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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora