Presidential embarrassment over ambassador appointments in Seychelles


VICTORIA, Seychelles (eTN) – Seychelles President James Michel has been humiliated by the country’s National Assembly, which is controlled by a two-third majority from his own ruling party, the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF).

The embarrassment for President James Michel came over his appointment of Ambassadors-at-Large. The Seychelles president had submitted two motions for the appointments of two Ambassadors-at-Large following his dialogue with the country’s opposition leader, Wavel Ramkalawan, where it was agreed that the two nominations would come from himself and Ramkalawa. This was the first time the president had offered the opposition leader the opportunity to make a significant nomination apart from those specifically required by the constitution.

Following the president’s invitation, Ramkalawa nominated the country’s founding president, James Mancham, and, for his part, President Michel nominated Mr Sivasankaran, an Indian entrepreneur who only recently was naturalized as a Seychellois. Mr. C Sivasankaran is the owner of a telecommunications business in India and has purchased a number of properties in Seychelles over the last two years. He also has other business interests worldwide.

State-owned daily newspaper Nation and radio station SBC announced the nominations, with SBC going as far as announcing in its midday bulletin that the appointments had been officially approved, a procedure that is usually a simple formality when the president requires any vote of approval. But, in this case, the wishes of the president was not going as expected when members of his own party were privately declaring that they were not happy voting for the appointment of Mr. Mancham. This followed the scene with Mrs. Marie-Louise Potter, the leader of Government Business dashing in and out of the National Assembly chambers with her mobile phone glued to her ear and by 10:00 am, she passed a note to the speaker of the assembly, who later announced that the debate for the appointment of ambassadors had been deferred.

The ruling party’s National Assembly members remain under the control of the SPPF’s President Albert Rene, who has the final decision on all assembly matters including the choice of speaker and leader of Government Business. In this case, he appears to have disagreed with one of the appointments. It is the first time that a division between State House and the ruling party’s Head Quarters at ‘Maison du Peuple’ have been so clearly demonstrated.

Mr. Sivasandaran’s appointment was confirmed by the National Assembly in its following sitting when the speaker of the National Assembly, Patrick Herminie, refused to allow the leader of the opposition to comment as he chose on the subject, cutting Mr. Ramkalawan off when he referred to the second nomination of Mr. James Mancham. The country’s opposition party, the Seychelles National Party (SNP), disassociated itself from the whole process of the appointment of Mr. C. Sivasandaran as Seychelles Ambassador-at-Large.

Mr. Sivasandaran is now regarded as being one of the biggest land owners in Seychelles with a lot of his properties left idle and unproductive. These were the same reason given previously by the Seychelles government for compulsory acquiring many private estates and islands form landowners that were in the country at the time of the country’s independence from Great Britain.