Wavel Ramkalawan (1961- )

Wavel Ramkalawan, President of Seychelles (Wikipedia)
Wavel Ramkalawan, President of Seychelles
Courtesy Seychelles State House under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

Wavel Ramkalawan is a Seychelles politician and Anglican priest who has served as President of Seychelles since October 26, 2020.

Wavel Ramkalawan was born on March 15, 1961 on Mahé, the main island of the Seychelles. His father was a metal worker and his mother a primary school teacher. He is married to Linda Ramkalawan and has three boys, Samuel, Caleb and Amos. He is an ordained minister in the Anglican Church.

Wavel Ramkalawan With Supporters, September 2020, Courtesy Wavel Ramkalawan’s Facebook Page

It was his work assignment as a priest that led Ramkalawan into politics. Through his pastoral work, he encountered many people who were oppressed and whose human and civil rights were violated by the government. At that time, the church was the only institution that could speak out on these issues.

In 1990, Ramkalawan delivered a landmark sermon, broadcast over the national radio station, in which he challenged the practices of the one-party government and expressed the people’s desire for greater freedom, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law in the country. The sermon was an inspiration for the movement for political freedom and democracy in Seychelles. As a result, he was banned by the one-party government from speaking out and appearing on national TV. The ban brought Ramkalawan closer to politics. In 1991, still a priest, he joined forces with other active government opponents such as Roger Mancienne and Jean-Francois Ferrari to form the Parti Seselwa, initially an underground organization. Eventually he became its leader.

After the new constitution came into force in 1993, two other opposition parties joined forces with the Parti Seselwa to form the United Opposition (UO) and contest the 1993 parliamentary elections. The party received 9% of the vote and was able to send one MP (Ramkalawan) to the National Assembly.

Ramkalawan receives vaccine by nurses wearing face masks and members of the press
Wavel Ramkalawan Takes Vaccine, January 10, 2021, Courtesy Seychelles State House under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

In 1998, Ramkalawan led his party, the UO, into the second multi-party general elections. The party received 27% of the vote nationwide and increased its seat in the National Assembly to three. Ramkalawan became the party’s first directly elected member of the Assembly and won his home constituency of St. Louis. He led St Louis until he handed it over to a young politician, Anse Etoile, and won the seat. Meanwhile Ramkalawan was elected Leader of the Opposition, a post he relinquished in 2011 when his party boycotted the National Assembly elections to seek electoral reforms. In 2016, his party won a majority in the National Assembly elections. He also led a majority in the legislature as opposition leader.

In December 2015, Ramkalawan led United Opposition in a disputed presidential election, where the movement narrowly lost by 1% to James Michel, who won 50.15% of the vote, while Ramkalawan received 49.15%.

He ran again in 2020 and this time won a majority of the votes. Wavel Ramkalawan was sworn in as President of Seychelles on October 26, 2020.