France-Albert René

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France-Albert René
France-Albert René, June 2014.jpg
2nd President of Seychelles
In office
5 June 1977 14 July 2004
Vice President James Michel
Preceded by James Mancham
Succeeded by James Michel
2nd Prime Minister of Seychelles
In office
29 June 1976 5 June 1977
President James Mancham
Preceded by James Mancham
Succeeded byoffice abolished
Personal details
Born (1934-11-16) 16 November 1934 (age 84)
Victoria, Crown Colony of Seychelles
Political party Seychelles People's Progressive Front
Spouse(s)Karen Handley (1950s)
Geva Adam (1975)
Sarah Zarquani (1992)
Alma mater King's College London
ProfessionLawyer, politician
Signature Signature of France-Albert René.svg

France-Albert René (French pronunciation:  [fʁɑ̃salbɛʁ ʁəne] ; born 16 November 1934) was a Seychellois politician who served as the second President of Seychelles from 1977 to 2004. He was nicknamed by Seychellois government officials and fellow party members as "the Boss". His name is often given as simply Albert René or F.A. René; he is also nicknamed Ti France.


Early life

René was educated at St Mary's College in Southampton, England, and at King's College London before serving as a lawyer in Seychelles from 1957 to 1961. While abroad, he became heavily involved in the politics of the Labour Party, at the time led by Clement Attlee and later Hugh Gaitskell. These experiences led him to adopt a moderate socialist ideology that favoured some state intervention in the economy and strong ties with conservative forces such as the Roman Catholic Church  – René's initial career goal was to join the priesthood. Later, René denounced local church leaders who criticised his policies. In 1964 he formed the Seychelles People's United Party, the forerunner to today's Seychelles People's Party.

Southampton City and unitary authority area in England

Southampton is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire, England. It is 69 miles (111 km) south-west of London and 15 miles (24 km) west north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the Rivers Test and Itchen, with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The city, which is a unitary authority, has an estimated population of 253,651. The city's name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to "So'ton" or "Soton", and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian.

Kings College London public research university located in London, United Kingdom

King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, and a founding constituent college of the federal University of London. King's was established in 1829 by King George IV and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, when it received its first royal charter, and claims to be the fourth oldest university institution in England. In 1836, King's became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London. In the late 20th century, King's grew through a series of mergers, including with Queen Elizabeth College and Chelsea College of Science and Technology, the Institute of Psychiatry, the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals and the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery.

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom which has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights. Labour is a full member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance, and holds observer status in the Socialist International. As of 2017, the party was considered the "largest party in Western Europe" in terms of party membership, with more than half a million members.

In 1976, he became the country's prime minister under President James Mancham, following assembly elections in which the Seychelles People's United Party (SPUP) came in second place. On 5 June 1977, partisan supporters of René installed him as president in a coup d'état. After coming to power, René declared that he was not a Soviet-style Communist, but rather an "Indian Ocean socialist". Early on he opposed the Anglo-American military installation on the Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia because of the possible storage of nuclear weapons.

James Mancham President of Seychelles

Sir James Richard Marie Mancham KBE was a Seychellois politician who founded the Seychelles Democratic Party and was the first President of Seychelles from 1976 to 1977.

Diego Garcia British atoll in the Indian Ocean

Diego Garcia is an atoll just south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean, and the largest of 60 small islands comprising the Chagos Archipelago. It was settled by the French in the 1790s and was transferred to British rule after the Napoleonic Wars. It was one of the "Dependencies" of the British Colony of Mauritius until it was detached for inclusion in the newly created British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in 1965.

Single-party state and coups d'état

René's party was the sole legal political party in the country from 1979 to 1993, [1] which allowed him to win presidential elections in 1979, 1984, and 1989. Multiparty democracy commenced around 1993, but René continued to win in that year, and in 1998 and in 2001, when he defeated the opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan, the candidate of Seychelles National Party. [2]

Wavel Ramkalawan Seychellois politician

Wavel Ramkalawan is a politician of the Seychelles.

Seychelles National Party political party

The Seychelles National Party(SNP) is a liberal political party in Seychelles. Its followers emphasize active multiparty democracy, respect for human rights and liberal economic reforms. It was founded in response to what it called the "totalitarian regime" of former President France-Albert René. It publishes a newsletter called Regar, which is frequently sued for libel by government officials. On Regar's front page of every issue is a quote from the constitution of Seychelles invoking their right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

In 1979, a planned invasion of Seychelles by supporters of Mancham with the assistance of American diplomatic staff in Kenya and Seychelles was discovered before it could be carried out. An official investigation also implicated France with involvement in the coup. [3]

Kenya republic in East Africa

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa with 47 semiautonomous counties governed by elected governors. At 580,367 square kilometres (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's 48th largest country by total area. With a population of more than 52.2 million people, Kenya is the 27th most populous country. Kenya's capital and largest city is Nairobi while its oldest city and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa. Kisumu City is the third largest city and a critical inland port at Lake Victoria. Other important urban centres include Nakuru and Eldoret.

On 25 November 1981, Seychellois security forces put down a coup attempt sponsored by South Africa. "Mad Mike" Hoare and 43 others posed as members of the "Ancient Order of Froth Blowers", a defunct charitable beer-drinking fraternity, visiting the islands as tourists. Shortly after leaving their Royal Swazi National Airways aircraft, an airport security guard spotted a Kalashnikov assault rifle in their luggage; the discovery launched a gun battle in which hostages were taken. Most of the mercenaries escaped after hijacking another plane sitting on the runway.

1981 Seychelles coup détat attempt

The 1981 Seychelles coup d'état attempt, sometimes referred to as the Seychelles affair or Operation Angela, was a failed South African-orchestrated mercenary takeover attempt in the country of Seychelles.

Ancient Order of Froth Blowers

The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers was a humorous British charitable organisation "to foster the noble Art and gentle and healthy Pastime of froth blowing amongst Gentlemen of-leisure and ex-Soldiers". Running from 1924-1931, it was founded by Bert Temple, an ex-soldier and silk-merchant, initially to raise £100 for the children's charities of the surgeon Sir Alfred Fripp. One of the Order's first meeting places was the Swan, Fittleworth, W. Sussex - the 'No. 0 Vat'.

Royal Swazi National Airways Corporation was the national airline of the Kingdom of Swaziland. Headquartered in Mbabane with its operational base at Matsapha Airport near Manzini, the airline was founded in 1978.

An independent inquiry by the United Nations found that South African intelligence was indeed behind the coup; Hoare described the reaction he received from a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent in Pretoria as "extremely timid". However, it is suspected by some that the United States played a significant direct role in the incident, [4] and there was co-operation at the time between the CIA and the South African government on other issues. [5] Three million dollars were paid to President René and his government by South Africa for the return of the remaining mercenaries detained in Seychelles. The 1981 attempt was the second major threat to his government at the time.


René has been characterized [6] as a prime example of a benevolent dictator, leading his country to the point of being the most developed country in Africa – as measured by the Human Development Index  – and helping build one of the continent's highest gross domestic products per capita. His supporters believe that he had solid social priorities, including his government's extensive funding of education, health care and the environment. Critical indicators, such as infant mortality, literacy rate, and economic well-being, are among the best in the continent. During his rule, the Seychelles avoided the volatile political climate and underdevelopment in neighbouring island countries such as the Comoros and Madagascar. His critics believe that he and his party are responsible for torture and other human rights abuses involving opponents of the government, allegedly including the death of a prominent dissident in London, Gérard Hoarau. After the 1977 coup, a significant portion of the population, including the deposed President Mancham, fled to the UK and South Africa due to political persecution and fear of the new government's alignment with the Soviet Union, Tanzania and North Korea. René also faced international pressure regarding his government's former requirement that all applicants to the country's secondary education system graduate a compulsory National Youth Service, which included traditional curricula, political education and, according to some critics, ideological indoctrination and paramilitary training. This requirement was abandoned after the transition to multiparty rule and the organisation was eventually abolished entirely. Critics of the René regime also call out perceived corruption and cronyism in his term.

On 24 February 2004, René announced that he would be stepping down in favour of Vice-President James Michel. He did so on 14 July 2004, whereupon he continued as leader of the People's Progressive Front. [7]

Related Research Articles

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2011 Seychellois presidential election

Presidential elections were held in the Seychelles between 19 and 21 May 2011, commencing on the Outer Islands on 19 May, with Inner Islands voting on 20 May and Mahé on 21 May. The result was a victory for incumbent President James Michel of the Seychelles People's Progressive Front, who received 55% of the vote in the first round.

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Maxime Ferrari

Jean Désiré MaximeFerrari [French pronunciation: [dʒin deziʁe mæksim ferˈraːri] is a retired politician and former obstetrician who held several different positions in the government of the Seychelles. He is widely regarded as an activist against corrupt governmental practices and a champion of human rights and democracy in the African island nations of the Indian Ocean.


  1. "60. Seychelles (1976–present)". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  2. "Seychelles". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  3. Blum, William. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions since World War II. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2004. p. 268. ISBN   1-56751-252-6
  4. Perkins, John. "The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hitmen, Jackals, and the Truth About Global Corruption". Dutton, 2007. pp. 235–245. ISBN   978-0-525-95015-8
  5. Blum, William. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions since World War II. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2004. pp. 268–269. ISBN   1-56751-252-6
  6. Talel, Abraham (February 15, 2018). "Why Uhuru should be a 'benevolent' dictator to protect his legacy". Standard Digital.
  7. "afrol News – Seychellois President to step down". Retrieved 28 December 2017.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
James Mancham
Prime Minister of Seychelles
Succeeded by
post abolished
Preceded by
James Mancham
President of Seychelles
Succeeded by
James Michel