Seychelles President James Michel and his South African counterpart, President Jacob Zuma, held bilateral discussions in the margins of the 19th Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
President Michel has hailed South Africa as a key player to ensure the development of the blue economy in the Southern Indian Ocean, and the two countries are looking to develop a maritime partnership based on shared security, development of ports and maritime trade, as well as further enhancing tourism based development in the region.
President Michel thanked President Zuma for his leadership within SADC, and for his support for the principle of specific infrastructure projects that are aimed to benefit the maritime and island member states.
“We appreciate the support of South Africa for the principle that we, as Africans, need to give more attention to our oceans as spaces for development. African islands such as Seychelles can play a key role in this development,” President Michel stated.
President Michel also reiterated the support for South Africa’s bid for the Chairmanship of the African Union Commission prior to the election: “In view of the need for more attention for oceanic development within Africa, the support of African islands for South Africa in this context is logical,” President Michel remarked. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who was proposed as South Africa’s candidate, did go on to win the vote, and President Michel has communicated his congratulations to President Zuma and the government of the Republic of South Africa.
The two presidents also discussed the challenge posed by the scourge of piracy, and they both determined to increase the cooperation between the two countries on this matter, with a view to enhancing the capacity of African states to provide security in their own waters.
The two leaders also discussed the ongoing efforts to bring stability to Madagascar in the context of the implementation of the SADC roadmap. President Michel thanked President Zuma for South Africa’s dynamic leadership at the head of the SADC Troika on Peace and Security and overseeing the mediation process on this issue, while President Zuma also noted that the IOC should play an important role as an organization of proximity to Madagascar. President Michel reiterated the support of the Indian Ocean Commission for the implementation of the roadmap and stated that the IOC was willing to provide support in any way possible for the way forward. It is noted that Seychelles currently holds the presidency of the IOC. The two leaders agreed to maintain a high level of consultation on this issue and to move as quickly as possible to a resolution of the situation as the socio-economic conditions in Madagascar continue to worsen.
President Michel is leading the Seychelles delegation to the African Union Summit, following Seychelles’ return to the organization after regularizing its arrears with the organization at the end of 2010.