NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SEYCHELLES
Tuesday 21st January, 2020
The Assembly met at 2pm
Moment of Reflection
Mr Speaker in the Chair
Madam President of the Inter- Parliamentary Union,
Leader of Government Business,
Members of the National Assembly,
Deputy Clerk and Desk Officer for IPU Members of the Youth Assembly here present in the Gallery,
Members of staff of the Secretariat of the National Assembly,
Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen a very good afternoon to you all and welcome to this Extraordinary Sitting.
Only last year we celebrated the 130th Anniversary of the IPU, whereby our National Assembly marked the occasion with a message which i delivered before the house. Today we have the immense honor to receive the President of the IPU here with us, Ms Gabriella Cuevas Barron;
Madam President welcome to the National Assembly of Seychelles.
After my introduction the President of the IPU will address the House, followed by remarks from the Leader of Government Business and the Opposition whip. The Assembly will adjourn after this and all Members will be invited to take a group photo in front of the Assembly and then accompany the President to the garden where she will plant a fruit tree.
We will end the day together with tea and coffee in the lobby.
Honorable Members, Ms Barron is the youngest and second women to serve as President of the IPU since it’s foundation in 1889. She was elected in office in October 2017 in St Petersburg Russia.
Ms Barron has held positions in both the executive and legislative branches in Mexico, she has also presided over and participated on different legislative committees. Ms Barron has received the award of Chevalier De La Legion D’honneur in France, and last year she was awarded with the Order of St Agatha in San Marino.
Madam President your Biography and CV should inspire the youths around the world;- such a brilliant political career which is started at the very young age of 18 and today still very young, you are now at the helm of the IPU. I appeal to the Youths of Seychelles, especially Members of our Youth Assembly, to take up politics seriously and earn your place in our National Assembly. We need young blood. we need youth voices, we need to hear your aspirations and of course your contributions and participation in the Political development of our country. This year the National Assembly of Seychelles celebrates 10 years since becoming a member of IPU. Madam President, your visit could not have been a better occasion to mark this celebration.
Since 2010 delegates have always participated in the plenaries and committee meetings. remarkably it’s been during your 10 year Madam President, that Seychelles has been the most active, during the last 3years we have been at the forefront to move and support the cause of small Island developing States, and also addressing climate change. The Seychelles delegation has also initiated the SIDs grouping and this idea is gathering momentum.
We hope that before your Presidency ends IPU will formally accept us SIDs as a geopolitical group. Madam President as you once said to me, all voices are heard in the IPU. There are no big country or small country we all have the same voice.
For me, leading the Seychelles delegation at the IPU has been memorable when i think of the 139th plenary in Geneva, the 140th in Doha and the 141st in Belgrade, the amount of work we have covered under your Leadership has been remarkable and has been amazing.
Your strength and ability to deliver, to lead has just been remarkable. We must continue to believe and believe that the principle objectives of the IPU set out at its formation in 1889 are foundations to create not only parliamentary democracy but to create a better world order. A world where nations can live in peace and harmony.
Madam President your presence here today is testimony to what IPU believes in and what we are implementing in our Assembly.
Our slogan moving towards a modern democracy reflects our ambition and our dream of creating a better Seychelles, it also reflects the IPU moto for democracy for everyone. Your address to this August House will serve as a testimony not only to us but also to IPU, a testimony of your hard work to bring about dialogue and respect to the institution the parliament.
Again thank you for gracing us with your presence.
Madam President the floor of the House is now yours. I thank you.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION GABRIELLA CUEVAS BARRON
Honorable Nicholas Prea, Speaker of the National Assembly of Seychelles,
Leader of Government Business,
Members of the National Assembly,
Deputy Clerk and Desk Officer for the IPU,
Members of the Youth Assembly here present in the gallery,
Members of Staff of the Secretariat of the National Assembly,
Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to start a big, big thank you.
Thank you very much Speaker Prea because since the beginning you believed in the Parliamentary Union. You believed that changing the planet with the parliaments is possible and you supported my candidature to become a President of the IPU, so this Presidency is also Presidency for Seychelles. Thank you very much for that generous support.
