James Michel

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James Alix Michel
James Michel.jpg
President of Seychelles
Incumbent
Assumed office
16 April 2004
Vice President Joseph Belmont
Danny Faure
Preceded by France-Albert René
Vice President of Seychelles
In office
August 1996 – 16 April 2004
President France-Albert René
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by Joseph Belmont
Personal details
Born (1944-08-16) 16 August 1944 (age 69)
Mahé, Seychelles (then a colony of the United Kingdom)
Political party Lepep
Spouse(s) Natalie Michel

Colonel James Alix Michel (born August 16, 1944) is a Seychellois politician who has been President of Seychelles since April 16, 2004. He previously served as Vice-President under his predecessor, France-Albert René, from 1996 to 2004. He began as a teacher, but became involved in the archipelago's booming tourism industry and joined René's political party before independence in 1976.

Life and career[edit]

Michel followed President René through different political posts during all periods of the Seychelles' history as an independent entity. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Seychelles People's United Party from 1974 to 1977; subsequently, when the party was transformed into the Seychelles People's Progressive Front (SPPF), he became a member of its Central Executive Committee. René staged a coup against the country's first President, James Mancham, only one year after independence, and Michel was appointed as Minister of Public Administration and Information in June 1977. During the 1977–1993 one-party socialist rule, Michel held various ruling party and ministerial portfolios. In 1984 he became the SPPF's Deputy Secretary-General, and in 1994 he became its Secretary-General.[1]

During the rule of President René, Michel was the head of the Seychellois economy on several occasions. In these 27 years, the Seychelles experienced a period of economic growth based on its tourism and fishery sectors, which was followed by stagnation in the 1990s. Starting from 2008, Michel has presided over a macro-economic reform program, leading to a massive reduction in budget deficit and complete liberalization of foreign exchange transactions.

Michel also played a major role in the country's democratisation process, which started with multi-party elections in 1993. However, according to the opposition, Seychelles still suffers from limited freedom and transparency of the press and rigged election, although all elections held since have been certified free and fair by international observers .[citation needed] According to official results, President René and his Seychelles People's Progressive Front party won presidential and legislative elections in 2001 and 2002 respectively, with about 54% of the vote in both cases.[2]

After serving as Vice-President for nearly eight years, beginning in August 1996, Michel became President in April 2004, when René stepped down. At that point, Michel was René's longest-serving cabinet minister. As President, he currently holds the portfolios of Defence, Police, Information, and Risk & Disaster Management.[1]

Seychelles' opposition leader, Wavel Ramkalawan, has expressed increased concern over the negative trends in the national economy and demanded more dialogue with the ruling party. The leader of the Seychelles National Party furthermore said that he would be cooperating with President Michel.

Michel won the presidential election held on 28–30 July 2006, taking 53.7% of the vote. He was sworn in for his new term on 1 August 2006.[3] Michel won re-election in May 2011, receiving 55.4 of the vote. He was sworn in for his new term of office on 22 May 2011.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The President of the Republic of the Seychelles", Office of the President website.
  2. ^ Elections in the Seychelles, African Elections Database.
  3. ^ Tanya Salseth-Feau, "Seychelles Inaugurates President-Elect James Michel", usinfo.state.gov, 2 August 2006.
Political offices
Preceded by
France-Albert René
President of Seychelles
2004–present
Incumbent