Crown Colony Status, 1903

Seychelles Table of Contents

Political development proceeded very slowly. From 1814 until 1903, when the islands became a crown colony, they were granted increasing administrative autonomy from Mauritius. In 1888 separate nominated administrative and executive councils were established for Mauritius and Seychelles. Thus, for the first time, some landed white Seychellois were allowed to serve in official advisory positions. In 1897 the administrator of Seychelles was given the powers of a colonial governor, although it was not until 1903 that the islands were separated from Mauritius. When Seychelles became a separate colony, the other islands of the archipelago, except for Coetivy and the Farquhar Islands, were added to the original group acquired by Britain in 1814. Coetivy was transferred from Mauritius in 1908 and the Farquhars in 1922 after World War I.

Widespread involvement of Seychellois in their own political affairs began in 1948 after World War II, when Britain granted suffrage to approximately 2,000 adult male property owners, who then elected four members to the Legislative Council that advised the governor. The winning candidates were drawn from a group known as the Seychelles Taxpayers' and Producers' Association (STPA), which represented the landed strata of society--known colloquially as the grands blancs (great whites). The STPA defended its members' interest in matters of crop marketing and other issues and was the principal political force in the nation until the early 1960s, when representatives of the small new urban professional and middle class began to win seats.

Two parties emerged to represent this new constituency: the DP, led by James Mancham, and the SPUP, led by France Albert René. Both men were London-educated lawyers who had returned to Seychelles determined to improve local conditions and to develop popularly based local politics.

Although community rivalries and the differing styles of the two leaders were important in attracting followers, the two parties also differed in substantive ways. The SPUP called itself socialist, favored worker-oriented policies, and pressed for complete independence from Britain and a nonaligned foreign policy. The pressure for independence was intensified after Britain in 1965 removed Île Desroches, the Aldabra Islands, and the Farquhar Islands from Seychelles and made them part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. The DP took a more laissez-faire capitalist approach and wanted to continue the association with Britain and to allow British and United States bases on the islands.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress