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Monday 11th March, 2013

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SEYCHELLES

Monday 11th March 2013

The Assembly met at 9.02am

National Anthem

Moment of Reflection

Mr. Speaker in the Chair

MR. SPEAKER

Honourable Members, members of the public, Members of the Youth Assembly, we are today gathered here, to commemorate the Commonwealth Day.  It is therefore, fitting and proper that later this morning, we will be called upon to adopt the Commonwealth Charter.

But before we do so let me first of all, recognize the Dignitaries in the Speaker’s Gallery, who are here today to observe our deliberations.  They are Minister Jean-Paul Adam, Her Excellency the British High Commissioner, Mrs. Lindsay Scholl.  Acting Head for Human Rights Unit at Commonwealth Head Office, Mrs. Karen Mackenzie.

As is the practice in most Commonwealth Parliaments, I, as the Speaker, will now proceed to read the Queen’s Speech, or the Queen’s message, not Queen’s Speech.

‘This year’s Commonwealth Theme, ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’ is the celebration of our achievements.  Particularly those that may have seemed challenging, daunting or even impossible, which have helped to build strength, resilience and pride in our young people, in our Communities and in our Nations.  Great achievements in human history, have a number of common characteristics.  From climbing the highest mountain, to winning a sporting competition.  Making a scientific breakthrough, building a successful business or discovering unique artistic talents.  These outcomes, all begin as a simple goal or idea in one person’s mind.

We are all born with the desire to learn, to explore, to try new things.  And each of us can think of occasions when we have been inspired to do something more efficiently, or to assist others in achieving their full potential.  Yet, it still takes courage to launch into the unknown.  Ambition and curiosity open new avenues of opportunity.  This is what lies at the heart of our Commonwealth approach.  Individuals and Communities, finding ways to strive together to create a better future, that is beneficial for all.

Our shared values of peace, democracy, development, justice and Human Rights, which are found in our new Commonwealth Charter, mean that we also place special emphasis, on including everyone in this goal, especially those who are vulnerable.  I am reminded of the adage, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  As you reflect on how the Commonwealth theme applies to us individually, let us think about what can be gained with a bold heart, dedication and team work.  And let us bear in mind the great opportunity that is offered by the Commonwealth, of journey with others, stronger together for the common good’.  End.

I will now call upon the Honourable Leader of Government Business, Honourable Marie-Antoinette Rose, to present her Motion.

 

MR. SPEAKER

Request.

HON MARIE-ANTOINETTE ROSE

Thank you Mr. Speaker.  A very good morning to all Members and those present with us in the Gallery.  A special welcome to our Dignitaries who have taken time to spend the morning with us.

Mr. Speaker my Motion reads as follows; That this Assembly adopts the Commonwealth Charter, which brings together the values and aspirations that unite the Commonwealth.

Mr. Speaker, ‘many hands are needed to continue preparing the future of our nation’.  This is a statement made by President Michel in his State of the Nation Address, in this very Assembly, only a few weeks ago.  In fact, here in Seychelles, it’s taking more than 90 thousand pairs of hands, in so many ways big and small, to continue to build this small, but proud, nation of ours.-  But in today’s challenging and ever changing times, we know that small Seychelles would not have attained so much, were it not for the helping hands of others, handshakes based on fraternal ties, hands extended to us because of historical links and hands that played an important role in our development.  Many of those helping hands that have built and continue to build a more modern Seychelles, come from many Commonwealth friends.  From Europe to across the Atlantic, Pacific and of course Africa our motherland.

As we celebrate the Commonwealth Day, first, let’s thank the Nations of the Commonwealth, for having come together and built these distinguished Association of independent and equally Sovereign States.

This Motion submitted before our Parliament, in my capacity as the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, is a renewal of both the Executives’ and the Legislatives’ commitment to uphold and promote the values of the Charter of the Commonwealth.  It’s a public pronouncement and engagement towards the 54 Nations of the Commonwealth, that Seychelles is committed to continue to strive towards greater human development in all its aspects be, it social, political or economic.  The values which are encapsulated in the Charter of the Commonwealth, are the very same values on which this modern nation was built.  It needed a nation building period to equal opportunities for all citizens of this country.  Irrespective of class, creed, or gender.  It needed a strong and unswaying political commitment, to ensure that the children of Seychelles receive free and compulsory education, bringing the level of literacy to more than 90 percent.  To ensure accessible health care, to ensure decent housing and equal employment opportunities.  In short, transformational change which means that today, we have a nation which stands tall and proud.  But we must never forget, that it also needed the strong support of countries which believed and shared our values, and in turn, extended a helping hand.  If we have attained so much yes, it’s because we started from the simple premise, the future of our country is really at the end of the day, up to us.  We strongly believed that the only person who could change the course of history of the Seychellois nation was the Seychellois itself.  And in so doing, engaged others to believe in what we were doing.  We may be a group of beautiful islands, with records of achievements to proudly show the World; but we also understand and accept our vulnerabilities and the fact that we still have a very long way to go.

Much has been accomplished, much more needs to be done, to be achieved, to be completed, to be shared, with future generations of the Commonwealth.  But we also know, that we could never have attained Democratic Principles, such as freedom of expression, separation of powers and peace and security; we could never uphold Human Rights or Law and order; we could never truly promote tolerance, respect and understanding if some segments of our nation, had remained largely underprivileged.  It’s now been proven that human development, human empowerment, human achievement are the foundations of all the tenants of democracy and good governance.

This is why; People Centered Development remains the number one guiding principle of all decision-making in this country.

This moment, this new era, is a moment of extraordinary promise for Seychelles.  Throughout its history, Seychelles being a Commonwealth country has benefited tremendously through various programs, grants, loans and other initiatives for its progress.  And today as we chart a new road map for the future, as we have the audacity to play a more leadership role in many aspects of the global agenda, we understand more than ever the need to continue to be part of this global network of friends and countries, linked by a shared inheritance in language, culture and the Rule of Law.

To quote the Charter of the Commonwealth, ‘We know that we can never move to the next frontier of development, if we do not seek consensus through consultation and the sharing of experience, values and philosophies.

Many of the values and principles of the Commonwealth, are not just operating in the abstract but are enshrined in our Constitution and upheld by Legislation.

To leave such important values up to the whims and discretion of Institutions, will be folly but to ensure its timeless existence, is to inscribe them in the Supreme Law of the land and practice them in our everyday lives through proper Legislation’.

But I must say Mr. Speaker that, but having proper Legislation is only half of the work done.  We must ensure that we develop a culture based on these principles.  People in their everyday lives, Institutions in their everyday operations, and us Leaders, in our everyday decisions have to naturally understand and uphold these values.  They must, at the end of the day, become a way of life.  This is why, that by adopting the Commonwealth Charter today, we are telling the world Seychelles is ready.  Ready to be an engaging and leading partner in combating the scourges of our time that still threaten the principles of the Charter and that of the United Nations.  Ready to engage our young people in developing this deep sense of understanding that democracy is not just about exerting your rights, but respecting and defending the rights of others.  Our Youths must appreciate that Human Rights, are not just about civil and political pronouncements, but are also about loving another human being and accepting that discrimination and injustice are just not acceptable.

This next generation must come to comprehend, that international peace and security is no longer just the responsibility of Politicians.  The threat of piracy in our region, has made every Seychellois come to realize that any threats to our peace and security, is a threat to our livelihood, to our accomplishments, to our development.  We must ensure that values such as tolerance, respect and understanding are not only the concerns of opinion Leaders but that these are instilled in the child from the homes, the communities, our schools, our religious gatherings, in our everyday endeavours.

We must ensure that people understand that the freedom of expression is not freedom to slander or invasion of one’s private fears.  For any interest whatsoever, it’s the freedom for citizens to have access to information, from responsible media to make free and responsible choices.  Our maturing democracy must come to realize that separation of powers are not powers to work in isolation, but an important balancing act, to ensure that we continue to work ‘in tandem’ to build strong, and equally important, capable and reliable Institutions which can responsibly play their role.

The Rule of Law and good governance are words that make all public pronouncements look good.  But we must understand, that they should be practiced at every fork of the road, as we chart the way forward.

Of course, Seychelles has long recognized the need to have sustainable development and strong environmental policies.

But the recent disasters on the east coast of Mahe, have come as a timely wake up call for all of us to revisit our policies and relook at our plans to ensure, that whilst we progress we also protect what is naturally ours.  In this area I dare say, that we have made great strides and that we are the leading voice of Small Island Developing States in every Commonwealth Forum or otherwise, in the wake of Climate Change at the last CHOGM Meeting in Perth, Australia was proof of that.

Access to health, education, food and shelter, are proud achievements of the Seychelles.  But now, we must sit down and have a serious and national discussion about how do we continue to sustain such successes.  And watch challenges they pose if we do not revisit our practices.  If we do not continue to uphold social policies that are so close to our hearts.  If we do not move towards making the individual a more responsive, independent and responsible citizen.  If we do not make tough choices.

Mr. Speaker, last Friday March 8th, the Seychelles marked the International Women’s Day and our Parliaments top world ranking in female representation, is testimony of the level of commitment to ensure Gender parity.  Men and women are now both equal partners of development and in this domain we are indeed an example to the rest of the world.  The challenge remains, the threats such as, the increase in drug usage and unemployment opportunities for the single parent.  A change in behaviour and a return to the teachings of social and emotional intelligence in our schools.  To give children not only life skills, but lifelong skills, are imperative.  If we are to maintain equality and opportunity for all.  As Members of Parliament, we have to pay particular attention and become extra sensitive to these emerging issues, if we are to remain relevant and continue to effectively represent our constituents.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the National Assembly, for celebrating this important day not just amongst ourselves, but also with our Youths.  Many of you, will take our place one day, but what you learn today, how you do what you do today, what attitude you build in yourselves today, will define what happens to Seychelles by the time you come to replace this generation of Leaders.  A future can no longer be charted in the corridors of power nor in Legislative Chambers, such as ours.  It has to be done in conjunction and in consultation with those who will take to the helm in the years to come.

President Michel has long recognized that and his appointment of various Young Leaders in key positions of his Administration and the introduction of various leadership programs, are proof of his commitment towards the youths and in engaging them in the decision making process.

Mr. Speaker, Seychelles has a growing civil society, but it is my firm belief that the role of our civil society must expand and they must also come to realize, that they have a greater, a greater and more responsible role to play in aspects of development.  We need to have more trained minds, more committed individuals, more objective thinking, if the civil society is to attain its credibility and rightful place.  Our civil society in Seychelles benefits from a Budget and other support mechanisms from the Executives.  I must say, the rest is really up to them and how they position themselves as a key and effective partner.

Mr. Speaker, the Seychelles has had the audacity to become the leading voice for Small Island Developing States and the more vulnerable ones.  We did that by long recognizing the fact, that not all issues are the same.  Not all agenda can be attained in the same way.  Not all countries have the same challenges but the Small Island States have to have a voice which is uniquely theirs and have to develop a language that they all understand and share.

If I have taken time to go through all 16 values and principles of this Charter, it’s because we must recognize that none of them is more important than the other.  All of them are equally important and well worth taking time to explore, understand and share.  Some countries have made greater strides than others.  Some values have been upheld more but for a country to be truly developed, we must explore all possible avenues to ensure parity, balance and fairness for one and all.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, these values and principles cannot operate in the abstract and we cannot just content ourselves, that we have enshrined them in our Laws of the land.  We have to have positive impact on the people we represent.  They must be reflected in policies which impact on our communities and decisions which continue to protect our rights, to present new opportunities to ensure economic development, to ensure individual empowerment.  These values, must trickle down to our people, they in turn must be active agents of change.  Our children, our parents, our workers, our partners in development, 90 thousand pairs of hands must come together.

With our friends in the Commonwealth, we are glad to know that we also have the support from all corners of the world, working towards the same goals.  Those are the things that give life to democracy, because it is what matters in people’s everyday lives.  But that is not all, Seychelles never sits on its laurels.  That’s the exciting thing about us, we are always on the search for innovative ways.  Always on the trail to find new opportunities new ties, new avenues to explore.  The Commonwealth provides the perfect platform for exchange of ideas and experiences and support for one another in time of need.

On this note our bid to a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, is a public commitment to not only uphold these values, but be a leading partner in promoting them on the Global Agenda.

Mr. Speaker, with regards to our ties to the Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, may I take this opportunity to thank the CPA for its active participation in the Seychelles.  Many Members, myself included have benefited tremendously from the CPA programmes and have no doubt, that this will continue for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I submit this Motion for this Assembly’s consideration, in recognition of the Commonwealth’s commitment to the Seychelles, and a reaffirmation of our commitment to this important Association.  And may I finish with a very last paragraph of the Commonwealth Charter and I quote, “We aspire to a Commonwealth, that is a strong and respected voice in the world, speaking out on major issues, that strengthens and enlarges its networks that has a global relevance and profile that is devoted to improving the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth”.  Unquote.

Mr. Speaker, without any doubt, Seychelles is on the right track and Mr. Speaker I thank you and I call on all Members to support this Motion.  Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER

The Motion needs to be seconded.  Please can you put on.

