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Seychelles opposition to challenge presidential win in court

GavelThe opposition leader in the Seychelles said Monday he will appeal to the constitutional court to overturn election results after President James Michel won a second-round vote by the slimmest of margins.

The announcement comes a day after Michel was sworn back into office for a third term at the presidential residence in Victoria, the capital on the Indian Ocean archipelago’s main island of Mahe, alongside his vice-president Danny Faure.

The electoral commission said Saturday that Michel, 71, had won the second round of the election by just 193 votes — with 50.15 percent support against 49.85 percent for his rival Wavel Ramkalawan.

Five-time candidate Ramkalawan, 54, an Anglican pastor, said he will submit a petition at the Constitutional Court requesting the cancellation of the election results and the holding of a third round vote.

“We will take all steps to ensure the elections respect the will of the Seychellois people,” Ramkalawan said at a press conference, alongside other opposition leaders who had backed him in the second round against Michel.

The electoral commission said in a statement they would await any decision by the court.

“In line with the Elections Act, any recount, question or review of the result of a presidential election or any election, has to be by way of a petition before the Constitutional Court,” the panel said in a statement.

“The Electoral Commission will be guided by the decision of the Constitutional Court.”

African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Monday said she had the “utmost faith in the judicial institutions of the Republic of Seychelles, and urges… citizens and political actors to do same, to accept the final outcome emanating from the legal process.”

After Michel was sworn in Sunday, he called for “peace and national unity” in a message broadcast to the nation.

“The result of the election does not mean that our nation is divided,” Michel said in his speech. “We have always lived together, worked together in spite of our diverse opinions, and this will continue under my new administration.”

Michel has pledged to boost the economy and eradicate poverty in the Seychelles, long seen as a tax haven for the world’s super-rich.

A former British colony, the Seychelles is made up of 115 islands lying off the coast of east Africa, some scattered up to 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from the capital Victoria.

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