James' father, Richard Mancham, a successful businessman, sent James to law school in England. When Britain announced its intention to give independence to the colony, Mancham founded the Democratic Party (S.D.P.), and served as its leader until February 2005. France-Albert René founded an opposition party, the Seychelles People's United Party (S.P.U.P) with the support of the Soviet Union. As Chief Minister of the colony, Mancham promoted tourism to the Seychelles and arranged for the building of the airport that was to make the Seychelles accessible to the rest of the world. Tourism increased and the economy developed. In 1976, Mancham won the popular vote when the British gave the Seychelles independence. Less than a year later, in June 1977, he was deposed in a coup by Prime Minister France-Albert René, who had the support of Tanzanian-trained revolutionaries and Tanzanian-supplied weapons, whilst Mancham was attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in London.
Mancham lived in exile in London until April 1992. During this period, Mancham was financially successful in several international business ventures and married Catherine Olsen, an Australian journalist working in London. When he returned to the Seychelles following the lifting of the ban on opposition, he resumed the promotion of tourism to the tropical islands.
He ran for president in July 1993 and finished second behind René with 36.72% of the vote. In March 1998 he ran again, receiving third place and 13.8% of the vote, behind René and Wavel Ramkalawan.
Mancham is the author of three books, Paradise Raped about the 1977 coup, War on America: Seen from the Indian Ocean, written after the September 11 attacks in the United States, and most recently his memoirs; Seychelles Global Citizen: The Autobiography of the Founding President.
Mancham received the prestigious International Jurists Award for world peace at the International Conference of Jurists 2010. The ceremony took place at the inauguration of the International Conference of Jurists at the Vigyan Bhawan under the distinguished patronage of Indian Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari. Under the theme International Terrorism, the event was jointly organised by the International Council of Jurists, the National Human Rights Commission of India, the All India Bar Association and Indian Council of Jurists.
In a welcoming speech Dr. Adish Aggarwala, President of the International Council of Jurists and Chairman of All India Bar Association, said the award for Mr Mancham was to recognise his role in promoting world peace and the pivotal part he has played in helping to settle international disputes.
“He is a visionary statesman who has influenced many world leaders with his contemporary philosophy and outlook,” said Dr Aggarwala.
- Elections in the Seychelles, African Elections Database.
- "Mancham receives prestigious world peace award". Seychelles-eNews. 14 Dec 2010. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012.
- "Former Seychelles president to receive peace award". ETN Global Travel Industry News. 20 June 2011.
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Georgia Dunlop is one of James Mancham's children from out of wedlock. Georgia is a Seychelles Tourism Ambassador in the UK. Georgia is married with two grown up children, Robert and Heather.