendants,» said Gedeon. The Minister for Health, Peggy Vidot, said that the «remaining restrictions on discotheques and mass gatherings will be lifted as of the 15th July if there is no new surge in COVID-19 cases from now to that date.» Health measures were put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 and the authorities said that there has been a significant decrease in cases due to compliance and cooperation since the start of May 2022. According to the latest figures given by the Ministry of Health last week, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has 269 active cases of COVID-19 and has recorded 167 COVID-related deaths from the time of first outbreak in the country. Gedeon said that the further evolution of the pandemic and whether new measures will be reintroduced later will depend on to what extent each one takes personal responsibility for their own health and conscientiously avoids putting themselves at risk. Meanwhile, for travellers coming to Seychelles, since March 15, vaccinated visitors no longer need a negative PCR test. Travellers who are «fully vaccinated» according to the ministry's advisory, are adults who have had two vaccine doses, typically, and one booster as well, only «if 6 months have passed from receiving the first two doses.» Those who are not vaccinated, still need to provide a negative PCR test to enter the country.

Seychelles hosts IAEA meeting for building a national security detection architecture

Seychelles has joined three other countries in a regional workshop to develop a road map for building a national security detection architecture for nuclear and other radioactive materials out of regulatory control. The event, which is hosted by Seychelles
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles hosts IAEA meeting for building a national security detection architecture

Seychelles has joined three other countries in a regional workshop to develop a road map for building a national security detection architecture for nuclear and other radioactive materials out of regulatory control. The event, which is hosted by Seychelles from June 20-24, is organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in collaboration with Seychelles' Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs. Also participating are Mauritius, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to IAEA, the development of a national roadmap to establish a security detection architecture for nuclear materials and others that are radioactive applies to materials that have been reported as being out of regulatory control as well as those lost, missing or stolen but not reported as such. Speaking to the press, a senior officer at the department of employment, Stephanie Boniface, said «the aim of the workshop is to allow us to have a strategy in place to ensure that if at any moment these materials are discovered, they can be dealt with safely.»  The event, which is hosted by Seychelles from June 20-24, is organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   She added that «despite the fact that Seychelles does not have such materials in great quantity in the country, we never really know what might happen considering that our country consists of numerous islands with a great water surface. The workshop is an opportune time to establish our status as a country when it comes to security and be able to establish what we need additionally.» The employment ministry is the body that deals with radiation safety in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. Boniface shared that the health ministry is the body with the most pieces of equipment that emit radiation.  Nuclear security seeks to prevent, detect and respond to criminal and international unauthorised acts involving or directed at nuclear and other radioactive materials, associated facilities and activities. The director for labour monitoring and compliance at the employment department, Tara Diallo, said that the possibility that nuclear or radioactive materials could be used for malicious purposes is existent. «This calls for a collective commitment to control and accountancy for such materials. Sharing of knowledge and experience, coordination among states, and collaborations with other international organisations, initiatives, and industries also support an effective regional and international nuclear security framework,» said Diallo. The delegation of Seychelles attending the workshop consists of representatives from agencies involved in the control and detection of such materials, as well as those responsible to respond in eventualities. These include the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority (SMSA), the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC), the Department of Employment, and the Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRMD). 

Macron loses parliament majority in stunning setback

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday lost his parliamentary majority after major election gains by a newly formed left-wing alliance and the far right, in a stunning blow to his plans for major second-term reform. The result from Sunday's second round
Seychelles News Agency

