James Michel

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James Michel
James Michel 2014.png
3rd President of Seychelles
In office
16 April 2004 – 16 October 2016
Vice President Joseph Belmont
Danny Faure
Preceded by France-Albert René
Succeeded by Danny Faure
Vice President of Seychelles
In office
August 1996 – 16 April 2004
President France-Albert René
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Joseph Belmont
Personal details
Born (1944-08-16) 16 August 1944 (age 73)
Mahé, Seychelles
Political party People's Party
Spouse(s) Natalie Michel

James Alix Michel, GCSK (born August 16, 1944) is a Seychellois politician who was President of Seychelles from 2004 to 2016. 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 on April 16, 2004, when René stepped down. At that point, Michel was René's longest-serving cabinet minister. As President, he held the portfolios of Defence, Police, Information, and Risk & Disaster Management.[1]

Seychelles' opposition leader, Wavel Ramkalawan, expressed increased concern over the declining 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.

In early 2015, Michel confirmed that he planned to run for a third term in the next presidential election. Reflecting on his time in office, he said: "I worked hard, I did everything for Seychelles [and] the Seychellois people and I feel that people appreciate my work."[4] His term was scheduled to end in 2016, but he announced on 1 October 2015 that the next election would be held a few months earlier. The date was subsequently set for 3–5 December 2015.[5] He very narrowly defeated Ramkalawan in a run-off by a margin of less than 200 votes.[6]

Michel announced on 27 September 2016 that he was resigning, effective 16 October, and handing over power to Vice President Danny Faure, less than a year into his third term. The decision coincided with the election of an opposition majority in the National Assembly in the September 2016 parliamentary election. Michel said that "a new generation of Parti Lepep will take Seychelles to the next frontier of its development" and that he felt "a sense of mission accomplished". [7]


  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.
  4. ^ Rassin Vannier and Hajira Amla, "Seychelles President Michel confirms candidacy for next elections, announces Danny Faure as running-mate", Seychelles News Agency, 4 February 2015.
  5. ^ Rassin Vannier and Hajira Amla, "Presidential elections in Seychelles rescheduled for December 3rd to 5th", Seychelles News Agency, 13 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Seychelles leader sworn in despite contested win", Agence France-Presse, 20 December 2015.
  7. ^ Sharon Uranie, "Seychelles President Michel to step down in October, says time has come for a new leader", Seychelles News Agency, 27 September 2016.
Political offices
New office Vice President of Seychelles
Succeeded by
Joseph Belmont
Preceded by
France-Albert René
President of Seychelles
Succeeded by
Danny Faure