British high commissioner bids farewell


Mr Forbes paying his farewell call on President Michel yesterday at State House

President Michel thanked Mr Forbes for his efforts to increase the level of cooperation between Seychelles and the United Kingdom and in particular his efforts to support Seychelles in the fight against piracy.

“We are very grateful for your assistance in gathering support for the anti-piracy efforts. The UK has been a key player in the coordinated effort to stop the spread of this criminal activity.

When I visited the UK this year, we reaffirmed our bonds of friendship and our cooperation reached new heights. I wish you every success in your new posting,” said Mr Michel.

Mr Forbes spoke warmly of his stay in Seychelles, particularly in the role he played in establishing projects to counter piracy in the Seychelles region both at bilateral level as well as cooperation with the European Union.

“I came at a time when piracy was beginning....We have made a lot of progress. I think we worked together very well with the Seychelles. The way Seychelles has stood up to piracy and the support that they have been given by the international community, has been quite remarkable...also the international community coming together to fight piracy, all nations, all sorts of backgrounds and political beliefs fighting with a common cause, has been very interesting to watch and be part of. It has been a fantastic three years,” said Mr Forbes.

He said relations between Seychelles and Britain are as “strong as they have ever been” and he is confident this will continue in the future.

The UK is currently helping Seychelles in military training and capacity building, the fight against piracy, training the police force as well as helping with equipment for police work.

The British Royal Navy intensified maritime patrolling in the Seychelles exclusive economic zone since 2008, which is ongoing under Nato and EUNavfor operations.

In July 2010, the UK donated a patrol boat, a Tyne Class ex-RNLI, to help the Seychelles Coast Guard in the anti-piracy effort.

President Michel made his first official visit to the UK in February 2012, where he met with HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister David Cameron and attended the London Conference on Somalia.

During the visit, the President signed a memorandum of understanding with Mr Cameron for the construction of a new Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC) in Seychelles.

The RAPPICC, which the UK is funding with £550,000, will gather intelligence for the use of law enforcement agencies, in order to provide necessary evidence for prosecutions related to piracy activity in both the region and around the world.

President Michel also met President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo of Somaliland and signed an agreement which secured the first transfer of convicted pirates from Seychelles to Somaliland, with the help of the British Government.

The UK government seconded British prosecutors to the Attorney General’s office to help with the prosecution of captured suspected pirates in Seychelles.

Mr Michel – as the chancellor of the University of Seychelles -- and The Princess Royal Princess Anne, as the chancellor of the University of London, together inaugurated the University of Seychelles in November 2010. The University of Seychelles is currently working towards becoming a recognised centre of the University of London programmes.

When Mr Forbes and his wife Lydia hosted reception to mark Queen Elizabeth’s birthday on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam told them goodbyes are never easy in Seychelles, “but we feel we may have fed you enough breadfruit and you will come back”.

He saluted Mr Forbes for his “drive and enthusiasm, and your determination to get things done”.

“I’m sure President Michel will agree with me that this is the way to get things done in Seychelles,” he said adding there were many instances where Mr Forbes went “beyond the call of duty to ensure that we can move forward.

“The efforts you deployed to ensure that the guest of government visit by the President proceeded smoothly showed us the extent of your commitment to the partnership between Seychelles and the UK. 

“I have no doubt that you will bring the same energy to your next post and that it will continue to bring you success,” said Mr Adam, who said Mrs Forbes “has also been a vibrant organiser within the diplomatic community of Seychelles.

“We fully appreciate all her hard work which has had a real impact on the local community. Both of you will be missed by one and all,” he said.

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