Macron loses parliament majority in stunning setback

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday lost his parliamentary majority after major election gains by a newly formed left-wing alliance and the far right, in a stunning blow to his plans for major second-term reform. The result from Sunday's second round poll threw French politics into turmoil, raising the prospect of a paralysed legislature or messy coalitions with Macron forced to reach out to new allies. Macron, 44, now also risks being distracted by domestic problems as he seeks to play a prominent role in putting an end to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and as a key statesman in the EU. Macron's «Together» coalition will still be the biggest party in the next National Assembly. But with 245 seats, according to full interior ministry results announced in the early hours of Monday, it is well short of the 289 seats needed for a majority in the 577-member chamber. «This situation constitutes a risk for our country, given the challenges that we have to confront,» Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said in a televised statement, vowing: «We will work from tomorrow to build a working majority.» The outcome severely tarnished Macron's April presidential election victory when he defeated the far-right to be the first French president to win a second term in over two decades. «It's a turning point for his image of invincibility,» said Bruno Cautres, a researcher at the Centre for Political Research of Sciences Po. Le Monde daily headlined on its website: «Macron faces the risk of political paralysis,» while the Le Figaro daily said the results raised the spectre of a «stillborn new mandate». - 'Failure for Macron' - The new left-wing coalition NUPES under 70-year-old hard-left figurehead Jean-Luc Melenchon won 135 seats, according to an AFP count based on the results published by the ministry. The coalition, formed in May after the left splintered for April's presidential elections, brings together Socialists, the hard left, Communists and greens. Melenchon called Sunday's results «above all an electoral failure» for Macron. «The rout of the presidential party is total and there will be no majority» in parliament, he told cheering supporters in Paris. A prominent MP from Melenchon's party, Alexis Corbiere, said the result meant Macron's plan to raise the French retirement age to 65 had been «sunk». Far-right leader Marine Le Pen's National Rally party made huge gains and will send 89 MPs to the new parliament, making it the biggest rightwing force in parliament ahead of the traditional right The Republicans (LR). Le Pen hailed a historic result for her party, saying it would send «by far» its highest number of MPs to the next National Assembly. Macron had hoped to stamp his second term with an ambitious programme of tax cuts, welfare reform and raising the retirement age. All that is now in question. «This will complicate the reforms... It will be much more difficult to govern,» said Dominique Rousseau, professor of law at Paris Pantheon-Sorbonne University. - 'Imagination needed' - «The slap,» said the headline in the left-leaning Liberation's Monday edition, adding the results represented the «fall» of Macron's way of governing. There could now potentially be weeks of political deadlock as the president seeks to reach out to new parties. The most likely option would be an alliance with the Republicans, the traditional party of the French right, which has 61 MPs. LR president Christian Jacob however made clear there would be no easy partnership, saying his party intended to «stay in opposition». Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire denied that France would be ungovernable but admitted «a lot of imagination would be needed» from the ruling party in an «unprecedented situation». Macron had called on voters to hand his coalition a «solid majority» last week, adding «nothing would be worse than adding French disorder to the world disorder». - Three ministers felled - In another blow, key ministers standing for election were set to lose their jobs under a convention that they should resign if they fail to win seats. Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon, Maritime Minister Justine Benin and Environment Minister Amelie de Montchalin -- a pillar of Macron's administration over the last years -- all lost and will now exit the government. Two other close Macron allies, parliament speaker Richard Ferrand and former interior minister Christophe Castaner, both acknowledged defeat in the fight for their seats. In a rare spot of good news for the president, Europe Minister Clement Beaune and Public Service Minister Stanislas Guerini -- both young pillars of his party -- won tight battles for their seats. On the left, Rachel Keke, a former cleaning lady who campaigned for better working conditions at her hotel, was also elected, defeating Macron's former sports minister Roxana Maracineanu. Turnout was low, with the abstention rate recorded at 53.77 percent, according to the interior ministry, higher than the first round but not beating the record worst turnout of 2017. © Agence France-Presse

Europe swelters in record-breaking June heatwave

Spain, France and other western European nations sweltered over the weekend under a blistering June heatwave, with some wildfires still blazing even as the weather began to ease. The soaring temperatures were in line with scientists' predictions that such ph
Seychelles News Agency

Europe swelters in record-breaking June heatwave

Spain, France and other western European nations sweltered over the weekend under a blistering June heatwave, with some wildfires still blazing even as the weather began to ease. The soaring temperatures were in line with scientists' predictions that such phenomena will now strike earlier in the year thanks to global warming. Emergency services battled several wildfires Sunday in northern Spain. The most alarming blaze in the north-western Sierra de Culebra mountain range has destroyed over 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres), the regional government said. Firefighters said cooler temperatures overnight had helped them make progress in their battle against the flames. Residents of some 20 villages who were evacuated from their homes were allowed to return home Sunday morning, local officials said. Temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) have been recorded in parts of Spain throughout the week, but they had dipped by Sunday in most of the country. The mercury was only expected to hit 29C in Madrid on Sunday and 25C in the province of Zamora where the Sierra de Culebra mountain range is located. There have also been fires in Germany, where temperatures reached 36C. In southern France, a blaze triggered by the firing of an artillery shell in military training burnt around 200 hectares of vegetation, authorities in the Var region said. «There is no threat to anyone except 2,500 sheep who are being evacuated and taken to safety,» the local fire brigade chief said. - Record temperatures - The popular French southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz saw its highest all-time temperature Saturday afternoon of 42.9C, state forecaster Meteo France said as authorities urged vigilance from the central western coast down to the Spanish border. Many parts of the region surpassed 40C, although storms were expected on the Atlantic coast on Sunday evening -- signs that the stifling temperatures will «gradually regress to concern only the eastern part of the country,» the weather service reported. The baking heat failed to put off heavy metal aficionados attending the Hellfest festival at Clisson on the outskirts of the western city of Nantes, where temperatures soared beyond 40C. With the River Seine off limits to bathing, scorched Parisians took refuge in the city's fountains. And at Vincennes Zoo on the outskirts of the capital, shaggy-haired lions licked at frozen blood fed to them by zookeepers, who monitored the enclosure's animals for signs of dehydration. «This is the earliest heatwave ever recorded in France» since 1947, said Matthieu Sorel, a climatologist at Meteo France, as June records fell in a dozen areas, leading him to call the weather a «marker of climate change». - Foretaste of future - The UK recorded its hottest day of the year on Friday, with temperatures reaching over 30C in the early afternoon, meteorologists said. Several towns in northern Italy announced water rationing. The country's dairy cows were putting out 10 percent less milk, the main agricultural association Coldiretti said Saturday. With temperatures far above the cows' «ideal climate» of 22-24C, animals were drinking up to 140 litres of water a day, double their normal intake, and producing less due to stress, it said. Experts warned the high temperatures were caused by worrying climate change trends. «As a result of climate change, heatwaves are starting earlier,» said Clare Nullis, a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva. «What we're witnessing today is unfortunately a foretaste of the future» if concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise and push global warming towards 2C from pre-industrial levels, she added. © Agence France-Presse

Tropical island beauty: Gabriella Gonthier to represent Seychelles at Miss Universe 2022

After an absence of over two decades, Seychelles will return to the Miss Universe pageant this year, represented by one of the island nation's experienced beauty queens, Gabriella Gonthier. The 24-year-old was nominated as Seychelles' Miss Universe beauty qu
Seychelles News Agency

Tropical island beauty: Gabriella Gonthier to represent Seychelles at Miss Universe 2022

After an absence of over two decades, Seychelles will return to the Miss Universe pageant this year, represented by one of the island nation's experienced beauty queens, Gabriella Gonthier. The 24-year-old was nominated as Seychelles' Miss Universe beauty queen by Telly's Modeling Agency after she won the Miss University Africa Tourism 2021 title. She was appointed on June 9 as Miss Universe Seychelles 2022 by the Miss Maurice Organisation. With the appointment, Gonthier became the second Seychellois to represent the island nation at Miss Universe, an international pageant that celebrates women of all backgrounds, empowering them to achieve their goals. It was 27 years ago in 1995 that Maria Payet represented Seychelles for the first time at the pageant. Gonthier told SNA that «being the second Seychellois to go to Miss Universe really shows that someone cannot tell me that the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon... Dreams do become a reality when you manifest. I am over the moon and I don't think that there are words to describe the emotion. I am humbled by this opportunity.» The 71st edition of the Miss Universe pageant is scheduled to be held later this year, with the location and date to be announced at a later date. Miss Universe 2021, Harnaaz Sandhu of India, will place the coveted crown on the head of her successor at the end of the competition. Gonthier said that she has already started to physically and mentally prepare for the event. «Mentally I am surrounding myself with very good energy that brings hope. My preparations are not just for me but also for my country. I will be in a better place to know the preparations for the pageant after I go to Mauritius next week. This is when things will kickstart,» she added. Her first official international trip expects to start end of June to Mauritius, Reunion Island - a French overseas department - in August, the United States in September and then Madagascar, for which dates still need to be confirmed. The Miss Universe Seychelles 2022 contender holds an International Business degree and is currently working at the Department of Blue Economy as a senior monitoring and evaluation officer. With a great passion for modeling, she also enjoys advocacy, site-seeing, and photography. The multi-talented beauty queen is not new to the pageantry world - in 2018, Gonthier was crowned Miss Regatta at the Seychelles Regatta event at Beau Vallon. Two years later, she took part in the Miss Seychelles pageant and won a prize for Best Creative Costume. Last year, Gonthier took part in the Miss University Africa pageant where she walked away with the Miss University Africa Tourism 2021 title.  

Constitution Day: Seychelles’ President reaffirms commitment to protection of citizens’ rights

Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan has reaffirmed the country’s commitment to protect the rights of every citizen through its Constitution.  Ramkalawan made the statement while speaking at the annual flag-raising ceremony on Saturday to mark Constit
Seychelles News Agency

Constitution Day: Seychelles’ President reaffirms commitment to protection of citizens’ rights

Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan has reaffirmed the country’s commitment to protect the rights of every citizen through its Constitution.  Ramkalawan made the statement while speaking at the annual flag-raising ceremony on Saturday to mark Constitution Day on June 18, which is also a public holiday. The ceremony was attended by high government officials, representatives of the judiciary and the National Assembly as well as the diplomatic corps.  This year is exactly 29 years since the Constitution of Seychelles was adopted through a referendum on June 18, 1993, paving the way for a Third Republic and the introduction of a multi-party system. For the first time the ceremonial flag-hoisting took place on all three main islands, Mahe, Praslin and La Digue and was attended by the president and his delegation.  This year is exactly 29 years since the Constitution of Seychelles was adopted through a referendum on June 18, 1993. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Speaking at the first ceremony at the ‘Lavwa Lanasyon’ Monument (the Voice of the Nation) in Peace Park in the capital Victoria on Mahe, Ramkalawan said he wants the world to know that Seychelles is a democratic state and it will always respect and protect the rights of its citizens.  “Seychelles will protect every citizen and every foreigner on our land, and at the same time through the democratic processes, in the way that we make laws, in the way the judiciary acts, and above all, in the way the executive performs its functions, it will always respect the right of every citizen,” he said.  As is customary, the hoisting of the national flag was done by Seychellois women and men in uniform, accompanied by the national anthem performed by the National Brass Band.  The ceremony was attended by high government officials, representatives of the judiciary and the National Assembly as well as the diplomatic corps. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY During Saturday’s ceremony, parts of the preamble of the Constitution were also read out. The preamble makes provision for the human rights of each and every Seychellois to be protected.  For the first time in the tradition of this ceremony, the composition of the guard of honour’s platoon was made up entirely of women from the Seychelles Defence Forces and the Seychelles Police under the command of Lieutenant Connie Anthony. There were also performances of patriotic songs and poems by Seychellois youths. Mahe’s ceremony was replicated on Praslin, the second largest island and La Digue, the third largest island in population size, which hosted the ceremony for the first time. Prior to 2015, June 18 was celebrated as the National Day. Since then, the island state’s National Day is celebrated on June 29, which was the day it received independence from Britain.

41 dead, millions stranded as floods hit Bangladesh, India

Monsoon storms in Bangladesh and India have killed at least 41 people and unleashed devastating floods that left millions of others stranded, officials said Saturday. Floods are a regular menace to millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh, but experts say
Seychelles News Agency

41 dead, millions stranded as floods hit Bangladesh, India

Monsoon storms in Bangladesh and India have killed at least 41 people and unleashed devastating floods that left millions of others stranded, officials said Saturday. Floods are a regular menace to millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh, but experts say climate change is increasing their frequency, ferocity and unpredictability. Relentless downpours over the past week have inundated vast stretches of Bangladesh's northeast, with troops deployed to evacuate households cut off from neighbouring communities. Schools have been turned into relief shelters to house entire villages inundated in a matter of hours by rivers that suddenly burst their banks. «The whole village went under water by early Friday and we all got stranded,» said Lokman, whose family lives in Companiganj village. «After waiting a whole day on the roof of our home, a neighbour rescued us with a makeshift boat. My mother said she has never seen such floods in her entire life,» the 23-year-old added. Asma Akter, another woman rescued from the rising waters, said her family had not been able to eat for two days. «The water rose so quickly we couldn't bring any of our things,» she said. «And how can you cook anything when everything is underwater?» Lightning triggered by the storms has killed at least 21 people around the South Asian nation since Friday afternoon, police officials told AFP. Among them were three children aged between 12 and 14 who were struck by lightning on Friday in the rural town of Nandail, said local police chief Mizanur Rahman. Another four people died when landslides hit their hillside homes in the port city of Chittagong, police inspector Nurul Islam told AFP. At least 16 people have been killed since Thursday in India's remote Meghalaya, the state's chief minister Conrad Sangma wrote on Twitter, after landslides and surging rivers that submerged roads. Next door in Assam state, more than 1.8 million people have been affected by floods after five days of incessant downpours. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters he had instructed district officials to provide «all necessary help and relief» to those caught in the flooding. - 'The situation is bad' - Flooding in Bangladesh worsened on Saturday morning after a temporary reprieve from the rains the previous afternoon, Sylhet region chief government administrator Mosharraf Hossain told AFP. «The situation is bad. More than four million people have been stranded by flood water,» Hossain said, adding that nearly the entire region was without electricity. The flooding forced Bangladesh's third-largest international airport in Sylhet to shut down on Friday. Forecasters said the floods were set to worsen over the next two days with heavy rains in Bangladesh and upstream in India's northeast. Before this week's rains, the Sylhet region was still recovering from its worst floods in nearly two decades late last month, when at least 10 people were killed and four million others were affected. © Agence France-Presse

More sports tourism sites need to be developed in Seychelles, investment minister says

A number of sites have been identified in Seychelles to build facilities for sports tourism activities as part of the government's plan to diversify the tourism industry, a top official said on Tuesday. The Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Indus
Seychelles News Agency

More sports tourism sites need to be developed in Seychelles, investment minister says

A number of sites have been identified in Seychelles to build facilities for sports tourism activities as part of the government's plan to diversify the tourism industry, a top official said on Tuesday. The Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, Devika Vidot, said that while tourism activities are Seychelles' biggest source of income, there is a need to increase the amount of money that tourists spend during their stay. Sports tourism will, therefore, provide adequate sports and leisure activities and the hosting of international sporting events can bring in more people as well as increase Seychelles' visibility.   With regards to the investment in the facilities, Vidot said that the Seychelles delegation at the Expo 2020 in Dubai presented the concept to a number of interested parties. Some of them have come up with ideas and visited Seychelles to identify areas in which they could invest. «We have already identified a number of sites where investors will be able to build facilities as part of this project, such as Beau Vallon, the Roche Caiman Sports Complex, Anse Royale and even on Praslin,» she added. Sports tourism will is expected to provide adequate sports and leisure activities (Betymie Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  Tourism is the top contributor to the economy of the island nation in the western Indian Ocean and is the industry which was most severely affected when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a downturn in travel. Since then, Seychelles' government has been increasing its efforts to diversify the economy. «The government's plan for diversification of the economy is also centred on expanding tourism, fisheries and sports with new activities and investments,» said Vidot. She added that sports tourism was identified as an area with a lot of potential, where the main focus is on using the country's resources to promote this concept, with emphasis on water sports. One such case in point is the recently announced project at the Beau Vallon Regatta site, where a proposed sports arena will see state-of-the-art facilities built with a basketball court, gyms and even a boot camp facility.   Vidot said that in the plan, Seychellois investors will have priority over foreigners, although the government is aware that some of the projects require a lot of capital that can only be obtained from foreign investment. This is why the government is allowing foreigners to partner with local investors for their projects. The minister said that despite the emphasis on sports tourism at the moment, it is not a concept that is new to Seychelles as it was already being implemented.   She pointed out that the Eco-Friendly Marathon was a way to bring in more visitors through sports, among other events organised over the years. The Seychelles Eco-Friendly Marathon was initiated in 2008 by Seychelles' honorary consul general in South Korea, Dong Chang Jeong, as part of efforts to encourage people on the island nation to stay healthy. The marathon has now become an annual event that attracts locals and foreigners working or holidaying in Seychelles, as well as foreign participants who come expressly for the marathon. Since 2018, Seychelles has been hosting part of the International Swimming Federation's (FINA) open water swim world series. The project is organised in the collaboration of the Ministries of Youth, Sports and Family, and Tourism and Foreign Affairs.  

Heading for UNESCO: Seychelles' Moutya dance will soon resonate in France

Seychelles will showcase its traditional dance, the Moutya, in a tour in various cities in France and will culminate with a performance at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, according to a top cultural official. A delegation of 28 Seychellois dancers, musicia
Seychelles News Agency

Heading for UNESCO: Seychelles' Moutya dance will soon resonate in France

Seychelles will showcase its traditional dance, the Moutya, in a tour in various cities in France and will culminate with a performance at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, according to a top cultural official. A delegation of 28 Seychellois dancers, musicians and cultural officers will be part of the tour on June 19-29 aimed at promoting the Moutya, which was added to UNESCO's list of intangible heritage in December last year. The Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts (SINCHA), in collaboration with hotel resort Club Med Seychelles on Sainte Anne Island, organised a show last week to give a taste of the cultural performances chosen for the French tour. David Andre, the Secretary General of SINCHA, said that this opportunity was offered to Seychelles by the UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ottone Ramirez, after the performance of the Moutya at the Dubai Expo. «[Mr] Ramirez said that it would be interesting for Seychelles to do such a performance at the UNESCO. We have started to prepare since then,» said Andre. The group will be doing four performances in France and the biggest show will be held in the UNESCO hall on Monday, June 27. The team from Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will also present a show in a town in Normandy, Petit-Caux, and will also record some programmes for French television. One of the dancers, Ronny Marengo, said that «more emphasis will be put on the typical dance of the Moutya where dancers will also sing along. The performance will be different from what we did last December at the Dubai Expo.» The performance in Dubai had been criticized by some spectators for not being the traditional dance but a modern form instead.   Andre said that «we are doing a show and a show is a show. We cannot expect to do it the same way it was done before in open space outside. It is normal for people to have their own opinion.» He added that the show will begin with the beating of the typical drums, singing and dancing, «then we will show the evolution of Moutya today in 2022, the artist wants to use this to give more exposure to the music and the dance, all in respect of its authenticity.» Furthermore, Andre added that «this opportunity is unique which will allow Seychellois to show the world what we have; our Kreolite [Creole word for Creoleness and the Creole culture], which means diversity.»  Seychelles' cultural ambassador Patrick Victor said that this tour will help to revive the Moutya. «Moutya was banned at one point. Now we are doing our best to revive it and it is a great achievement. The artists in this show are young people who are committed to defending Moutya. There are many children who are interested in it and we hope that young people will take over in this area,» he said.

Qatar Airways posts record $1.54 bn profit despite pandemic

Qatar Airways on Thursday posted a record net profit of $1.54 billion for the 2021-2022 financial year, a result it attributed to a «successful strategy» during the coronavirus pandemic. The state-owned airline said the profit result was «2
Seychelles News Agency

Qatar Airways posts record $1.54 bn profit despite pandemic

Qatar Airways on Thursday posted a record net profit of $1.54 billion for the 2021-2022 financial year, a result it attributed to a «successful strategy» during the coronavirus pandemic. The state-owned airline said the profit result was «200 percent above its highest annual historical profit» and achieved on the back of $14.4 billion in overall income. It said that the revenue figure was «a remarkable two percent higher than the full financial year pre-Covid» in 2019-2020. Gas-rich Qatar is among several governments that stepped in to support their national carriers through the coronavirus shutdown, which pummelled global travel and the aviation industry. Qatar Airways, the Middle East's second biggest airline after Emirates, had reported in September last year an overall loss of $4.1 billion in the 2020-2021 financial year. The flag carrier said at the time that it had received $3 billion in state aid to weather the coronavirus travel downturn and to offset the losses blamed on the cost of grounding aircraft. Its chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, praised the «strength, resilience, and commitment» of Qatar Airways Group in the past year. «In the most difficult period ever in the global airline industry, the airline credits its positive results to its agility and successful strategy,» the airline said in a statement. Qatar Airways said it «continued to focus on customer needs and evolving market opportunities, as well as efficiency and the commitment of its worldwide employees». «This profit is not only a record for Qatar Airways Group, but also a record among all other airlines that have published financial results for this financial year worldwide,» the airline said. - New routes - The Qatari airline said it carried 18.5 million passengers in 2021-2022, an increase of 218 percent over the previous 12-month period. It said its cargo division remained the «leading player in the world», with growth of 25 percent in revenues and an identical figure for cargo capacity. «Against the backdrop of the pandemic disruption, Qatar Airways Cargo transported more than three million tonnes of air freight and securing eight percent share in the global market,» it said. The airline said it had also «transported more than 600 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines over the course of the pandemic to date». «Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the national carrier of the State of Qatar grew to more than 140 destinations» in 2021-2022, the airline added. New routes were opened to destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, and Almaty, Kazakhstan. The carrier has maintained «strong performance and growing profitability,» Al Baker said. «We have pursued every business opportunity and left no stone unturned as we aimed to meet our targets,» he said. «Whilst our competitors grounded their aircraft and closed their routes, we adapted our entire commercial operation to respond to ever-evolving travel restrictions and never stopped flying, operating a network our passengers and customers could rely on,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

