POOL, Gilbert, T. FRANCE ALBERT RENĒ.Seychelles from the Heart. A Placeto love (First Printers Pte Ltd):2010(Part Two)
He is said to have studied Law, Political Science, Economics…..and “whilst in London…took part in politics, joining in the discussions of various political bodies, notably the British Labour Party in which he made many friends’(38).
The author concludes the ‘chapter’ by writing that among those who followed and became part of his key team during his very active years in Seychelles politics was Mr. James Alix MICHEL, the current president of Seychelles.
In his chapter,”1964-The Awakening”, the author writes that on the day after his definite return to the Seychelles, that is on June 2,1964,Mr. René set out to dismantle the British colonial system of government in Seychelles and lay the foundations for “Seychellois self-rule” by launching the Seychelles’People’s United Party. This was to be followed by the Transport and General Workers Union, and others.
On 17 August 1964 the SPUP party paper, ‘The People” was launched. The paper was to become the ‘principal vehicle of his campaign” for Universal Adult Suffrage, for example, granted on 23 November 1964.
Elected to the Legislative Concil in October 1965 as a representative for Praslin and La Digue, he was re-elected for three(3) years in 1967 representing East Mahé on the Government Council.
Representing his party, SPUP, at the Constitutional Conference in London on 9 March 1970 he also began having talks with the Organisation of African Unity(OAU) for whom he “symbolized the nationalism and resistance of the Seychellois people to colonialism”.. The SPUP was recognized as a “national liberation movement” in January 1973.(46-47)…
On 28 April 1974,the author writes, Mr. René was re-elected to the Legislative Council. Though his Party, the SPUP, won 48 per cent of the votes it secured only 5 seats while the Seychelles Democratic Party(SDP) of Sir James R Man Cham got 10 seats with 52 per cent. He advocated continued association with Britain.
“I think it is abundantly clear that the people of Seychellesw are calling for the independence of the whole of their country”(47), Mr René is reported saying at the March 1975 Constitutional Conference in London.
He was bitterly opposed to the detachment of three of the islands of Seychelles, Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches to form the British Indian Ocean Territory(BIOT) along with the Chagosarchipelago.He had advanced a formal proposal for their return in the Legislative Council of 18 December 1974(48)
In the chapter,’Bridge to Liberation”, the author writes that to dismiss the events of 5 June 1977 henceforth known as”Liberation Day” as “the rape of the Seychelles constitution” or “rape of Paradise” is to ignore the context and the realities of the time.
He mentions the at the “strong wind of anti-colonialism against the British Empire was blowing over Africa, accompanied bay a stong desire for independence and self-rule”.
But in June 1975, the SPUP party of Mr René formed a coalition government with Mr. Mancham’s SDP. The last Constitutional Conference took place in London on 19 January 1976 and the author writes:
“On the evening of 29th June 1976 Albert René and James Mancham stood side by side on the podium to witness the Union Jack come down on Seychelles for the last time….”(56).
On page 63 the author outlines the policies and aims of the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) which appeared in the first issue of the Party paper. “The People” in August 1964:
- Promote, secure and maintain the unity of the people without any social, economic,, racial or religious discrimination.
- Promote and safeguard popular democracy based upon regular elections on the basis of universal annual suffrage.
income, medical care, good and hygienic housing, free and compulsory education, opportunities. For the young and care for the aged.
- Establish and maintain economic and social foundations of a Welfare State through the process of planned development by a strong Central Government in order to stimulate a high degree of economic development in agricultural productivity and industrialization.
5. Establish and maintain conditions conducive to private investment both local and foreign 6. Fight with all its strength against any and every effort to destroy the rights of labour or to impose upon the people the arbitrary will of any group or party or clique thereby violating the unqualified right of the majority of the people to direct the destinies if this country.(63-64).
The author affirms that when he met the President of Seychelles in London early 1977, as President of the Seychelles Students Council, he asked him about how things in Seychelles were and he told him that things could not be better:
“Albert is doing a good job of running the country which gives Ton Jim time to sell Seychelles around the world. Einmon boy, çac’est la joie de vivre ça!”(56)
The chapter-“1977-the Coup”traces a few events preceding the 1977 change of government. The author had just returned to Seychelles and joined the late Bernard Verlaque to launch the new weekly paper-“Week End Life”(68).
One chapter –“1977-1992-The One-Party State” seems to serve as an introduction to the whole period of the Second Republic. Important speeches such as the one following the coup have been attached in Appendix One of the book(page 222….).
The style of Mr. René’s administration is said to have been “simple and straight-forward”(78).
The British government which is said to have supported MrMancham’s“overtures” before and after Independence is said to have been “quick to recognize Albert René’s new government, and the United States and other countries were quick to follow suit”(78).
René is said to have brought together “a set of notable people of the day from all walks of life…”(79).
The author concludes the chapter with those words:
“These 15 years were in fact to lay the foundations of what we know Seychelles today-one of the most developed contries and nations in the region, with a human development index that is at par with some European countries”(81)