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Another scandal on the Land Bank Scheme has been shown up publicly.

The interrogation of the citizenship granted to the Russian Prokopyev couple has revealed that they have become owners of 3 plots that were originally in the scheme to provide Seychellois families with home building plots. These plots were in a scenic area of Port Launay.

The plots were not purchased by the couple directly. The had initially been sold to other Seychellois, including a well-known fix-man for the Pari Lepep. But the persons concerned transfered their modestly priced plots into million rupee deals. According to reports, the Prokopyevs paid up to R3.6 million for two of the plots. 

What went wrong? The people who were granted the plots did not need them to build homes. They already had homes and other properties. They wasted no time in selling the plots for big money. The scheme appears to have been operated as a favour to notable party supporters or sponsors.

Last year, it was revealed that a number of plots at Glacis had been sold to the representative of the Kempinsky hotel. Whether for his own use or for his patrons, it has not been clear. 

These are at least two cases. The likelihood is that there are many more.

The Land Bank scheme holds the dreams of many Seychellois to be able to build a home of their own. It is unforgiveable for the scheme to be misused to grant favours or allow unscrupulous speculation in land. 

 

SNP leader Wavel Ramkalawan after police assault

October 3rd is the date that symbolizes the struggle for freedom of expression in Seychelles. It commemorates a brutal crackdown on an opposition gathering in front of the National Assembly Building in Victoria in 2006.

The back ground to the event is this. 

The opposition Seychelles National Party had started moves to seek a licence to operate a private radio station. In response, the SPPF (now Parti Lepep) government had brought an amendment to the broadcasting law to ban a broadcasting licence to political parties and religious organisations.

The SNP called for people to sign a petition to object to the amendment. On the day that the law went before the NationaL Assembly, SNP leaders and supporters gathered in front of the National Assembly Building (also the National Library) on the Esplanade in Victoria for this purpose.

The gathering had not obtained police permission. Police forces, in particular the anti-riot Special Support Unit (SSU) surrounded the building and with around 50 people gathered at the steps of the building, the police charged with teargas and batons. Some live ammunition was also fired.

SNP leaders Wavel Ramkalawan and Jean-François Ferrari were beaten up by police. SNP Secretary-General Roger Mancienne was arrested and taken to police jail. Several other persons were assaulted and some suffered significant injuries.

President Michel, who had been overseas visiting the Pope, returned to Seychelles the next day and straightaway applauded the police violence. 

The incident was the single most brutal case of police violence and in a way was a turning point in Seychelles history. In response to strong criticism, including from other countries, Michel accepted to appoint a commission of enquiry into the incident, which was conducted by a retired Irish judge. The Commission made a number of recommendations in respect to freedom of expression and for police conduct. Most of the recommendations were ignored for a long time but have since been taken up in reform measures, including the right to peaceful assembly. 

The opposition has marked the anniversary of this date with a gathering for a commemorative photograph. 

 

Land, Citizenship, Abuse of power

The story of Lara Prokopyeva has all the issues of controversy that are at the centre of political debate right now. It reads like an example of the questionable decisions and actions taken by both of our latest prsidents. The National Assembly brought the story into public knowledge through a question brought by Leader of the Opposition, Wavel Ramkalawan.

President James Michel granted Seychellois citizenship to Lara Prokopyeva and her husband, Sergei, a day before he left the office of the President, using the power which allows him to do this in cases where the person has rendered meritorious service to Seychelles. After the cases last week, where President Faure has been shown to have abused this privilege, it was James Michel being shown up for it. In all of these cases, there is not the least sign of any meritorious service. This abuse is apparently  standard behaviour for Parti Lepep Presidents. If there is one thing they have leanred it is how to abuse the Constitution.

Sergei and Lara were able to get citizenship even if there had been adverse comments about them in the files of other government entities. They have also been able to purchase land  which had initially been part of the land bank. At the time of controversy erupting, they were also in the process of seeking a diversion of the public road, at great expense to the state, so that they could maximise the use of the land for business purposes. They obviously thought they could get away with, seeing the effort they have put into it already. Seychellois will breathe a sign of relief that this will not now happen, but will also lament the abuses that have taken place behind their backs.

The National Assembly will now examine the list of 59 cases in which Seychellois citizenship has been given over the last two years, We can expect that some of them will demonstrate again the abuse of Presidential privilege.

QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER

TO THE MINISTER FOR FAMILY AFFAIRS

MRS MITCY LARUE

 

1. Hon Egbert Aglae – Member for Port Glaud 

Eski Minis i kapab dir ek sa Lasanble ki leta proze reabilitasyon Cap Ternay?

a. Ki bann konponan kle sa proze?

b. Eski plan final in fini aprouve?

 

2. Hon Regina Esparon – Member for Glacis 

Eski Minis I kapab eksplik sa Lasanble ki fason peyman pou bann carer ki pa pran konze ou son ranplasan i ganny kalkile?

 

3. Hon Regina Esparon – Member for Glacis 

Eski Minis pour Lafanmir ek Zafer Sosyal i kapab donn detay sa Lasanble dan ki fason ki sa Donasyon R300 mil rupi sorti kot UNESCO ki ti ganny donnen pou bann Disabled ti ganny depanse.

 

4. Hon Regina Esparon – Member for Glacis 

Eski Minis pou Lafanmir ek Zafer Sosyal i kapab donn detay sa lasanble dan ki fason ki sa donasyon R90mil Donasyon sorti kot labank Barclays ki ti ganny donnen pou bann Disabled ti ganny depanse.

 

MOTIONS

1. Hon. Wavel Ramkalawan  –  Leader of the Opposition

Lasanble Nasyonal i eksprim:

a. son gran dezapwentman dan lafason ki Lekzekitiv pe diriz pei; 

b. son konsern profon ki napa aksyon efektiv dan ladministrasyon pei; 

c. son lenkyetid ki striktir leta Sesel pe deteryore; 

e alor i demande ki Msye Danny Faure i pran en aksyon onorab e demisyonnen imedyatman koman Prezidan dan lentere nasyonal, pou permet lepep Seselwa swazir son prosen gouvernman.

 

2. Hon. Waven William  –  Member for Grand Anse Mahe

Prenan kont kou lavi ki pe ogmante, e sa nesesite pou revwar kad saler, e gratite parmi lezot mezir ankor, sa Lasanble I demann Governman dan sa revisyon ki pe fer pou:-

I. Koriz bann lenzistis e inegatlite a tou nivo kot I posib, tenir kont kalite travay, eleman risk, tann servis, leksperyans e konesans.

II. Met lanfaz dan kondisyon lanplwa ki ogmantasyon I baze lo bon performans, prodiktivite baze lo bann target.

III. Ki bann dokiman lagreman travay e kondisyon kler I ganny etabli pou sak pozisyon dan tou sekter.

IV. Travay ek Sekter Prive me pa enpoz lo zot pou swivre dan moman apropriye.

V. Met ouswa ranforsi regilasyon pou ankouraz Sekter Prive pou ede Kontrol kout lavi kot I posib.

El-Materi - case in point

The granting of Seychellois citizenship to foreigners at the prerogative of the President has opened a new battleground between Danny Faure and Parti Lepep on one side against LDS and its majority in the National Assembly on the other. 

The rift has opened with the revelation that President Faure has granted 59 persons citizenship over the past two years. This is a shocking number and the whole country is outraged. In its objection, LDS reflects the concern of a large majority of Seychellois. 

Some of the recipients of citizenship, such as the Tunisian businessman Sakher el-Materi and two young persons recruited to the national swimming team, have been revealed. These demonstrate how the constitutional principle on citizenship has been abused. But most other cases have yet to be known by the public. 

President Faure has shown a gross abuse of his presidential privilege in granting these citizenship under the principle of meritorious service to Seychelles. As the National Assembly made clear in debating the issue on the two swimmers, no meritorious service has been rendered yet to permit the President to use this justification. 

El-Materi is the case which has aroused controversy also over who supported or ‘sponsored’ the application. He is a fugitive from justice in his native Tunisia and there is the suspiciaon that a lot of money has changed hands in his bid to secure a safe haven in Seychelles. Accusations have been made and the National Assembly has declared that it is keen to investigate the case further to settle the questions.

LDS has reaffirmed its policy that Seychellois citizenship should not be sold or granted and only the most exceptional cicumstances can justify any other consideration. 

In order to deal with the critical issue of spouses of Seychellois who need to work to maintain their families, LDS is in favour of granting residency with work permit, but not citizenship.

Danny Faure and his predecessor James Michel have abused the presidential privilege which they should have held in absolute trust. 

The National Assembly has pledged to look further into the abuses and to call for action to correct the past abuses and prevent further cases.

 

LDS Secretariat

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