All Seychellois hostages likely to be freed soon


08-May-2009

A press release yesterday from the Office of the President said in the last 24 hours the hostage negotiation team has had intensive talks with the pirates, and a pre-agreement has been reached to liberate the men in the near future.

President James Michel has asked the negotiating team to insist that the release of all Seychellois hostages is simultaneous.

“We will leave no Seychellois behind and we will continue negotiating until a deal is in place for all 10 hostages to be released. We are confident that things are progressing well,” he said.

“When I asked the Seychellois people to adopt the national theme Koste Seselwa (Come Together Seychellois) this year, I asked that we should be unified as a nation, and this is a perfect example of a time when we must remain unified. My concern is for all Seychellois who are held by Somali pirates.

“All of our men need to come home as soon as possible, and we will remain firm on this point.”

The hostage negotiation team could not give details of the terms of the release because of the sensitivity of the process, but its chairman, Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Transport Joel Morgan, said yesterday it is using all means possible to release the hostages.

“We had very good preliminary results and we are expecting a deal to release all our men will be reached very soon. We are confident all 10 men will be home safe and sound,” he said at a meeting with the media.
 
Asked whether any ransom demands form part of the intensive negotiations, and whether Seychelles has entertained such demands, Mr Morgan said our policy remains that we do not formally pay ransom as a government.

As to whether an exchange of Somali suspects held in Seychelles also forms part of the negotiations, Mr Morgan said talks are going on and all different options have been and are still being discussed.

The families of the Seychellois hostages have been told of the new, positive developments in the negotiation process.

Three Seychellois men were taken hostage on board the catamaran Serenity on March 26, and seven were captured on the Indian Ocean Explorer on April 1.

Meanwhile, Mr Morgan said there have been unconfirmed reports of more suspected pirate activity south of Mahe. The Atlantic Trader, which left Port Victoria yesterday morning, has apparently steered clear of the area.

He said the defence forces have been mobilised to investigate the reports. 

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