An Anglican priest has been elected president of The Seychelles. In his sixth attempt at election, the leader of the opposition, the Rev. Wavel Ramkalawan defeated incumbent President Danny Faure by 54.9% to 43.5%.
This week’s election will mark the first peaceful transfer of power since the Indian Ocean archipelago gained independence in 1976.
In his victory speech, the president elect said:
“Mr Faure and I are good friends. And an election does not mean the end of one’s contribution to one’s motherland,” adding: “In this election, there were no losers, there were no winners. Our country was given the opportunity as the ultimate winner.”
Reuters reported that as Fr. Ramkalawan spoke, President Faure sat close by, nodding his head.
A year after independence a coup led by Albert Rene led to 27 years of one-party rule by the United Seychelles Party. When multi-party elections were reintroduced the USP was able to maintain its hold on power for a further 16 years.
Sources in the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean tell Anglican Ink, Fr. Ramkalawan stepped down from the parish ministry when he entered politics, but remains a priest in good standing in the diocese but without a parochial cure.
The Seychelles economy is driven by tourism, which was badly damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation closed its borders in March and gradually reopened them in late June. The International Monetary Fund estimates the Seychelles economy will contract by 13.8% due to the pandemic.
Fr. Ramalkan’s Seychelles Democratic Union will also hold a majority in parliament with 25 seats, while President Faure’s United Seychelles Party will control ten seats.
Seychelles State House said in a statement on its website that Fr. Ramkalawan and his vice-president Ahmed Afif would be inaugurated on Monday.