James Michel, Seychelles’ newly re-elected president, was sworn into office Sunday afternoon in the capital Victoria, marking the start of his third and final term as permitted by the constitution. His running mate, Danny Faure, was inaugurated as vice president, according to the state-run Seychelles News Agency. But the opposition is seeking annulment of the election results.
Michel, of the long-ruling People’s Party, was declared the winner of a historic runoff presidential election a day earlier, narrowly beating his rival Wavel Ramkalawan by 193 votes. The incumbent won 50.15 percent of the ballots, while Ramkalawan, of the Seychelles National Party, won 49.85 percent. Both candidates failed to get the more than 50 percent needed to win outright in the first round two weeks ago.
The center-right Seychelles National Party said in a meeting Monday with other opposition leaders that a petition was submitted to the constitutional court to ask for an annulment of the election result, as well as a recount and a third round of voting, Seychelles News Agency reported.
Michel has been in power since 2004, while his center-left People’s Party has ruled the Indian Ocean archipelago for 38 years. The 71-year-old leader has previously served as vice president, finance minister, information minister and chief of staff of the armed forces.
Michel won the 2015 election on his promises to eliminate poverty and boost Seychelles’ economy, which depends heavily on tourism and fisheries. The International Monetary Fund expects the island nation’s economy to expand by 4.3 percent this year, more than its earlier 3.5 percent forecast.
"Reflecting strong tourist arrivals and expanding credit to the private sector, economic growth for 2015 has been revised up," the IMF said in a statement Oct. 28, according to Reuters. "The growth outlook for 2016 remains positive, despite economic headwinds in China and Europe, which are important source markets for tourists in Seychelles."