How India averted a UK supported Coup in Seychelles!
India had taken an active security role in the Indian Ocean since the mid 1980s. In 1986, India's security role in Seychelles crystallised over a series of coup attempts against President René led by the Seychelles Minister of Defence, Ogilvy Berlouis. Many of the details of these coup attempts remain unclear, perhaps because more than one coup was apparently being organised at the time. According to some reports, the Berlouis plot, codenamed Operation Distant Lash, involved some 30 mercenaries and 350 Seychellois (although Indian sources believe this was an overestimate). Some claim that it had the support of South African intelligence and of prominent anti-communists in Washington. Berlouis had been invited to the Pentagon in 1985 and, according to one report some in the US security establishment saw Berlouis as a potential future president of the islands, recognising in him an ambitious man with no ideological baggage despite his tenure of a senior post of the René government. However, it seems that there was some ambivalence in the Reagan administration about any moves against René, fearing that Seychelles could be destabilised by the installation of a new leader. Since the 1981 attempted coup, René had mended fences with South Africa and the United States: he was increasingly viewed as someone who they could work with and in late 1985 had agreed to extend the US lease on the satellite tracking station.