Allow me to tell you dear colleagues that I have been in your country about 48 hours and I already fell in love with all the nature, all the beauty but of course the big heart of the Seychelles people! Thank you very much for your warmth and kind welcome. You can be sure that yes, this is my first visit to Seychelles but it won’t be the last one. Thank you, thank you very much for this wonderful visit.
A 130 years ago the IPU was founded, if we tried to imagine what was happening in the planet 130 years ago, where many countries were not in the map; if we can try to imagine what has been going on in the planet; there were 2 World Wars.
Humanity went to the moon a 130 years ago communications and transportations that something that today with a Smart phone we cannot even imagine how they were living a 130 years ago, and at that time 9 countries decided to start a parliamentary diplomacy and they called it the Inter- Parliamentary Union; they believed in democracy; they believed in human rights and they believed on the beauty of all parliamentarians in the planet, to promote this two very important values, democracy of the first way that we can take decisions for our countries, but also human rights as the most important approach to respect each other and to grow as a society.
But now a 130 years later IPU is a largest parliamentary organisation in the planet. Yes we are the oldest but also we are about to reach universal membership. We had been there at the most complicated moments in the planet.
Yes IPU has been searching the table for very important disputes and becoming a very important actor in terms of mediations and trying to find solutions, because that’s the nature of politics;- to talk, to exchange, to build understanding.
Today the planet is not easier as a 130 years ago. Today we are seeing inequality, poverty, hunger. We are seeing a lot of conflicts around the planet.
We are seeing how the Poles are melting, how violations and human rights are still happening. Yes we don’t have a World War but we do have a lot of conflicts that we need to resolve.
If we are very sincere as parliamentarians, we can also say that politics are changing. Politics need to change in order to deliver good results for the people that we represent. We cannot expect to rule the planet of the 21st century with institutions that were designed centuries ago.
Things are changing; communications, technology. The new generations are demanding more participation. We need to understand that we also need to adapt for this new challenges and when it comes to the parliaments, the first challenge is how are we going to include women? If we take a look to the statistics worldwide there are only 24percent of the SIDS for women.
The world is in imparity with 50-50percent, but when it comes to SIDS to taking decisions on law, on budget, on policies that is not inclusive.
We need more women in politics because we need all peoples voices represented here. And the same happens with youth. More than half of the total world’s population is under 30 years old but if we see how many SIDS in all the parliaments of the planet are dedicated to youth on their 30 years old, it is only 2.2percent. That is not ok! That is not an inclusive parliament! That is not an inclusive democracy! So taking the opportunity of having the Youth Assembly here, this is your opportunity.
And allow me to tell a little bit about my experience. I started in politics a long time ago when I was only 15 years old and I decided to start in politics. There was no politicians in my family. I was like we say in Mexico ‘the black sheep’, but I decided to start in politics because I was sure and I’m still sure that we need fresh air in politics; we need fresh ideas, we need new approaches, we need your perspective to take better decisions and then a little bit later I became the youngest parliamentarian – being elected in year 2000, and I was only 21 years old.
I was told that the limit here to run for a sitting parliament is 18 years old. So you’re losing time. Start in politics, and start working for your community; start working with your neighbors and most important, change the planet with the IPU.
The other important issue is being a woman in politics. And in parliament in the IPU that’s another challenge – yes. I was kind of quarter for everything, quarter as a woman, quarter as a young parliamentarian and that’s why I took these two very important perspectives in a very serious way as President of the IPU, because we must bring women and youth to the international arena. And the best bridge to do that is through national parliament.
Another very important aspect of our reality today is that regardless of our age yes we can be young as a Young Assembly but also we can have some years and experience but at the end we are part of the same generation.
A generation that has to take very important decisions, again being probably politically incorrect, let’s face it, now the world is having a strong debate between democratic morals of governance and authoritarians.
There is also a very important debate between those that are trying to make a responsible Government to those who believe in populism. There is a strong tension in the planet between us the people who believes in multilateralism and those voices that are threatening the planet, talking about unilateralism.
There’s a strong advocacy for cooperation but also there are terrible voices that are pretending to have illusionist as an international policy.
Again democracy and human rights are the most important values for the IPU but I believe that the most important threat is to take democracy and human right for granted.
