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Duplicity, continued malice and arbitrary decisions characterized LDS actions inside and outside the Assembly in 2018.

Ministers and top government officials were arbitrarily summed before the Assembly, grilled and accused of malpractice. There was also the resignation of Patrick Pillay both as Speaker and MNA for Anse Boileau, prompting a by-election, followed by the stepping down recently of lawyer Alexia Amsbury from the leadership of her party to take up a post as head of the Human Rights Commission.
Opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan showed his duplicity towards the Indians, especially over the Assumption Coastguard facility. It is increasingly obvious that the objective of the LDS in the Assembly is to block and sabotage government development efforts, in a bid to increase pressure for new Presidential elections.
President Faure is however adamant about completing his mandate, due to expire in December 2020. He called on the opposition to respect the electoral calendar and the country’s institutions.
In April the opposition lived up to its notoriety by blocking the nomination of the very capable professionals for ministerial posts.
The three, veteran teacher Luciana Lagrenade, experienced Finance Principal Secretary Patrick Payet and engineer Billy Rangasamy, nominated by President Danny Faure, were however rejected and humiliated when LDS made clear it will not support them.
Ramkalawan said “What we need is not new ministers, but fresh elections”. Previously LDS had stated that it will back technocrats to ministerial posts, not politicians. This time, three professionals, who were not politicians were not deemed acceptable. Another case of Ramkalawan departing from stated policy and singing a different tune, according to his whim and caprice.

LDS Comittee deemed unconstitutional

Since the opposition took control of the Assembly after September 2016 elections, it has established no less than 12 parliamentary committees, with seven members sitting on each. One such committee is the “victimization Committee”.
It appeared” that this committee, previously headed by the then speaker Patrick Pillay, wished to take up the work of the judiciary, but acting as prosecutor and judge.
In a landmark ruling recently, the Constitutional Court ruled that the committee was “unconstitutional.” The ink hardly dried on paper that LDS was at it again.
In a move motivated by sheer malice and the caprice of the Opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan, the Assembly voted to deprive the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) of a R 600,000 subsidy it been receiving for several years. The subsidy was to be used to pay staff and office rental.
The body, which has been there since independence 40 years ago, groups traders, manufacturers, builders, tourism operators and other key stakeholders, which constitute the country’s’ engine for economic growth.
But Ramkalawan did not see it that way, and rather saw it as a golden opportunity to attack the traders, especially Indian merchants, for whom he does not hide his hatred. The funds were instead allocated to the Victoria”s mayor’s office, which is responsible for decorations in the capital for the end of year festive season.
Ironically the Mayor’s office never requested extra funding. In recent years, the decoration as superbly done and the Mayor’s office said that it had sufficient lights, though a few need replacing.
The LDS move was purely to spite some persons in the SCCI, who are not in the party’s good looks. For that they were made to pay.

LDS contradictory over Assumption facility

However the national issue coming under the spotlight this year, showing Ramkalawan’s duplicity concerned the Assumption Coastguard Facility, which he initially favoured.
The Indian High Commissioner, was also convinced of Ramkalawan’s goodwill told an Indian publication that both government and the opposition are behind the construction of the facility on Assumption. The project, to be funded by India, was to protect the sea-lanes for maritime shipping, and counter illegal activities, such as unlicenced fishing and drug trafficking.
However Ramkalawan was to do a u-turn, changing his tune, playing to the gallery of some small street protests and called the Seychelles-Indo agreement, signed since 2015, “dead”.
He had previously during a visit to Bihar, India to trace its ancestry, stated in an interview with “the Wire” publication that he been given a copy of the agreement by President Faure.
Talking about the agreement, Rankalwan had said: “Now, we are hoping, because the president in the new year visited Assumption, along with the Attorney General and head of the military that ratification (by the Assembly could come as early as this month. meaning January).
Since then the, 2015 accord has been subjected to certain modifications and is more precise following a visit to India by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Barry Faure and Attorney General Frank Ally. Still, the LDS said it will not back the accord.
This prompted Vice-President Vincent Meriton, who is responsible for the Blue Economy commented that the process should not be affected by Ramkalawan’s statement. However, the accord has yet to be presented to Assembly.
Responding to the new situation, President Faure announced at his regular State House conference that Seychelles will build the Assumption facility by itself. President Faure also secured $ 100 million for security purposes as well as funding for 3,000 housing units. It was made clear that this Indian assistance, in no way involves the Assumption facility. Yet, LDS was to say the contrary for public consumption.
President Faure revealed at the same press conference in September that there had been two meetings at State House to discuss the Assumption project by the Leaders Forum. The Leaders Forum groups Speaker Nicolas Prea, Opposition leader Ramkalawan and Leader of Government Business, Charles de commarmond.
This leads to believe that Ramkalan himself sees the merits of the Assumption facility, but is changing his tune in the presence of the more hardline sympathisers.
Though it is not in the habit of Ramkalawan to praise anything the opposition does, whatever its merits. However, few expected him to be opposing projects that are clearly in the national interest. These are the STC hypermarket, a proposed dam for Grand Anse Mahe and the trans-Mahe tunnel linking the west coast to Cascade, in the east of Mahe.
It came as no surprise that Ramkalawan and his party, as far back as 20 years ago had always opposed land reclamation from the sea, arguing that it is too costly and spoils the environment.
Had Ramkalawan had his way, there would have been no Roche Caiman, no Providence Industrial zone, no Eden Island. Likewise, islands such as Perseverance, Aurore, Ile du Port and Ile Soleil and no Eve Island on Praslin.
Likewise, many roads, industries, residential and tourism development would not have been possible without reclamation.
LDS deems traffic congestion in Victoria as a major concern, which should be tackled. Yet, it opposes opposed reclamation for the by-pass around Hodoul to ease such congestion.
For the dam at Grand Anse, that is in response to popular demand to tap the abundance of water there, even during the dry season, for use by residents in other areas. The dam and the trans-Mahe tunnel linking Grand Anse to Cascade are linked. President Faure stated that in addition to acting as a conduit for improved transportation and communication, the tunnel will provide rocks for building the dam.
Ramkalawan wanted to know where the money will come from. President Faure has said that funding the projects will not come from government coffers, but outside sources, including local business.
Ramkalawan cannot argue that the price of most food items is cheaper at STC than other outlets.
However, Ramkalawan, a man who aspires to the highest political office, opposes the STC hypermarket, plays up to the opposition’s main backers, the wealthy merchants and capitalists, who complain that STC is selling too cheap and providing them with tough competition.
In brief, Ramkalawan’s motivation in pressuring the STC to close down is to allow some greedy merchants is to reap lucrative profits from their sale of essential items.

