Seychelles' opposition legislators walk out of session in wake of Ministry of Health no-show
Wavel Ramkalawan, (2nd from right) Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly was to ask questions on the latest measures pertaining to COVID-19. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The members of the opposition coalition walked out of the Seychelles' National Assembly session on Tuesday after no representative from the Ministry of Health came to answer questions on the current status of the coronavirus disease.
Vice President Vincent Meriton was to answer questions from Wavel Ramkalawan, Leader of the Opposition coalition -- Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) in the National Assembly -- on the latest measures, analysis, strategies, and projection of the situation so that the public can better be prepared.
"The Speaker of the Assembly received a letter today from the Ministry of Health stating that they would not be able to attend the session as they had an emergency issue to deal with," Ramkalawan told a press conference.
"We are ready to address these issues if they decide to come. Politics aside, we have worked not to create a panic. We need the government to talk to us. We have been told that the president will address the people. However, doesn't he wants to listen to the people, listen to points that we can put forth to better address this situation?" added Ramkalawan.
He said that there are many questions being asked by the members of the public and that people want to know about the capacity of the ministry of health.
"We have a special budget coming in the Assembly to further talk on the issue. It is the National Assembly that needs to pass regulations. It is the first time we see ourselves in this situation, the government needs to talk to us to see how we can help as parliamentarians," said Ramkalawan.
On his side, the representative of United Seychelles (US) party, Sebastien Pillay, said he understands both parties in this issue, but the fact remains that "we need to give the ministries ample time to organise themselves before they come in to give information."
|Pillay said while he understands both sides experts need to prepare themselves first. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
"Experts has said let them analyze the situation. Take the education sector for example. There is a lot going on. They are shutting down the schools, they are trying to organise ways so that students do not fall back on their education. So they need to prepare themselves," said Pillay.
He added that "however, I will agree that the government needs to be more proactive in providing real-time information."
Pillay said that after the situation has calmed down Seychelles needs to rethink its economic model.
"Our environment and tourism, in general, should no longer be the sole reliable sectors where we can collect revenue," he said.
Answering a question about if there is a need for a lockdown, Ramkalawan said that as a small country we have a better advantage to deal with this situation.
“Tracing cases are very important. We need to identify cases in real-time and put strict control on our borders so that hopefully we would not need to go under a national lockdown. We can also appeal to retired health workers to help if required,” he said.
Seychelles already has a ban on travel (apart from returning residents) to and from China, including the Special Administrative Region (SAR), South Korea and Iran.
As of Wednesday, a ban will come into effect on visitors from Europe, including the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and Mayotte and Reunion -- two French overseas departments in the Indian Ocean.
So far Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has recorded four positive cases for the COVID-19.