Here in Seychelles you have young country a young democracy but also you have a very important message to all Africa and to all the planet which is the importance of dialogue.
It doesn’t matter if you have one party at the presidency and the different responsibility to the National Assembly; you are all sharing the same mandate, which is to talk, to have dialogue, to build bridges, to find solutions for the people that you represent and that’s the spirit of parliamentarism; to find solutions through dialogue.
I believe that our generation has very important decisions to defend democracy and to defend human rights but also we need to take a very important decision for our planet. We need to take politics seriously and to put persons at the center of all our decisions. The only way that the economic debate makes sense is when we think on how this is going to affect people, the person that are trusting on us.
The only way that legal reforms are making sense again is when we think on the persons;- how our decisions are going to affect or benefit the people in our homes. And I do believe that IPU has a strong mandate to give politics a new meaning. And that’s the only way that we are going to recover trust from our constituencies, from youth, from the people that today doesn’t want to know anything about politics.
Again this generation has to take a decision. Why are we here? Which are our values? Which are our commitments? We have to decide if we are going to be the generation that kills the planet or if we are going to be the generation that saves the planet. I am here because I believe. I believe in parliaments, I believe in the 45,000 parliamentarians in the planet that are joining the Inter- Parliamentary Union.
I believe in the power of youth. I believe in the strength of women. I believe in the force of Africa. Let’s take a decision. Let’s save our planet especially our Islands.
I would like to thank again to Seychelles, but most specially to you Honorable Speaker Prea and all the IPU delegation and all the Secretariat that is working hardly with the IPU.
Yes, we have the possibility to save the planet. I’m sure about that but the only way that IPU is going to be successful and we are going to be honoring our founding fathers is being capable of translating international commitments into local realities. And that goes for the Paris Agreement on climate change, that goes for the sustainable development goals, that goes for the global compact from refugees immigration.
I have seen the commitment of the delegation of Seychelles at the IPU. I have seen your work of Honorable Speaker leading the debates on climate change.
I know that I can count on Seychelles for making a stronger, a richer a more relevant IPU.
Thank you so much for your support. Thank you so much for these wonderful invitation and I thank you so much because I know that all parliamentarians in Seychelles are committed to change and save this planet. Thank you, thank you and thank you.
Thank you Madam President. I believe I think ‘’we’’ the 6th National Assembly we can say ‘’We believe!’’
We believe that we can make the changes. We can make the positive changes I said it in my message honoring the 130th Anniversary of the IPU that there is there is no planet b!
So we the 6th National Assembly we should believe in ourselves that we are instruments of change. And we can actually be part of the change to make this world a better place and to leave at least a healthy planet for generations to come. Yes, Madam President thank you. ‘’We believe.’’
May I now call on the Leader of the Government Business, Honorable Charles De Commarmond for his remarks. Honorable De Commarmond.
HON CHARLES DE COMMARMOND
Thank you Mr Speaker Sir. Mr Speaker Sir, her Excellency Miss Gabriella Cuevas Barron President of IPU,
Members of the National Assembly here present,
Members of the Youth Parliament,
People of Seychelles good afternoon.
First of all let me thank you Mr Speaker Sir, for allowing me to say a few words on this auspicious occasion and to grace the presence of our special guest her Excellency Ms Gabriella Cuevas Barron President of IPU in the National Assembly of Seychelles today.
The National Assembly of Seychelles formally joined the Inter-Parliamentary Union IPU during its 122nd General Assembly held in Bangkok Thailand in 2010, under the leadership of the then Speaker Dr Patrick Herminie, following a resolution adopted by the governing Council of IPU.
Ever since the relationship between the two institutions have grown from strength to strength. It is pertinent to say that this building where we are here today was officially inaugurated in 2009 by the same Speaker in the presence of his Excellency Honorable Theo-Ben Gurirab who was the guest of honor and was then the president of the Inter- Parliamentary Union.
Indeed he was instrumental in ensuring that the National Assembly becomes a Member of the IPU. You will recall your Excellency that an invitation was extended to you by the former Speaker of the National Assembly Honorable Patrick Pillay at the 137th Inter- Parliamentary Union held in St. Petersburg Russia in October 2017 after your election to visit our beautiful country.
