Seychelles: Seychelles leader wins presidential race
Seychelles leader wins presidential race
The Seychelles' President James Michel was re-elected Sunday, beating three opposition candidates to win a second term in office, the electoral commission announced.
Michel won 55.4 percent of the votes, his main rival Wavel Ramkalawan took 41.4 percent and two other candidates won less than two percent each of the ballot.
The 66-year-old president had voiced confidence of winning the elections conducted over three days across the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands, but Ramkalawan accused the ruling party of vote buying.
Michel came to power in 2004 when he took over from longtime ruler and political mentor France-Albert Rene and was elected to office two years later.
He thanked his supporters and renewd his pledge to press on with reforms to revamp the country's economy battered by the 2008 global economic slump.
"We will celebrate our victory in peace and tolerance," said Michel. "From Monday it is a new Seychelles which we are going to build together."
"The government of the Seychelles will continue with the economic reforms and strengthen good governance during the next five years," he added.
The incumbent leader had predicted victory, saying he would better his score of 53.4 percent in the 2006 elections. He will be sworn in on Tuesday.
None of the opposition candidates was present during the result announcement.
Michel's main challenger Ramkalawan had also expressed confidence of winning the election, which ended Saturday with voting on the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and la Digue.
The bulk of the 70,000 registered voters reside on the three main islands. Voters in the outlying isles cast their ballots on Thursday and Friday.
Electoral officials said the polls had been conducted smoothly.
Michel's critics had denounced alleged corruption and a fall in the purchasing power of citizens of this top holiday destination, where the rich and famous rent entire private islands.
Britain's Prince William and his new bride Catherine spent "a memorable and special 10 days" in the Seychelles on honeymoon following their wedding on April 29, a St James's Palace spokesman confirmed Saturday.
Other contenders in the race were Ralph Volcer of the New Democratic Party who got 1.4 percent and independent candidate Philippe Boulle who won 1.6 percent.
The Seychelles islands were once notorious for coups and attempted coups. Michel's predecessor Rene, who stepped down after 27 years in power, took power in a 1977 coup that toppled the first president James Mancham.
After his 2006 election, Michel vowed to continue Rene's mix of socialist welfare-state policies with gradual economic liberalisation.
But the 2008 global economic downturn forced the country to abandon its command economy known for the highest social security coverage in Africa in favour of unpopular austerity measures, job layoffs and devaluation, overseen by the International Monetary Fund.
The economy of the former British and French colony of some 85,000 people has also been affected by a rise in piracy by Somali gunmen who have turned the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden into dangerous shipping routes.
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