General elections ‒ October 22-24, 2020 |17 October 2020
Public schools to close on Friday October 23
All public schools will be closed on Friday October 23 to allow for preparations for the main election day, Saturday October 24, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development announced in an joint press conference with the Electoral Commission.
The presidential and legislative elections have been scheduled for October 22-24.
With a total of 25 public schools out of 35 gearing up to be repurposed as polling stations, the ministry and the Electoral Commission (EC) have agreed to close the schools next Friday to set up the stations.
Principal secretary for early childhood care, primary and secondary education Dr Odile Decommarmond noted that all primary and secondary schools will close on October 23, regardless of whether they will be used as polling stations or not.
“We have decided to close all of the schools on the same date to avoid issues that could crop when some are closed and some are open. This takes into account bus arrangements, school meals, siblings that have to take other siblings to school ‒ if we close some and not others there might be certain implications we decided to close all on the 23rd,” explained PS Decommarmond.
She also noted that the school closures on October 23 will not affect students who will be taking the Biology and Chemistry ICGSE exams on that day.
“We have agreed to not disrupt any examination on October 23. The classes being used for the exams have nothing to do with the rooms that have been chosen for the elections.”
The alphabetical system that will be utilised for the first time by the EC will require the commission to take up a total of 55 rooms in these schools.
These include school dining rooms, assembly halls, head teacher offices as electoral office, attendance or nurse rooms as isolation areas, classes, labs, staff rooms among others.
According to the EC’s chairperson, Danny Lucas, 74,634 voters appear on the newly certified voter registry of which 38,102 (51%) are female voters and 36,532 (49%) are male.
As for the English River crèche and Baie Ste Anne primary school, which are to be used as special stations on October 22, these schools will end earlier than usual at 2pm on October 21. Again this would be to grant the EC time and space to set up the special polling stations.
The EC has provisioned for five special polling stations for the general elections which are:
- English River crèche ‒ Open on October 22 from 7am to 4pm for voters working in essential services.
- Baie Ste Anne primary school ‒ Open on October 22 from 7am to noon for voters from Mahé who are working on Praslin and inner islands.
- Old People’s Home North East Point ‒ Open on October 22 from 8am to noon for residents of the Old People’s Home and North East Point hospital patients.
- Detention remand centre ‒ Open on October 22 from 8am to noon for people on remand.
- National House ‒ Open on October 24 from 8am to noon for Praslin and inner island voters who are on Mahé.
- Baie Lazare community centre ‒ Open on October 22 from 9am to 4pm for voters working in some hotel establishments whose contracts place them in a quasi-quarantine situation.
- Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay quarantine facility ‒ Open on October 22 from 8am to noon for voters quarantined in the facility.
In response to why the EC did not opt for a special station for voters admitted in the hospital, Mr Lucas said that this is due to constraints.
“The EC tries as much as possible to provide voting facilities for people who need assistance, in particular where there is a significant group. But in the situation that we are in, it is not possible for us to open special stations at hospitals due to logistical and financial constraints. We do not only have the general hospital but also on Praslin and La Digue,” said Mr Lucas.
He also noted that electoral officers who will be involved in the running of the elections will undergo Covid-19 testing before and after the elections.
As for observers for the election, Seychelles will only see one international observer team from the Eastern African Standby Force (EASF).
This in addition to two local observers ‒ Citizens Democracy Watch Seychelles (CDWS) and Association for Rights, Information and Democracy (Arid) ‒, accredited diplomatic missions and religious groups.
Mr Lucas also condemned hostile acts against political parties and candidates standing for election noting that the police will be investigating and charging offenders.