EU leaders vow to back Ukraine in visit to war-torn Kyiv

The leaders of major EU powers France, Germany and Italy vowed Thursday to help Ukraine defeat Russia and to rebuild its shattered cities, in a visit to a war-torn Kyiv suburb. French President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian pr
Seychelles News Agency

EU leaders vow to back Ukraine in visit to war-torn Kyiv

The leaders of major EU powers France, Germany and Italy vowed Thursday to help Ukraine defeat Russia and to rebuild its shattered cities, in a visit to a war-torn Kyiv suburb. French President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian premier Mario Draghi arrived in Ukraine by train and headed to Irpin, scene of fierce battles early in Russia's invasion. «France has been alongside Ukraine since day one. We stand with the Ukrainians without ambiguity. Ukraine must resist and win,» Macron told journalists. Surrounded by the wreckage left by Ukraine's successful but hard-fought defence of its capital in the early stages of the 113-day-old conflict, Draghi said: «We will rebuild everything. »They destroyed kindergartens, they destroyed playgrounds. Everything will be rebuilt,« he promised. It is the first time the three have visited Kyiv since Russia's February 24 invasion. Ukraine has applied to join the European Union and, although no-one in Brussels expects this to be a quick process, the leaders of the bloc's most powerful countries were expected to bring President Volodymyr Zelensky a positive message. Kyiv is also pleading with its western allies to step up supplies of weapons to its forces, which are outgunned by Russian artillery on the frontline in east of the country. - 'Stand by Ukraine' - Germany, especially, has been criticised for slow weapons deliveries, but western defence ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss what more they can do and on Wednesday US President Joe Biden announced $1 billion worth of new arms for Ukrainian forces. Moscow was dismissive of the European visit, and of the arms supplies. »Supporting Ukraine by further pumping Ukraine with weapons,« warned Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov would be »absolutely useless and will cause further damage to the country«. The new US support package includes howitzers, ammunition, anti-ship missile systems, and additional rockets for new artillery systems that Ukraine will soon put in the field. Fighting in eastern Ukraine is focused on the industrial city of Severodonetsk, and Russians forces appear close to consolidating control after weeks of intense battles. Sergiy Gaiday -- the governor of the Lugansk region, which includes the city -- said Thursday around 10,000 civilians remain trapped in the city, out of a pre-war population of some 100,000. Kyiv's army is »holding back the enemy as much as possible,« he said on Telegram. »For almost four months they have dreamt of controlling Severodonetsk... and they do not count the victims.« - Civilians trapped - Moscow's forces have destroyed the three bridges spanning a river between the city and Lysychansk. Hundreds of civilians are trapped in a Severodonetsk chemical plant, which is under constant bombardment, according to Ukrainian authorities. Russia said Ukrainian authorities had on Wednesday prevented an attempt at evacuating them. From an elevated position in Lysychansk, an AFP team saw black smoke rising from the Azot chemical factory in Severodonetsk and another area in the city. The head of the Severodonetsk city administration Oleksandr Stryuk told Ukrainian television on Thursday that there were about 500 civilians trapped in shelters at the plant. »Fighting and constant shelling have been going on there for almost a week now,« he said, warning that the shelling could damage ammonia storage and trigger a chemical disaster. »It is a miracle that the whole city has not been affected.« The Ukrainian military was using the high ground to exchange fire with Russian forces across the river. - Seeking more arms - Elsewhere, Russia launched a missile strike in Ukraine's north-east Sumy region, killing four people and injuring six others, governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said on Telegram. In Brussels, Ukrainian defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov and other officials met with around 50 countries of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at NATO headquarters asking for a surge in weapons and ammunition. »Ukraine is really in a very critical situation and therefore, it's an urgent need to step up,« NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told journalists ahead of two days of talks. Russian President Vladimir Putin meanwhile underscored that he was not as isolated internationally as his foes would wish with a call with China's leader Xi Jinping, their second reported call since Russia attacked Ukraine. China has refused to condemn Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Russia by criticising Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv. The United Nations warned a hunger crisis that has been worsened by the war in Ukraine, traditionally a breadbasket to the world, could swell already record global displacement numbers. Addressing the food insecurity crisis is »of paramount importance... to prevent a larger number of people moving," the United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi told reporters. © Agence France-Presse

Ammonia leak kills 2 Spanish nationals on tuna vessel anchored in Seychelles

Two Spanish nationals died in Seychelles when their fishing vessel had an ammonia leak while on anchorage close to Port Victoria and local rescue services are still working to contain the leak, a top official said on Thursday. Jones Madeleine, the public re
Seychelles News Agency

