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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora