News / Africa

Madagascar's New President Brings Hope of Economic Change

FILE - Hery Rajaonarimampianina (L) acknowledges the crowd with his wife Lalao (R) at anelection campaign rally in Antananarivo, Madagascar, in October 2013.
FILE - Hery Rajaonarimampianina (L) acknowledges the crowd with his wife Lalao (R) at anelection campaign rally in Antananarivo, Madagascar, in October 2013.
Madagascar's electoral commission has declared Hery Rajaonarimampianina the winner of the December 20 presidential poll, although the final tally has been challenged by his opponent.   

Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina

-55 years old

-Studied accounting and finance in Canada

-Served as Madagascar's finance minister

-He was backed by 2009 coup leader, current President Andry Rajoelina

-Pledged, as president, to help the unemployed, rebuild economy
Hery Rajaonarimampianina spent the last four years as Madagascar's finance minister - a tough job in a country's whose tourism and foreign aid were drying up.

Friday, he was named the winner in the country's first election since Andry Rajoelina became president after a 2009 coup. Experts hope his election will end a five-year economic and political crisis for the country.

Rajaonarimampianina was backed by Rajoelina, while his opponent, Jean-Louis Robinson, was backed by Marc Ravalomanana, the president who was forced to resign in 2009.

The vote is being challenged by Robinson, who says there was vote-rigging, despite election observers saying they found no significant faults in the election process.

Robinson's team has filed nearly 300 complaints to the country's special electoral court.

Because the 2009 government takeover was seen as a coup d'etat by the international community, it meant that foreign aid was suspended. For Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, that meant 70 percent of the national budget vanished.

For the Malagasy people, the hope is that this election makes their government legitimate in the world's eyes, and brings back investment.

"For the average people going to the polls was just to try to move forward, turn the page, get on with life and hopefully bring back what we need the most, which is unfortunately the international donors and investors and so on who went away during this crisis," said Sahondra Rabenarivo, a corporate attorney.

Bringing back that international funding and economic opportunity were key issues, she said.

"They were just galvanized around the idea of putting an end to the illegitimacy of the people in power," she said. "And either by voting them in legitimately, or you know just participating in the poll, and trying to bring the international community back to Madagascar starting with the United States who were the big pullouts really since 2009."

John Stremlau is the vice president of peace programs at the Carter Center in the United States. The center was among several intergovernmental groups overseeing the December 20 run-off poll.

He says the election process is a big step in the right direction for the country, from an international perspective. He also says he and other observers saw no evidence of the vote-rigging that Robinson has alleged.

"None of us found anything untoward other than the occasional glitch of a late opening or papers not being delivered, but nothing that would give us the sense that this was not a credible election, very well run by the electoral management body," he said.

He says Madagascar is now well-positioned, but the new government must make good decisions moving forward.

"It has great resources, it has great promise, but it has been hurt by the sanctions that have been in place now for five years," he said. "The per capita income is very low, down to less than, around a dollar a day for 90 percent of the people, so that this is a new beginning, an opportunity, but the hard work of building a democratic process has only just begun."

The Special Electoral Court will examine Robinson's appeals and announce a final verdict on the election in about two weeks.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
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 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.
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 US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid