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Opposition's Ramkalawan wins Seychelles presidential vote

25 October 2020, MVT 16:48
Seychelles newly elected President Wavel Ramkalawan, poses for a photo after the just concluded presidential and legislative elections in Victoria, Seychelles on October 25,2020. - The opposition candidate Wavel Ramkalawan won the first round of the presidential election in Seychelles, a historic victory in a country where all heads of state had been from the former single party for more than 40 years, announced on Sunday the electoral commission. (Photo by Rassin VANNIER / AFP)
25 October 2020, MVT 16:48

Wavel Ramkalawan on Sunday won the presidential election in the Seychelles, the first opposition victory since the Indian Ocean archipelago's independence from Britain over four decades ago.

Ramkalawan, an Anglican priest from the Seychelles Democratic Alliance (LDS), garnered 54.9 percent of the vote against 43.5 percent for incumbent Danny Faure to become the fifth president of the Seychelles, the electoral commission said.

Ramkalawan -- who won enough votes in the first round to clinch the presidency on his sixth attempt -- immediately spoke of the task ahead.

"It is important to find how we can reconcile our people to go forward," he said, as his supporters began celebrating in the streets of the capital Victoria.

Faure, 58, running under the recently renamed United Seychelles ruling party which had been in power since 1977, conceded defeat and wished his successor "good luck."

The opposition also won the legislative election that took place from Thursday to Saturday alongside the presidential poll, with Ramkalawan's party alone taking 25 seats, or two thirds of the parliament.

The opposition, narrowly defeated in a presidential election in 2015 and buoyed by a landmark victory in a parliamentary poll a year later, had been hoping for its first presidential win in the 44 years since independence from Britain.

The campaign had taken place mainly over social media, with rallies banned due to the coronavirus.

The Seychelles has recorded only 149 cases, mostly imported, but the pandemic has been a burning campaign issue as restrictions on global travel bottom out the tourism industry -- a major earner for the Seychelles and employer for many of its 98,000 people.

Visitor numbers have collapsed since March in the archipelago nation of 115 islands, normally a popular destination for honeymooners and paradise-seekers drawn by its fine sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

Victoria, Seychelles | AFP

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