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The Constitution of Seychelles gives all Seychellois citizens the right to participate in national affairs, which includes the right to vote in national elections. LDS will support and promote that right. It is also committed to enabling all Seychellois citizens to exercise that right.

LDS believes however that statements made by President Danny Faure on May 27, 2019, and the referendum proposed to decide whether citizens residing overseas can vote is not in accordance with the Constitution and the law. The proposal is unsound and objectionable simply because it departs from the crucial principle of the Rule of Law. A referendum to decide on an issue of national importance is justifiable but must be organised in conformity with the law.

Citizens of Seychelles living overseas have not been able to vote at will in our elections only because they are disqualified to register as voters under the Elections Act unless they have been issued with a National Identity Card and have resided in an electoral area for at least three months immediately prior to registration. Amendment to the Elections Act and the National Identity Card Act would be sufficient to permit Seychellois overseas residents from registering and voting.

Therefore, Mr. Faure’s contention that the issue in question needs to be decided by a Constitutional Amendment through a referendum is wrong. It only requires amendment of the Elections Act and the National Idendity Card Act.

While Article 54 of the Elections Act does give the President a prerogative to call for a referendum it only does so when an issue is required to be so decided.

54. Reference of issue to Electoral Commission.

Where any issue is required to be determined at a referendum, the President shall refer the issue to the Electoral Commission for the holding of a referendum.

In the present case it is clearly not. The article of the Constitution (Article 114) which refers to this issue is not one of those provisions which can only be amended by the National Assembly after it has been approved by 60% of votes in a referendum. Article 91 of the Constitution which provides for referendum applies only to Chapter 1 and 3 and articles 110 and 111 of the Constitution.

President Faure has no power to determine that the referendum must be decided by a 60% majority, and the Electoral Commission cannot assume that power. This can only be done by a law.

A referendum can only be directed by an Act, and under Article 85 of the Constitution, it is only the National Assembly which is vested with legislative power. LDS holds that the organisation of a referendum can only be based on a law passed by the National Assembly. Since the power claimed by the President under the Elections Act is not applicable in this instance, the President should bring the matter to the National Assembly.

LDS will be communicating its views on this matter to the Electoral Commission for its urgent consideration.

LDS also has concerns about foreign nationals residing overeas who have been given been given Seychellois citizenship in the past and believes that such issues must be considered in bringing any measures that would allow such persons to exercise the right to vote.

Roger Mancienne May 28, 2019

Party Leader

The duel between President Faure and the National Assembly has moved to the Supreme Court. Mr. Faure has challenged the decision of the Assembly, led by the LDS majority, to quash the SI by which he had attempted to implement a 5% salary increase for all public service employees. The NA had voted down the SI because it went against its position of making the salary increase as an equal amount to all employees rather than a percentage increase. 

The President’s petition, naming Assembly Speaker Nicholas Prea as respondent, was taken up today, April 16, 2019, by Judge Melchior Vidot. All LDS NA members, and two members of the US party, accompanied Speaker Prea to the Court in a show of support. 

The case comes down basically to who has final say over over Statutory Instruments which come as part of a law. The Assembly’s position has been that since the SI is part of a law, then the final prerogative to decide on it falls to the Assembly. 

Mr. Faure’s decision to pursue the case in court has come as a shock after his announcement he was negotiating with the National Assembly leaders and had appointed a technical committee to work on the issue. 

The reference of the issue to the Court raises troubling questions over the separation of powers. It remains to be seen how the court will treat the President’s request to intervene on a matter that is before the National Assembly.

The court case will drag out the issue and delay the implementation of a salary increase. The LDS majority in the National Assembly has declared that it believes the issue should be settled by negotiation both because it is the proper way to settle the matter but also because it is the only way to do this expeditiously.

 

The LDS majority in the National Assembly will continue to work for a fair salary increase for all public sevice employees. LDS has pressed for an increase of the same amount after tax for all but remains open to further discussion with the Executive on this issue.