Pillay pulls LS out of LDS

Following his double resignation as Speaker and MNA, Pillay decided to pull his Lalyans Seselwa (LS), one of the main components, from LDS.
Pillay makes no secret of his presidential ambitions, which got him crossing swords with another contender, Ramkalawan, who has vied unsuccessfully for the presidency a record 5 times.
The last time, Ramkalawan used his tongue too often – while tracing his ancestors in India. This appeared to the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
So, the LS leader decided to strategize and let all hell break loose on his late father’s birthday.
LS were born just prior to the December 2015 presidential election. It polled just over 14% in the first round of the poll, causing it to go into an historical 2nd round, when its leader was viewed as the kingmaker.
Despite his backing, Ramakalawan lost in the final round, albeit by a small margin, but ever the bad loser, he contested the election in the Constitutional court and lost again.
As for Pillay he has since elected his party’s management committee and taken on hotelier Daniella Payet as Secretary-General to replace Simone de Commarmond, who has decided to remain with LDS.
The Anse Boileau by-election, following Pillay’s resignation was marred by a low turnout and declining support for the opposition.
In the September 2016 election, Pillay had scored 1,571 votes for LDS and the ambition was to do even better. “We want more than 1,500 votes we scored in September 2016. So talk to your families, friends and neighbours. It’s possible,” Ahmed Afif told an LDS rally at Anse Boileau.
A week to the polling, LDS claimed the landslide had grown to 1,700.
But a big disappointment awaited them. The LDS score this time was just 1,231 votes- or 340 votes less than in 2016. Voter turnout was just 44%, of whom 143 cast spoilt votes.
Of the two other candidates, Ralph Volcere scored 88 votes and Louis Loizeau of the Seychelles Patriotic Movement (SPM) 39 votes.
The by-election result translated a deep disillusion among the opposition electorate, plagued by internal strife and constant bickering.
Another surprising pullout from LDS was the vociferous lawyer Alexia Amesbury, who decided to resign as leader of her Seychelles Party for Social Justice and Democracy to become head of the newly set up Human Rights Commission .
At the presidential election, the party scored 831 votes. Though the SPSD has not withdrawn from LDS, its new leader, Jane Rath is virtually unknown and can never carry the same weight as Mrs. Amesbury.
While opposition publications appeared to write a lot about Parti Lepep’s 31st congress in June, which elected its Central Committee.
They have for instance, given their version on why President Faur decided not to stand election for party leader and ridiculed Vice-President Vincent Meriton, who has been elected the new leader, succeeding President James Michel.
For LDS things did not work out the way LDS President Roger Mancienne, said that all components would fuse into LDS and in the meantime, parties, such as Ramkalawan’s SNP and Pillay’s Lalyans Seselwa have agreed to hold conventions of their own.
It did not work out that way. First, Pillay withdrew his Lalyans Seselwa from LDS. Subsequently what remained of the LDS, decided to hold a convention, where members of the central committee self-appointed one another.
It would have been commendable for LDS to choose its leaders by secret ballot as Parti Lepep did in June. PL had 33 candidates vying for 26 seats. Those elected included both veterans and youths. It was democracy at work.

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