News / Africa

Political Storm Brews in Madagascar

Madagascar's transitional leader Andry Rajoelina (C) attends a ceremony at Antananarivo's Town Hall to commemorate the students' unrest in 1972 which led to the first Republic's fall, May 13, 2013.
Madagascar's transitional leader Andry Rajoelina (C) attends a ceremony at Antananarivo's Town Hall to commemorate the students' unrest in 1972 which led to the first Republic's fall, May 13, 2013.
Anita Powell
A political storm is brewing again on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. 

President Andry Rajoelina, who seized power in a 2009 coup, has reneged on his vow to stay out of a July election that was intended to end four years of political stalemate.  He joins the wife of the ousted president and another ex-president who are also running.

Politics in Madagascar has come to resemble the tropical storms that regularly batter this remote island nation off Africa’s southeastern coast.
 
In 2009, the young mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, toppled the president.  That president was also the former mayor of Antananarivo, and had himself taken to the streets to unseat his predecessor after a disputed election.
 
Now that same political actors will be competing in July’s elections, which are supposed to be aimed at bringing back some political stability.
 
Current President Andry Rajoelina, former president Didier Ratsiraka, and the wife of exiled ex-president Marc Ravalomanana plan to run for the presidency.
 
This cluster of coup-prone leaders on one ballot is worrying, says Lucien Toulou, the Madagascar director for the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa.
 
Toulou says none of the three should have even been allowed to run - Ratsiraka and Ravalomanana because they don't meet residency requirements, and President Rajoelina because he agreed not to run as part of a deal brokered by the Southern African Development Community.
 
“There is an issue around the credibility of the court," said Toulou.  "Secondly, an issue around the credibility of Mr. Andry Rajoelina himself because in January he said he was not for these elections, and now he is saying he’s standing, meaning that he actually cannot keep his promises.”
 
But this isn’t just about politicians not keeping promises, analysts say. Rajoelina’s 2009 coup plunged the nation into economic and political isolation after the international community imposed sanctions and withdrew aid.
 
A subsequent drop in tourism spurred locals to plunder the forests that sustain the island’s famous biodiversity.  An investigation by watchdog Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency found that the instability fed into an illegal rosewood industry that is worth as much as $460,000 a day.
 
The next president, whoever he or she is, will inherit these challenges.  And Johannesburg-based researcher James Stent of Good Governance Africa says the ballot is uninspiring.  
 
“In general, neither three candidates are very good," said Stent.  "Ratsiraka represents the military elite, which has had far too much sway over the country for far too long.  Rajoelina is an autocratic ruler who’s been ruling under an illegitimate mandate for over four years. And Ravalomanana, unfortunately, even though he was democratically elected and had done a lot of good for the country, his presence in the political arena, either through him directly or through his wife, doesn’t inspire a vote of confidence for the stability and the long-term wellbeing of the country.”
 
Stent said observers are concerned about the potential for violence.
 
“African polls, from Kenya in 2007 to Zimbabwe in 2008, have always been fraught with violence when these fractious elites are at play, which is the case in Madagascar,” he said.
 
Toulou says he had seen no sign of intimidation yet, but notes that the campaigns haven't officially started.
 
Campaigning is scheduled to begin a month before the July 24 poll.  Parliamentary elections will be held alongside the first round of presidential voting.  If no candidate garners a clear majority of the vote; a presidential runoff could be held in September.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: john logan from: madagascar
May 13, 2013 2:26 PM
Forced Exile Condoned

If the Special Electoral Court approved Mrs. Ravalomanana's candidacy despite her not being in Madagascar at least 6 months before the election as required by law, it was because, as the court said, she was kept out of the country against her will.

Mrs. Madagascar returned to Madagascar on 27 July 2012 only to be forcefully expelled by Rajoelina's security forces.

People like Lucien Toulou and organizations like SADC who maintain that Mrs. Ravalomanana's candidacy is illegal, in effect condone forced exile as a means of keeping a person from returning to his/her country.

Mrs. Ravalomanana's forced expulsion was a violation of her human rights and a violation of the SADC roadmap.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid