Seychelles for the first time is hosting the Conference of the Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC), bringing together the representatives of the national parliaments of the independent states of the organisation.
Seychelles’ President Danny Faure in his opening address on Tuesday at the Savoy Hotel said that as a Small Island State, Seychelles is proud to host this conference for the first time.
A total of 74 members from 52 nations are attending the conference, which Faure said “highlights both the diversity and the fundamental unity of the Commonwealth.”
The president said this shows that the participating states are all committed to the values inscribed in the Commonwealth Charter and dedicated to the development of free and democratic societies.
Faure added that the oversight role of Parliament and National Assembly is critical to a vibrant democracy.
“It is essential that the business of the Legislature is conducted to safeguard the security, prosperity, welfare, and dignity of our citizens. When we focus on the interests of our people, that is when a society succeeds,” he said.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is making history in its young democracy.
“As you are aware, we now have a cohabitation in Seychelles, where the Opposition is in the majority in the Seychelles National Assembly. The cohabitation is working for the greater good of our country and wellbeing of our people,” said Faure.
Following the September 2016 elections, the Seychelles legislative body — the National Assembly — has an opposition majority from the coalition of the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS). The executive is led by the President’s Party ‘Lepep.’
On his side, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Seychelles, Patrick Pillay, said that such conference brings a lot benefits for Seychelles and its parliamentary institution.
“This conference has brought more parliamentary officials than previous ones organised. Of course for a small country like Seychelles it will bring a lot of visibility,” said Pillay.
The Speaker added that the Conference will bring more partnership with other parliaments and added that “tomorrow we are having bilateral discussions with representatives from India, which have played a role in the development of our parliament.”
The Conference of the Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth was established in 1969 as an initiative of the then Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, Lucien Lamoureux. Since its inception, Canada has provided organisation with a secretariat to support its activities.
A conference is organised every two years and is overseen by a standing committee chaired by the speaker of the country hosting the next conference.
The speaker of parliament of Fiji Islands, Jiko Luveni, told SNA that she expects to learn a lot from the conference and parliamentary institutions of Seychelles as they operate differently.
“I come from a parliamentary institution where I chair 60 members. The speaker is appointed and does not come from any political party,” said Luveni.
The conference will be spread across four days at the Savoy hotel, on the northern side of the main island, Mahe.