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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs