HISTORY OF THE SPUP/SPPF/PARTI LEPEP
Our liberation struggle began in a small London back street, and in Uganda where Mr. Philibert Loizeau was working at that time, when a few Seychellois together with some foreign collaborators who, having in mind our principle and dignity, helped make SPUP become a living reality. It was during those two years that reflection started on the type of society which existed in Seychelles then, and on the principles and programme that should be adopted, whereby the people of Seychelles could one day become a people, free, independent and proud.
When Mr. F. A. René returned to Seychelles (2nd June 1964) from England and with other revolutionaries, with the support of the Seychelles Islanders United Party which was presided by Mr. Rifned Jumeau, launched the Seychelles People’s United Party. At a general meeting of the SIUP it was agreed to transfer all its funds to the newly created SPUP. Meanwhile Mr. Guy Sinon formed a branch of the SPUP in Kenya and was elected its chairman, with the aim of raising funds for the Party and spreading its policies.
One of the main aims of the SPUP had been to struggle for the Independence of Seychelles after two centuries of colonial domination.
On 17th August 1964, the first issue of ‘The People’ was launched. Its aims were to constructively criticise every action or policy that was not for the benefit of the people of Seychelles. A newspaper that would strive to educate politically and socially, that would stand and fight for progress and constitutional reform and that would struggle by all constitutional means to guide the people to achieve their right to freedom. Almost fifty years later, ‘The People’ remains as the oldest newspaper in the country.
To attain its objectives, the SPUP had to mobilise, organise and direct mass organizations of workers, of women and of youth to serve as a channel between the Party and the masses. Strike action was one of the main methods by which workers could struggle to improve their living and working conditions. Protest marches were one of the few effective ways by which the masses were able to manifest their claims.
The Seychelles Transport and General Workers Union was formed on 21st August 1964. To ensure respect for the right of self-determination, the movement must be in the forefront of the struggle being waged to achieve the emancipation of the Seychellois people.
With the creation of the Union, we saw a bitter struggle to correct the injustices of the times. Often peaceful demonstrations were dispersed by colonial authorities with the use of teargas, unlawful detentions etc… The workers, however, supported by the Party, usually won their court cases and managed to gain the little they could to improve their economic status.
As more and more women were getting interested in political activities, the SPUP saw that the role of women in politics was one of major importance; the SPUP Women’s League was formed on 23rd August 1970.
The youth form the most dynamic force of the society. SPUP always encouraged and orientated this force towards the struggle for a better future. This process culminated in November 1974 in a programme of organisation of the youth from every district into the SPUP Youth League.
Soon after the Seychelles People’s United Party was formed and launched its campaign for full independence, the British and United States Governments decided to create a new territory. By Royal Order in Council, the British Indian Ocean Territory (B.I.O.T) was created on 8th November 1965. Three islands – Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches were detached from Seychelles and together with Chagos, turned into a new territory. The SPUP never ceased to condemn the creation of BIOT. On December 18, 1974, Mr. René introduced a motion at the Legislative Assembly asking for the restitution of the three islands. The islands were eventually returned to the Seychelles in 1976, the year of our Independence.
The SPUP, from the outset, strove to established closer cooperation with other African countries and with the Organisation of African Unity. This stance attracted bitter opposition. Despite all, the SPUP never faltered. On January 7th 1973, in Ghana, Mr. René and Mr. Sinon discussed the problem of Seychelles with leaders of 17 African nations – members of the Liberation Committee. It was there that SPUP was officially recognised by the OAU as the only movement of liberation in Seychelles. Since then, Seychelles had been receiving considerable moral and material assistance from the Liberation Committee of the OAU, which helped tremendously in the march to Freedom.
In 1976, victory was achieved. Seychelles obtained her independence with the help of friendly nations.