HON DAVID PIERRE

Motion seconded Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER

And you want to….

 

 

HON DAVID PIERRE

I would like to say a few words.

MR. SPEAKER

You would like to say a few words.  Ok, proceed, you have the floor.

 

HON DAVID PIERRE

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Minister Adam, British High Commissioner, Members, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Mr. Speaker, I feel really great and honoured, to be given the opportunity today, to address the House on this very important occasion, marking the celebration of the Commonwealth Day.  Today is also particularly special because we are here, as an Assembly to debate and adopt the Charter of the Commonwealth.

It is a momentous occasion, as it is the first time in its 64 year history that the Heads of Government belonging to the Organization have agreed to adopt a Commonwealth Charter.  This is special because the Commonwealth is finally presenting a single document that sets out basic values that the people of the Commonwealth believe in, and which they expect the Government to support and to protect.  This marks a new era in the Commonwealth, as the Leaders are committing themselves to upholding democracy and human rights.  Promoting tolerance and respect, providing access to health and education and food and shelter and recognizing the role of young people in promoting these and other values.

Indeed Mr. Speaker, after having gone through the Charter, I have come to realize that it will not hurt our country, nor will it hurt our people, by Seychelles choosing to adopt this Charter.  In its basis of which is entrenched around the fundamental values and principles of true democracy.  As a matter of fact, our Constitution provides for the basic fundamental rights of every Seychellois Citizen but this does not mean that we should be entirely happy with the status quo as it is apparent for example, that there are Laws relating to our rights which are outdated and need to be reviewed and amended.

As examples, today there is the ongoing process of the review of our Electoral Laws as well as, our Public Order Act, so as to make the Laws more democratic and rightly so, more in line with our Constitution.  And Mr. Speaker, other similar exercises must surely follow.

We need to strive to build a stronger democratic Institution, like our Elections Management Body, which is the Electoral Commission and our Parliament to state just two examples in this country but also across the Commonwealth.          Mr. Speaker, British High Commissioner, Minister, Distinguished Guests, today I am happy to say that I share the Commonwealth way which based on this Charter is to see consensus through consultation and the sharing of experience and ideas, through dialogue.  This is how the Opposition in the House engages with Government and this is the way forward and the Commonwealth must be commended for that.  Furthermore, it is also my view, that Charter can, and my hope that Charter will, be used as a tool to improve the daily lives of the 2 billion people across the 54 Commonwealth countries.  This is a Charter Mr. Speaker, which enshrines the fundamental values and principles of the Commonwealth.  Including democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law and respect for those values is what the World needs today.  And so Mr. Speaker, it is not only the countries and the people of the Commonwealth, but the whole world needs to understand that this Organization has taken a bold and important step in the right direction and others need to follow.

Mr. Speaker, I am particularly happy, that there is much emphasis on gender equality, young people the civil society on freedom of expression and access to health, education, food and shelter.  In this Charter, I am also particularly encouraged, by the level of emphasis placed on good governance because when respected by countries of the Commonwealth, every society belonging to any particular country within the organization, including ours, can expect that its leadership will understand the needs for a greater level of transparency and accountability where Government is answerable to its people.

And since Article 6 speaks about the Separation of Powers Mr. Speaker, the National Assembly, elected by the people, to defend the rights of the people, must continue to work and engage with Government in a manner which guarantee the promotion and protection of Human Rights and adherence to good governance.  Our fight as Parliamentarians, must not stop here though, as we also need to emphasize further reform through human development as well as political institutions reform and we need as Parliamentarians, to push to further democratize the process by which authority is exercised in the management of the economic and social resources of our country with the aim of achieving sound and sustainable development and fighting poverty.

Mr. Speaker, I also welcome the commitment to Human Rights throughout the text.  And I stand today to propose to Government the necessity to establish a strong National Human Rights Institution in Seychelles, which amongst its roles will be to ensure that internationally accepted Human Rights standards are upheld in our small, but beautiful country.  Which I am sure, will result and improve enjoyment of human rights on the ground.  Such an Institution will be well placed, to make a distinct practical and measurable contribution to the realization of a higher level of respect for Human Rights and human dignity in our communities.

The Commonwealth’s commitment to freedom of expression is a clear indication of the level of importance, the organization dedicates to the protection of such a right.  There is no democracy without freedom of expression, so, this right must be highly valued and respected by all Member States.  One should not forget that the concept of Freedom of Speech can be found in early Human Rights documents.  England’s Bill of Rights, 1689, granted the freedom of speech in Parliament and the declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen, adopted during the French revolution in 1789, specifically affirmed freedom of speech as an inalienable right and the declaration provides for freedom of expression in Article 11, stating it as one of the most precious of the rights of man.  But, it is important to note, and the people of the Commonwealth must bear in mind, that every citizen shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

Mr. Speaker, it is also very exciting to see, that the Commonwealth understands the important role that civil society can play in our communities in helping societies to uphold the values and principles of democracy.  So, wherever there exist independent, voluntary, law abiding, tolerant and pluralistic organizations of civil society, they can help to develop certain values of democratic life such as tolerance, moderation, compromise and respect for opposing points of view.  Since without this deeper culture of accommodation, democracy cannot be stable.  And without stable democracy, there cannot be peace progress and prosperity for our nation.

Mr. Speaker, I am also particularly interested in Article 9 on sustainable development which recognizes that sustainable development, can help to eradicate poverty by pursuing inclusive growth while preserving and conserving natural eco-systems and promoting social equity.  Those are fantastic words but we also need to remember that Liberal Democracy is generally inherently unsupportive of the norm of sustainable development because, most often, it puts human and corporate interests and rights as the measure of all values.  But in future deliberation must instead be grounded on the common good especially, with regard to ecological integrity and a salubrious environment and we need non-anthropocentric principles to drive those engagements.

Mr. Speaker, only then, will ethics be seen not as an obligation but as a source of affective commitment.  Rights must be derivative of, and condition upon, their contribution of the good of their community and understood to include both social and natural dimensions.  Because rights decoupled from an ecological context, may lead us on a path to mass destruction.

Mr. Speaker, PDM, of which I am the leader, supports the opposition to all forms of discrimination as stated within the Charter.  But however, we are sad to note that no explicit reference is made in relation to discrimination on the ground of disability and all of us sitting here today, are aware of the fact that discrimination on this specific ground, continue to affect vulnerable individuals in groups across the Commonwealth and indeed, around the world.

The Commonwealth of nations need to take notice of this and amendments must be made where and when they are found necessary.  Because to conclude Mr. Speaker, I believe that this Charter calls for a commitment to a Commonwealth that is unafraid to evolve and to adapt itself constantly to changing times and fresh challenges.  This Charter is inspirational because it gives a more intense definition of what the core Commonwealth principles and values are.  And therefore, in the face of serious or persistent violation of the values expressed in the Charter, silence on the part of the Commonwealth, must not be an option.  So, the Commonwealth must have the right mechanisms in place which will allow it to deal effectively with Member States which are on serious and persistent violations of democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights.  But the Commonwealth must also be able to indicate approaches for remedial action, in situations illustrated above.

In other words, to me, the Charter must be articulating standards that should be met, and even if we can discuss whether the Commonwealth can do more, at least we know it is moving in the right direction.

And for Seychelles, I would expect that all necessary mechanisms would be put in place to ensure that the Charter is well respected.  I am going to support the Motion, and it remains Mr. Speaker, for me to thank you.

MR. SPEAKER

The Motion has been moved and seconded.  Now we can have debate.  Honourable Vel.

 

HON JENIFFER VEL

Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Guests, Honourable Members, good morning.

Mr. Speaker the Motion before this House calling on the National Assembly to adopt the Commonwealth Charter which is described as a mechanism bringing together the values and aspirations that unite the Commonwealth has come at a propitious moment.  Besides the fact that it is being debated in the language shared by the Commonwealth, which is English, and on Commonwealth Day this Motion underscores the relevance of the Commonwealth’s Charter.  More than a simple document, the Commonwealth Charter is the expression of the general will of the people of the 54 Member States of the Commonwealth.  And as such, carries the weight of their shared history and common vision, as well as their individual experiences and hopes.  The Commonwealth Charter is an instrument for shaping the contours of the better World.  Meaning one, which is safer, more prosperous, fairer and sustainable.

The Commonwealth Charter is a central strand in the narrative solution to the many problems that beset our World.

Mr. Speaker, the relevance of the Commonwealth Charter, is mirrored in the concerns it highlights.  The approach it advocates and the values in which it is routed.  The Charter spells out the changes taking place in the World and cast an optimistic outlook because it sees the changes as opportunities to promote the values underpinning the Commonwealth and thereby entrenching its role as a mechanism of delivery of good, and hence, a force to reckon with the new world order.

The optimism casted in the powerful wording of the Charter, draws its force from the time honoured, approach, embraced by the Commonwealth, which is decision making through consultation and cooperation and ensuring that benefits accrue to all.  There is a Commonwealth way of doing things, and the Commonwealth touch, is discernible in the way, in the forward march of humanity.  This Commonwealth winning formula draws its creative energies from the fountain of its core values and principles, which have turned the Commonwealth into an esteemed organization in the community of nations.

These 16 core values and principles which are highlighted in the Commonwealth Charter, are the building blocks of the new world order because when people live by them and authorities adhere to them, they will flush out the sources of conflicts from their life and secure a better future for all.

Mr. Speaker, the Commonwealth Charter also derives its signature relevance from the fact that, it is grounded in the ground initiatives being taken by the various Member States of the Commonwealth and tiny Seychelles stand tall in that respect.  As much as the Commonwealth is a model and catalyst for new forms of friendship and cooperation in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, so is Seychelles a place teeming with these ideas and practices, which has turned the Commonwealth into a power house into the United Nations Charter.

The past gains of Seychelles in the field of Education, Health and Environment Protection are a reminder to all skeptical and cynical minds that the core values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter are not farfetched ideas but, actions which have made great differences in the lives of many.  On the other hand, many initiatives on the way, such as the Electoral Reform Process, the formulation of the National Development Strategy, our active diplomacy and our frontline position in the fight against piracy, all attest to the fact that Seychelles is not only member of the Commonwealth, but an active member, which is giving resonance to the Commonwealth Charter.  The Development Agenda being promoted by Seychelles epitomizes what the Commonwealth Charter is seeking to promote.

Mr. Speaker, Seychelles is to the Commonwealth, what the Commonwealth is to the World.  A trail blazer.  Mr. Speaker, I support this Motion and will vote in favour of it because Seychelles has nothing to lose and everything to gain, by adopting and adhering to the Commonwealth Charter.  If anything, the Commonwealth Charter vindicated the Seychelles way and can serve as a guide in the unfolding of the new Seychelles.  We are actually in the process of reforming our Electoral Laws and improving our Human Rights legal infrastructure.  To this end the relevant core values and principles enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, can guide our efforts.

The Commonwealth Charter can also buttress our active diplomacy as it recognizes the need of both small states and vulnerable states.  Seychelles combines both characteristics and as such, the Charter provides us with the perfect platform to champion causes which are dear to us.

The adoption of the Commonwealth Charter by the National Assembly, could have not come at a better time, as it is being done in the wake of the launching of the Seychelles bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations.  The values and principles which Seychelles respectively defend and promote, are those found in the Commonwealth Charter.  And these resonate with every inhabitant of the 54 Member States that constitute the Commonwealth.  On the Security Council of the United Nations, Seychelles will be a voice for, not of the Commonwealth and we expect the other 53 Member States of this international organization to back our candidacy.

Mr. Speaker, the Commonwealth is a force to reckon with in the global arena, because the Commonwealth Charter, is a forward-looking or embracing consensus building and dignity respecting document.  The strength of this Charter lies not so much in its semantic beauty, as in its practical relevance.  The World over, people are leading better lives and aspiring to seal better futures.  Because as I speak Mr. Speaker, the Commonwealth Charter is being implemented.  Children are having access to education, women are being empowered, vulnerable groups are overcoming risk factors, budding entrepreneurs are having greater access to seed money.  Families are moving into better shelters, and all of them are experiencing improvements in their life chances.  Because of enabling actions but undertaken by agencies or organizations affiliated to the Commonwealth and inspired by the Commonwealth Charter.  These are the achievements which Seychelles needs to be proud of because they echo the very gains we have made in our little corner of the World.  The Commonwealth Charter is an amplifier of the Seychelles success story.

Mr. Speaker, the adoption of the Commonwealth Charter by the National Assembly is a call for unity to the people of Seychelles.

The Commonwealth Charter reminds us that we are part of a larger community which is the Commonwealth.  Commonwealth means that our wealth is what we have in common, hence, everything that unites us.  Everything we share from the English language to experiences which can give rise to best practices.  Since our wealth is what unites us, then it goes without saying that whatever divides us also impoverishes us.

Our mission in life therefore, is to promote what unites us and eliminate everything that stands in the way of this unity.  United we stand, divided we fall.  Mr. Speaker, this is the Commonwealth spirit.  We should however, not restrict this maxim to the Commonwealth but integrate it in our approach of everything in life.  In this light, the adoption of the Commonwealth Charter should be seen as a golden opportunity for renewal of our political culture in Seychelles.  We should look for shared values and seek consensus rather than turn any issues into bones of contention and celebrate our differences.  We have achieved a lot as a nation, and we can achieve much more and the Commonwealth Charter provides us with a pathway to do this.

Mr. Speaker, I will end my intervention on this optimistic note, expressing the hope that the adoption of the Commonwealth Charter, has assured a new era which will propel Seychelles to greater heights.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER

Honourable Jeannevol.

HON BEGITTA JEANNEVOL

Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Mr. Speaker, Honourable Dignitaries, good morning.

Today is indeed, a historic one for many reasons.  For the first time, we are holding the sitting of the National Assembly, specifically to commemorate the Commonwealth Day.  What is even more important, today, we are being requested to embrace the values of the Commonwealth Community through the Motion tabled before us, to adopt the Charter of the Commonwealth.

Mr. Speaker, I have perused the Charter and I must admit, that it is perhaps the best document that seeks to uphold the inalienable rights of an individual to take part in the democratic process.  I notice that, as a country Seychelles has gone a long way in assuring that the noble principles of the Charter are practiced in our own country.  Indeed, many are inscribed in our Constitution.  Mr. Speaker, I note with particular interest, the core by the Charter for gender equality and women empowerment.  Our Assembly today boasts the second highest percentage of women in Parliament in Africa and fifth in the World.  Our country has achieved that, without any affirmation action, Policy or Legislation.  It is my personal view, that the status quo is the result of several years of women empowerment, through access to free education and free health care.  Basic tenets that has been the hallmark of the Seychellois society over the last 30 years.  Seychelles, should be an example to the rest of the World.

As I further browse through the Charter, I see several topics that have now become public debates and public policies.  Whether it is Human Rights to which our Constitution has dedicated a whole Chapter or sustainable development, which our Government dearly holds, international security and peace.  Here, I am reminded of the role we played in trying to find an amicable solution in Madagascar and freedom of expression which is now widely practiced through various Forums.

Mr. Speaker, in her message which you read this morning, the Queen talks about the strength and resilience and pride of the youth and the need for the youth to promote peace, democracy and protect the Commonwealth values such as, respect to our culture, tolerance and understanding.  These are the ideas that I, as one of the youngest Member of this Parliament, hold dearly.

Let me conclude Mr. Speaker, by expressing my appreciation for the presence of the Honourable Dignitaries in the Assembly today.  It shows the importance the Commonwealth gives to the Legislature.  We are the voices of the people; we are the voices of those who do not have a voice.  In a democracy Mr. Speaker, the voice of the people, is the voice of God.  Thank you Mr. Speaker and May God bless the Commonwealth.  Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER

Honourable Arnephy.

 

HON BERNARD ARNEPHY

Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Mr. Speaker and all present good morning.  It is with honour that I address you on this special day.

Mr. Speaker, we the people of Seychelles, have accomplished a lot and I can proudly say that we are well in conformity with what is stipulated in the Commonwealth Charter for its member State, that we will adopt today.  Our Government, under the leadership of President Michel, keeps ensuring that as a people, we continue to enjoy a dignified life where basic needs and necessities remain a primary focus on our agenda.  Our Constitution promotes non-discrimination and guarantees equal rights and protection for both men and women.

The macro economic Reform Program is testimony of our resilience as a nation and our Government maintains a firm continued commitment to such reform.  Mr. Speaker, I have chosen to briefly address values and principles in two core areas that we hold dearly as a responsible and proactive Government.  One – education.  We in Seychelles have made immense achievement in the field of education, because we sincerely believe in the empowerment of our youth so that they can really be what they want to be in the ever changing and sophisticated world.  We firmly believe that each and every young people, should be given all opportunities to achieve their full and holistic development in all seas of life.  We have today attained a very high percentage, in terms of numeracy and literacy.

In his recent State of Nation, while making reference to our education system, President Michel highlighted and I quote, “We have to continually review it to ensure that our children and our youth not only learn academic and technical subjects, but also acquire the values and foundations of society, an appreciation of and respect for human values, self-respect and or respect for others, respect for the elderly, for the authorities, for State Institutions all of these also comes from civic education.  We have made progress in this domain but there is need to reinforce it”.  Unquote.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note at this point, that the mission of the Ministry of Education, is to build a coherent and comprehensive system of education and training, reflecting shared values and universal national values which will promote the integrated development of the person and empower him or her to participate fully in social and economic development of our country.  Ensuring that the school is a place where everyone is safe and secure, ensuring that members of school community, are not discriminated against because of their belief and association, ensuring there are enough schools, qualified teachers and other resources even if this continues to be one of the main difficulties our schools are facing today.

Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, establishes that children enjoy the right to an education.  We in Seychelles are proud to have made remarkable progress in that area.  My plea is for our students to grab all available opportunities and be what they want to be.  We need to keep supporting our teachers; they have the right to be treated with respect and to work in an environment, free from harassment and abuse and be well remunerated.  Our schooling system demands that parents participate fully, in the education process to help their children make maximum use of available opportunities to develop their full potential.  Parental value of education, is therefore of significant importance.

Let me talk a bit about good governance.  Mr. Speaker, please permit me to pronounce myself on this issue of good governance, an area in which again we can proudly highlight our achievements.  The term governance is used to describe a way in which a country is governed.  It has a much broader meaning than the term Government.  The process of governance in Seychelles ensures that the public Institutions conduct public affairs, manage public resources and guarantee the realization of Human Rights.  In Seychelles, we have achieved good governance under a democratic political system, in which the actions of all sectors contribute to the good of our society.  We continue to strive towards ensuring that the Government sector has high public sector Institutions and having a strong business and civil society.  Good governance in Seychelles is being accomplished in a manner that is essentially free of abuse and corruption and with due regard for the Rule of Law and Human Rights.  Nonetheless we need to pursue our agenda in that area so as to address facts and perceptions related to certain growing concerns on corruption in both public and private sectors.  Mr. Speaker, a truly democratic Government cannot be attained unless individuals have guaranteed, civil and political rights.

In Seychelles we respect the rights of our citizens to freely express their views without fear of being arrested, tortured or discriminated against.  Of course, this has to be done in compliance with respect to the views and opinion of others.

Mr. Speaker, we keep pushing to have effective public sector Institution.  These institutions are developed through good Government Policies but they cannot be administered effectively, unless the staffs have access to the economic Human Rights, such as adequate salaries.  Adequate pay enables people to support themselves properly and so reduces corruption.  This improves governance.

