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SNP to take part in 2016 elections |09 January 2015

The Seychelles National Party (SNP) has announced that it will take part in elections due next year.

This was during a meeting with the local press yesterday to make known the party’s position on the amendments to electoral law reforms approved recently by the National Assembly.

The leader of the SNP, Wavel Ramkalawan, said even though the political playing field is not yet levelled there have been improvements.

Noting that the task of electoral reforms is indeed a long one and as the party is determined to see this process continue until our country gets the best of electoral laws that will ensure all elections are free and fair, Mr Ramkalawan said the SNP fully engages itself in persisting in the fight to strengthen our democracy.

“As we endeavour to bring about further changes in our electoral laws while at the same time being fully engaged in transforming society, we wish to announce today that the SNP will be taking part in the next elections due to be held in 2016. The executive committee of the SNP took the decision during its first meeting held on January 4,” Mr Ramkalawan said.

He said in line with that, the party has prepared a programme of activities which includes public meetings in all districts. The first round, which will start at the end of this month, will see all constituencies covered in the first four months of the year.

Mr Ramkalawan said this will run side by side with door to door visits by all district representatives and their campaign team.
Asked if the SNP is ready for any election Mr Ramkalawan said the party presented 25 representatives for the different districts during the convention last year and he reassured supporters that the party has a team of capable individuals who will be able to debate amendments to the laws among other matters.

He added that the SNP has always been present on the political scene – holding its convention every year, issuing its publication every week and that the party has only been absent in the National Assembly.

Mr Ramkalawan said that joining together with other small opposition parties to form one united opposition is always the aspiration of the SNP but these parties have to organise themselves, elect their leadership before we can consider taking part in elections together.

But he said that the PDM (Popular Democratic Movement) is not considered an opposition party by the SNP.
It was in 2011 that the SNP boycotted the National Assembly elections on the grounds that the country needed to undergo a series of electoral reforms so as to establish a more equitable electoral process.

The electoral commission was given the mandate to initiate electoral reforms which according to the SNP followed the success of the boycott which left the country without an opposition in the National Assembly.

“We took part in the work of the electoral reform forum for three years,” Mr Ramkalawan pointed out.
“On one hand we have to acknowledge that there are some points which have been included in the laws which are positive and these include the voters’ register which will now remain open throughout the year and will contain only the names of persons eligible to vote, that is aged 18 years and over. The rights of persons on remand have also been respected and they will also be allowed to vote and the most important element of the reforms is that the cooling off period has been redefined to allow candidates to continue campaigning even on polling day,” Mr Ramkalawan noted.
He said the SNP considers these aspects of the reforms very important.

On the other hand he expressed his party’s regrets that the government has not found it fit to include a ceiling for electoral expenses.
“The electoral commission had proposed R250,000 per constituency per candidate but nothing has been included in the laws which means that the practice of bribing voters will continue, turning elections into auctions instead of a fair representation of what many people would like to see,” Mr Ramkalawan said.

He also pointed out that the SNP regrets that the government has failed to include a clear indication as to how assisted voters will exercise their right.

“We had insisted that since the vote is secret, only electoral officers at the polling station who had taken an oath of secrecy should be allowed to accompany a voter but nothing has been mentioned in that respect. We do hope that the electoral commission will take that into consideration and preserve the element of secrecy,” Mr Ramkalawan said.

He further added that the SNP is very unhappy with the fact that the new law states that a political party has to declare the name and address of someone who makes a donation of R5,000 to a political party.

“The SNP sees this as a means to scare would-be donors especially those giving to the opposition. We believe an amount of R50,000 or more would have been reasonable,” Mr Ramkalawan pointed out.

Another recommendation which was accepted by all parties at the reform forum was that government would give financial help to all active registered parties to maintain an office to ensure they remain active, thus sustaining the democratic process. But this has not been included in the reforms.

“We feel this is very sad and regrettable as it was a way to promote democracy,” Mr Ramkalawan said.




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