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

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

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