Seychelles’ President mulls foreign affairs: Madagascar’s wood, Reunion’s French
Wood from Madagascar. The French language from Reunion, a French Department in the Indian ocean. And the renegotiation of some loans.
Seychelles’ newly elected President Wavel Ramkalawan began talking through some of his foreign affairs ideas after his swearing-in on Monday.
The President said the country needs to re-negotiate some loans, likely due to the economic pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic, but he didn’t provide further details.
“We will have a Foreign Affairs Ministry headed by a very competent minister. In fact, we already have someone in mind. He has the relevant competence,” Ramkalawan said after becoming Seychelles’ fifth president.
The new proposed 13-member Cabinet of Ministers will swear in on Tuesday November 3 after the approval of the seventh National Assembly.
Ramkalawan, 59, won the presidential election with 54.9 percent of the valid votes. His party, LDS, has 25 members in the National Assembly, the legislative body of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
“Foreign affairs is very important to us. We need to keep and strengthen relations with friendly countries. We will need to re-negotiate certain loans and see how our partners can work with us to move Seychelles forward. So Foreign Affairs will be a cornerstone of our government,” he said.
On the question of the government’s policy on regional cooperation, Ramkalawan stressed that Seychelles will be looking to further strengthening relations with its neighbours.
He specifically mentioned cooperation Seychelles and Madagascar.
“Many of our outer islands are nearer Madagascar than to Mahe. So we have to make the most of this proximity. When developing these islands, we could import raw materials like wood directly from Madagascar to these islands instead of bringing them from Mahe which is further and more costly,” said Ramkalawan.
He added that Seychelles could benefit from the support of regional countries to improve achievements in education.
“One of our aims is to improve how our students master English and French languages and Reunion is just next door to us. We could get the expertise we need from Reunion to give our students a better basis in French and improve the results of our children in that study sphere,” he said.