Vote turnout in Seychelles' presidential, National Assembly elections tops 75 percent
Most stations were closed at 7 p.m. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Sgency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Voters across Seychelles' three main islands cast ballots on Saturday for the presidential and National Assembly elections, with more than three-fourths of eligible voters casting ballots.
Counting of ballot papers has started and the results are expected in the early morning of Sunday.
The island nation's 75,000 eligible voters chose among three candidates running for President: Wavel Ramkalawan of Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS), Danny Faure of United Seychelles (US) and Alain St Ange of One Seychelles.
Four parties and two independent candidates are contesting for a seat in the National Assembly, the island nation's legislative body. LDS and US have candidates in all the 26 electoral districts while One Seychelles and Lalyans have 18 and three candidates respectively
At 6 p.m. local time, 56,968 people had cast their ballots in 26 electoral districts of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, which represents 76.3 percent of the eligible voters.
The electoral officer in charge of the polling station at Beau Vallon, Andy Juliette, told SNA that he is very satisfied with the way voting went, saying almost 80 percent people had cast their votes.
There were 3,421 eligible voters in the district of Beau Vallon.
"We got a higher turnout in the morning. We were very busy and people were queuing even outside the station to vote. In general, we are very happy with the turnout and we are very satisfied that we have been able to manage our time, closing the station exactly at 7 p.m.," said Juliette.
The chief electoral officer, Manuella Amesbury, told journalists that "now that the stations are closed, the staff will need to refresh and then counting will start with the polling agents."
She said that the main voting day was satisfactory in general because "we saw that voting went fast and even faster than we expected."
One of the main issues that arose was a shortage of ballot papers in some polling stations.
"We had planned to have a top up of ballots at around 5 p.m because we expected ballot papers to diminish at this time... but we saw that this happened a lot earlier than we expected," said Amesbury.
She said that since the Commission was in contact with all stations they were able to organise for more ballot papers to be dispatched where needed.
Amesbury said that the elections did not go smoothly but this was mainly due to the new amendments made in procedures for election and the Commission had to adapt to the changes.
The last presidential election in Seychelles in December 2015 went into a second round, and the then incumbent President James Michel of Parti Lepep secured a third and final mandate winning 50.15 percent of the total votes cast.
Michel won 31,512 of the votes while his opponent the Seychelles National Party (SNP) leader Wavel Ramkalawan won 31, 319 or 49.85 percent of the votes. Only 193 votes separate the two candidates.
The Linyon Demokratik Seselwa won a majority votes in 15 of the 25 constituencies contested, in the legislative election in September 2016. The ruling Parti Lepep now United Seychelles, took the remaining 10. It was the first time since the return of multiparty democracy in Seychelles in 1993 that the ruling Parti Lepep lost its majority in parliament.