Seychelles won’t move forward on naval project with India: President Faure

Even as India gears up to welcome Seychelles President Danny Faure to a state visit here on June 25, Seychelles has cancelled the agreement with India to build a military facility on Assumption Island.

There has been growing political opposition in Seychelles to a pact it signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at the island which would have given India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region.

In a press conference earlier this month, Seychelles president Danny Faure said he would not discuss the Assumption Island project + with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he comes here. Announcing that the project was, for all intents and purposes, dead, he said Seychelles would build it with its own funds next year.

Government sources said Faure would arrive here on June 26 on a bilateral visit during which a range of issues to strengthen two-way cooperation would be discussed.

Media reports from Seychelles said the government blamed the opposition leader, Indian-origin Ramkalawan, who had agreed to it after a visit to India but later reneged on his approval. The deal cannot go through without the opposition being on board.

India was keen on developing the Assumption Island as a naval base to expand its footprint in the strategically key region where China has been trying to enhance its military presence.

A defence portal said Seychelles might be looking at a maritime security deal with France instead. This was aired by senior French defence officials in Seychelles, saying France needed a military base in Seychelles to protect French citizens in the Indian Ocean region.

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