Seychelles profile

President: James Michel James

Image caption James Michel served alongside long-time leader Albert Rene

Michel succeeded France Albert Rene, who led the country for almost three decades before stepping down in April 2004.

In July 2006 Mr Michel won a five-year term in presidential elections, and a new term in polls in May 2011.

A former vice president, he had served alongside Mr Rene since 1977, when a bloodless coup brought the long-term leader to power.

Mr Michel pledged to hold a more open dialogue and to involve the private sector in the debt-ridden national economy. Some analysts have praised him for executing long-needed but painful reforms to liberalise the economy.

Mr Michel, a former teacher, entered politics in 1974. He had a 16-year military career and retired from the armed forces in 1993 with the rank of colonel.

The president is the head of state and appoints the Council of Ministers - an advisory body. Most members of the legislative body, the national assembly, are directly elected. Mr Michel also holds the defence, police, information, and risk and disaster management portfolios.

In the 2006 elections he gained nearly 54% of the vote compared with the almost 46% won by Anglican priest Wavel Ramkalawan. In the 2001 polls Mr Ramkalawan won 45% compared with Rene's 54%.

In the May 2007 elections, the Seychelles People's Progressive Front retained all 23 out of the 34 seats in the national assembly. The opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP) took the remaining 11 seats.

In the May 2011 polls Mr Michel won 55% of the vote, avoiding a second round run-off against his closest rival, Mr Ramkalawan, who polled 41 percent of the ballots cast.