Madagascar’s New President Vows To Fight Corruption

Madagascar President, Andry Rajoelina.                                                    Credit: @AfricanCurators

 

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina used his inauguration speech on Saturday to pledge to fight corruption in a country where politics and business are widely seen as beset by graft.

Rajoelina regained power in the Indian Ocean by winning a second-round vote in December against Marc Ravalomanana after an election process in which both sides alleged they were victims of ballot fraud.

Rajoelina first ruled from 2009 until 2014 after he was installed by the army when then president Ravalomanana was ousted following violent protests.

“Nobody will be above the law, we will restore the values of the rule of law,” Rajoelina said after being sworn in by nine constitutional court judges at a sports stadium in the capital Antananarivo.

Madagascar is ranked 155 of 180 countries on the Transparency International index.

Rajoelina also pledged to boost growth in one of the world’s poorest countries, saying: “we will build industries in each provincial capital to create jobs.”

The ceremony was attended by President Hage Geingob of Namibia and President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, as well as former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the run-off vote, Rajoelina took 55.7 percent and Ravalomanana won 44.3 percent.

Ravalomanana petitioned the Constitutional Court over alleged voting irregularities but later accepted defeat.

The two rivals were banned from running in the 2013 election as part of an agreement to end recurring crises that have rocked Madagascar since it gained independence from France in 1960.

Rajoelina, 44, is a former events planner and successful entrepreneur with slick communication skills.

Both candidates spent lavishly on campaigning, with promises and handouts distributed liberally to voters.

AFP

Former President Andry Rajoelina Beats Rival In Madagascar Polls

 

Former Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina has beaten his rival and predecessor Marc Ravalomanana in an election beset by allegations of fraud, the electoral commission said Thursday.

Rajoelina has returned to power after he won 55.66 percent against 44.34 percent for Ravalomanana in the run-off vote held last week, it said.

The results, announced under high security, were quickly appealed by Ravalomana.

The defeated candidate filed papers with the Constitutional Court just hours after the electoral commission announced the election’s complete results.

The court has nine days to formally name the new president after it has reviewed the petition.

READ ALSO: Protests In DR Congo After New Election Delay

Ravalomana’s campaign director Anisoa Tseheno Rabenja accused the electoral commission of a “premeditated act” in helping Rajoelina commit “massive fraud”.

– ‘Massive fraud’ –
Rajoelina meanwhile called for unity and a “democratic” transfer of power as he thanked those who voted for him and those who did not.

“I already came first in the first round, and the people of Madagascar have confirmed my victory in this second round,” he said Rajoelina.

“What matters is that the people of Madagascar were able to express themselves freely,” he added.

“My message is simple, the people of Madagascar no longer need a crisis, they need a wise, unifying leader”.

Rajoelina, 44, sat in the front row among the 200 guests in the room where the electoral commission announced the results.

A seat next to him, apparently reserved for Ravalomanana, was empty, according to an AFP journalist.

“It’s unfortunate that the other candidate is not here,” the president of the electoral commission, Hery Rakotomanana, said.

The electoral commission chief said “efforts were made to respond” to concerns raised by both candidates, which included a review of the counting software.

The two-round election was plagued by mutual accusations of vote-rigging in a country with a long history of instability.

Heavily-armed police patrolled the area around the electoral commission offices for the announcement.

No victory celebrations were witnessed on the streets of the capital.

Rajoelina and Ravalomanana are former presidents and long-time rivals who have fought a fiercely personal duel for power.

They each spent lavishly on campaigning, with promises and handouts distributed liberally to voters, who are among the poorest in Africa.

– ‘People expressed themselves freely’ –
European Union election observers have said they had not seen evidence of wrongdoing in the vote in which about five million ballots were cast.

Ravalomanana, a 69-year-old former milkman who built a business empire, had on Sunday urged supporters to protest what he called “injustice and a violation of their right to vote”.

Elected president in 2002, he was forced to resign seven years later following protests fuelled by Rajoelina, who had been elected mayor of the capital Antananarivo.

Rajoelina was then installed by the army and ruled until 2014.

He is a former events planner and successful entrepreneur with slick communication skills.

The two adversaries came a close first and second in the preliminary election in November, with Rajoelina garnering 39 percent compared with 35 percent for Ravalomanana.

The two candidates were both banned from running in the 2013 election as part of an agreement to end recurring crises that have rocked Madagascar since independence from France in 1960.

Outgoing president Hery Rajaonarimampianina was eliminated in the first round after winning only nine percent.

