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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid