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St. Ange’s Indian Ocean tourism report

Written by editor


The Seychelles’ founding president, Sir James R. Mancham, has become an official member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum Think-Tank, the first worldwide Think-Tank focusing on the role of entrepreneurship in society. The event has been granted the official patronage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and will take place in Evian, France from November 13-15, 2008, at the Royal Hotel, which hosted the G8 Summit in 2003.

The forum will gather some 70 members from the global stage: entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, experts and political decision-makers. It is being promoted by the Emlyon Business School, considered to be the leading business school in Europe for entrepreneurship in association with KPMG, which is one of the largest professional services firms in the world and employs over 123,000 people in a global network of member firms spanning over 145 countries. Composite revenues of KPMG member firms in 2007 were US$19.8 billion. The company has three lines of services– audit services, tax services and advisory services.

The goal of the first meeting of the forum will be to address three main questions: how to create an entrepreneurship-friendly business environment, how to evaluate the impact of entrepreneurs in society, and how to train the next generation of entrepreneurs

Ms. Simone de Comarmond, a former minister and secretary of State in the Republic of Seychelles, has been chosen as the new chairperson of the Commonwealth Foundation, the intergovernmental body of the Commonwealth mandated to work with civil society organizations.

Ms. de Comarmond was chosen by the foundation’s board of governors by consensus at a specially convened meeting at Marlborough House on 2 October. She will begin her two-year term on January 1, 2009. Ms de Comarmond succeeds Professor Guido de Marco of Malta, who has been a distinguished Chair of the Foundation since 2004.

Commenting on the selection, Commonwealth secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma said: “Ms. de Comarmond has a wealth of experience in public life in the Seychelles and internationally, and I am pleased that she will be able to bring this to bear in furthering the important work of the Foundation in advancing Commonwealth civil society, and its own role in promoting democracy, sustainable development and inter-cultural understanding across the Commonwealth. ”

For his part, Dr Mark Collins, director of the Commonwealth Foundation, said, “At a time when the sector’s importance is increasingly recognized and has a key role in Commonwealth affairs we look forward to working with Ms. De Comarmond, whose international experience will greatly add to our work and impact.”

Ms. de Comarmond was the minister of tourism and transport in the Republic of the Seychelles from 1993 to 2003. She was also responsible for Tourism and Civil Aviation between those times. In those roles, she strived to ensure the tourism policy of the Seychelles balanced economic development with environmental sustainability. As the Minister for Education from 1989 to 1993 she undertook major reform with the re-structuring of the academic cycle at primary and secondary level and a review of teachers’ conditions. Prior to her Ministerial appointments, she held the role of Secretary of State at the President’s Office. Ms de Comarmond, who was educated in the Seychelles and the United States, has also been active in the promotion of opportunities for girls and women in a wide range of organizations particularly in Africa.

When informed of her election, Ms. Comarmond said: “ I very much look forward to being of service to the Foundation, which is a uniquely valuable organization striving on behalf of Commonwealth governments to strengthen civil society and professional organizations in all walks of life. There has never been a more important time for citizens to engage closely with their governments in addressing social, economic and environmental challenges.”


The president of Seychelles, James Michel, has accepted the resignation of Mr. Francis Chang-Leng as governor of the Seychelles Central Bank. Mr. Chang-Leng’s retirement marks the end of a 30-year career in the civil service, of which 24 years have been spent with the Central Bank including being its general manager from 1995 to 2001, when he was promoted to the position of governor and principal secretary at the Ministry of Finance. 

It has been reported in the Seychelles government newspaper Nation that Mr. Chang-Leng had cited health problems in his letter of resignation. Under the Central Bank of Seychelles Act 2004, the Central Bank governor is appointed by the President of the Republic, but thereafter operates independently of the executive arm of government.

This coming week, President James Michel is expected to address the Nation on his reform program after intense negotiation with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. One of the expected measures is for the country’s currency, the Seychelles rupee, will be floated which will bring an immediate drop in its current value.

The Chagos Islanders have had the right to return to their island homeland in the Indian Ocean overturned by a British House of Lords judgment. The former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands were evicted from the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) between 1967 and 1971 and they were hoping that they could return to their birthplace and rebuild a new life around a new tourism industry and fishing. The largest Chagos Island is Diego Garcia. This was leased by the UK to the US for a military air base.

Seychellois hotel manager Roch Evenor, 51, was among the 2,000 islanders relocated as part of the secret deal with the US. He was moved from Diego Garcia to the Seychelles as a child, before settling in the UK, where he now works as an NHS administrator.

The number of the exiled population and their dependants has grown to an estimated 4,000, with many of the 1,000-strong UK community living in Crawley, West Sussex, and working as cleaners or packers.

Mr. Evenor, of Rotherhithe, South London, said: “In our language we have a saying that says: ‘Where your umbilical cord is buried, this is your place’. “Mine is buried there. I haven’t had the chance to go there to see where it is buried.” Mr. Evenor said the US had taken over Diego Garcia because of its strategic position and he could not envisage it leaving.

In 2000, British High Court judges ruled that Chagossians could return to 65 of the islands, but not to Diego Garcia. In 2004 the government used the royal prerogative – exercised by ministers in the Queen’s name – to effectively nullify the decision.

Last year, the court overturned that order and rejected the government argument that the royal prerogative was immune from scrutiny. The government asked the Lords to rule on the issue.

Ministers have maintained that the UK control over security matters and this country’s legal relationship with its overseas territories was at the heart of their appeal.

The US had also indicated that any return of islanders would compromise its military presence.

Most of the islanders were sent to Mauritius and the Seychelles and in 2002, the islanders were given the right to British passports. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is now being asked to rule on a separate appeal by the islanders against a refusal by the UK to grant them compensation.