Just 48.09 percent of the eligible 10 million voters cast their votes in the run-off, slightly lower than in the 55 percent in the first round.

Madagascar is well known for its vanilla and precious redwood, yet is one of the world’s poorest nations, according to World Bank data, with 76 percent of people living in extreme poverty.

The island, which is also famed for its unique wildlife, is dependent on foreign aid and burdened by a long history of coups and unrest.

Madagascar’s Ex-Presidents Battle At Ballot Box

 

Madagascar went to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new president, with the three front-runners all former heads of state facing-off amid efforts to defuse a political crisis.

Attempts by the most recent president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, to change the large Indian Ocean island’s electoral laws backfired, sparking nearly three months of sometimes violent protests in the capital Antananarivo.

The demonstrators forced Rajaonarimampianina to accept a “consensus” government tasked with organising the election in the poor country with a history of coups and unrest.

Nearly 10 million voters are eligible to cast ballots for one of 36 candidates who, in addition to the three front-runners, include two ex-prime ministers, pastors and a rock star. Polling stations opened at 0300 GMT and are due to close by 1400 GMT.

Short queues of early voters formed at several polling stations in the capital

“I’ve come here to do my duty by voting. I want a president who gets me out of poverty,” said Eline Faraniaina, an unemployed 60-year-old, casting her ballot at a vocational college.

One presidential contender must win 50 per cent of votes cast or a second round will be held on December 19.

Rajaonarimampianina is competing against two of his predecessors.

Marc Ravalomanana, a milk mogul, ruled from 2002 to 2009 and Andry Rajoelina, a former club night promoter nicknamed “the disc jockey”, succeeded him and was in power until 2013.

The trio staged massive rallies over the weekend in the capital, each attracting tens of thousands of supporters.

The former French colony has struggled to overcome political divisions after a disputed 2001 election that sparked clashes and a 2009 military-backed coup that ousted Ravalomanana.

Apart from protests earlier this year, Rajaonarimampianina’s term was mostly peaceful but anger over the past still simmers.

He has promised “a new phase” in Madagascar’s development if elected.

“I’m poor. I live hand to mouth, day to day. I don’t have anything to eat for tomorrow,” said Coledette, a mother-of-four angered by recent increases in the price of rice ahead of the poll.

 Bloody protests

The key battle will be between Rajaonarimampianina and the former presidents Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, according to analysts and the findings of a banned pre-vote poll seen by AFP.

If none of the hopefuls reaches the 50 per cent threshold this time, only two candidates will go through to a second-round vote.

“The big risk of this election is that it will return us to an era of crisis,” said Sahondra Rabenarivo, an analyst at the Malagasy Observatory on Public Life.

“It’s very important that the results are credible and that the third-placed candidate accepts them.”

Tensions are high between Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, who succeeded him with the backing of the army in the 2009 uprising.

Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, according to World Bank data, with almost four in five people living in grinding poverty.

The main contenders — armed with significant campaign resources — have crisscrossed the island of 25 million by helicopter promising voters a better future.

“They should revive the country. Madagascar suffers malnutrition and is ravaged by cyclones,” said retiree Lili Rahaingo, 68, as she queued to vote in the capital.

Although there were bloody protests in April that left two people dead, campaigning has been peaceful.

 ‘Disgusted’ 

Some candidates have however been accused of vote-buying. The head of Transparency International in Madagascar, Ketakandriana Rafitoson, was “disgusted” by what she says was the use of T-shirts, sewing machines and even floor tiles to secure votes.

Around 20 lower-profile candidates have alleged irregularities in the electoral roll and had unsuccessfully called for the poll to be delayed.

Both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina were banned from contesting the last elections in 2013.

AFP

Madagascar To Make Debut At AFCON Finals

 

A file photo of AFCON trophy

 

Madagascar won a place at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament for the first time when they triumphed 1-0 at home against Equatorial Guinea in Group A on Tuesday.

Thailand-based midfielder Njiva Rakotoharimalala scored the only goal four minutes before half-time on the huge Indian Ocean island.

The victory lifted the ‘Barea’ (prized cattle) to 10 points from four games and beyond the reach of Equatorial Guinea and Sudan in a four-team mini-league from which the top two qualify.

It was the second 1-0 victory for the Malagasy over the Equatoguineans within four days after captain Faneva Ima Andriatsima scored the winner in West Africa last Saturday,

Madagascar is the first country apart from hosts Cameroon to secure a place at the biennial African football showcase, with the 2019 edition set for June 15 to July 13.

They qualified despite having to play a preliminary tie, won 4-2 on aggregate against Sao Tome e Principe, and being seeded fourth behind Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, and Sudan.

Senegal will also secure a place among the 24 finalists if they defeat pointless Sudan in Khartoum later Tuesday.

Qualification for the Malagasy came after 18 failed attempts since 1970, with French coach Nicolas Dupuis drawing players from Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The standard starting side includes four footballers based in France, one each in Algeria, Belgium, Egypt, Reunion, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, and one local.

Previously unknown in Africa, Dupuis took charge in March 2017 and has transformed Madagascar from traditional whipping boys to a team that held Senegal last month.

AFP

Senegal, Madagascar Draw In Tragic Africa Cup Of Nations Game

Senegal Kalidou Koulibaly (R) and Madagascar captain Andriatsima Fanev Ima (L) vie for the ball during their Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifier on September 9, 2018 in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Mamyrael / AFP

 

At least one person was killed and nearly 40 were injured in a stampede ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier Sunday in which Madagascar hit back twice to draw 2-2 with Senegal.

The casualty figures were confirmed by the director of a hospital in the Malagasy capital Antananarivo, where the Group A match was staged in the 30,000-capacity Mahamasina Stadium.

Witnesses told AFP there was a stampede at an entrance to the venue just before the 1130 GMT (2:30pm local time) kick-off.

One person was killed and 37 injured, including two who were said to be in a serious condition with head and chest injuries.

Fans had queued outside the stadium nine hours before the start of the eagerly-awaited match with Liverpool star Sadio Mane in the line-up of 2018 World Cup qualifiers Senegal.

The result left Senegal and Madagascar — who lie 83 places below their opponents in the world rankings — as co-Group A leaders with four points each after two rounds.

Senegal beat Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in the first round 15 months ago while consistently improving Madagascar triumphed 3-1 in Sudan.

Moussa Konate volleyed the visitors into a 27th-minute lead in Antananarivo and Paulin Voavy levelled a minute before half-time by scoring in a goalmouth scramble.

Keita Balde put Senegal ahead again on 62 minutes with a shot into the corner after a solo run only for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly to concede an own-goal five minutes later.

Mane, who scored his fourth goal of the season for Liverpool in a win at Leicester City last weekend, was well policed by the Malagasy defence.

On Saturday, Equatorial Guinea edged Sudan 1-0 in Malabo through an Emilio Nsue goal in the other Group A match and are third with three points.

Group winners and runners-up qualify for the 2019 Cup of Nations in Cameroon, which will be the first to feature 24 nations, up from 16 last year.

AFP

46 Candidates Bid To Contest Madagascar Presidency

 

A total of 46 candidates including the incumbent president and his two predecessors are seeking to contest Madagascar’s presidential polls at the end of the year, the Constitutional Court said Tuesday.

The court will now assess the candidates’ eligibility and confirm by Sunday which ones will be allowed to stand in the first round of the elections.

The vote scheduled for November 7 comes after an outbreak of protests that forced President Heri Rajaonarimampianina to accept the formation of a “consensus” government tasked with organising a fresh poll.

If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent in the first round, a second round of voting will be held on December 19.

Rajaonarimampianina, elected in 2013, will seek re-election as will his predecessors Andry Rajoelina, who was in power from 2009-2014, and Marc Ravalomanana, who held office from 2002 to 2009.

Opposition grandees Rajoelina and Ravalomanana were both barred from running in 2013 under a deal designed to bring stability to the impoverished Indian Ocean island.

Madagascar is a former French colony with a population of 25 million that has been beset by political instability for decades.

A standoff erupted over proposed electoral reforms that triggered mass protests and led the Constitutional Court to order a caretaker government to organise the ballot.

Demonstrators took to the capital Antananarivo’s central square in April over Rajaonarimampianina’s efforts to change electoral laws that opponents said were intended to favour his party.

The proposals were overturned by the courts.

But the protests morphed into a full-blown movement to oust Rajaonarimampianina. Clashes between activists and the security forces claimed two lives and left more than a dozen injured.

Madagascar PM Resigns Amid Political Crisis

Madagascar Prime Minister, Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana, delivers a speech during the swearing in ceremony at Mazoharivo Palace in Antananarivo.  RIJASOLO / AFP

 

Madagascar’s Prime Minister announced his resignation on Monday in the first step towards the naming of a “consensus” premier to resolve a political crisis sparked by controversial electoral reforms.

Madagascar has been rocked by violent protests since April 21 that initially sought to oppose the new laws the opposition said were crafted to bar their candidates from participating in elections planned for later this year.