During your mandate you promised that to our delegation then, that you will honor this commitment. We feel extremely proud and privileged to have you answer to our call! That is a promise delivered.
You will further recall Madam that on the margin of that conference a nine point Declaration by the parliamentarians from the Small Island States – SIDs including Seychelles was submitted to the Standing Committee on sustainable development finance and trade by the Seychelles. The declarations main objective was to develop legislations towards low carbon climate resistance and join the response in line with the sustainable development goals SDGs. We are proud to state that Seychelles is now a leading Small Island States in the further run of that goal. To note that Seychelles is well ahead of the rest of Africa and the region in realising one important resolutions of that general Assembly and that is achieving universal health by 2030.
To note also Madam President March 2020 will mark 10 years that Seychelles became a member of the IPU. And also taking note that IPU is celebrating its 130th existence anniversary as a multilateral parliamentary organisation and boosting 179 member countries the largest on the planet, as you said, is also a mark in the history.
I fully endorse and support the ongoing campaign by the SIDS groupings within the IPU for achieving the specific geopolitical grouping status and this Madam President we are entirely counting on your support in the process to achieving this.
In achieving this also Madam President we feel that the voice of Small Islands Developing States will be more effective when it comes to matters to do with Small Islands States issues which only the islands can advocate and promote.
The National Assembly of Seychelles remain resolute in its endeavor to provide the proper resources both physical and human to ensure that this goal is sustained.
Madam President we are particularly proud that today you are addressing our parliament. To the best of my knowledge you are the first woman President of the Inter- Parliamentary Union and the first youngest President women President of IPU to officially visit Seychelles and address our National Assembly.
This is history, part of a history that marks our Assembly National Assembly history. Whilst we grace your presence here among us, we also hope that your same presence will inspire our women in Seychelles, especially the young ones, to take up such important challenges and participate more on the local political echelon.
It is important that the young women, ladies in our country participate more especially in politics, because the women’s heart is different from that of the man we can say where it comes to the attention given to the people. It is also important to state that today in Seychelles, the judiciary leads the other branches of Government where woman participation is concerned. They are better than the National Assembly and better than the Executive.
So we should go in that direction also in our country. I would also like to avail myself of this opportunity to congratulate you for your vision and the new direction you have set the IPU on. I congratulate you also for your engagement and determination and excellent work done by the IPU since you took its helm in 2017.
You are well known for your work to promote human rights, gender equality and your stance against corruption and environmental degradation. Continue to do that. It is important and Seychelles will support you and continue to support you in that endeavor.
Seychelles is one of the smallest and youngest parliament in the world, but the experience we have been through, is immense. And this shows the higher level of the evolution and development of our democracy in this small and beautiful country.
Maybe sometimes in the near future Seychelles, could share this valuable experience with the IPU.
To conclude it is my wish that the IPU continue to be a forum for us the Small Islands States especially to voice out salient issues, problems and challenges affecting our country and the world. It is in order to further develop to further the development of our people and to ensure that peace and stability continue to reign in the world.
Your Excellency I wish you good health and an enjoyable stay in the Seychelles. I would advise you to taste our breadfruit, so that you could come back. That’s a definite, definite point. If you do that you will come back! It is clear.
We wish you courage also and all the best in the challenges and opportunities that lays ahead of you! And wherever you will be in the future being it the President of your country, being it at the helm of the United Nation or elsewhere, because when we look at your CV we see a long way for you to go and a lot of contributions to the world.
Think of us wherever you will be in the future. Think of Seychelles and continue to support us. We won’t let you down.
May God bless you and keep you for many more years to come. And so that you will continue to help mankind. I thank you.
Thank you Honorable De Commarmond. Earlier I was saying to Madam President that she set the bar real high at the IPU but I think now you setting the bar even higher for her, aspiring to become President of Mexico and maybe even Secretary General at the United Nations! Wow! Madam President challenges are in front of you. Thank you Honorable.
May I now call on Honorable Jean-Francois Ferrari the Opposition Chief Whip for his remarks. Honorable.
