Polling starts in the Seychelles

2011-05-19 11:11

Victoria - Voting started on Thursday in the Seychelles archipelago where some 70 000 electors are to choose a president over three days of polling, which the incumbent James Michel is favoured to win.

Voting started on Silhouette island, northwest of the principal isle of Mahe and on the Alphonse group, 400km from the coast of Mahe.

The isle of Silhouette has 190 registered voters.

Given the small population of Silhouette and Alphonse, electoral officials transport material by boat or plane and return to the capital Victoria after ballots are cast.

Cynthia Renauld, a 29-year-old nurse, told AFP she was among the first people to come and vote in Silhouette.

"When I got here there were five voters, either people who live here on Silhouette or people who work on L'Ile du Nord," she said, referring to a nearby island whose residents came by boat to Silhouette to vote.

"It took me five minutes to cast my ballot," she said.

The poll is taking place over three days - Thursday, Friday and Saturday - because of the logistical difficulties of organising the ballot on this Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 far-flung islands.

The outlying isles will vote on Thursday and Friday and the three main islands Mahe, Praslin and La Digue on Saturday.

Four candidates are in the race for the presidency and results are expected either late on Saturday or early Sunday.

Only several hundred people will vote on Thursday and Friday, with the bulk of the nation's 70 000 voters going to the polls on Saturday in Mahe, Praslin and la Digue.

The islands, once known for a series of attempted coups, have now had a long period of stability and are famous as a honeymoon destination.