CEPS asks for more dialogue from government with Seychelles’ civil society

CEPS is the platform that groups several non-profit organisations such as associations, federations and foundations. (Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles)

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(Seychelles News Agency) – The Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS) has made an appeal to the government to continue the dialogue to ensure the survival of the civil society in the island nation.

Leaders and members of CEPS met last Friday for an update on the work it was carrying out and discuss the proposed amendments of the Associations Act 2022 following discussions in the National Assembly.

CEPS is the platform that groups several non-profit organisations such as associations, federations and foundations.

The Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan assented to the Associations Act of 2022 on April 28 last year after it was approved by the National Assembly on April 16, although the legislation has yet to be enforced.

On August 9, the Minister for Finance, National Planning, and Trade, Naadir Hassan, said that the amendments serve to suspend certain provisions of the Act, which will soon come into effect.

Hassan said that while Seychelles needs to enforce the law at the soonest to become compliant with Recommendation 8 of the Financial Action Task Force (FAFT), the government felt it necessary to consider the views of civil society.

CEPS expressed its disappointment that it was not necessarily consulted when the 2022 Act and 2023 amendments were tabled before the National Assembly, as stipulated by Article 10 of the CEPS memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government. The MoU states that CEPS must be consulted when proposed legislation is still at the green or white paper stage.

The CEPS chairperson, Michel Pierre, told reporters that the Associations Amendment Bill, 2023, suspends certain provisions of the Associations Act 2022, which it feels would have been detrimental to civil society.

“The Act stipulates that when an Association has elected its committee, it needs to seek permission from the Office of the Registrar for the member to be able to discharge their functions. We had said that our associations are guided by a Rule of Association which clearly states the timeframe for the mandate, when elections should be held and such. We felt that this was a direct interference from the government which should not be the case,” said Pierre.

He added that “our work is in line with Article 23 of the Constitution, pertaining to the Right of Association.”

Pierre said that the Association Act 2022 does not take into account the amount of time it takes to properly establish an association – which takes around three years before the work really begins.

He also brought forward the clause that demands that a committee may only serve two three-year mandates, which he described as something ” that would help kill associations since they are run by volunteers mainly.”

CEPS chairperson, Francoise Larue, also updated the press on the latest meeting the organisation held with Vice President, Ahmed Afif.

CEPS currently has an agreement with the government spanning over a period of five years, which is due to end this year.

Larue explained that the meeting with Afif was a chance to discuss how both parties may work to continually support each other or the betterment of the country. 

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