Less than a week away from a National Parliamental election in the Republic of the Seychelles, Patriotic Movement leader, Regis Francourt, speaks to the local Seychelles News Agency to be interviewed by Patsy Athanase and Sharon Uranie.
This is the second out of six articles eTN will publish. The first article was with Parti Lepep leader, Seychelles President Michel.
The leader of the Seychelles Patriotic Movement, Regis Francourt, says his party has set “realistic targets” and will be aiming for two proportionate seats, although he says indications suggest they could have a 50-50 chance of an outright win in one or two districts in upcoming parliamentary elections September 8-10.
SPM will have candidates standing in 23 of the 25 electoral districts. The party will not be fielding candidates for Takamaka – a region of South Mahé, the main island, and St Louis, a central district.
Registered in July, SPM’s executive committee members, aside from Francourt, are all former members of Lalyans Seselwa (Seychellois Alliance), a party formed early last year by a former member of the ruling party, Patrick Pillay, to contest the presidential election. The majority of SPM’s members have said they are not in favour of the stance taken by the leadership of Lalyans Seselwa to be part of an opposition coalition – Linyon Demokratik Seselwa – formed by members of four opposition parties.
SNA spoke to Regis Francourt on his party’s proposals to the Seychellois voters, his views of the political landscape and expected outcome of the legislative polls.
SNA: Firstly Mr Francourt what is SPM proposing to the Seychellois voters? What are the main themes of your manifesto?
RF: We view the strengthening of our democracy as paramount as more and more of our people are losing faith in the democratic process. Apathy is creeping in and this is starkly represented by people who do not bother to vote as they believe it makes no difference. As we talk to people in the districts, we find that this attitude is on the rise.
This is why we have said that in our movement, our MNA’s [Member of the National Assembly] will always have a free vote. The leadership will not dictate to them how to vote. They will of course consult with their colleagues but more importantly they have to seek the views of the people who elected them, before casting important votes. This will make the electorate feel that they too are part of the democratic process.
Secondly, we will propose a mechanism to give voters the right to sign a petition to recall their MNA if a majority of people in the district are of the opinion that he or she is not performing in their interest. We don’t believe that you have to wait five years to get rid of a useless MNA. We also believe the workings of the National Assembly need to be more transparent and more relevant to the voters and we shall propose or support reasonable measures in that direction.
The rise of poverty in our districts is a major concern to us and we are on record as saying that we shall refrain from giving our support to budgets that do not have at its core serious proposals to tackle the rise of poverty. Taking into account budgetary constraints, we intend to have amicable discussions with the Minister of Finance on the need and a timeframe to eliminate VAT [Value Added Tax] on food and on children’s essentials. We shall also press home our concerns about price fixing by cartels that control the retail trade and who are making life expensive for people on low and middle income.
Lastly we believe that all politicians have a duty to remove the tensions and divisions that plague the country. These tensions could easily spill over and put at risk political and economic stability let alone social cohesion. A leader calling for unity just through lip service is meaningless. We have to see the bigger picture and remind our people that, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, hence our call to unity, looking forward to being a vibrant nation full of innovations, new ideas and achievements that will make us proud as a people rather than keep looking backwards at a point in time that divides us. We are ‘one people – one country – under one flag’.
SNA: Why did SPM feel the need to create a new party to contest the elections and not join with an existing party?
RF: We felt the need to create a new opposition party because we do not believe in Wavel Ramkalawan [leader of the Seychelles National Party] anymore. Had Patrick Pillay [leader of Lalyans Seselwa] stood for the National Assembly elections in his own right, then people would have had an option other than the SNP and there would have been no need to create a new party.
The fact that Pillay joined SNP, that in itself deprived people of a choice. All of us wanted to see politics with a different approach and we could no longer reconcile with Ramkalawan’s aggressive and confrontational style. This alienates a lot of people to the point where folks are leaving the SNP and joining PL [Parti Lepep]. This is a tragedy!
All of us who have supported Wavel at one point or another, have lost faith in him. His support base has been on the slide and he was only kept on life support by Patrick Pillay. We also believe the LDS [Linyon Demokratik Seselwa] coalition is not built on solid foundation and it is only a matter of time that it will crumble. In terms of joining with Parti Lepep, this is simply out of the question. It will never happen!
SNA: SPM is new and only presented its line-up a few weeks ago. Is that enough time to get acquainted with the voters and present your party’s proposals to them?
RF: Well it is not as much time as we would have liked but having said that, we have worked flat out connecting with people on their doorstep and so far we believe that we have made good progress and have established a sound support base. We have attracted a lot of supporters from LS [Linyon Sanzman] but equally we are attracting a lot of people who in last December voted for the two big parties.