News / Africa

Madagascar Faces 'Silent Crisis' as Political Impasse Continues

This combination of file pictures created on June 5, 2013 shows Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka. This combination of file pictures created on June 5, 2013 shows Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka.
x
This combination of file pictures created on June 5, 2013 shows Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka.
This combination of file pictures created on June 5, 2013 shows Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka.
Anita Powell
Southern African officials have called on Madagascar to urgently hold elections, after yet another plan to restore constitutional order collapsed.  The Indian Ocean country has been embroiled in a political crisis since 2009, when the mayor of the capital overthrew the president.  

In 2009, the Southern African nation of Madagascar was known as a remote island paradise, renowned for its biodiversity, its vanilla crops, and its stunning beaches.

But a coup that year, led by the mayor of the capital, pushed the Indian Ocean island into chaos.  Today, as the coup leader refuses to step aside and allow elections, the nation is deep in political turmoil that a top humanitarian official described as a “silent crisis.”

UNICEF representative to Madagascar Steven Lauwerier said the island’s 22 million people are suffering due to the political crisis.  But coup leader Andry Rajoelina continues to ignore calls to take his name off an upcoming ballot.

“Most of the development indicators have deteriorated or have stagnated.  While we have seen in most other African countries they improved," Lauwerier said. "In Madagascar things went worse than they were before.”

Lauwerier says nine out of 10 Madagascar residents live on less than $2 a day.  More than 1.5 million children are out of school.  Half of children under five years old are chronically malnourished, which leads to irreversible damage.  Hundreds of health centers have closed.  And whereas the nation was on track to reach the U.N. Millennium Development Goals by 2015, those are now unreachable.
 
That decline, he says, can be directly attributed to the political crisis.  Since 2009, government spending and donor aid have declined because of the political situation.
 
FILE - Madagascar's transitional leader Andry Rajoelina (C) attends a ceremony at Antananarivo's Town Hall, on May 13, 2013.FILE - Madagascar's transitional leader Andry Rajoelina (C) attends a ceremony at Antananarivo's Town Hall, on May 13, 2013.
x
FILE - Madagascar's transitional leader Andry Rajoelina (C) attends a ceremony at Antananarivo's Town Hall, on May 13, 2013.
FILE - Madagascar's transitional leader Andry Rajoelina (C) attends a ceremony at Antananarivo's Town Hall, on May 13, 2013.
Rajoelina’s refusal to come off the ballot also means that there will be no vote, yet again. 

Regional negotiators have for years tried to find a solution that will bring in elections and a peaceful transition.  The vote has already been postponed numerous times and now is tentatively set for late August.  

Madagascar cannot afford to run its own election without international support, and major blocs like the African Union and the Southern African Development Community say they will withhold that support until Rajoelina complies.
 
If the impasse continues, said analyst David Zounmenou of the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, sanctions could further marginalize Rajoelina.  The economy has taken a dip during his tenure, said Zoumenou, with 200,000 people losing their jobs.

“The other factor that I think is very important is what is already appearing: the cracks within the army and the discontent, the popular discontent, among the citizens," he said. "The same way he came to power, through popular uprising, is going to be the same way he [leaves] power, through popular uprising.  Because people are losing their jobs, youngsters who cannot get employment will simply point at him as the man responsible for the situation that is prevailing in Madagascar ...  And with what is happening across the continent between northern Africa, young people are inspired.  They are no longer willing to accept leaders who impose themselves  on the citizens.”

Former president Didier Ratsiraka and the wife of exiled ex-president Marc Ravalomanana were allowed to join the ballot, so Rajoelina did too.

Zounmenou said none of the three should have even been allowed to run.  Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana because they have not met residency requirements, and Rajoelina because he agreed not to run as part of a SADC negotiated deal.

Aid officials do not care who is elected to the presidential palace, as long as the impasse is broken and humanitarian work can resume, said Lauwerier.

“First of all, the stalemate has to come to an end, and I think the politicians in this country should try to find a solution, whatever it takes to find that solution, as the political crisis has actually led to this dire situation,” he said.
 
Whether that will happen is up to one man, and he does not appear to be going anywhere.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid