‘Another colourful feather in President Michel’s cap’


In my capacity as the founding President of the Republic of Seychelles, as an elected member of Comesa's Committee of Elders and as the recipient of the Gusi Peace Prize Award 2011 for Statesmanship, I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to President James A. Michel for the great initiative he has embarked upon in an endeavour to bring national reconciliation to our neighbouring island/continent "Madagascar".

Referring to the situation between Canada and its big neighbour, the USA, the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau stated that "whenever the U.S. Elephant trembles, it shakes the grass on Canadian soil". The same situation applies with respect to Seychelles and the other small Nations of the western Indian Ocean vis-à-vis Madagascar. In fact, the population of the small Nations cannot sleep in total peace until and unless peace and stability is restored on the big island.

Over the years since its independence, Seychelles has made it a point never to interfere in the internal politics of the big island. Having recognised this important factor, President Michel has availed of his position as President of the Commission de L'Océan Indien (COI) to invite the two contenders for Malagasy presidency, Mr Andry Rajoelina of the Transitional Government and former President Marc Ravalomanana for a meeting on Desroches Island with a view to an agreement towards national reconciliation under the aegis of SADC, of which Seychelles is an active member.

This initiative will certainly add another colourful and impressive feather to President Michel's cap whatever be the ultimate outcome of the rendez-vous.

Only last month, President Michel invited Mauritius' Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam to Seychelles to commemorate the signing of a joint Seychelles-Mauritius Agreement to share the ownership of the Mascarene Plateau instead of fighting over it.

The leaders of Madagascar must be motivated by a sense of  "noble enlightenment" with a view to achieve a necessary fundamental political transformation within their society in the national interest.

Considering recent history, it would appear that thus far those contending for the leadership of the Malagasy Nation, first think of themselves than the political factions they represent - with Madagascar coming in third place. So long as they continue to think in this order of priority, Madagascar will remain divided and her people will dwell in the abyss of more problems, more difficulties and more confrontations.

With bankruptcy on the doorstep and confusion nationwide, the current leaders have no choice but to realise that the time has come to think about Madagascar first and in these circumstances, sincerely and energetically espouse a sustainable policy of national reconciliation.

Shaking hands over such an agreement by the two contending leaders before they leave Desroches Island would be welcomed not only in Madagascar, in the region but also internationally as in today's global village, Madagascar has a vital contribution to make both politically and economically.

Indeed, all those participating in the high-level dialogue on Desroches Island will be historically remembered for the contribution they make towards bringing long awaited peace and stability in Madagascar. I wish them success in their challenging tasks.

James R. Mancham

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