France-Albert René

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France-Albert René
France-Albert Rene, 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(1935-11-16)16 November 1935
Victoria, Crown Colony of Seychelles
Died27 February 2019(2019-02-27) (aged 83)
Mahé, 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 Rene.svg

France-Albert René (French pronunciation:  [fʁɑ̃salbɛʁ ʁəne] ; 16 November 1935 [1] – 27 February 2019) [2] 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 was also nicknamed Ti France.


Early life

René was born in Victoria, Crown Colony of Seychelles. He was educated at St. Mary's College, 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.

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 college and member institution 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 that 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.

Clement Attlee former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee,, was a British Labour Party politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951.

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.

Coup détat Sudden deposition of a government

A coup d'état, also known as a putsch (German:), a golpe de estado (Spanish/Portuguese), or simply as a coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.

Atoll Ring-shaped coral reef, generally formed over a subsiding oceanic volcano, with a central lagoon and perhaps islands around the rim

An atoll, sometimes called a coral atoll, is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. There may be coral islands or cays on the rim. The coral of the atoll often sits atop the rim of an extinct seamount or volcano which has eroded or subsided partially beneath the water. The lagoon forms over the volcanic crater or caldera while the higher rim remains above water or at shallow depths that permit the coral to grow and form the reefs. For the atoll to persist, continued erosion or subsidence must be at a rate slow enough to permit reef growth upward and outward to replace the lost height.

Single-party state and coups d'état

René's party was the sole legal political party in the country from 1979 to 1993, [3] 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. [4]

1979 Seychellois general election

General elections were held in the Seychelles between 23 and 26 June 1979 to elect a President and People's Assembly. Following a coup in 1977, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front was the sole legal party at the time. The only candidate in the presidential election was SPUP leader France-Albert René.

1984 Seychellois presidential election

Presidential elections were held in the Seychelles on 17 June 1984. Following a coup in 1977, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front was the sole legal party, and its leader, France-Albert René, was the only candidate in the election. He was re-elected with 92.6% of the votes on a 95.9% turnout.

1989 Seychellois presidential election

Presidential elections were held in the Seychelles in June 1989. Following a coup in 1977, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front was the sole legal party, and its leader, France-Albert René, was the only candidate in the election. He was re-elected with 96.1% of the votes on a 91.5% turnout.

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, [5] and there was co-operation at the time between the CIA and the South African government on other issues. [6] 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.

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization tasked with maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international co-operation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It was established after World War II, with the aim of preventing future wars, and succeeded the ineffective League of Nations. Its headquarters, which are subject to extraterritoriality, are in Manhattan, New York City, and it has other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.

Central Intelligence Agency National intelligence agency of the United States

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As one of the principal members of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and Cabinet of the United States.

Pretoria Administrative capital of South Africa

Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa. It straddles the Apies River and has spread eastwards into the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the seat of the administrative branch of government, and of foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria has a reputation for being an academic city with three universities, the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), University of Pretoria (UP), and the University of South Africa (UNISA), also home to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Human Sciences Research Council. The city also hosts the National Research Foundation and the South African Bureau of Standards making the city a hub for research. Pretoria is the central part of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality which was formed by the amalgamation of several former local authorities including Centurion and Soshanguve. There have been proposals to change the name of Pretoria itself to Tshwane and the proposed name change has caused some public controversy.


René was characterized [7] 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 James 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. Some critics of the former René regime also point to perceived corruption and cronyism during his tenure.

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. [8]

Related Research Articles

Seychelles Island country to the East of Africa

Seychelles, officially the Republic of Seychelles, is an archipelago country in the Indian Ocean. The capital of the 115-island country, Victoria, lies 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland East Africa. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius to the south; as well as the Maldives and Chagos Archipelago to the east. With a population of roughly 94,228, it has the smallest population of any sovereign African country.

Politics of Seychelles

Politics of Seychelles takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Seychelles is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly.

Thomas Michael "Mad Mike" Hoare is a British mercenary leader and adventurer known for military activities in Africa and his attempt to conduct a coup d'état in the Seychelles. He turned 100 years old in 2019, despite his lifelong philosophy that 'you get more out of life by living dangerously'.

James Michel 3rd President of Seychelles

James Alix Michel, GCSK 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. Michel was initially a teacher, but later he became involved in the archipelago's booming tourism industry and joined René's political party before independence in 1976.

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The United Seychelles Party is a political party in Seychelles. It publishes a newspaper called The People. It was known as the Seychelles People's Progressive Front until June 2009. In November 2018, the party changed its name from Parti Lepep to United Seychelles.

A benevolent dictatorship refers to a government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power over the state but is perceived to do so with regard for benefit of the population as a whole, standing in contrast to the decidedly malevolent stereotype of a dictator. A benevolent dictator may allow for some economic liberalization or democratic decision-making to exist, such as through public referenda or elected representatives with limited power, and often makes preparations for a transition to genuine democracy during or after their term. It might be seen as a republican form of enlightened despotism.

Gérard Hoarau was an exiled opposition leader from Seychelles and was head of the Mouvement Pour La Resistance (MPR) that sought the peaceful overthrow of the France-Albert René regime which had come to power on 5 June 1977 in a coup d'état. The opposition was based in London. He was assassinated on 29 November 1985 by an unidentified gunman, on the doorstep of his home in Edgware, in North London

Philippe Boullé is a Seychellois lawyer and politician. In the country's first multiparty presidential election, held in July 1993, he was the candidate of a three-party coalition known as the 'United Opposition'. He won 3.78% of the vote, finishing a distant third behind the incumbent President France-Albert René (59.50%) and James Mancham (36.72%).

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Seychelles International Repatriation Onward Program (SIROP) is an exile/refugee return program conceived in 1986/87 by a faction of the Seychelles community in exile, Founder and Leader, Mr Mitchel J Edmond. They supported the return of the Seychelles exile without the use of force or military coup. The concept and programme involved putting together and promoting a strong economic package for the returning exile/refugee and the Seychelles economy amounting to $500 millions - $800 millions. It also required the return of multi-party politics among other agenda. It was supported by the International community. The other political parties involved were CDU Dr Maxime Ferrari, Mr Andre Uzice, DP Mr David Joubert, SDP & Mouvement Pour la Democracy Sir James Mancham, Alliance Mr Christopher Savy and Mr Lewis Betsey, SNP Mr Philippe Boullé, Seychelles National Party Mr Edmond Camille, Mr Gabriel Houreau, Mr Robert Frichot, Mr Paul Chow, Mr Ralph Volcer, also UKSCA Executives 1987. It also involved then Seychelles Opposition Underground Movements and political parties.

History of Seychelles aspect of history

Arab navigators and other sailors doubtless knew of Seychelles for many centuries. However, the recorded history of Seychelles dates back to the fourth of the Portuguese India Armadas led by Vasco da Gama. On 15 March 1503, the scrivener Thomé Lopes noted the sighting of an elevated island, doubtless one the granitic islands and almost certainly Silhouette Island. The first recorded landing was by the men of the English East India Company ship Ascension, which arrived in Seychelles in January 1609. The islands were claimed by France in 1756. Seychelles remained uninhabited until the first settlers arrived on board the ship Thélemaque, which arrived on 27 August 1770. Captain Leblanc Lecore landed the first colonists, comprising 15 white men, eight slaves and five Indians. The Seychellois Creole language developed as a means of communication between the different races. The British frigate Orpheus commanded by Captain Henry Newcome arrived at Mahé on 16 May 1794. Terms of capitulation were drawn up and the next day Seychelles was surrendered to Britain. Following the fall of Mauritius to British forces, Captain Phillip Beaver of the Nisus arrived at Mahé on 23 April 1811 and took possession of Seychelles as a permanent colony of Britain. The Seychelles became an independent republic in 1976. Following a coup d'etat, a socialist one-party state ruled the country from 1977 to 1993. The subsequent democratic Presidential elections were won by candidates of the same party.

Rugby union in the Seychelles is a minor but growing sport.

1998 Seychellois general election

General elections were held in the Seychelles between 20 and 22 March 1998. Incumbent President France-Albert René and his Seychelles People's Progressive Front won both elections with over 60% of the vote, defeating a divided opposition.

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

Dr Jean Désiré MaximeFerrari, KSS, OBE [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.

1977 Seychelles coup détat

The 1977 Seychelles coup d'état was a virtually bloodless coup that occurred in the East African and Indian Ocean country of Seychelles on 4–5 June 1977. Between 60–200 supporters of the Seychelles People's United Party (SPUP), who had been training in Tanzania, overthrew President Sir James Mancham of the Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP) whilst he was attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, the United Kingdom.


  1. Gabbay, Rony; Ghosh, R. N. (28 February 1992). Economic development in a small island economy: a study of the Seychelles Marketing Board. Academic Press International. ISBN   9780646075501 via Google Books.
  2. "France Albert Rene, former President of Seychelles, dies at age 83".
  3. "60. Seychelles (1976–present)". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  4. "Seychelles". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. Talel, Abraham (15 February 2018). "Why Uhuru should be a 'benevolent' dictator to protect his legacy". Standard Digital.
  8. "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