Interview with Vice President Meriton: United Seychelles took a step back to rebuild

As Seychelles prepares for next year’s presidential election, SNA will seek the views of the island nation’s political leaders.

Our second interview in the email series is with Vincent Meriton , Vice President of Seychelles and United Seychelles Party Leader.

SNA: It has been almost two years since you were elected President of the Lepep / United Seychelles Party. What did you do to revitalize the party after losing in the 2016 parliamentary elections?

VM: Since the 2016 parliamentary elections, we have taken a few steps back to rebuild. It’s something that’s not new to our party, but maybe this time people have paid more attention to it. Our party knows when to renew and when to bring new leadership, to adopt new ideas and to adapt to new socio-economic realities and political circumstances.

The most important and significant change today is that we have a new constitution for our party. I would invite everyone to read it. If people want to know what SPUP (Seychelles People’s Peoples Party), the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF) and the Lepep Party fought for and ended up in Seychelles, read the preamble. If they want to know the future and what United Seychelles represents in today’s political landscape, read our values and guiding principles.

Each era produces its own challenges and opportunities. And for every era, you need good leaders with the right message to meet the aspirations and dreams of the people. We believe that the challenge of our generation is to create United Seychelles and our party is determined to play its part in building these larger and more united Seychelles.

SNA: Many senior officials have left the party. Have you been able to group and replace these members?

VM: Some members of the Central Committee (CC) left their posts and other members joined the group. I know a former CC member who joined another political party.

SNA: New parties join the political scene. Do you think that will divide opposition or United Seychelles?

VM: I can not predict what will happen. But I think it is normal in any democracy for citizens to exercise their right to organize in a political group or to choose who to follow.

We treat all other political parties as adversaries and not as enemies. We will continue to identify common areas on which we can agree for Seychelles’ national interest. In the end, it is the citizens who will decide who they can trust to build prosperous, stable and united Seychelles.

SNA: The party plans to elect its new Central Committee in July. Are you a candidate for the position of party chairman?

VM: The answer to this question will come at the right time.

SNA: Will the party leader be the next presidential candidate next year?

VM: This is a question that will be settled at the party congress. We will follow the democratic process required by the Constitution. But let me remind you that President Faure ran under the banner of our party in the last election. Nothing prevents him from asking the party to endorse him in the next election. And nothing prevents the party from appointing him and supporting him as a presidential candidate when the time comes.

I can understand why you are asking this question and this is where United Seychelles is transforming the Seychelles political scene and showing the way. People need to know that politics is dynamic. And politics has changed in Seychelles, our democracy has matured. We now have stronger, more independent institutions that operate on a system of checks and balances. In such an environment, responsible political leadership is about finding the right balance to allow other actors to coexist and work together for the common good.

SNA: Do party members understand the idea that the party can support a candidate who is not the party president?

VM: Our supporters and the people of Seychelles are smarter and more mature than many would have us believe. They fully understand what is happening in Seychelles and around the world. President Faure is not the one who invented the concept of president who is not the leader of the political party to which he belongs. Was Obama the leader of the Democratic Party? Is Donald Trump the leader of the Republican Party?

And here is where we need to educate our people and for us as a political party, our supporters. Many people quickly exploited this statement by President Faure when he said he was distancing himself from party leadership. But what people do not mention is that President Faure never gave up his membership of the party. President Faure remains a registered member of United Seychelles. So nothing has changed on this point.

What has changed is that President Faure feels that, in the Seychelles’ policy era, where for the first time there is an opposition that controls the legislature, a responsible leader must change and adapt . When your party controls both the executive and legislative branches of the government, it is also easier to be a leader of your party. But this is no longer the case.

We need leaders, especially a president willing to work with the other party, and President Faure has repeatedly shown that he is willing to do so. Indeed, President Faure has put Seychelles above all else by giving up the leadership of his party, because he has chosen to build the capacity of Seychelles and all Seychellois. It may have cost him political capital. But we do not need a politician at State House. We need a president who is also a statesman and I am convinced that the action of President Faure earned him the respect of all Seychellois.

SNA: What do you think of the disagreement between the executive and the legislature on the increase of salaries of the civil service?

VM: I think our position on this issue has been clear and consistent from the beginning. It is regrettable that at a time when we are all talking about reducing the cost of living, we do not agree on how to do it.

The government never intended to fight with the opposition on this issue. It was simply a vote as agreed in the budget. But this stalemate is normal in a democratic system where one party controls the executive and another the legislature. People need to understand and be prepared for this kind of policy. In some countries, they call this stalemate, while others call it an Achilles’ heel of democracy, because it causes the paralysis of the government and, in the meantime, as we have seen here, we see politicians oppose one group to another when the national interest must be put first.

Encore une fois, c’est la raison pour laquelle le geste du president Faure est si significatif et pourquoi nous avons choisi United Seychelles comme nom de notre parti. C’est une nouvelle Seychelles avec un nouveau paysage politique. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre de nous battre entre nous. Nous devons aller au-delA� de la politique des annees 80 et 90. Ces temps sont passes. Les dirigeants de cette epoque sont partis.

We do not need that kind of policy anymore, and those who want to play that kind of politics do not understand the dynamics of today. Unfortunately, some political leaders are defined in a particular way and think live in 1977 and fight Albert Rene. This time is gone. Seychellois are tired of this kind of conflictual and bitter politics. They want to know what we are going to do for them and not what we are going to do to punish those who have not met the expectations of some. They want politicians who can unite and not divide this country. I firmly believe that United Seychelles is the best option for all Seychellois.

Source: Seychelles News Agency