News / Africa

    Madagascar Prepares for Overdue Poll

    Supporters of Madagascar's presidential candidate Edgard Razafindravahy attend his final campaign rally in the capital Antananarivo, Oct. 23, 2013.
    Supporters of Madagascar's presidential candidate Edgard Razafindravahy attend his final campaign rally in the capital Antananarivo, Oct. 23, 2013.
    Anita Powell
    Madagascar holds a critical vote Friday, the first since a 2009 coup that plunged the African country into isolation. The road to the vote has been long and hard - elections have been postponed numerous times as coup leader Andry Rajoelina negotiated with regional leaders. Rajoelina and the president he ousted are not on this ballot, but each has a preferred candidate. A monitoring group will oversee this hotly anticipated poll.
     
    The people of Madagascar have been waiting for this vote for four long years, ever since the young mayor of Antananarivo toppled the former president and seized power.
     
    When Rajoelina initially took power, he promised a vote within two years. That didn’t happen, as he quarreled with regional negotiators over the terms of the election.
     
    That poll has been postponed three times this year alone due to disputes over the candidate list. The wife of ousted president Marc Ravalomanana joined the ballot, prompting Rajoelina to mount a campaign despite his earlier assurance that he would stay out of the race.
     
    The electoral court later struck both candidates, plus a former president, from the ballot.
     
    Rajoelina has not publicly supported anyone, but his party has backed two candidates. The man considered the frontrunner is Hery Martial Rakotoarimanana Rajaonarimampianina. Former president Ravalomanana also has a preferred candidate.
     
    Stephane Mondon is the field representative in Madagascar for the Carter Center election mission. He said the international monitoring group, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, considers this to be a vital vote for the country.
     
    “It’s very important for Madagascar because it’s going to be the first election since the coup in 2009. And there are a lot of challenges ahead with very new institutions, a new electoral commission that has been set up for this very election, and also some candidates that haven’t been accepted to stand for these elections. So the stakes are very high for the stability in the country and the return to constitutional order,” said Mondon.
     
    He said that transition, however, may include several hurdles.
     
    “One of the biggest challenges, of course, is access to the remote areas due to the topography of the country. There is also a very large number of presidential candidates, 33 - that’s a pretty large number for any presidential election," said Mondon. "The political context is also very challenging in terms of candidates who haven’t been authorized to run for the election and some of them are using proxy candidates, and it will be a challenge for this election. So the people, the voters, seem to be ready, but the politicians need to accept the outcome of the election. That’s a big question mark.”
     
    With so many candidates, a runoff may be needed if no single candidate wins more than 50 percent of votes. That second round will be held December 20, together with parliamentary elections.
     
    The new president will have a lot of work to do. The 2009 coup has plunged the nation into financial crisis. Development has slowed, and aid groups say the island’s 22 million people have suffered as poverty and malnutrition have increased. The nation also has recently been battered by storms, crop failures, and a return of the terrifying bubonic plague.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.