Seychelles celebrated its Independence Day anniversary on June 29th. This was also the anniversary of the return of its three islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches, which had been transferred from Seychelles in November 1965 to form part of the new British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). During this same week of June 2018, news broke from India that Seychelles could now lose its Assumption Island, in what is being called “India’s drive for a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region”.
Seychelles President Danny Faure was on a six-day official visit to India and from New Delhi on June 25. It was reported that:- “India and Seychelles today agreed to work together on a project to develop a naval base at the Assumption Island keeping each other’s concerns in mind after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Danny Faure. India also announced a USD 100-million credit to Seychelles for augmenting its defense capabilities. “With this credit, Seychelles will be able to buy defense equipment to boost its maritime capacity,” Prime Minister Modi said in his joint media statement with Faure. On the project to develop a naval facility at the island, which would give India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region, Modi said, “We have agreed to work together on the Assumption Island project based on each other’s rights.” Faure, in his remarks, said the Assumption Island project was discussed and the two countries equally engaged to work together bearing each other’s interests”.
These declarations are contrary to all that Seychelles had been assured. The Indian Military Base was deemed dead after the last Press Conference chaired by President Danny Faure. The island’s National Assembly had confirmed on its part that this proposed deal would not be entertained in the Legislature. Seychelles was told that its concerns about the closeness of Assumption Island to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aldabra had been noted, and the objection for an Indian Military base raised by the Seychellois had been heard. The visit by President Danny Faure in India has dealt another blow to every peace-loving Seychellois with the Assumption Island affair, as India seeks a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region.
It is now the People of Seychelles as a whole who will need to work as one to save their island of Assumption and their UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aldabra.