An Anglican priest won the Seychelles presidential election on Sunday, marking the first opposition victory since the Indian Ocean archipelago’s independence from Britain more than four decades ago.
Wavel Ramkalawan won enough votes in the first round to clinch the presidency on his sixth attempt and called for unity after his victory.
“It is important to find how we can reconcile our people to go forward,” the 59-year-old said as his jubilant supporters began celebrating in the streets of the capital, Victoria.
The incumbent, Danny Faure, 58, who was running under the recently renamed United Seychelles party that had been in power since 1977, conceded defeat and wished his successor good luck.
Ramkalawan, the leader of the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa, or Seychelles Democratic Alliance, won 54.9% of the vote to Faure’s 43.5% to become the fifth president of the Seychelles.
The opposition also won the legislative election that took place from Thursday to Saturday alongside the presidential poll, with Ramkalawan’s party taking 25 seats, or two-thirds of the parliament. The United Seychelles party won 10 seats.
The opposition had been hoping for its first presidential win in the 44 years since independence from Britain. All previous presidents have come from the United Seychelles party, and Ramkalawan lost the 2015 race by only 200 votes.
US state hails the election
Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson said ‘ ‘The United States congratulates the Government of the Republic of Seychelles and the Seychellois people on a successful election and looks forward to a peaceful transfer of power. The commitment of the Seychellois people to the democratic process has ushered in a new chapter in their country’s history. This achievement represents another major milestone in Seychelles’ democracy.’’
‘ ‘We congratulate Reverend Wavel Ramkalawan on his election and look forward to expanding cooperation on a wide range of mutual interests including maritime security, good governance, and fighting drug abuse, piracy, and terrorism.’’ He said
The campaign had taken place mainly over social media, with rallies banned because of the coronavirus.