Our Government holds this dearly close to its heart and we are slowly but surely, addressing such concerns.

In 2007 – 2008, Seychelles embarked on a programme to provide a further drive to increase awareness of the importance of Human Rights issues amongst the general public.  A good number of actors from both Government and Non-Governmental Organizations had the opportunity to follow a two-week workshop under the Human Rights Project with the aim of improving the knowledge and skills of staffs in that fields.  Such a programme came at an opportune time since the national theme chosen by President James Michel, for the year 2007, was “Our Constitution the voice of our nation”, which tied in well as the Constitution of a country enshrines the principles, values, Laws and Institution that give freedom, and more importantly, preserves the basic rights of its people.  The Constitution of Seychelles is no exception.  As a follow up, the public at large had the opportunity to be imparted with crucial knowledge and information on the Human Rights and civil liberties.  Sadly, such programme has gone dormant.  I therefore suggest that it is revived.

Mr. Speaker, the primacy of the Rule of Law and an impartial and effective legal system protects the civil rights of all people in relation to their property, personal security and liberty.  Here in Seychelles our Legal and Judiciary system functions independently so that they can serve the interest of its citizen, rather than, a particular political party.  In this way, it protects the civil rights of its citizens against the states influences.  However, we still hear many negative criticisms in that area, which very often, are well justified.  We therefore, need a drastic change in the attitude of certain personnel in such a vital institution, hence, serving the public with greater fairness and dignity.  We need a stronger civil society which is about people contributing to the governing of the country, through their participation in their community.

Good governance cannot truly occur until basic rights are guaranteed by Government willing to take responsibility for the social security of its people.  As a nation we should be proud of our accomplishments, to overcome the latter and to guarantee that our people enjoy all their basic rights.

Mr. Speaker, again, it is a high priority on our Government agenda in investing in our people.  Investing in our people means, creating a skilled workforce.  This is a reality in Seychelles, since our basic economic and social Human Rights are met including the rights to adequate education, health, services, food and shelter.

As a Government we keep finding innovative ways to carefully manage our national economy.  Good management of the economy ensures that we have enough resources to guarantee basic Human Rights.  However, Mr. Speaker, we all know that if these rights are not met, it is difficult to create accountable and transparent institutions so vital to good governance and sustainable development.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that our Government has done, is doing and will continue to do everything within its capacity to safeguard our achievements as a prosperous nation.  Over the past decades, Seychelles has successfully promoted high living standards and social development.  The well being of all people remains our primary focus and we will keep therefore, investing in all economic and social programmes which enable each and every Seychellois to achieve their dreams and aspirations.  Despite all those achievements we also need major focus on finding innovative ways to tackle the many challenges we are faced with.  This is our commitment; this is the commitment of the Commonwealth Member States.  We will adopt the Charter and I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER

Honourable Pillay.

HON SEBASTIEN PILLAY

Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Mr. Speaker having listened to other Members talk at length about the Commonwealth Charter, and our adoption of the Charter today, it leads me to make a few points about what we are discussing today and based on what has been said.

Mr. Speaker, having read about the Charter, I find that this Charter is actually the first document, setting out the values and the principles of the Commonwealth as an organization.  And of course, the aspirations, of all Member States which are like-minded States.  Like the Seychelles, a Small Island Developing States this is very important for us.  Because it allows us to have a platform, to have a soft power network through which we can push our agenda for change.  Through which we can help other Nations by giving them of our knowledge, in terms of our changes that we have done, democratically, of the growth that we have done.

Another thing Mr. Speaker that I know, is that, this Charter is much like an overarching summary and the point here is that, we are all being asked to establish, to ensure that this is established as the recognized statement of what the Commonwealth stands for – and indeed, based on what everybody has said is that, this Charter should be accessible to all Commonwealth citizens.  It is a means of course, to protect and to promote the Commonwealth core democratic values as we go forward in time.  Because bear in mind this is part of the modernization process for the Commonwealth.  It has to remain relevant with what is happening in the world today.  I think in the past, there can be criticism as to whether or not the Commonwealth has remained connected to what is happening, has remained relevant to the changes that has been happening.  But I think this Charter, by adopting this Charter, the Member States are now saying, a stronger Commonwealth means a stronger will to change the world and turn it into a better place.  And this is what our Assembly is doing today.  For in fact, as a generation we make our contribution to the history of our country.  Tomorrow as the youth of our country will take the helm, they will realize that it was this Assembly that adopted this Charter.  That it was a start that was made within this Assembly to ensure that our nation continues to grow and prosper and develop into an ever changing world.

Mr. Speaker, another issue that I feel that I should bring forward is about the fragility of nations.  Now, the adoption of the Charter is only one step, the whole point is to ensure that the values, the aspirations and everything that it is said, everything that is good about the Charter, is actually implemented.  And Member States that cannot implement this Charter, only weakens the resource of the Commonwealth, only weakens the power that the Commonwealth may bring in terms of solving conflict, helping nations change and it is essential therefore that not only on member States to adopt the Charter, but also key mechanisms are put in place to ensure that there is consistent involvement on the part of the Commonwealth as an organization.  I’m not talking about interference here, but I am talking about involvement to ensure that member States are able to carry forward the ideas and the principles set out in the Charter.  It’s about collectively working together to bring about a change that is profound, that is significant and that will have an impact down the line 10 years.  It is not about only putting a measuring time, sort of a stop gap measure to say today, ‘ok, we bring the Charter together, we bring all the aspirations together’.  It’s about committing to a purpose and this is what I take out from the Charter.  To me it’s not about all the values expended in the Charter, it’s about what we do from now on with what has been expended within the Charter that will be relevant, that will define our generation.

Make no mistake, the world is changing.  There are many networks of relationships going up and indeed for Small Island Developing States our agenda must be sustainable development and it is only through having networks like the Commonwealth that we can achieve this.  But the Commonwealth is only as strong as its member States and therefore, that is why we need these key frameworks at the country level to ensure, that the Charter can be implemented.

Mr. Speaker, I have made some bold comments about the Charter, I know.  I have made these comments in good faith because I feel that it is very, very important that we situate where the issues lie.  Many member States of the Commonwealth are today facing difficult situations, whereby, they are having problems within the evolution of their own democracy.  We are lucky in this country that we have been able to evolve democratically into a Nation that is peaceful, caring and I will say loving.  And therefore, we must emphasize that these values remain unchanged.  The youth of tomorrow must have the right attitude Mr. Speaker.  I think it’s, everywhere in the National Assembly, that it is your attitude that will define where you go, how high you go.  It is not your intelligence.  Because you may have the right intelligence but without the right attitude to foster change, to bring about meaningful change, this will not happen.

