30 Years of our Third Republic – Strengthening our Institutions

30 Years of our Third Republic – Strengthening our Institutions

We, the People of Seychelles, on 18th June 1993, took upon ourselves a social contract to live together as One Nation in a Sovereign Democratic Republic in which all power would come from the People. We chose a country respectful of the rule of law and in which fundamental human rights would be guaranteed. We set fundamental duties on all our citizens to ensure that we would collectively enjoy and use our rights while keeping in our sight the role that each citizen plays in achieving and yet never breaking that social contract.

Our Constitution made space for institutions with specific oversight tasks designed to provide the building bricks of a strong democratic system of government working for the greater good, in line with our aspirations and undertakings as set out in the Preamble to the Constitution.  

The elected Executive, the President, heads the government and sets the political and economic direction of the country for the time of the mandate. The elected legislature works with or against the Executive to pass the laws necessary in a democratic society and hold the Executive to account for the monies spent in the name of the People. The Judiciary ensures that the Constitution is respected, the law is applied, the rule of law prevails and any violation of the citizen’s rights is adjudicated upon. Together these arms of government ensure the viability and continuity of the State and the Rule of Law. Individually they assume their independence and autonomy in providing the checks and balances vital to transparency and good governance.

Additionally, several Constitutional bodies set up under the Constitution provide the checks and balances necessary to ensure good and transparent governance – the fundamentals of a democratic society. These include the Constitutional Appointments Authority (CAA), which plays a major role in ensuring that the right people are recruited for the key constitutional positions not filled through a voting process. In addition to nominating judges, the CAA chooses the Auditor General charged with auditing the Executive’s use of public funds and the Attorney General who prosecutes violations of law. They choose the members of the Electoral Commission charged with ensuring free and fair elections and balanced electoral districts and supervising political parties. They choose the members of the Public Service Appeals Board, the body that protects our public officers from abuse of authority and political interference in their work. They choose the Ombudsman charged with keeping a watchful eye on how our public officers and authorities deliver a public service that must be fair, open, transparent and above reproach.

It is ironic that we are celebrating this 30th anniversary of our Third Republic at the same time that the National Assembly is unpacking the final report of the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) that for the past three years investigated human rights violations arising out of the 1977 coup d’état and the Second Republic.

If all the constitutional institutions were in place and visibly functioning in our post-1993 democratic society, we must ask ourselves why so many of some of the most atrocious human rights violations recorded by the TRNUC occurred after 1993 in the Third Republic. As we reflect on this, we must acknowledge that violations occur when there is a failure in governance. In answering what went wrong and why, we have to acknowledge that human error is inevitable and that good intentions can sometimes get lost in the darker side of human nature. We will appreciate, all the more, the value of strong, functioning and effective institutions.

Therefore, on this 30th anniversary of our Constitution, let us recognise that full respect for our fundamental rights and freedoms and good, transparent, accountable governance is guaranteed when all the institutions are able to fulfill their constitutional duties effectively. Let us, as a People and as individual citizens, solemnly pledge to strengthen our institutions to ensure that history never repeats itself.

Nichole Tirant-Gherardi, Ombudsman 2023

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