James Alix Michel was born in Mahe, Seychelles, on 16th August 1944. He has a son and a daughter.
His eldest son passed away at an early age. He completed his secondary education in Victoria in 1959 and attended the teacher training college from 1960 to 1961. He taught for two years before joining the telecommunications company Cable & Wireless, the trade union movement and the hotel industry.
From 1974 to 1977, James Michel was a member of the Executive Committee of the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP), the predecessor of the ruling Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SPPF).
In 1978 he became a member of the Central Executive Committee of the newly formed SPPF. He became deputy secretary general of the SPPF in 1984 and secretary-general in 1994, a party post which he occupied until June 2009. On June 2nd 2009, SPPF was rebranded as Parti Lepep (People’s Party) and he was elected its president.
He was running mate in the presidential elections of 1998 and 2001 and was Vice-President from August 1996 to April 2004. He succeeded Mr. France Albert René as President upon the retirement of the latter in April 2004 and was elected to the highest office in July 2006. President Michel was re-elected in May 2011.
President Michel presently has portfolio responsibilities for Defence, Legal Affairs, Hydrocarbons and Information.
James Michel was, until he became President, the longest serving minister in Seychelles. His first ministerial appointment was in June 1977 when he was given the responsibilities for public administration and information. As Minister for Information, he promoted the development of a modern telecommunications system in Seychelles and that of the media. In his long career, he also held the portfolios for Education, Finance, Communications, Defence, Culture and Sports.
In 1993 he was appointed First Designated Minister, a constitutional post in which he discharged the functions of the Office of the President during the absence of the Head of State. He also held the portfolios for Education, Finance, Communications and Defence.
James Michel was responsible for the democratization of the islands’ education system in the early 1980s. Today all Seychellois children have access to a minimum 13 years of non-fee paying education and equal opportunities to learning. A keen educationalist, President Michel was directly involved in the creation of the University of Seychelles. At the establishment of the university on 17th September 2009, he was named its chancellor. One of his greatest achievements as President has been the revitalization and reform of the Seychelles economy. In October 2008 he embarked on an economic reform programme, undertaken with vigor and far-reaching impact, unprecedented in Seychelles history.
The Seychelles rupee was floated, and a heavily front-loaded programme, that included a reduction of the public workforce, fiscal, structural and legal reforms, was implemented with the backing of a two-year IMF Stand-by Arrangement. One year following the reforms full macro-stabilization has been achieved, as reflected through falling interest rates, curbing of inflation, and a considerable appreciation of the exchange rates, underpinned by strong fiscal and monetary policies.
President Michel is the recipient of several international awards and decorations. The Outstanding Civilian Service Medal was conferred upon him by the Secretary of the United States Army in 1995. In 2001 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order Pro Merito Melitensi by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. In 2010 the Order conferred the Grand Cross of the Knightly Order, Special Class, pro Merito Melitensi, to President Michel, recognizing the exceptional relations that exist between the Order and the Republic of Seychelles.
In October 2009 he received the UNESCO Gold Medal of the Five Continents in recognition of his work to promote the ideals of peace, tolerance and his work to sensitize the international community about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States. The following month Michel was presented with the Most Innovative People Award (for Natural Innovation) by the Global Leadership Team at the Lebanon 2020 Summit.
President Michel received the Special Award for Eco-Safety from the World Eco-Safety Assembly of the International Eco-Safety Cooperative Organization, in December 2010, in view of his leadership in the field of environment and the long-standing efforts of the Government to foster sustainable development.
In January 2013, President James Michel was presented the Sustainable Development Leadership Award 2013 at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, for his visionary and strong leadership in the implementation of sustainable environmental, economic and social renaissance programmes during challenging times .
In May 2016, President Michel received the Order of the Republic of Serbia on a Sash, for his contribution to strengthening bilateral relations between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Seychelles.
President James Michel co-chairs the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) which brings together world leaders to promote action on conservation and sustainability of islands. Under his leadership, GLISPA has mobilized political support for the blue economy and marine protected areas within island regions of the world. Sustainable development that reduces the vulnerability of Small Island States to climate change, food and energy crises remains at the forefront of President Michel’s agenda.
President Michel is the Chancellor of the University of Seychelles, and the patron of the Seychelles Football Federation, the Seychelles Islands Foundation, the Seychelles Scouts Association and the Jj Spirit Foundation.
The French version - La version française est ici .