Seychelles opposition candidate Wavel Ramkalawan has won the archipelago’s presidential election with 54.9 percent to 43.5% of valid votes cast, defeating incumbent President Danny Faure.
“I declare… Ramkalawan is the elected candidate,” the electoral commission chairman Danny Lucas said on Sunday.
The Opposition narrowly defeated in the Presidential race in 2015 and buoyed by historical victory in parliamentary elections a year later, won its first presidential elections for the first time in over 40 years since Seychelles gained its independence from Britain.
Ramkalawan, an Anglican priest and leader of the Seychelles Democratic Alliance contested from the Presidency for the sixth time. He lost the 2015 elections by 193 votes to James Michel in unprecedented second-round polls.
Ramkalawan’s supporters have been celebrating his victory in the country’s capital, Victoria.
In his victory speech, Ramkalawan was conciliatory towards Faure, saying there were no losers or winners.
“Faure and I are good friends. And an election does not mean the end of one’s contribution to one’s motherland,” Ramkalawan said.
“In this election, there were no losers, there were no winners. Our country was given the opportunity as the ultimate winner.”
Seychelles, a former British colony became independent in 1976.
A year after gaining independence, Faure’s United Party seized power in a coup and retained the presidency in elections subsequent election after multi-party democracy was restored in 1993.
Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb said many voters appeared unconvinced by the performance of the former ruling party.
The presidential campaigns took place mainly on social media, with rallies banned due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The country had recorded only 149 Covid-19 cases – mostly imported but the pandemic has been a burning campaign issue as the restriction on global travel bottom out the tourism industry – a major earner for Seychelles.