Ammonia leak kills 2 Spanish nationals on tuna vessel anchored in Seychelles

Two Spanish nationals died in Seychelles when their fishing vessel had an ammonia leak while on anchorage close to Port Victoria and local rescue services are still working to contain the leak, a top official said on Thursday. Jones Madeleine, the public relations officer of the Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency, told reporters that they were informed about the leak on the Spanish-flagged tuna fishing vessel Albacora Cuatro around 3.15 pm on Wednesday afternoon. Today they are still working to contain the leak on the vessel, which was anchored for repair work. «The work we carried out yesterday was to get the two people who were trapped on the vessel. We sent another team this morning to the vessel to continue the work we started,» said Madeleine. The vessel, which is 88 metres long and 16 metres wide belongs to the Compañía Europea de Tunidos company, although the ship retains the name of the Albacora group, founded in 1974 by Basque businessmen. The vessel had a crew of 31 people of six different nationalities on board as well as one Seychellois. Madeleine said that the delay in the rescue services is due to the fact that the vessel is unsafe for both the vessel's crew and the rescue services team. «We were unable to rescue one of the persons trapped on the vessel and we are working to do that today. The person was unable to get off the vessel after the leak and has died but we still have to retrieve his remains,» added Madeleine.  Madeleine (2nd right) said they were informed about the leak on the Albacora Cuatro around 3.15 pm on Wednesday afternoon. (Rita Joubert-Lawen, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  A paramedic and another medical officer are also working alongside the rescue team in an effort to retrieve the body of the trapped sailor. Ammonia is a refrigerant used to freeze the brine solution within the fish wells onboard tuna vessels. It is a toxic gas and exposure to it can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries, including ammonia burns on the eyes and lungs, asthma, blindness, and other pulmonary conditions. It is also flammable and can cause explosions when exposed to high heat. The authorities confirmed that the vessel's current mooring location means that the leak is not dangerous for nearby residents on the main island of Mahe. A team of 16 fire and rescue officers is still on the vessel, working to contain the leak. When the incident was reported on Wednesday afternoon, the police closed off the roads to the Victoria Petrol Station and the Ile du Port quay to clear the area, so rescue and medical assistance officers could get through. The rescue team working to contain the leak on Albacora Cuatro also called on the public to stay clear of the tuna fishing vessel for their own safety. As the vessel may currently be a danger to others sailing going close by it, the Seychelles Coast Guard and the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority have been deployed to keep the passing vessels at a safe distance. The last such ammonia leak in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was on French purse seiner Le Titan Concarneau in May 2017. There were no fatalities.  

Seychelles' multi-talented artist Urny Mathiot traces the road to 4 art forms of his life

Seychellois Urny Mathiot, hailing from the central Mahe district of Mont Buxton, is a man of many talents - a painter, graphic artist, photographer and musician.  Although fine art was his first love, he later ventured into graphics and photography and the
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' multi-talented artist Urny Mathiot traces the road to 4 art forms of his life

Seychellois Urny Mathiot, hailing from the central Mahe district of Mont Buxton, is a man of many talents - a painter, graphic artist, photographer and musician.  Although fine art was his first love, he later ventured into graphics and photography and then came to music where he set up his own band «Kod Nwar» (Black Codes) using African beats. On May 25, to coincide with Africa Day, Mathiot organised an exhibition called AfrikArt which formed part of the local FetAfrik activities. SNA met with Mathiot to learn more about his various passions.   SNA: How did your journey in the world of art start? UM: I became interested in the arts at a very young age. I would naturally see myself scribbling on a piece of paper. My primary and secondary school teachers noticed my growing interest and encouraged me to continue. When I joined the National Youth Service (NYS) I started to specialise, did my O-Level and A-Level, and took art and design a little more seriously for three years. My knowledge grew towards art and following my formation, I joined the Ministry of Culture in the early 2000s. I was employed as a graphic artist there, but I always kept in mind that I was trained as a fine art artist. It was difficult to make a living as a fine art artist as I only occasionally sold a piece. I did this as a profession for about 20 years.   SNA: When did you venture into doing photography and music? UM: Even if I was employed, it didn't stop me from continuing to do fine art. Photography came in later. As a graphics designer, you work a lot with photos. At times when you rely on other people to provide these photos, they are not always what you had in mind and this is a problem. So, I started taking my own photos and from there, my interest just kept on growing. I started attending courses and workshops and whenever there was a possibility, I would try my luck internationally. Doing this lets you pick up as much as possible and continue to make a breakthrough. I had to create a balance between fine art, photography and graphics. And then as if things weren't enough, I had to move into the music world. This was something I was interested in for a while, and then everything fell into place. I placed my effort into music and today I have a band called 'Kod Nwar', through which I do hotel gigs. My world rotates around these four forms of art. I love living my culture in the sense that I always do my best to keep an identity alive, with an open mind.   SNA: Who was your inspiration when you first started? UM: I always felt that to become a better artist, through all the stages, you need to let the world inspire you. By this, I mean that I do not really have a single or specific source of inspiration. Through my art I make reference to everyday life - the human behavior, and things that set us back - I look for solutions to problems or express my disapproval of certain things. For me, there is no such thing as beautiful or ugly art, but rather it is a tool that can be used to make a difference in the lives of an individual, a nation or the world.  Mathiot was the winner of the competition to design the logo of the Agency for Social Protection. (Seychelles Nation)  Photo License: CC-BY    SNA: You practice four different art forms. What unites all of them? UM: 'Kod Nwar' is not just a band. It is my own cultural movement through which I want to accomplish so much. The Black Codes have roots in colonial times when it was a document used against dark-skinned people. It dictated what a slave could and couldn't do. Today, these codes still have an effect on the present. Through 'Kod Nwar', I try to show the positive sides of the black race. Don't judge Africa as a continent that witnesses only bad things. This has impacted the people there a lot. There are a lot of good things that originate from mainland Africa. I also try to illustrate events that are not acceptable and happening to black people and society - this comes out in my photography, paintings, music, and graphics. Through music, I find it easier to do this. Even if I want to create some fusion, I know that my music has to do with where I am located and what makes me a person, in terms of where I was born. At the same time, I need to understand my heritage and use some past influences in terms of sounds that I have heard others produce and what I am still hearing coming from nature.  In a way, by doing this I am creating my own identity. If you want to invent certain things in terms of musical instruments or a different style of playing an instrument, know that this will represent you in any show or album you produce. An artist should be able to create their own culture. Most of our connection is linked with the mainland.   SNA: How would you say art has evolved in Seychelles and what needs to be improved? UM: Things have changed. With lots of development taking place, we have become more open to the outside world and people have gotten more experienced. Many have been able to experience other cultures, carried out further studies and now they understand that a living can be made with art. In all the art forms in Seychelles, we have some very capable people. With evolution, good understanding and education, the upcoming generation sees art can put together really strong projects. It all has to do with a person's mindset. Mentalities need to change especially when it comes to visual art. It is not always a question of an artist being well trained. It is also not a dishonour to be self-taught, however, the more you research about something, the better it gets. There are three steps you need to go through - preparations for today should have been done yesterday, and today you prepare for tomorrow. There is still a lack of education that will allow artists to achieve more. I do not in any way say this in a bad way. There is always room to improve and this is done through practice and research.   SNA: The latest exhibition you organised was in FetAfrik. Tell us more about it. UM: That particular exhibition, which was a collaboration with many other artists, is one that I have done before. AfriKArt Seychelles is not something new for me. For two years we haven't been able to put together an exhibition for the occasion. This year I decided to approach the Institute of Culture asking if I could have such an exhibition during the scheduled events.  Mathiot (1st right) showing invited guests around the FetAfrik exhibition. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  I didn't want to do a solo exhibition so I got in touch with other artists, including Leon Radegonde, Steve Marie and Jude Ally, among others. They were quite positive about the initiative. These are artists who have African influences in their work. They didn't have to make a special effort for the exhibition, but rather their personal style matched the exhibition. The selection of artists displayed some symbolic work, and only by looking at their art, you could tell whose it was. If you were to place them in an exhibition on the mainland [Africa], they would look local. At the end of the day, the exhibition was a success as the artists really appreciated it since their works have not been exposed over the past years. The exhibition was a platform that allowed the public to know that they were still around and making art.   SNA: What are your plans for the future? UM: There are so many of them but I can't say much. I still want to learn and discover more about art. This will determine the evolutions of projects that I will come up with. By doing some more research, I will be able to tap into other things. I also want to give more where I can. 

