The craziest elections ever?
Undoubtedly the coming elections are super important for the country as Seychelles finds itself grappling to get its economy back on its feet after the ravages of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. As the run up to these two vote casting exercises evolve, it is turning out to be one of the craziest campaigns ever, with some parties seemingly ready to win at all and any costs. Even at the cost of appearing to be trying to stop others from participating in the electoral process!
At the same time the new Electoral Commission of Seychelles is coming under scrutiny as it applies the word of the law in administering these elections. If one is to assess and forecast the handling of the process based on the two nomination days held thus far, one can expect some turbulence ahead. Going forward the commission should really reflect on its role to foster true, fair and effective elections. While it is alright to be crossing the Ts and dotting the Is, a very important part of the equation to bear in mind is that this is an exercise in democracy and the commission should be do-ing all it can to help citizens participate actively, rather than nitpicking on minutes and seconds to be able to disqualify a potential candidate. Yes, there is the word of the law, but there is also the spirit of the law and it interpretation. Has the ECS lost sight of the humane factor when applying the law?
Is it really observance of duty to disqualify a candidate who has been sitting right in front of you and who has explained that the three replacement endorsements are being printed and on the way; just because that printout was submitted at one minute past the stipulated time? In what way are you an enabling factor when you act in such a manner?
Indeed incidences of candidates not having the required number of endorsements have occurred before and it was the 2011 disqualification of Viral Dhanjee from the presidential race which called attention to the fact that the regulations may not be giving a person as much leeway as possible to participate. Dhanjee was disqualified on the grounds that he did not make up the quota of endorsements just the same as Patrick Pillay, this time around. Dhanjee had submitted his nomination early morning so there was ample time for the then commissioner of Elections to inform him of the discrepancy and give him the opportunity to submit the balance. According to Dhanjee it did not happen and he was only informed at the certification ceremony that he lacked some endorsements because several of the names he had submitted were not in the voters register. He took the matter to court and won, with the Constitutional Court finding that his right had been violated and the judge ruled that he be allowed to participate. However, the matter went to appeal and he lost on the grounds that it was too late to stop the electoral process and start all over again.The important part of the court case is that the court recognized that Dhanjee’s right to participate in the electoral process had indeed been violated! This was probably why in 2015, when the candidate from one of the bigger parties’ submission felt short of some endorsements, he was informed in a timely manner and given the opportunity to rectify the situation which he did and qualified to participate. Given this precedence, why did the scenario change again this time around? One would have thought that the 2015 scenario is the best precedence to go by, but alas it was not used and instead some candidates were turned down.
Having to hang up your boxing gloves on a technicality even before the fight starts, is a bitter pill to swallow. It is even more frustrating when it comes out that one particular party and candidate has made it, its priority to come and inspect the submission of others and has been objecting to the participation of other candidates more often than not.Seeing that the negative results impacted on the two smaller opposition parties and since the ruling party kept well clear of the drama, one could be forgiven to conclude that the first challenge is one being fought out amongst opposition parties. The public knowledge of this could well work in favor of the ruling party! The 2020 elections are promising to be the craziest ever.