At 1015a, Friday, November 29, 1985, a 34-year old buddy to the former playboy president of the Seychelles left his home in Edgeware and was riveted with bullets. He was the fifth “refugee” and buddy to former Seychelles president James Mancham to be killed or disappeared in the preceding few years in London.
Sir James, who was also living in exile in London at the time, called the victim “a political martyr.”
Mancham and his cronies fled to England in 1981 when a radical socialist, France-Albert René, deposed him in a coup. The “Mancham Boys” were welcomed by Britain because Mancham had stalled the independence movement from Britain for more than a decade.
For that, the Queen promptly knighted him.
Yesterday, thirty-nine years later the Seychelles Democratic Alliance defeated René’s party which had controlled the Seychelles ever since the coup.
René hardly proved a socialist. He was returned to power by multiple democratic elections and oversaw one of the most ruthlessly capitalist countries in the world, providing sanctuary for the most questionable characters on earth.
In fact Mancham finally returned to the Seychelles where he became good friends with his deposer and made a fortune.
The opposition which won yesterday convinced the electorate of the dirty tricks, corruption and torture that began with the killings and kidnappings in London nearly forty years before and continues to the present day.
There’s also plenty of evidence in the campaign just won to suggest Trump had an impact. Seychoisse were aghast that the Mueller Report documented secret meetings between Trump surrogates and shady characters held (where else?) in the Seychelles.
Sometimes, it takes a long time to make a political turn. Or sometimes it takes a global scoundrel to oust a local one.
It’s hard to compare any country to the Seychelles. The last time I was on the Seychelles’ Bird Island I saw more sooty terns than there are people in the entire country. Most Trump Towers are bigger than many of its islands.
There are less than a hundred thousand citizens. The “country” is composed of about a hundred tiny granite islands with a total area of only 178 sq. miles. The GDP per capita is a very respectable $17,400.
Compare that GDP per capita to Kenya’s ($1,817), Tanzania’s ($1,122) or even South Africa’s ($6,001).
The history of the Seychelles is the history of pirates. It provoked enormous maritime conflict between France and Britain because of its strategic location, in between Kenya and India in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
In the modern age it’s a James Bond hideaway, a legendary place for money laundering with more private airstrips than any other country in Africa except South Africa.
The new president, Anglican priest Wavel Ramkalawan, is not likely to make any substantive changes. He called himself a “good friend” of the man he just beat.
The U.S. State department for its part congratulated Ramkalawan, noting “a wide range of mutual interests including maritime security, good governance, and fighting drug abuse, piracy, and terrorism.”
They didn’t say anything about Erik Prince, Betsy DeVos or the Mueller Report. I guess we’ll have to wait until next Wednesday.