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Seychelles, History

Possibly known to the Arabs as early as the 9th century ad, the Seychelles were visited by the Portuguese in 1502. In 1756 France claimed the islands, which were then uninhabited, and French planters and their slaves settled on them, beginning in 1768. In 1794 Great Britain annexed the Seychelles. The islands were administered from Mauritius during most of the 1800s, and in 1903 they were made a separate British dependency.

Political parties, chief of which were the Democratic Party led by James Mancham and the SPPF headed by Albert Rene, began to form in the 1960s. Their agitation resulted in a new constitution in 1967, and three years later a ministerial form of government was established. By 1974 both major parties were united in calling for independence, although otherwise bitterly antagonistic. When independence was achieved, on June 29, 1976, a coalition republican government was formed, with Mancham as president and Rene as prime minister. A year later, while Mancham was abroad, SPPF supporters staged a coup and installed Rene as head of state. In 1978 Rene declared the country a one-party state, and a new constitution to that effect was proclaimed in 1979. An attempt by South African-based mercenaries to restore Mancham to power was thwarted with Tanzanian help in 1981, and an army mutiny was similarly thwarted in 1982. Several more coup attempts were suppressed in the late 1980s.

Seychelles turned toward a multiparty system in 1991. The nationís economy grew steadily in the early 1990s, and Rene was reelected in 1993 and 1998. The SPPF won 30 out of 34 seats in 1998 legislative elections. Rene was reelected president again in 2001. The elections were held two years ahead of schedule in an attempt to demonstrate the countryís political stability.


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