LDS and the Executive directed by the President are at loggerheads over how the slary increase should be divided. The clash has shown a difference of philosophy and priorities at this moment between the two sides and also a test of authority over legislation.

While sum of R62 million was approved for the purpose in the 2019 budget, the difference over how to share it out emerged when the matter came before the National Assembly. When it was approved in November 2018, the sum was identified as a 5% increase across the board for all employees. The LDS majority did not argue the method then, knowing that it was supposed to come before the National Assembly.

In considering the increase, the LDS has taken the position that a 5% increase for all meant very little for employees at the bottom of the scale and would widen the gap between the lower and higher paid.

While LDS believes that a clearly defined salary scale must reflect the post and responsibilities attached, the present salary increase should be used as an opportunity to do something about the earnings gap and to tackle what has become a stain on the image of Seychelles – the figure of 40% of the population living at poverty level.

President Faure has not been wiling to accept the proposal. When the National Assembly refused to pass the Bill, he sought to withdraw it and to apply the salary increase unilaterally as a SI (Statutory Instrument). The National Assembly has quashed SI, and the President has now referred it to the Attorney-General.

LDS will continue working for an acceptable distribution of the salary increase.

 

 

When he became President, Danny Faure said he would work with National Assembly to do what’s best for Seychelles. He presented himself as a leader who knew how to work across the political divide. It is a claim he has repeated often.

But his willingness has faltered. 

On the subject of salary increases for the Public Service, Danny Faure and the LDS majority in the National Assembly are at loggerheads. At his last word, Mr. Faure has stated that he will not accept any change in the proposal he has made for an across the board 5% increase for all public employees.

The salary increase was presented in the 2019 Budget, and was to tak effect on April 1. The National Assembly approved the sum of R62 million for the purpose in this years budget, to cover nine months. 

The LDS in the National Assembly has rejected the 5% for eveyone proposal, on the grounds that it gave very little to the lowest paid. Workers on minimum wage would get R250 only, while the highest paid would get R3000. Instead,it has proposed an equal sum of R525 for everyone net after tax, 

For the LDS, the salary increase is an occasion to do something definitive about poverty. It has presented its proposal as a one-time action to bring up the lowest paid. It has accepted that professionals and higher ranked public servants also need to be rewarded and that there needs to be sufficient progression in the salary scale to reflect qualifications, responsibility and authority. But striking a blow at povery is a priority at this moment. 

Danny Faure has nt accepted any of this, insisting that the 5% across the board must stand. He took the controversial step of publicising a letter he had sent to the National Assembly calling for them to approve the bill as it stands.

The LDS majority has asked for details of the numberof personnel at each salary level in order to be better able to make counter proposals. The Department of Public Administration has been slow in providing the information.

When it comes to policy differences, Faure has shown he is not willing to work with the National Assembly. It’s more proof that we need a fresh presidential election.

 

The LDS Youth Association has elected a new Committee in a general meeting of members on Sunday March 3rd, 2019. 

The five office bearers are  : Chairperson: Kelly Samynadin; Vice-Chair: Cheryl Philoe; Secretary: Gretel Porice; Treasurer: Veronica Simeon; Public Relations Officer: Trevor Uzice

Five ordinary members complete the  Committee. They are: Terrence Marie, Trevor Nourrice, Sandra Victor, Travis Mussard, Jasmine Noel . 

In their meeting, members discussed how to raise the profile of the Association and increase membership. They have also discussed a plan of activities which they hope will make for a busy year for them. 

Members of LDS have expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the LYA and encouragement for the new committee. Party Leader Roger Mancienne has pledged the support of the Executive Council of LDS. 

LDS Secretariat

ADDRESS:  Lakaz Seselwa Mont Fleuri    |     OFFICE TEL 4321122  |     EMAIL : info@lds.sc

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