Firearms case: Supreme Court yet to decide whether to allow unsupervised meetings of Valabhji couple

The Supreme Court of Seychelles has further detained three out of the five persons accused in the ongoing illegal arms and ammunition case concerning primarily businessman Mukesh Valabhji and his wife Laura, while considering whether the two can meet without
Seychelles News Agency

Firearms case: Supreme Court yet to decide whether to allow unsupervised meetings of Valabhji couple

The Supreme Court of Seychelles has further detained three out of the five persons accused in the ongoing illegal arms and ammunition case concerning primarily businessman Mukesh Valabhji and his wife Laura, while considering whether the two can meet without a lawyer to plan their defence. Apart from the Valabhji couple, three other persons have been charged in the possession of firearms case for several charges under the Penal Code, Prevention of Terrorism Act, Firearms and Ammunition Act. They are Leslie Benoiton – a senior officer in the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), retired Brigadier Leopold Payet - a former Chief of the Seychelles People's Defence Forces (the former name of the SDF) - and Frank Marie – a retired lieutenant colonel and presidential chief security officer. Leslie Benoiton, Mukesh and Laura Valabhji remain in police custody while the others have been released on bail and will only have to appear in court on December 1 – the date set for the trial. The presiding judge, Chief Justice Rony Govinden, said he will give his decision on whether the Valabhji couple can meet without supervision on June 28 – the date set for the three accused to reappear before the court. This decision follows the prosecution's reply to an affidavit, brought forward by the defence asking for the Valabhji co-defendants to be able to meet and discuss their defence strategy. Prosecutor Stephen Powles said that his side had no issues with the requests made in the affidavit, although he pointed out «that a line should be drawn when allowing the two to meet without lawyers or police supervising the visits.» While listening to the arguments from both sides, Govinden pointed out that «lawyers are not there as supervisors but rather to take instructions from their clients.» This is not the first time Laura Valabhji has complained to the courts that her rights to meetings were not being respected – which is why she made the request so as to have a court order of the proper protocols. The five accused were arrested after a cache of military arms and ammunition was found at the Valabhji couple's residence in the western Mahe district of Port Glaud during a search, after they had been arrested in a money laundering case. The second case concerns $50 million granted to the government of Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates in 2002 that went missing, for which they face money laundering charges. Benoiton was arrested shortly after the couple, while Marie - a former bodyguard of the late President France Albert Rene - and retired Brigadier Payet were the most recent persons arrested in connection to the case on December 29.

Get more results via ClueGoal