SEYCHELLES GOVERNMENT PAYS A HEAVY PRICE FOR DUMPING ST. ANGE ON EVE OF 2017 UNWTO ELECTIONS
(Posted 14th August 2021)
In 2017 did the government of former President Danny Faure abruptly withdraw the State’s endorsement for Alain St.Ange’s candidature for the post of Secretary General of the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) on the eve of the election day in Madrid.
St. Ange by all accounts was the leading candidate for the post, with fellow African contender Walter Mzembi of Zimbabwe seen as losing out during the first round of the election, largely because the Mugabe regime in place at the time had gambled away international respect and any prospect to have his candidate elected to a leading international office.
In the expected run off St. Ange was heavily tipped to take the job ahead of fellow – and largely unliked – contender Zurab Pololikashvili. The Georgian politician, after the Seychelles’ government stabbed St. Ange in the back, then had an easy run against Walter Mzembi as the delegates voted to keep a Mugabe appointee at bay.
At this point had St.Ange already incurred significant personal expenses in furtherance of his campaign efforts on an international stage, more so as he had resigned his ministerial office in the Seychelles to fully concentrate on the race. Following his government’s turncoat action he returned to Seychelles with the aim of settling the matter amicably, but had to seek redress through the court system when his letters for compensation went unanswered by the President.
After several years, the matter has finally been concluded before the Court of Appeal, the highest Court in Seychelles. While the Attorney-General had sought, on appeal, to have the case dismissed in its entirety, St.Ange had appealed against the financial award he was granted during the first case. He noted candidly that the sum awarded at Supreme Court level was barely enough to cover his filing fees, but did little to compensate for the tremendous expenses he had incurred during his campaign.
The Attorney-General on appeal tried, unsuccessfully, to plead that the Government should be held to a different standard in law than a citizen in delictual actions, in itself a disgrace and pointer how government truly feels about citizens rights.
Ultimately, if their argument were to be successful, it would have the effect of making it harder for a citizen to bring a civil action against the State.
Being one of the first of its kind in the Seychelles’ jurisdiction, the outcome of St.Ange’s case in fact had the opposite effect following the judgment, effectively widening the scope for citizens to challenge decisions taken by the Executive branch of Government.
The Court yesterday increased the award for St.Ange to nearly 7 million rupees, effectively reimbursing most of his out of pocket expenses during his campaign period. This sum includes 1 million rupees in moral damage, one of the highest sums to be awarded in our jurisdiction for non-monetary damage to date. This will no doubt be a promising benchmark for claimants moving forward in similar causes of action. This translates to just over half a million US Dollars at current exchange rates, upped from the laughable 12.000 US Dollar award the lower court handed him in 2019.
Mr. St.Ange was seen, understandably, leaving the courthouse in good spirits yesterday morning after four years of battling out the matter in an adversarial context, alongside his jubilant team of Seychellois attorneys, comprising Mr. Kieran Shah, Mrs. Michelle St.Ange-Ebrahim, and Mr. Frank Elizabeth.
The State was represented by Mr. Stephan Knights. While Mr. St.Ange interacted amiably, as usual, with the gathered press there was no comment by the Attorney-General who lost the case in its entirety for his government.
Alain St. Ange now stands fully vindicated and the Seychelles’ government callous, disrespectful and vengeful action at the time is now fully exposed as the action of a vindictive regime and its leaders at the time.