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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
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 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.

All About America

AppleAndroid