Pre-Election Assessment: Seychelles

Publication Date: 
30 Jun 1992

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INTRODUCTION

In December 1991, Seychelles began a transformation from a single-party state to a multi-party democracy with the announcement by President Albert Rene of a year-long transition process. This transition was to include the registration of opposition political parties for the first time since 1979 beginning in January 1992, the election of a Constitution Commission in July, and a referendum to ratify the new constitution by November. A general election for a new government would then take place under the 1992 constitution.

In April 1992, IFES received a request for election assistance from the Seychelles Ministry of Planning and External Relations. This request included an invitation to send a pre-election assessment team to carry out a survey of the status of election preparations in that country. This request was also forwarded to the Department of State and the Agency for International Development in Washington by the U.S. Embassy in Seychelles. Approval to carry out such an assessment was given by the Department of State, and funding was provided to IFES by U.S.A.I.D.

IFES responded to the Government of Seychelles invitation and the request from the U.S. Embassy by assembling a team of election experts to carry out a pre-election assessment. The IFES team arrived in Seychelles on June 21, 1992 for a two-week stay. It was comprised of Charles Lasbam, Chief Electoral Officer for the City of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and former chairman of the Association of Election Administrators, UK; and Keith Klein, Director of Africa Programs at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, in Washington, D.C.

The purpose of the pre-election assessment was to analyze the preparations for the July Constitutional Commission election and the political climate in Seychelles in general with the objective of assessing strengths and weaknesses in the electoral system, and the prospects for the July election and the subsequent referendum to result in a true reflection of the political will of the people of Seychelles. The elements in the process to be examined included:

         The role of the Director of Elections;

         The contents of the Electoral Law (the Constitution Preparation and Promulgation Act of 1992);

         Establishment and maintenance of the voter registry;

         Ballot design and security;

         Role, duties and training of poll workers;

         Mechanics of the voting process and procedures at designated polling places;

         Distribution, collection and security of ballots;

         Identification, procurement and shipment of election commodities and equipment;

         Vote counting and certification of election results;

         Civic education and motivation;

         Component groups of the electorate, including women, the churches, the military, and opposition parties;

         Election observers.

The findings and recommendations of the IFES team are contained in this assessment report, and reflect the meetings and discussions that the team held while in Seychelles during the period of June 21 - July 5, 1992. The team's preparations for carrying out this assessment included the reading of the extensive briefing materials prepared by IFES prior to the team's departure. One member of the team was also briefed in Washington by officials at the Department of State and U.S.A.I.D. Upon the team's arrival in Seychelles, the team first met with U.S. Ambassador Richard Carlson and U.S. Embassy Administrative Officer Steve Malott.

During its two weeks in Seychelles, the IFES team met with President Albert Ren6, Minister of Planning and External Relations Danielle de Ste. Jorre, Minister of Finance and Information James Michel, Director of Elections Andr6 Sauzier, and many other officials of the Seychelles government. In addition, the team also met with leaders of the opposition political parties and church leaders. In all cases, people gave generously of their time and their knowledge of the political and electoral system in Seychelles. The hospitality the team was shown helped to make their stay both productive and, coupled with the islands' breathtaking beauty, pleasant as well.

This assessment report attempts to address itself to a variety of audiences. It summarizes the electoral system that is currently in place in Seychelles, and makes comments and recommendations on areas of concern or issues yet to be resolved at the time of the writing of the report. The audience addressed by these sections is primarily the officials who are administering the election process. The report analyzes and comments on the general political climate, focusing on areas that mayor may not be conducive of a successful transition to multiparty democracy. Some recommendations are made, primarily to the government of Seychelles, regarding changes that might be made to improve that climate. Finally, the report addresses itself to the international election observers who may be coming to Seychelles to monitor the July 1992 election as well as the subsequent referendum and national elections. For these people, the IFES team hopes to clarify to some degree the complex political setting in which these elections are taking place and to highlight some issues that observers must monitor as they assess the degree to which the 1992 elections in Seychelles truly are free and fair.

Read the Full Report.