Mr. Speaker, indeed, if we look at the Commonwealth theme for this year, which is “Opportunity through Enterprise”, we understand how this connects with what the Charter sets out, that is, by fostering creativity, by developing intelligence, by making reference to the importance of education, we are able to ensure that by being enterprising we create the opportunities for the youth of tomorrow.  To ensure that the youth can participate actively into the development of our Nations because for far too long they have not been given the opportunity.  And we have made a bold step in this country, we have made the difference in this country and a lot of Nations may learn from what we have done in the Seychelles.

Mr. Speaker, I had intended to come with a written speech but after listening to my colleagues, I found that this is a very, very rich subject.  It lends itself to a lot of thought about how we can change, how we can push the issue, how us as a small nation can have a voice in the world around us.

Indeed Mr. Speaker, as I would like to end my short intervention on the Commonwealth Charter, I would like to say this; many of us talk about the challenges which the Commonwealth faces.  But I think we should view these challenges as, not as tumbling blocks but rather as stepping stones.  Stepping stones that will lead us to a greater, a more peaceful, a more stable, not only country, but global environment into which, our children tomorrow can find themselves also making a meaningful contribution towards growth and prosperity.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER

Honourable Valmont.

 

HON SYLVIANNE VALMONT

Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Good morning and good morning to all Dignitaries.  Mr. Speaker, it is with much appreciation and pride that I join my other colleagues to bring my support and contribution to the Motion tabled by the Leader of Government Business today.

I am honoured Mr. Speaker, not only because it is commemorative of our Assembly to adopt the Charter on the occasion of the Commonwealth Day, which is indeed opportune and fitting, but also, because as a new Member of this Assembly, it is a one year celebration this week on the 13th, for a few of us.  When I was called to become a Member last year, I was then in Port Elizabeth, in South Africa attending a one week conference planned and organized by the Commonwealth and the host country.  The conference namely the ‘Global Fibre Forum’, had brought together 30 or more country representatives.  To share ideas and experiences, to consult and to cooperate as well as to learn from the host country’s practical innovative models.

Conferences and workshops such as these Mr. Speaker provide us with ample opportunities to develop and establish friendships.  To share our concerns on policies, to consult and to cooperate in the common interest of our people.  The same forum, had gathered senior professors from universities, high profile government officials, policy makers, Traders, NGOs, ministers as well as farmers and artisans to name a few.  I mention this Mr. Speaker with the intent to highlight a clear example among so many others, that are taken by the Commonwealth in line with the Charter, that this Assembly will surely adopt.

I would also like at this point, in support and to justify the example stated, to read the introductory paragraph of the Charter, depicting the underlined values and principles mentioned.  I quote, “Affirming that the Commonwealth way is to seek consensus through consultation, and the sharing of experience, especially through practical cooperation and further affirming that the Commonwealth is uniquely placed, to serve as a model and as a catalyst for new forms of friendship and cooperation in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nation”.  Unquote.

Mr. Speaker, in continuing my intervention I would like to speak briefly on 3 more aspects of this Charter.  Namely Article 4; Tolerance, Respect and Understanding.  Article 8; Good Governance and Article 12; Gender Equality.  The Charter emphasizes the need to promote tolerance, respect and understanding which are essential to the development of free and democratic societies, and recalls that respect for the dignity of all human beings, is critical to promoting peace and prosperity.  We are so blessed to be Seychellois and to be living in Seychelles.  Evidently, we are all conscious of that but we are also often told by visitors to our shores, that we are amongst the luckiest people on earth because we live in paradise, so to speak.  Our history has compelled us to live in peace and harmony from the beginning of our people’s existence, coming from several continents and communities.  We have endured our colonial past with maturity and have today become a dignified multi-racial society.  Where peace and security prevails due to continued effort of our people and Government.

The Government of the day Mr. Speaker stands to be commended for its tireless efforts to ensure that Policies are in line with the Constitution of a new democracy, of our new democracy.  Despite diverse challenges, socially, economically and globally, great strides are made to continually promote tolerance, respect and understanding, moderation and religious freedom in our country.  Adopting the Commonwealth Charter will be another step in the right direction.

On the subject of good governance Mr. Speaker, the Charter is calling for our commitment to promote same through the rule of law to ensure transparency and accountability and to root out both at national and international levels systemic and systematic corruption.  The recent and historic event at our Assembly, speaks for itself Mr. Speaker.  The hard work of our FPAC Committee was dully recognized and emphasized for having published its first report in 20 years, after examining the Audits carried out in 2009 and 2010.

It also goes to show that there are mechanisms in place to reinforce and implement government policies in order to maintain good governance.  At this point, I can also mention the work of the Ethics Commission.  A unit set up by Government also in line with our Constitution, not only to promote ethical values throughout Government Institutions, but also to promote and encourage transparency and accountability at all levels.

Through advocacy here at several sittings of the Assembly, which also includes lately, the State of the Nations Address.  We continue to appeal and call for continued transparency and accountability in all Government Institutions.

Several Bills and Acts have been and will be revisited in line with and in order to maintain good governance.  In adopting the Commonwealth Charter, we will continue to uphold the values and principles, like other member States and confirm our commitment towards them.

Last but not least Mr. Speaker, gender equality is a subject preoccupying almost all agendas nationally and more so, internationally.  The Charter states and I quote, “We recognize that Gender Equality and women’s empowerment are essential components of human developments and basic human rights.  The advancement of women’s right and the education of girls, are critical pre-conditions for effective and sustainable developments”.  Unquote.

Mr. Speaker, it is particularly evident, that our country Seychelles has recognizes and has intensified its work concerning gender issue, in line with Chapter 3 of our Constitution, as well as through Government regulations and policies.

Political will has been demonstrated at various levels within Government Institution, and also to give more impetus to the subject, a gender unit was created under the aegis of the Ministry responsible for Social Affairs.  That was to respond to the United Nations millennium objectives and targets.  It has to be noted, that our country, despite its size and population, keeps abreast with and has been engaged in promoting gender issues nationally and internationally.  Allow me to illustrate this by referring to a very recent event where 2 women from our very own Assembly and a member of staff attended the 5th Conference of Commonwealth Women ParliamentarianS for Africa Region, which took place in East London, South Africa last month.  Hence, our voice and concerns are being shared not only at national level but also with others from different parts of the world.

Our education system caters for equal opportunity for both boys and girls and obviously, it is up to our youth to make good use of what is offered to them.  Post secondary and tertiary education systems are open to all to pursue and career opportunities are available for men and women alike who have attained the right qualifications.

Mr. Speaker, last Friday as we joined other nations to celebrate the International Women’s Day, the gender issue was the focus of the entire half day Conference.  The event allowed several Institutions, including Government and Civil Society, to showcase their achievements and to advocate on pertinent issues related to gender equality.  We are already on the right track Mr. Speaker.  Progress made in our country is evident here, also in this room, by the 45 percentage of women compared to men, in this Assembly.

In adopting the Commonwealth Charter Mr. Speaker, we demonstrate our support and pledge our commitment with the rest of the Commonwealth member States.  We also endeavour to show our solidarity to the rest of the world that as a small island state, we are not only concerned, but we are also ready to take actions.

I thank you Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER

Honourable De Commarmond.

HON CHARLES DE COMMARMOND

Mr. Speaker, Sir, good morning and good morning to you all present in our National Assembly today, especially His Excellency the Minister for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency British High Commissioner and all others present, all protocols observed.

Mr. Speaker I feel privileged today, to take the floor and to address this House on the Motion before us.  The Charter of the Commonwealth is indeed a brilliant, commendable initiative that we will eventually ensure that as a family of Nations, we the Commonwealth countries will embrace a common culture and share common values such as respect for human rights, tolerance and respect for the Rule of Law.  Whilst I am a strong proponent of most of the chapters in the Charter, whether it is freedom of expression, sustainable development, gender equality and international peace and security, may I Mr. Speaker, express my concern at the failure of this Charter, to promote in a positive and aggressive manner, the independence of the Legislature both administrative and financial, as an important branch of Government, that will ensure transparency and accountability through oversight.

I note Mr. Speaker, that Article 7 of the Charter emphasizes the need for an independent, impartial, honest and competent Judiciary and recognizes that an independent effective and competent legal system is integral to upholding the Rule of Law.  In my opinion, the Charter would have been more complete with more or less, a similar Article stressing on the need for autonomous Legislature with all the administrative and financial powers and this in my opinion Mr. Speaker, would have made the Commonwealth Charter, a better piece of policy document.

In conclusion let me once again, reiterate my support for the Motion before the House, and to call upon all my colleagues to support it so that we continue to play our role as a key partner in the Commonwealth, thus, ensuring that the noble Commonwealth values prevail in our land.

Let us not be victim to the perils of indifference, let us take a stand; a strong one indeed, and let us cry ‘long live the Commonwealth’.  I thank you Mr. Speaker, Sir.

 

MR. SPEAKER

Right of Reply, Honourable Rose.

 

HON MARIE-ANTOINETTE ROSE

Mr. Speaker thank you.  May I thank all the Members who have intervened on the Motion this morning and who have really taken time to go through the various Articles of this very important document that we are adopting today and really pointed out what we’ve achieved as a country.  But I think that I have to reiterate a few points made by my colleagues and by the Leader of the Opposition.  The question is, what do we do now?  How does Seychelles move to the next level of development?  And what greater role can the Seychelles play in the Commonwealth as an Association?

Mr. Speaker I would like to reiterate an old adage that taken from Her Majesty’s message which you read this morning and that is ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.  We all know that, we all know what it means, but perhaps we do not take time to really explore what it means and what it means for us here in the Seychelles.  And what it means with regards to the Seychelles and its relationship, not only to the Commonwealth as an Association, but to other Commonwealth countries.  But it also means that, Seychelles for the past 30 years we’ve ventured into quite a lot and I think all the interventions made this morning, has made the point that we’ve ventured and we’ve gained so much and we have to keep on venturing into new areas, keep on exploring new frontiers of development and keep on ensuring that what we have attained as a country, is never destroyed by all the scourges that threaten our livelihood, what we have attained and what the Commonwealth as an Association is trying to attain.

Mr. Speaker, this is why I think that this years’ theme for the Commonwealth, which is “Opportunity through Enterprise”, is very fitting for Seychelles.  It’s now been 5 years since we’ve gone through, since we have accepted that we have had different challenges in terms of our economy and we’ve gone through the Economic Reform Program.  And 5 years later, we can see the results of various opportunities that the change has brought about for our people, for our country.  And now the next step for Seychelles I believe is to take a leading role in the Commonwealth but also on the global scale.

Mr. Speaker, various speakers have also highlighted the need for us to be relevant.  We have to be relevant, not only as a Parliament.  We have to be relevant as a country.  Our Government has to remain relevant.  We’ve talked quite a bit about revisiting policies, relooking at out legislation, relooking at our practices and that doesn’t mean that what we were doing were not good.  It means that times are changing.

Honourable Pillay pointed out that times have changed and a lot of things that we were doing before, we really have to sit down as a nation and I know that we have the support of not only the Commonwealth but various organizations but today is about the Commonwealth and we know we have the support of the Commonwealth to relook at all of that and the time is now.  It’s a moment of extraordinary promise for Seychelles and if this generation of Leaders we do not take positions on issues, if we do not voice our concerns, if we do not be active agents of change and if we do not help educate our people, we will not be able to move to the next level of development.

Mr. Speaker, I think the decision will be unanimous based on the debate to add up the Motion and I believe that those young people up there witnessing this historical occasion will one day remember us for having taken that decision and having played an important part in modernizing the Seychelles and in establishing this new Seychelles which we all hope for.

On that note Mr. Speaker, I thank you and I thank all the Members for their interventions and for their support on this Motion.  Thank you.

 

MR. SPEAKER

Thank you.  That the question be now put.  All those in favour?  Any one against?  Ok, the Motion has been passed, unanimously.  So, the Commonwealth Charter has been duly adopted by the National Assembly of Seychelles.

Before we adjourn, I will like to congratulate Honourable Ghislain on her birthday today.  Happy Birthday.

E zis pou les bann manm piblik konnen ki malgre nou pe adjourn ziska Mardi prosen, Lasanble pe kontinnyen dan en sesyon spesyal kot bann zenn Parlmanter pou take over, more or less nou Lasanble Nasyonal e zot pou debat sa tenm “Opportunity through Enterprise”. I en keksoz premye fwa i arive dan nou listwar me i ganny pratike dann bann Parlman Commonwealth sirtou dan House of Commons e i en keksoz ki nou annan lentansyon fer toulezan e donk alor, mon ava dir nou pou adjourn ziska Mardi prosen koman en Lasanble me Lasanble i kontinnyen fonksyonnen e mon envit tou bann Manm pou swiv sa deba pou ankouraz nou bann zenn.  Meeting adjourned.

 

(ADJOURNMENT)