HON JEAN-FRANCOIS FERRARI
Members of the Youth Parliament,
Visitors and friends from the Press and friends of the Inter- Parliamentary Union,
I am honored to have been task by the Leader of the majority party in our National Assembly, to convey his greetings and welcome to our country and parliament. It is indeed an honor Madam to be graced by your presence. And I thank our Speaker Honorable Prea for having made this event possible.
Seychelles as you will have seen in the past 24, 48 hours is a small country but with a big heart. We are also one of the smallest and youngest parliament in the IPU, but nevertheless one of the most active members; always seeking to learn and grow with the help and friendship of our partners in this great union.
We are also a strong parliament and proud to be so. We take this opportunity to thank the IPU for having offered us the support over the years to build our institution into what it has become today.
Strong parliaments, I am sure you will agree Madam President are the cornerstone of democracy and are essential for national development.
We are therefore proud to be part of the IPU;- an organisation that has helped and encouraged our own institutions, as well as many other parliaments around the world, to become more representative. As far as Seychelles goes, I think this applies more gender balance.
We have some way to go. Younger (apart from myself with my grey hair), there are young aspiring members of this National Assembly and others who are aspiring.
Transparent;- thanks to the great work of the Speaker we have made this National Assembly the People’s Assembly transparent and always accessible, more accountable. I think nobody will disagree with that. And also more effective.
And this depends on which side of the hall you sit on, but we believe that we have been quite effective over the past few years. May I say therefore Madam President that as far as parliamentary responsibility and scrutiny of all of Government action as far as this goes on in our House it will be hard to find a small parliament so effective as this one in which you sit today. And yet we are not satisfied with that.
We are also very ambitious for the future. As we continue to build our institution, we pledge our efforts to establish and develop a relationship of trust with our constituents;- those people that we ultimately serve. And we should never forget this. If we can achieve this relationship, we will achieve where many others would have failed and our work and efforts would have been worthwhile.
And yes we can say with confidence Madam President whether the Seychellois public appreciates fully the changes we have brought and the progress we have achieved, or not, this 6th parliament has been immensely active compared to its equivalent in many other countries.
It is not often that we have the opportunity to pat ourselves on the back. And I would like to thank you because with your presence here, we are actually patting ourselves in the back and saying that we have not done too badly and we pledge to do even better in the years ahead.
You would have learned during this visit Madam President that our small country has been blessed with two economic resources and these are our natural beauty and the fish that inhabit our waters. Both are of great export value and the underpin our national economy.
But there is a third resource that we had been caring for and nurturing over the years and we are now ready or nearly ready to share and export to the world; this is our democracy.
We have a living fast evolving democracy where winner does not take all, where areas of consensus are created and where political transition is being made possible for the first time since our independence.
You have mentioned fresh ideas Madam President, this is exactly what we have sought to bring to our parliament and we are confident that in this year 2020 we may with the grace of God, bring a fresh Government with fresh and young vision for this country for the decades and the century ahead.
Yes we believe in change!
Yes we believe in hard work and we believe that yes we can bring change. We have discovered the value of a well-functioning democracy that protects rights of individuals and brings economic prosperity to all. We are therefore happy to offer ourselves to the world as an example for others to follow.
In closing may I on behalf of Honorable Wavel Ramkalawan and the team on this side of the House that he proudly leads, allow me to thank you for your words of encouragement. Thank you for the passion that you show in leading the IPU in those challenging times. Have a nice and restful and peaceful stay in the Seychelles. Thank you.
Thank you Honorable Ferrari. I think I have to make a little comment. Yes small but effective parliament and I think we can pat ourselves in the back and say that in this very short time 3 years now of the existence of the 6th National Assembly, we have worked, we have delivered, something that all of us believed in when we took the oath of allegiance here.
Yes pat ourselves in the back because sometimes we forget to do that. Ok? Thank you very much Honorable.
Madam President, Honorable Members, Ladies and Gentleman and of course without forgetting our audience I would like to take this occasion to thank the SBC team as always for airing or for transmitting this Extraordinary Sitting live to our audience. Thank you once again.
The Assembly now is adjourned and we will meet outside for a group photo and then we will after the planting of the tree as a ceremonial gesture. We will come back in the lobby and have a cup of tea or coffee or refreshment and then of course we can have a chit chat with Madam President. The Assembly is now adjourned.