In an eagerly awaited verdict, the Seychelles Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld President James Michel’s election win, rejecting an opposition party’s petitions to overturn the results of the December poll. The case against Michel’s election win was filed after a historical run-off contested by President Michel, also leader of the ruling Parti Lepep, and the leader of the Seychelles National Party, Wavel Ramkalawan. A difference of 193 votes separated the two candidates. Michel was declared the winner with 50.15 percent of the vote, while Ramkalawan won 49.85 percent of the vote, according to the Electoral Commission. Ramkalawan had petitioned the court to rule that none of the two candidates had obtained the absolute majority of the votes cast, and to nullify the results on the basis of irregularities committed and non-compliance to the electoral laws. Both petitions were directed at the Electoral Commission, President James Michel and the Attorney General. The Constitutional Court ruling comes two months after the parties in the case had made their final statements to the court.
In dismissing the first petition, Ugandan judge Dan Akiiki-Kiiza, British judge Crawford Mckee and Seychellois Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey said it had ‘no merit,’ and that the Electoral Commission’s decision to declare Michel as the winner was in order. Twomey wrote that the judges were satisfied that valid votes were cast.
The court noted that guidance was sought from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and that the court had consulted other electoral system of other countries on what constitutes a vote.
The ruling also reiterated a Court of Appeal judgement in favour of the Popular Democratic Movement in 2011 on the issue of votes cast. The opposition party had contested the use of the words votes cast to determine the allocation of proportional seats in the assembly.