Canada Association of Tourism Employees

The UNWTO Election Simply Made Alain St. Ange A Millionaire

  1. Much of the world agrees that the 2017 UNWTO election for Seretary did not complete the way it should have been. Fraud, corruption, irregularities and much more were discovered during the process of securing the current position of UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili. reported
  2. One of the candidates at the time was Mr. Alain St. Ange. He did not take what had happened to him for granted. Four years later, his home Seychelles’ highest appeals court awarded him 7 million Seychelles rupees, or approximately $ 526,000 in damages, that Thursday.
  3. Many in the world are now wondering how the UNWTO would have gotten through this COVID crisis with another responsible leader?

The UNWTO would certainly be more transparent, more media-friendly and more open to the private sector and all member governments of the UN-affiliated organization.

St. Ange filed a lawsuit in the Seychelles in October 2017 after he was disqualified from the UNWTO elections by his own government. It happened two days before the election during the UNWTO Executive Council meeting in Madrid. It came unexpected and was a point of great embarrassment for Candidate St. Ange, his supporters, former Secretary General Rifai, and many others.

He gave an emotional speech before the election, in which he was no longer allowed to run.

Emotional speech by Alain St. Ange before the UNWTO Executive Council in 2017 after he was disqualified as a UNWTO candidate

Alain loves the press, he loves people, and is a huge supporter of the private travel and tourism industries. As Seychelles Minister of Tourism, he launched the Victoria Carnival, an event that brought carnivals and visitors from all over the world to this small island nation. Carnivals that went from Trinidad, Nottingham, Cologne to Rio de Janeiro in the Seychelles still speak of it.

Unfortunately, St. Ange never had the chance to be elected by UNWTO member countries.

The fact that Africa is falling short was a major problem during the elections and, according to many, became a sad reality.

As early as 2017, two African leaders tried to bring Africa to the world tourism stage: Dr. Walter Mzembi, the longest serving African tourism minister from Zimbabwe at the time, and Alain St.Ange from the Seychelles.

The African Union has appointed Dr. Mzembi confirmed as a candidate for Africa, which was also confirmed by the Seychelles at the time. With two candidates from Africa, the chances for Africa to send its own as Secretary General became a real challenge.

President Mugabe’s Zimbabwe urged the African Union to force the Seychelles not to allow Alain St.Ange to run for office. The pressure on the Seychelles was enormous and threatened with African sanctions.

The Seychelles government gave in just minutes before the election and forcibly withdrew St Ange from the election.

This was a great embarrassment for the St Ange candidate, but also for the UNWTO and the integrity of the electoral process. Unfortunately, this was just one of the many problems of alarming developments that ultimately confirmed the Georgian candidate as Secretary General of the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China.

Africa had the short straw from the start, from 2017, when eTurboNews wrote: Something stinks in Madrid.

In the end, Mzembi made it to second place and was defeated by Zurab Pololikashvili. That publication had reported that Zurab was playing a foul game of favors and questionable promises to secure his votes.

Alain St Ange felt badly treated by his own government and never ceased to express his point of view. He sued his government and won. After he won his lawsuit, an appeal was filed and now he won even bigger. It all happened on Thursday, yesterday.

The Seychelles Supreme Court ruled today (August 12, 2021) in favor of former Tourism Minister Alain St.Ange.

Why does Alain St. Ange receive 7 million rupees for a lost UNWTO election?

St Ange, who worked tirelessly for the post and suffered a great personal financial loss while trying to become the first African UNWTO Secretary-General.

The decision to withdraw his candidacy was made by the Seychelles government after the African Union exerted heavy pressure that threatened economic sanctions.

The President of the Seychelles therefore canceled the nomination of St Ange when he attended the meeting of the UNWTO Executive Council in Madrid two days before the election.

After returning home, St Ange went on trial and was upheld by the Supreme Court, presided over by Judge Melchior Vidot, when he was awarded Rs 164,396.14 in damages.

That money did not even remotely cover the expenses that St.Ange invested in the election campaign. He instructed his lawyers to only appeal the amount of the damages. He also added the pain, humiliation, and mental harm caused by the incident.

After several years, the matter was finally settled in the Court of Appeal, the highest court in the Seychelles. While the attorney general had requested that the entire proceedings be dismissed on appeal, St Ange had appealed against Quantum.

He openly stated that the amount awarded by the Supreme Court was barely enough to cover his filing fees, but did little to offset the enormous expenses he had incurred during his campaign.

The attorney general on appeal tried unsuccessfully to plead that the government should be brought to a different legal standard than a citizen for criminal acts.

If their reasoning is successful, this would ultimately make it difficult for a citizen to bring a civil claim against the state. As one of the first of its kind in our jurisdiction, today’s St.Ange case had the opposite effect after the judgment: the expansion of the scope for citizens to challenge decisions of the executive branch.

The court yesterday raised the price of St Ange to nearly 7 million rupees, reimbursing most of its campaign expenses.

This amount includes 1 million rupees in moral damage, one of the highest amounts awarded in our jurisdiction for non-monetary damage to date.

This will undoubtedly be a promising benchmark for applicants advancing on similar pleas.

Mr. St Ange was understandably seen leaving the court in a good mood yesterday, after four years of fighting the matter in an adversarial context, along with his jubilant team of Seychellois attorneys consisting of Mr. Kieran Shah, Ms. Michelle St. Ange-Ebrahim, and Mr. Frank Elizabeth.

The state was represented by Mr. Stephan Knights. While St Ange, as usual, interacted in a friendly manner with the assembled press, there was no comment from the Attorney General.

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