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Democracy Versus Stability: Sir James Mancham of the Seychelles writes in VIOAS magazine, The Voice of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea

Democracy Versus Stability: Sir James Mancham of the Seychelles writes in VIOAS magazine, The Voice of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea ( The new issue of VIOAS magazine (The Voice of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea), which is published every two months, carries a pertinent editorial by Seychelles founding President, Sir James R. Mancham, on the theme of “Democracy Versus Stability.

Sir James writes: “One of the constant argument[s] put forward by the United States vis-a-vis China, is that China [is] not going along the route of democracy in the American way. If there is a popular demand for American democracy in China, this does not appear to be very much manifested. Although there are dissidents calling for changes in this direction, the overall impression is that the Chinese people at this time prefer the apparent stability of today to that of internal turmoil, which appears to be very much part of many so-called democratic nations. It would appear that the Chinese very much believe in the theory that “he who pays the piper calls the tune" and that, therefore, China is justified to follow a policy of wealth accumulation as a number one priority. Chinese leaders often ask of their people ‘do you want democracy a la Americaine’ to find yourself in a state of bankruptcy and economic turbulence like the US is facing at this time?"

Sir James does not end his debate on democracy with China. He carries on with the recent developments in the Middle East and Indian Ocean region. In this context, he writes: “Nearer to us, the argument for democracy is going on against the background of the so-called ‘Arab spring.’ According to Abdul Latif Al Zawani, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, ‘revolutions and bloody fighting have brought the people of the Arab gulf countries closer to their leadership, and everybody is keen to preserve their achievements and work to build on them.’ According to an article in The Economist (September 8, 2012), even the Gulf monarchs are today being buffeted by the winds of change, ‘the monarchies do not pretend to be democracies but openly and honestly espouse the hereditary rule, whereas the likes of Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen clothed ruling dynasties in the language of democracy whilst entrenching a ruling family in power. Moreover, Arab kings, it is said, have been cleverer than their republican counterparts. Some, as the kings of Morocco and Jordan, two non-Gulf survivors, have given political ground without losing their dignity or their ultimate power.’"

On the question of stability in the Gulf States, Sir James believes that the shining image which the nations of the zone have built over recent years through “enlightened" and “benevolent" leadership should not be disturbed. He makes the point of Seychelles’ interest in seeing the Gulf States remaining a region of stability: “Indeed most people under benevolent monarchies do not wish to see the atmosphere of stability to be disturbed by trouble-making dissidents in the name of democracy or human rights. In so far as Seychelles is concerned, the continued stability of the Gulf States remain[s] of paramount importance. Over recent years, we have cultivated a close and friendly relationship with the UAE under the wise and enlightened leadership of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. As a matter of fact, we have received help in many directions, and thanks to Abu Dhabi's goodwill, Air Seychelles has been able to escape the scourge of bankruptcy. However, few people in the world realize that the UAE is a country where the ‘belongers’ are outnumbered by ‘expatriates’ on a three-to-one basis. Against this background, it is only realistic for the authorities to give top priority to matters of state security and to ensure that so-called ‘democratic activists’ are not allowed to destabilize the country and distort the shining image which the nation has achieved over recent years through enlightened and benevolent leadership.”

Sir James returned to Seychelles yesterday after addressing the Savannah Council of World Affairs in Savannah, Georgia, USA, on the growing geo-political importance of the Indian Ocean.

PHOTO: Sir James Mancham


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