General Suhag Assumption Island Focus in Seychelles
General (Retd.) Dalbir Singh Suhag has been appointed High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Seychelles the Ministry of External Affairs indicated in a Press Release, he is expected to take over his post shortly
One of the critical challenges before the retired general would be to finalise the agreement for a joint naval base in Assumption Island which was first signed in 2015 during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Seychelles.
Assumption Island is part of the Outer Islands of Seychelles north of Madagascar. Its strategic location as an outpost in the Indian Ocean can be gauged from the fact that along with the Seychelles mainland, Agalega Island and Mauritius in the South it forms an arc in the Indian Ocean covering the maritime expanse in the West and off the East Coast of Africa. Assumption Island has a small port called as St Thomas Anchorage which is likely to be converted into a joint naval base for surveillance of the vast EEZ of Seychelles.
While the agreement was signed in 2015, there was a problem as the parliament of Seychelles failed to ratify it.
The agreement was reworked and with the opposition led by Mr Wavel Ramkalawan on board the same was approved by the cabinet on 22 January but has failed to be ratified by the parliament. As the opposition coalition, Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) has a majority approval there is hold up due to blocks by the group to the agreement sighting environmental and nationality considerations.
Now the General would have to use his diplomatic skills to advantage.