Monday, April 6, 2009

Seychelles Column by Christopher Gill

Somalia Pirates Take Seychellois Hostage

Recently, Somalia based pirates seized a luxury sailing yacht with three (3) Seychellois on board, and then made another seizure within a week of the Indian Ocean Explorer with seven (7) Seychellois crew on board. Currently we have been advised that Maritime Authority of Seychelles and Minister Meriton and Minister Morgan are handling the affair to secure the release of the hostages. Government of Seychelles has also announced that it has deployed army troops to Assumption and Aldabra, where the last seizure took place.

While this crisis unfolds, and Ten (10) Seychellois families lives are tormented because of their concern for the lives of their loved ones, Michel Government has not presented to the People of Seychelles a concrete road map on solving the hostage problem. Instead, we have seen Mr. Michel on the State House Lawn, entertaining the Governor General from Australia, and most recently, it was announced from State House, that Mr. Michel was leaving for an official visit to Japan to meet with the Emperor. It would seem that another critical matter has been handed over to another committee of limbo.

Any hostage situation requires immediate action and immediate steps to secure the safe release of the captives.

Top Priority One

Is the release of the hostages en bloc?  A ransom as been demanded and it should be paid. When SPPF embarks on a pirate hunt in our waters, after the fact, it is only wasting valuable resources. Pay the money demand first to ensure the release of our Seychellois Citizens and get them home to their loved ones and family.

How To Pay The Demand

Apparently, the demand of money, in exchange for the release of the hostages is $USD 2 Million. Pay it. SPPF will say they do not have that money. But we do. Mr. Michel, himself told us that we have accumulated a Reserve of $55Million at the Central Bank, for a case of emergency and maintaining the supply of rice to the Country. Well, we are in an emergency, and those lives and the safety of these individuals should be of paramount overriding importance to all Seychellois and this Government at this time. Use $USD 2 Million from the Central Bank Reserves and secure the release of these Citizens. Do not waste any time.  

Priority Two After Release

After the hostages have been released and re-united with their families and are safe, SPPF must then draw up an effective master plan to cope with the increase of piracy in our waters, which is coming closer and closer to a national disaster, everyday, SPPF has ignored this problem.

I cannot recount, how many times I have told SPPF to scale back this useless Army, that is used as a private security apparatus for France Albert Rene and to build up the maritime Coast Guard forces, because of impending pirate threats we will face. Today, that time has arrived.

Over The Years Wasted Resources

Over the years, the SPPF has spent at times Sr. 64 Million per year on an Army that has been used to terrorize its own citizens. Recently, this budget skyrocketed to Sr. 90 Million. Army have nice jeeps, big trucks, smart uniforms, new guns and they are mostly posted with security detail at Barbaron in front of Rene's residence and State House and Sans Souci to watch Michel Residence and the elite families as the Savy's and Adam.

The Coast Guard is dilapidated and have few patrol boats. Without the help of India, it would be crippled. Had more energy been placed in beefing up the Coast Guard and establishing Outer Island bases to fight off pirates, we would not be facing the problem before us. Instead, we are finding out that a deployment of troops after the fact is proving to be costly and inhibiting.  Today, one wonders whether the Coast Guards have enough funds for diesel fuel to keep the boats running!

Co-opting Other International Forces To Assist in Our Security

Has been another idea I presented to SPPF a number of times, and found the idea being laughed at and ridiculed. Well, if the Army is used to protect thugs and a mafia like organization then of course, they will laugh at the idea of bringing in foreign troops to Seychelles, by offering them Base facilities in exchange for cooperation arrangements. SPPF have laughed at many sensible ideas in the past. Today, as resources become very limited the time for laughing is over.

There will be much time to discuss what to do with this “makouti” army created to protect Rene and his SPPF cohorts. For the time being, we ask SPPF to free up the money to pay the ransom and get these Citizens home safely. This is no time to play with people's lives, while meddling with your petty failed ideologies at a time when you are coming to terms with two generations of complete utter failures SPPF. Nor is it time for the President to meet with an Emperor while, our citizens are held by pirates of the high seas.

May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois and our beloved Seychelles


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