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Case of former tourism minister hits the court

March 22, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The case of a former tourism minister whose bid to become secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) was thwarted in unusual circumstances has hit the court.

The Seychelles Supreme Court is hearing the case of former tourism minister Alain St. Ange, a respected figure who served as Minister of Tourism and Culture of Seychelles from 2012 to 2016. St. Ange is suing the government of the Seychelles.

Seychelles, officially the Republic of Seychelles, is a 115-island archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean. The capital, Victoria, lies 1500 kilometres east of mainland East Africa.

The population of Seychelles is about 96,000, roughly the same size as the city of Bendigo in Victoria, but the principle in the court case may outweigh the country’s small population.

St. Ange, well known in tourism circles, is suing the Seychelles government over the sudden withdrawal of his candidacy for the post of secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)

Having resigned from his ministerial position in December 2016 to run for the secretary general position, St. Ange found his candidacy had been abruptly terminated by the Seychelles government just two days before the elections – allegedly on instructions from the 55-member African Union, of which Seychelles is a member.

According to Seychelles Today daily newspaper, the case is nearing its conclusion.

“Court proceedings on Wednesday, 19 March, sought to investigate whether the African Union (AU), the government of Seychelles or St. Ange himself were responsible for a lack of communication that saw the former minister spend significant time and resources campaigning around Africa,” the publication reported.

Ralph Agrippine, who was Seychelles’ Head of Mission at the African Union, testified he had been told “in no uncertain diplomatic terms that the risk of sanctions loomed for Seychelles if it did not withdraw the candidature of Alain St Ange”, he paper said.

References were made in court to a ‘note verbal’, said to have been sent by the African Union on 8 May 2017, that proposed economic and political sanctions against Seychelles if St. Ange did not withdraw his candidacy. Such sanctions could have seen the island nation’s trade, communication and transport links with other AU states severed, the court heard.

Seychelles, island paradise

Seeking to establish duty of cure on the part of the Seychelles government, Frank Elizabeth, representing St. Ange, asked Agrippine whether the government of Seychelles had a duty to ensure proper procedure was followed for a candidate they endorsed for UNWTO secretary general.

Agrippine said St. Ange and the government held a “shared responsibility” in this regard, and that St. Ange should have carried out an exploratory study to determine the feasibility of his candidacy, the paper reported.

Former Seychelles Tourism Minister Alain St. Ange

Elizabeth disputed this.

The case continues, having been adjourned to 9 April 2019 when Seychelles Minister of Finance, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, will put forward his final submission, the paper reported.

Written by Peter Needham

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