News / Africa

Southern Africa Welcomes Steps to End Political Impasse in Madagascar

Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka. Madagascar's electoral court has removed the names of three presidential hopefuls, (File photo).
Madagascar's presidential candidates (L-R) Lalao Ravalomanana, Andry Rajoelina and Didier Ratsiraka. Madagascar's electoral court has removed the names of three presidential hopefuls, (File photo).
Anita Powell
Southern African officials have welcomed what appears to be forward movement after four years of political stalemate in Madagascar. The remote nation’s electoral court has removed the coup leader and two controversial political figures from the ballot and finally appears ready to hold elections.

The Indian Ocean nation of Madagascar may finally be coming in from the cold after four years of isolation after a 2009 coup and an ensuing political crisis.

After years of election postponements and stalled negotiations, the last week has seen two hopeful developments: first, the nation’s special electoral court cut three prominent and controversial figures from the ballot - the coup leader, who had reneged on a promise not to run; the wife of the president who was overthrown in that 2009 coup; and the man who served as president before that.

And then, on Thursday, the nation set a poll date of October 25 for presidential elections, with parliamentary elections on December 20.

Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa’s foreign ministry, said the bloc is optimistic. He said both South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will play an active role in helping Madagascar administer the poll.

“We believed all along that their names needed to be excluded. This has been the position of South Africa, been the position of the entire SADC region. Now that the electoral commission has taken the decision to remove their names, we believe this is a positive development, and it should assist that country to have a credible election with outcomes that can be embraced and welcomed by all in that country, which would be a step further in the process to return Madagascar to constitutional normalcy,” Monyela said.

Analysts and mediators had said the three should not have been allowed to run in the first place -  former president Didier Ratsiraka and the wife of exiled ex-president Marc Ravalomanana did not meet residency requirements, as they had left the country. And coup leader Andry Rajoelina agreed not to run as part of an SADC deal aimed at restoring a democratic government.  

Monyela said he did not anticipate problems among the removed candidates. “Even prior to this decision, the former president, Ravalomanana, the current president Rajoelina, had committed themselves - not once, not twice, but several times in official meetings - that they would not contest. So we don’t think that their removal as candidates from the list, or at least the partner in terms of Ravalomanana, we don’t think their removal as candidates is something which should create problems,” he explained.

A month ago, the landscape looked very different. Analyst David Zounmenou of the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies predicted a very different outcome for Rajoelina, whose tenure has seen an economic decline.

“The same way he came to power, through popular uprising, is going to be the same way he [leaves] power, through popular uprising. Because people are losing their jobs, youngsters who cannot get employment will simply point at him as the man responsible for the situation that is prevailing in Madagascar,” said Zounmenou.

That scenario may have been averted, but the problems created by the crisis may not be so easily forgotten. During Rajoelina’s rule, Zounmenou said, 200,000 people lost their jobs.
 
The crisis also provoked drops in government spending and donor inputs, which led to a marked decline in the nation’s humanitarian situation.

So even if the poll goes smoothly, Madagascar’s next leader faces a daunting task.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid