Wavel Ramkalawan

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Wavel Ramkalawan (born March 15, 1961) is a politician of the Seychelles.

Early life[edit]

Wavel Ramkalawan was born in Mahé, the principal island of Seychelles. He was born into a modest family, the youngest of three children. His father was a metalworker and his mother a teacher. Ramkalawan's primary and secondary education were at Seychelles College, the elite boy's school of the country. Ramkalawan was ordained priest in 1985 following theological studies at St Paul's Theological College in Mauritius, and thereafter followed further studies in theology at Birmingham University. Returning to Seychelles, he worked in several parishes in Seychelles, rising to become priest-in-charge of the parish of Holy Saviour.

Entry into Politics[edit]

It was his work as a priest that led Ramkalawan to politics. Through his pastoral work, he came into contact with many people who had been the subject of repression and abuses of human and civil liberties by the government[citation needed]. At that time, the church was the only institution which could speak out on these issues[citation needed].

In 1990, Ramkalawan preached a landmark[according to whom?] sermon, broadcast to the nation on the national radio station, in which he questioned the practices of the one-party government and gave voice to the desire of the people for greater freedom, respect for human rights and observance of the rule of law in the country. The sermon was an inspiration for the movement for political liberty and democracy in Seychelles[according to whom?]. It drew Ramkalawan closer into politics. In 1991, still a priest, he joined others who had been active in opposing the government, such as Roger Mancienne and Jean-Francois Ferrari, to form Parti Seselwa, initially an underground organization, and became its leader.

Rise to the Top[edit]

When the government, under pressure both internally and from abroad, returned the country to multi-party democracy in 1992, Parti Seselwa was the first political party to register and join the ranks of others in opposition to the government. It immediately set to work and participated in elections for representation on the 1992 constitutional commission, polling only 4% of the national vote and not qualifying for representation on the commission. Subsequently to the coming into force of the new constitution in 1993, two other opposition parties joined Parti Seselwa to form The United Opposition (UO) and to contest the 1993 general elections. The party won 9% of the vote, enabling it to appoint one member (Ramkalawan) to the National Assembly.

In 1998, Ramkalawan led his party into the second multi-party general elections. The party polled 27% of the national vote and increased its National Assembly representation to three, beating the Democratic Party of former President James Mancham into third place. Ramkalawan became the first directly elected member of the party in the Assembly, winning his home constituency of St Louis, which he has represented continuously since. In addition, he was elected Leader of the Opposition, a post he continues to hold.

In the 2001 presidential elections, Ramkalawan polled 45% of the vote, thus losing to the 54% vote won by President René. The next year, Ramkalawan led his party, now renamed the Seychelles National Party (SNP), into the National Assembly elections. The party increased its parliamentary representation from one directly elected member to seven and from two proportionally elected members to four.

Since 1998, Ramkalawan has been Leader of the Opposition. In 2005, Ramkalawan took a sabbatical from his clerical duties in order to consecrate himself fully to his political life at a crucial and important point in the country's affairs. In the 2006 Presidential elections, however, Ramkalawan lost to James Michel.

References[edit]