What really happened to Lalyans Seselwa’s registration?

No sooner had the official electoral process started than confusion and contradictions arose. On Nomination Day for the Presidential race four parties submitted their papers but at accreditation of candidates, only three were retained. The nomination of Lalyans Seselwa’s candidate Patrick Pillay was disqualified.

The Electoral Commission of Seychelles said the nomination failed to meet the required criteria. It emerged that there were two objections to the nomination, mainly based on the facts that one of the endorsing persons does not feature on the Register of Voters and that the nomination lacked the required number of endorsement. Patrick Pillay told SBC that the ECS informed him that he had only 489 endorsing signatures, but he maintains that he submitted 504 signatures. 504 signatures would eventually cover the one said to not being on the Register of Voters. If he did indeed submit 504 signatures, what happened to them? Did he lose a page before submitting the documents, or did it get lost at the ECS head office, or were his papers tampered with? All these are questions which might not be easily answered.It is worth noting, that Pillay was scheduled to submit his documents at 9.30 a.m. but he asked for more time. He eventually made it to the ECS head office at 12.55 just five minutes within the deadline of 1.p.m.A little digging into the matter, revealed that earlier during the day Patrick Pillay had been soliciting endorsements from some of his acquaintances and former supporters. Before ten a.m. he still lacked six endorsements. However, later during the morning a trusted source said Pillay had gone to a village in town and had secured ten more signatures, making his quota complete with some to spare.

This newspaper got this information early in the afternoon, just after the Lalyans Seselwa had submitted its documents. This information seems to back Pillay’s claim that he had all the required endorsements. It is also fact that Pillay is not new to politics and as such is not likely to try and pull a fast one on the electoral commission. So what exactly happened?Eventually on Thursday last week, the Electoral Commission issued an abruptly worded press release in which it informed that between 1 and 2.30 p.m. Pillay’s submission was inspected by other candidates and it was found that there were only 489 signatures and one which was not on the register of voters. The EC states that further inspection by its officials revealed that 22 other endorsements were not on the register, which it said, further reduced the number of valid ones.

The EC claimed they contacted Lalyans Seselwa and eventually the running mate turned up with a list of thirteen names, which Pillay is said to have forgotten to include in the documents he submitted. The commission also said in its press release that when the new list came in it still did not add up to 504, as previously there was 491. All the same the list was not accepted as it was after 1 p.m.The funny thing is that the numbers seem to change at will. Initially, they said Lalyans Seselwa brought 489 endorsements, then it was 491. Why did the EC contact Lalyans Seselwa about the discrepancy if they knew ahead they would not accept additional names as the stipulated time has passed?

Patrick Pillay has said that he is consulting with his legal team and he also wanted to know who objected to his nomination and what happened to the fifteen missing endorsements which were in his documents. He raised a very pertinent point, which apparently all those involved in the electoral reform seem to have overlooked and this is how come no one from a candidate’s team is present when the Electoral Commission is verifying the documents they submit. Having a representative present or even an independent observer would validate any decision of the commission and remove all doubts about possible interference.

At the same time, it also stands to reason that serious contenders do not wait until the eleventh hour to complete their formalities before submitting their documents. Lalyans Seselwa is a well-established party and securing endorsements should have been done well in advance. The party should also have kept back-up copies of all the documents it submitted. This would greatly add weight to any claim of unfair treatment it would make. Relying on footage from the cameras installed in the ECS office might not be the best solution. In the cut throat world of politics and in an election race as important as this one, all contenders have to ensure they cover all fronts so as not to be vulnerable to unforeseen incidents.

Meanwhile what will Lalyans Seselwa do? Will it ask its supporters to vote for another candidate or to boycott the process totally?