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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid