MADAGASCAR and the political situation!

Madagascar political situationWe promised to keep you updated with the news and events of the political situation in Madagascar. Below are a few different sources that all report about the recent developments in Madagascar… News about Madagascar includes; ‘Political Rivals agree to a Power-sharing Deal’, ‘ King’s Madagascar initiative bearing fruits’, ‘UN Chief Praises Madagascar Political Deal’,  and ‘MADAGASCAR: New deal could unblock aid pipeline’… We believe all of these reports show how Madagascar has improved and how it will become a popular safari destination once again! Read on for some positive news!

Madagascar political situationMadagascar Political Rivals Agree to Power-Sharing Deal
By Barry Bearak, Published: August 9, 2009, The New York Times

JOHANNESBURG Madagascar’s feuding leaders have agreed on a power-sharing deal that would cede control of the exotic Indian Ocean island to an interim government, with elections then coming within 15 months, participants in negotiations said Sunday.

The agreement was reached in Maputo, Mozambique.  Earlier agreements have fallen through, but if this bargain holds up, it will bring to an end seven violent months in which President Marc Ravalomanana was overthrown by Andry Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital city, Antananarivo, who had the support of the military. Madagascar, located roughly 300 miles east of Africa, is the world’s fourth-largest island. It is known for incredible biodiversity: unique species of fruit-bearing palms and stubby baobabs, ring-eyed lemurs and net-throwing spiders. Brightly colored moths the size of Frisbees float through the air. Some 20 million people live on the island, more than half surviving on less than $1 a day. Political turmoil has caused the cancellation of textile orders and crippled tourism. Winding trails through the rain forests of Ranomafana and the massive rock formations of Isalo are nearly empty of visitors. Mr. Rajoelina is a former disc jockey turned media magnate. His coup early this year was widely denounced around the world. African leaders appointed Joaquim Chissano, the former president of Mozambique, to revive deadlocked negotiations among Madagascar’s political rivals. Since Wednesday, meetings have gone on in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital. Reporters were advised of the breakthrough early on Sunday. Details of how power will be shared are still being worked out, though participants said the interim government will have a president, vice president, prime minister and three deputy prime ministers, as well as 28 ministers and a legislature. The interim authority is supposed to be in place by September.

Mr. Rajoelina’s role in the government is not yet clear. He refused to specify any details when he arrived back in Antananarivo, speaking in vague pronouncements to reporters at the airport. “The signing of the accord in Maputo is a victory for the people of Madagascar,” he said. For his part, Mr. Ravalomanana said he would not be part of the interim government, though his political party would be represented. A millionaire businessman who was twice elected Madagascar’s president, he has been living in exile in South Africa. The BBC quoted Mr. Ravalomanana as saying, “In the interests of the nation, and following consultations, it seems reasonable to me not to participate personally.”

The deal calls for amnesty for any crimes Mr. Ravalomanana may have committed while in office. Mr. Rajoelina had accused him of stealing public funds, charges that the former president denies.  Mr. Ravalomanana said he would return to the island once things were more stable, according to The Associated Press. More than 100 people were killed in political violence, and protests by one side or the other have been common in the capital in recent months. Also participating in the Maputo talks were Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, both former presidents of Madagascar who remain influential power brokers. Mr. Ratsiraka, who has been living in exile in France, has also been granted amnesty in the deal.

10 August, 2009 10:00:00 By Observer Reporter

HIS Majesty King Mswati III’s efforts to mediate in the Madagascar stand-off is beginning to bear fruit. An agreement has been signed to herald a steady return to democracy in the troubled African island that had become a tourism attraction point for the world.

The Maputo Summit of the four leaders of political movements in Madagascar, convened under the aegis of the Joint Mediation Team on Madagascar to exchange views on how best to expeditiously end the six-month political crisis in Madagascar, concluded, its deliberations yesterday at the Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre, Maputo.
The conclusions of the Maputo Summit were informed by the extensive consultations concluded by the team from Wednesday with Andry Rajoelina, Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy.

The overall objective was to identify areas of agreement and disagreement, and also explore the possibilities of unblocking obstacles to speedy the return of the country to normalcy.

During the historic meeting of the four chiefs de file, who for the first time came together, unanimously agreed on a framework for a neutral, peaceful and consensual transition and the establishment of a government of national unity with a consensual prime minister, three vice prime ministers and 28 ministers.
The Maputo Summit concluded with the following agreements:
– The Maputo Political Accord on Madagascar
– The Charter of the Transition
– The Charter of Values, aimed at promoting the spirit of non-violence, the culture of tolerance, pardon, reconciliation and mutual respect.
– An agreement on the annulment of charges related to the 2002 events in Madagascar
– An agreement on the case of ousted Ravalomanana
– An agreement on the annulment of charges against political, civil and military personalities under the Ravalomanana regime. They have agreed that the duration of the transition shall not exceed 15 months from the signing of the agreement and will conclude with internationally supervised credible elections leading to the restoration of a democratic and stable institutions in Madagascar.

They also agreed on institutions and organisation transition, amnesty and national reconciliation, the status of former Heads of State and Government and constitutional reforms.

The team congratulated the chiefs de file for their leadership and outstanding commitment to returning the country to normalcy. It appeals on all political actors to build on the Maputo consensus towards promoting peace, stability and prosperity.

“It is the hope and expectation of the team that the spirit of Maputo will guide them on the path to a prompt implementation of this historic agreement.

“It is also our hope and expectation that the Malagasy people stand united with their leaders and overall objectives of the Maputo agreement and all agreements signed during this summit,” said the team in a joint statement of the AU, SADC and the UN issued yesterday.

Madagascar political situationUN Chief Praises Madagascar Political Deal

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is praising the deal for a transitional government in Madagascar, designed to end months of political chaos.
In a statement Monday, Mr. Ban urged political leaders to quickly agree on members of the new government, and to take steps that will lead to credible elections and the restoration of democracy.

Madagascar’s four main political leaders signed an agreement Sunday for a 31-member unity government led by a prime minister and three deputy prime ministers.  Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled to take place within 15 months. Madagscar has been wracked by turmoil since January, when then-opposition leader Andry Rajoelina launched a wave of protests that forced President Marc Ravalomanana from power. Mr. Rajoelina was installed as president with military backing.  But the international community has refused to recognize Mr. Rajoelina, saying his takeover was illegal.

Sunday’s agreement includes a clause that cancels abuse of office charges against ousted President  Ravalomanana.

The talks in Mozambique included two former Madagascar presidents, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, who are still seen as influential power brokers

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

Madagascar political situationMADAGASCAR: New deal could unblock aid pipeline

JOHANNESBURG, 10 August 2009 (IRIN) – The new deal signed by Madagascar’s feuding political rivals is reason for “cautious optimism”, but 15 months is a long time to wait for fresh elections and the bigger prize of donor re-engagement.

Madagascar’s main political parties signed a power-sharing deal on 9 August in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, stating their commitment to work towards an interim government, put an end to months of political violence and hold fresh elections within 15 months. Former heads of state Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zaphy were also signatories to the document.
“The transition will be neutral, inclusive, peaceful and consensual, with the aim of organizing regular and transparent elections, and setting up stable and democratic institutions,” the accord said.

A long time coming

The political standoff between Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, and ousted President Marc Ravalomanana, began in January 2009 and culminated in what the international community condemned as a “coup-style” change of leadership.
Previous mediation attempts had failed to bring the feuding parties closer to an accommodation while the economy and governance structures crumbled and international pressure mounted.

The latest talks, led by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano under the auspices of the African Union (AU), included representatives from the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Organization of the Francophonie, were widely welcomed as a breakthrough.

“We are very encouraged by the statements made by the political leaders following the negotiations,” Xavier Leus, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Madagascar, told IRIN.

The accord provides for a period of political transition, including amnesty for former leaders, but details of the agreement remain unclear and the modalities of how power will be shared among the parties are still to be worked out. An interim authority with a president, vice president, prime minister, three deputy prime ministers and a cabinet of 28 ministers is to be in place by September 2009.

“All progress towards [reconciliation] is positive and the UN should support these initiatives in all its work,” Leus said. “We now have to closely monitor the situation and see if the agreement will truly hold: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

Much at stake

Making the accord work will take goodwill and patience. Chissano noted that the international community could only recognize Madagascar’s government after fresh polls had been held. Leus commented that “15 months is a very long time to wait.”

Impoverished Madagascar can hardly afford it. The country has been suspended from regional bodies like the AU and SADC, and donors were quick to cease all non-humanitarian aid when the crisis erupted in early 2009.

Even humanitarian aid has been less than generous: commitments have been received for just over 50 percent of the $US22 million the humanitarian community in Madagascar needs to assist in the recovery from flooding and cyclones at the beginning of 2009, and the ongoing drought in the south of the island.

Before the crisis the US, one of the main donor countries, spent over $110 per year on development on the Indian Ocean Island “but we had to stop all funding to or through the HAT [Higher Transitional Authority – Rajoelina’s self-appointed administration],” Rodney Ford, public affairs officer at the US embassy in Madagascar, told IRIN.

“We are now in a wait-and-see mode and are watching the implementation phase [of the agreement] to see what happens.”

Rajoelina’s HAT failed to convince the European Union (EU) that Madagascar had made progress towards constitutional order and fresh polls when he met with EU officials in Brussels on 6 July, hoping to thaw some $880 million in frozen aid. The EU “failed to note any satisfactory proposals from the Malagasy side”, a statement said, dashing any prospect of renewed engagement and aid.

However, the EU said it would re-examine its position pending a consensual agreement between Madagascar’s feuding political parties, “which allows a return to constitutional order”.

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