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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:26, May 11, 2007
Parliamentary election begins calmly in Seychelles
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Bernard Songwar woke up around 6 a. m.(0200 GMT) on Thursday and rushed to the polling station in downtown area before 7 (0300 GMT), but he had to wait for more than half a hour to cast his vote.

As an analyst programmer working for a police station in Mahe, the main island of the Indian Ocean island country of Seychelles, Songwar is the first to cast his vote at the station on the first day of the three-day elections for the National Assembly, Seychelles' only legislative body.

According to arrangements by the election commission, special polling stations had been set up for some groups of voters including the police, electoral officers and Air Seychelles crew who will either be on duty on the main voting day on Saturday or go out of the country.

Like thousands of voters mainly on outlying islands, Songwar, 37, is also the first one of seven voters in his family to cast the ballot on the main island station, which had planned to receive 635 voters on Thursday, others will have to wait for Friday and Saturday.

The polls, originally due in October this year, come after President James Michel dissolved the 34-member National Assembly last March in protest against a five-month boycott by opposition lawmakers.

Media here predicted that the elections were likely to be one of the most tranquil races in the history of political campaigning and polling in Seychelles, which declared independence in 1976.

Some 65,000 eligible voters out of a population of 82,000 will decide 25 seats of the National Assembly from 50 candidates, 25 from the ruling Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF) and another 25 from the opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP).

The candidates have thrown their hats into the race for the parliamentary seats, nine of which are proportional according to the constitution.

Michel's ruling SPPF is now fighting to win the 11 seats held by members of the opposition to enable the government to work effectively, while the opposition sees this election as a referendum on the three-decade SPPF rule of this remote Indian Ocean archipelago.

The 11 opposition lawmakers have been absent from parliament since police dispersed an illegal meeting last October where opposition supporters were protesting a plan to ban political parties and religious groups from owning radio stations.

Michel responded to the boycott by dissolving parliament and the opposition attempts to nullify the decree were ejected by the Supreme Court.

For the past five years, the SPPF had 23 seats -- four proportional-- while the SNP had 11 -- including five proportional seats.

Source: Xinhua

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