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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Seychelles leader ends long rule
By Timothy Ecott

Albert Rene
Mr Rene seized power in a coup, but reintroduced elections
President Albert Rene has stepped down, after 27 years as leader of the Seychelles republic.

Mr Rene, 69, was among the longest serving Commonwealth heads of state.

He originally seized power in a coup d'etat in 1977 but returned the Indian Ocean islands to multi-party democracy in 1993.

President Rene has handed over the reins of power to his Vice-President, James Michel, but he will remain head of his party.

Mr Michel, 59, is the only member of the government who has served alongside President Rene continuously since the coup that brought the Seychelles Peoples Progressive Front to power in 1977.

In a brief statement to journalists, he said he intended to introduce more openness of dialogue, especially in relating to the Seychelles economy.

The Seychelles National Party, President Rene's only parliamentary opposition, said it hoped the new president would address the island's increasingly difficult economic situation.

Critics blame a budget deficit on President Rene's 27 years of state socialism.

Meanwhile Mr Rene will remain as head of the SPPF Party and no new elections are due in the Seychelles until 2006.

The ruling SPPF hold 23 of the 34 seats in the National Assembly.

Seychelles leader to step down
24 Feb 04  |  Africa
Timeline: Seychelles
14 Aug 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Seychelles
27 May 03  |  Country profiles

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