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Speaking in his second press conference since taking over the presidency last October, President Danny Faure said that Government was faced with a hard choice in calling on Mr Alain St Ange to withdraw from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) election for the post of Secretary General.

“Had we remained in the race, we would have faced sanctions and would have gambled with Seychelles’ future.”
Responding to one of the first questions at State House press gathering which concerned Mr St Ange’s threat to sue the Government, because he had been urged to pull out of the UNWTO election, President Faure said:  “He could have remained and won and everyone, including myself would have rejoiced. Then, two or three weeks later, we would have had to face the repercussions, which were economic sanctions by the African Union (AU).”
He also envisaged another scenario. “Had he (Mr St Ange) remained in the race and the Zimbabwean candidate had won, it would have been even worse for us, losing on two fronts.
The election held last Friday at UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, was won by the candidate from Georgia Zurab Pololikashvili, scoring 18 votes to 15 votes for Walter Mzembi of Zimbabwe, after two rounds of balloting.
According to President Faure the situation could have been different if the procedure for Seychelles to field a candidate had been launched in 2015.  He said that the candidate could have represented the East Africa Region and may have received the AU’s stamp of approval in 2016.
“If this was the case, we would not have been in the situation we found ourselves last week.”
Instead the AU anointed the Africa’s sole candidate, Walter Mzembi at its summit in Kigali in July 2016.
He said that by fielding Mr St Ange early this year, his government knew it was “taking a calculated risk.”
“Mr St Ange tendered his resignation in December 2016 and announced his intention to contest the seat of UNWTO Secretary General and we had a dialogue, with me promising my endorsement.”
However, on April 20, 2017, the AU at its Tourism Ministers meeting issued a formal complaint and called on Seychelles to withdraw its candidate.
According to the AU, Seychelles has been running a parallel campaign for its candidate in contravention of African Union statutes on international postings.
Sanctions that can be applied to countries who fail to follow procedures in such circumstances are economic, political, communication, transport links and others.
When Seychelles failed to respond, this was followed on May 8 (towards the end of President Faure’s working visit to Cuba and 5-day holiday to Cuba) Seychelles’ representative to the AU in Addis Ababa was  summoned and warned that since Seychelles “had breached the AU constitution” it could face sanctions.
President Faure was advised about the issue on his return from Cuba on May 9 by his diplomatic adviser, Mr Callixte D’Offay. An extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet was held.
Finally, a decision was taken to withdraw Mr St Ange as a candidate. “It was a tough decision, but one taken with Seychelles’ interest at heart, as we do not want to see our people suffer.”
Vice-President Meriton was delegated to advise Mr St Ange accordingly.

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