The Constitutional Court has ordered President Rajaonarimampianina to form a government of national unity with a “consensus prime minister” to avert a full-blown crisis. For that to happen, the current government was required to resign and the president was ordered to name a new prime minister by June 12.

“I will tender my resignation to the president today. As a statesman, I cannot be an obstacle to the life of the nation,” Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana told a press briefing.

“I resign willingly and with happiness. I have no regrets today and I can leave with my head held high.”

“I will leave this magnificent palace, (but) I tell you this is not ‘goodbye’,” he added without giving details of his future plans.

No successor to Solonandrasana has yet been named.

AFP

17 Die In Madagascar Tropical Storm

Storm Eliakem Photo Credit: Earthobservatory.nasa.

 

A powerful tropical storm which swept through Madagascar has left 17 people dead and affected thousands of others, according to an official toll published on Sunday.

Storm Eliakim packed winds of up to 105 kilometres (65 miles) an hour after hitting the northeast of the Indian Ocean island on Friday and barrelling down the east coast.

The death toll was announced by the country’s disaster management office, which also said 15,000 people had been affected by the storm.

Madagascar, one of the poorest countries on the planet, has been hit by about 40 cyclones and tropical storms over the past 10 years.

In January, cyclone Ava claimed 51 lives and in March last year at least 78 people perished in cyclone Enawo.

AFP

One Killed, Thousands Displaced After Madagascar Cyclone

FILE PHOTO: People carry their belongings as they move to a shelter as cyclone Mahasen approaches, in Cox’s Bazar. REUTERS/Stringer

One person was killed, three are missing and thousands have been displaced after tropical cyclone Ava tore through Madagascar, authorities said late Saturday.

The cyclone, which made landfall on Friday morning, lashed the eastern part of the African island off Mozambique with violent winds and heavy rains before moving off the territory on Saturday night.

“Based on the provisional toll, one person has died, three people have been reported missing, 10,465 people have been displaced and more than 12,000 affected by the storm,” the National Bureau for Risk and Catastrophe Management said in a statement.

The cyclone caused flash flooding in the capital Antananarivo and the port city of Toamasina.

Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, is regularly hit by cyclones.

In March last year, cyclone Enawo killed at least 78 people.

AFP

Madagascar Prisoners Escape In Jail Mob Attack

Some 120 prisoners broke out of jail in northeast Madagascar after a lynch mob stormed the prison in search of a murder suspect, the justice ministry said on Thursday.

“About 800 people entered Ikongo prison on Wednesday morning with the intention of killing a man who had been in custody for murder,” spokesman Jeremy Napou said.

The mob overpowered guards and allowed 120 prisoners to break free “after they realised that the person they were looking for had already been moved to another facility,” he said.

Five prison officers were taken hostage by the mob but later released.

The prisoners are still on the run and the prison governor and a magistrate involved in the detained suspect’s murder case have gone into hiding.

Revenge attacks are common in Madagascar.

In 2013, a Frenchman, a Franco-Italian and a local man accused of killing a child on the tourist island of Nosy Be were burned alive by an angry crowd.

AFP

ITTF Lists Nigeria, Egypt For Youth Olympics Qualifiers

ITTF Lists Nigeria, Egypt For Youth Olympics QualifiersThe International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has confirmed that 11 countries will contend for four slots available for Africa in the 2018 Youth Olympics holding in Argentina.

The countries listed are Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya.

Others include: Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DR and Madagascar.

The qualifiers for the Olympic Games is expected to take place at the El-Menzah Stadium in Tunis, Tunisia.

Egypt’s duo of Youssef Abdel-Aziz and Marwa Alhodaby are top seeds while Nigeria’s Azeez Solanke and Esther Oribamise trail the Egyptians.

Nigeria Beat Morocco 6-1 To Reach AFCON Beach Soccer Final

Nigeria Beat Morocco 6-1 To Reach AFCON Beach Soccer FinalNigeria’s Super Sand Eagles have qualified for the World Beach Soccer Championship to be held in Bahamas in 2017 after beating Morocco 6-1 in the semifinal of the African Beach Soccer Cup of Nations in Lagos

Goals from Abu Azeez, Suleiman Ogodo, Emeka Ogbona, Emmanuel Owhoferia gave Nigeria victory in what was seen by many as a one-sided game.

Coach Adamu Ejo’s boys will now face Senegal in the final of the tournament later today.

Senegal defeated Egypt 5-2 in the first semifinal and have also qualified for the World Beach Soccer Championship.