Seychelles opposition wins first vote in decades
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By George Thande
VICTORIA (Reuters) - Opposition parties have swept to victory in Seychelles parliamentary elections, shaking up the political landscape after decades of control by President James Michel’s party.
The win by the Linyon Demokratik (LDS) coalition, which was announced on Sunday, follows growing public frustration over economic inequality, analysts said.
It has not triggered an immediate change in the government appointed by the president, but lawmakers will be able to use their powers to challenge new ministerial appointments and block legislation, including budgets that the opposition has objected to in the past.
Analysts said Michel might soon decide to reshuffle the cabinet to reflect changes in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
"It's historic because it’s the first time that we have a transition of power in one of the branches of government – the legislature," said Roger Mancienne, leader of LDS.
Michel conceded defeat. "The people have spoken, the people have decided and the people’s decision is supreme and my party respects the people’s opinion," he said.
In the vote for a 33-seat parliament, the Electoral Commission said LDS secured 19 seats and Michel's Parti Lepep won 14. The result followed three days of voting that ended on Saturday.
Parti Lepep has been in power since 1977 and this is the first time since the return of multi-party democracy in 1993 that it has lost its parliamentary majority.
The islands' main opposition parties formed their coalition in December 2015 after Michel was forced into a run-off vote in the presidential election for the first time, where he secured a narrow victory.
After years of domination by a single party, public frustration has grown in the nation of about 93,000 people about what many see as a growing divide between rich and poor.
In a report in January, the International Monetary Policy noted policies aimed at tackling inequality, such as efforts to support small and medium-sized businesses.
Seychelles' economy, which depends heavily on tourism, is forecast to expand by 3.3 percent in 2016, according to IFM figures.
(Writing by George Obulutsa and Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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