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The U.N. General Assembly annual debate was disrupted late Friday when
some African leaders voiced their strong objections to the president of
Madagascar making his address. Andry Rajoelina came to power in a
military-backed coup last March and his government has been roundly
rejected by both the South African Development Community (SADC) and the
Mr. Rajoelina was supposed to speak on Thursday, but was dropped from the speakers list after objections from SADC.
name reappeared Friday, but when it was his turn to take the podium,
the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alexis
Mwamba, intervened on the behalf of SADC.
"Mr. President, I am
taking the floor on behalf of the Southern African Development
Community ... under Article 71 and 113 of the General Assembly rules of
procedure, SADC would like to express its protest against the decision
to invite Mr. Andry Rajoelina to take the floor at the general debate
of our August assembly," he said.
He pointed out that both SADC
and the African Union have decided not to recognize the Malagasy
government of Mr. Rajoelina that came to power in a coup d'etat and
that they support mediation efforts to return constitutional order to
that country. He said as long as it is not reestablished SADC will not
recognize the current government.
"If the floor is, however,
given to him, we would like to urge all member states to continue to
manifest their support for us by standing and exiting the room. Thank
you Mr. President," said Mwamba.
General Assembly President
Ali Treki said he was informed Thursday of SADC's objections and said
he had been in contact with the U.N.'s legal counsel on the matter.
was a representative from the legal counsel who was present at our
meeting," he said. "The response of the legal counsel was that the
president [of the GA] can defer giving him the floor, but cannot ban
giving him the floor, but cannot prohibit him from being given the
floor, because he was invited by the United Nations."
Treki said he had the power to decide in accordance with the rules of
procedure and said Mr. Rajoelina should be given the floor, but that if
any state wanted to appeal his decision, they should indicate it
immediately and it would be put to a vote.
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called for a vote, but it was wrapped in confusion, as the delegate
from Jamaica expressed the frustration of many of his counterparts.
"I am not sure what it is that we just voted for. And I am totally confused. And many delegations have not yet voted," he said.
vote was repeated and after yet more confusion it was decided that
there were enough votes to keep Mr. Rajoelina off the podium.
was not clear whether the vote would be deemed final or whether the
Madagascar delegation would be given a chance to speak Saturday or
Monday, when the assembly's annual general debate ends.