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The Seychelles were uninhabited when the British East India Company discovered the archipelago in 1609. It soon became a haven for pirates. The islands were claimed by the French in 1756 and administered as part of the colony of Mauritius. In the Peace Treaty of Paris in 1814 the French signed over Séchelles to the British who anglisized the name to its current spelling. The Seychelles islands gained independence in 1976 under a coalition government headed by Sir James Mancham, leader of the Seychelles Democratic Party (DP), as president, and Marxist nationalist, France Albert René of the Front Progressiste du Peuple Seychellois or Progressive Front of the Seychelles People (FPPS) as prime minister. In 1977 while Mancham was abroad, René overthrew him and set up a one-party pro-Soviet state. (The American space agency's radar station which paid a substantial rent, was al-lowed to stay). In 1992, in the wake of Soviet Union's demise, René lifted restrictions on opposition parties and won handsomely. He was reelected president in 1998 and 2001. On 14 April 2004 René stepped down and Vice President James Michel was sworn in as president.

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