Almost all of the some 60,000 residents of this year-old Indian Ocean nation stayed home today, wary of a "shoot-to-kill" curfew order imposed by a Marxist group that took control of the country in a coup Sunday.
All but essential workers were told to stay home in an order by the new president of the Seychelle Islands, former Foreign Minister Albert Rene. Rene, head of the Marxist Seychelles Peoples UNion Party, took control of the country while its playboy leader, James Mancham, was in London attending a meeting of Commonwealth leaders.
Rene said the situation was calm and denied a charged by Mancham, who called the coup a "cool and calculated rape of the most peace-loving people in the world," that the takeover was supported by the Soviet Union.
Macham had been unelected president of the Seychelles, located 1,000 miles off the East African coast, since their independence from Britain last June 28.
President Idi Amin of Uganda sent Rene a telegram congratulating Rene for "expelling the British imperialists" and said his army was ready to give support to 556-man police force of Seychelles, which has no army. Rene has said the police force is loyal to his group.
Several hundred American and European tourists were also ordered to stay near their hotels, and they were reported taking the situation calmly. Hotel officials said the tourists offered to help out in washing dishes and sweeping floors when many hotel workers failed to show up for work because of the curfew.
Tourism has been the main industry of the 86-island group. A member of Rene's group said the new leaders intend to keep tourism "a mainstay of our economy."
[In Paris, a group of British policemen expelled from the Seycheeles after the coup said the insurgents who seized power have handed out "weapons and alcohol" to the populace. They reported at least four persons dead.]
A broadcast over the Seychelles government radio today said "those responsible for the coup d'etat desire to remain anonymous" but had requested Rene to form a new government.