The Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps) is pleased to present a passive Election Observation report for the Seychelles general elections held on October 22-24, 2020. This report is in line with the Civil Society Platform oversight role as guardians of the democratic process. The observation methodology focused on all aspects and stages of the election process. This report covers the following areas of assessment:

1. Legal framework (including electoral system)

2. Election administration

3. Voter registration

4. Party and candidate registration

5. Election campaign

6. Media

7. Complaints and appeals

8. Human rights (including participation of women and minorities)

9. Role of civil society

10. Election day

11. Results and the post-election

The assessment work of Ceps was undertaken through the direct observation of electoral events and analysis of information obtained from relevant documents (amended election and political party act), live press conferences, media interviews and reports.

General Elections Observations

Pre-election

• Amendment to the Elections Act was discussed and finalised only two days before the dissolution of the National Assembly. This therefore, limited the timely dissemination of information to the general public and all parties thus causing certain confusion

• Civic education started too late by the Electoral Commission

• Ceps Gender, Rights & Governance Commission, CDWS and Arid contributed significantly towards educational spots prior to election.

Nomination Day

• List of documents submitted by political candidates were not verified by the EC in the presence of the candidates at the time of submission. These documents were made available to all the candidates for verification before doing so by the EC. We feel that the process was wrongly administered. Consequently leading to disqualifications and frustrations by candidates

• Mismanagement of time by the EC for verification and issuing of certificates

Campaign

• Health regulations were not entirely respected by the candidates and activists

• Generally the ambiance was calm with few cases of vandalism on billboards

• Campaign on social media was not peaceful. There was a lot of character assassination, false propaganda, bullying, breach of privacy etc.

• The first ever presidential debate was a great opportunity for the presidential candidates to present themselves to the voters

• There was unfair distribution of air time for the independent candidates compared to the political parties

Cooling off period

• It was quiet on the ground although there was modest campaigning at homes

Election Day

• Ceps requested accreditation for passive observation status but unfortunately received no response from the EC

• The first day of election (special voting stations) was overwhelmed. There were issues such as organisations that did not provide the right list of names of their workers voting at the special voting stations. In addition, some names on the lists provided by the EC did not match those on the master list. We take note that voters on one of the outer islands was denied the right to vote

• There are still names of deceased on the master list

• Voters that were not on the special list were allowed to vote

• As per the law voters were allowed to vote with both their National Identity Card and passports. However, certain voters used their driving license and affidavits had to be issued to confirm their identity.

• Everything went well on the outer islands apart from Aldabra where all workers were denied their right to vote according to local media. Whereas on Coetivy, one citizen was not allowed to vote as he did not have the proper documents and no one could certify his identity.

• Additionally according to the media, one young man who was working on an outer island and was on Mahé could not vote as his name was already crossed out on the list as if he had already voted

• Some polling stations opened late and closed after 7pm contrary to what is prescribed in the Elections Act

• No proper provision was made for social distancing in some polling stations nor was there appropriate shading in places where long queues existed

• Ceps appreciate the alphabetical voting system. However, there is a need to properly distribute the list of names according to the number of voters for each category of names

• There were insufficient ballot papers for number of voters on the list in five districts which delayed the voting process

• Delay in announcement of results

• The system to post results outside of each polling stations is not “culturally” accepted

• There was a reduced number of checkpoints by political parties during the election. However, some checkpoints were observed in several areas.

• International observers gave commentary on election days

Post election

• There were calm celebrations but no respect for health regulations amid Covid-19 pandemic

• Police conducted discreet patrols around the island with enough visibility

• There was good conduct by the losing party and acceptance of election results

• Lots of drinking in public places was observed

• Vandalisms on two national monuments were observed

• Smooth transition of power

• Irresponsibility displayed on the part of the election officer who negligently left two boxes containing items used at the voting station, including unused ballot papers and the occurrence book, among others. Those boxes were found three days later. The question that begs itself is, ‘How was the handing over of ballot paper carried out? Aren’t the unused ballot papers supposed to be accountable for, with the rest of the other items, at the time of handing over?

Recommendations

• More women and youth should be empowered to stand as candidates in future elections

• Political manifestos should have mechanisms for women and youth to take part in elections

• The Elections Act should make financial provisions for independent candidates and equal share of airtime

• Review of Elections Act to make provision for transition of power

• Early voters education should be done prior to election

• There should be more space for civil society involvement and engagement within the electoral process.

• International observers should refrain from influencing voters by avoiding comments on election day

• The date of election should be clearly stated in the law

• More involvement of civil society organisations during all stages of elections

• There exists a lot of room for improvement with regard to nomination day procedure