Madagascar Names New Minister

madagascar
Hery Rajaonarimampianina says government is ready to alleviate poverty

Madagascar President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, on Sunday announced the replacement of eight ministers, including a new finance minister, after dissolving the government earlier this month amid mounting public frustration over power and other issues.

Air force commander and businessman, Jean Ravelonarivo, was sworn in as the new premier.

There were innovations in the Ministries of health, culture, trade among others. While 22 other ministers maintained their jobs.

Maurice Gervais Rakotoarimanana, an accountant who has worked with the World Bank, would be the next Minister of Finance and budget.

The president said in a press conference that special attention would be given to building the energy sector saying, “This government is ready to fight. Ready to fight against poverty, ready to fight for the development of infrastructure, for education, for health”.

The mineral-rich island nation has been struggling to rebuild its economy which was crippled after a coup in 2009 that drove away donors and investors.

A peaceful election in 2013 has redeemed the nation a bit, but it is still struggling to impose stable government and economic. Challenges remain such as weaning the nation off fuel and electricity subsidies.

According to analysis by the International Monetary Fund released last week, Madagascar’s economy boosted about 3 percent in 2014, and could also increase by 5 percent this year if it can increase tax revenue and improve the business climate.

Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, despite its reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals.

Madagascar Hopes Run-Off Election Ends Five-Year Crisis

Candidates in Madagascar’s run-off presidential election face off on Friday, December 20 for the final round in what voters hope will mark the end of five years of political and economic uncertainty in the Indian Ocean Island nation.

Both candidates failed to score a commanding victory in October’s first round, and voters may not deliver a clear mandate to either Hery Rajaonarimampianina, a former finance minister backed by outgoing President Andry Rajoelina, or Jean Louis Robinson, an ally of Marc Ravalomanana, who was deposed by Rajoelina with the army’s help in 2009.

However, old rifts may persist, extending a crisis begun by the 2009 coup that deterred investors and donors of aid to one of Africa’s poorest nations.

Parliamentary polls also taking place on Friday could lead to one camp holding the presidency and the other controlling the legislature, perhaps forcing them into a power-sharing deal.

Smooth elections could help restore the confidence of mining and other investors, revive the battered tourist industry and re-open the aid taps to a country of 22 million people, of whom 9 out of 10 live on less than 2 US dollars a day.

Candidates took part in a televised debate on Wednesday, December 18, and while many voters say it was informative, they also said that it did not change their decision on who to back come Friday.

“There was already a debate such as this one during the time of Presidents Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka, but this time all the aspects have been addressed,” said Lanto Rakotoarisoa, an Antananarivo resident.

“The leaders say they want national reconciliation but they can’t even agree on just one debate,” said Dizo Henri, another resident of the capital.

Political analyst, Gilbert Raharizatovo, said that none of the candidates have the experience to lead the country out of crisis.

“What Madagascar is looking for now is a man who’s able to organise (things), who has a vision, so that’s called a statesman. In Madagascar, it doesn’t really exist. Why? Simply because, in my opinion, a statesman is a man who’s been trained for long years to recognise what are the ethics of governance, the deontology of governance or the deontology of politics,” he said.

Much hangs on how the loser reacts and whether the army, which had backed Rajoelina, stays in its barracks this time.

In the first round Robinson secured 21 percent of the vote, while Rajaonarimampianina won 16 percent, both far short of the 50 percent plus needed for outright victory.

Madagascar Holds Presidential Election

The people of Madagascar began voting on Friday in a presidential election they hope will rebuild investors confidence and mend the county’s economy.

The economy has been in a bad shape since President Andry Rajoelina seized power in a 2009 coup.

It was the first vote on the huge nickel- and vanilla-producing island off Africa since the upheaval triggered by protests and mutinous soldiers that drew sanctions against Madagascar and prompted donors to freeze crucial budget support.

Election officials at one primary school in the capital, Antananarivo, showed the first voters and political party representatives the empty plastic ballot boxes before sealing the containers. The first ballots were cast shortly after 2300 ET Thursday.

“We need to end this crisis. As far as I am concerned, this election is our last chance,” a laboratory worker, Faly Richard Randrianarivo said. “The vote should allow our next leaders to tackle the high unemployment and our schools.”

Rajoelina, a former disc jockey, and the wife of the man he ousted, Marc Ravalomanana, were barred by an electoral court from competing. With no clear favourite among the 33 candidates, the election is not expected to produce an outright winner, meaning a likely runoff in December.

Initial results are likely to come in slowly on the island, which is a bit smaller than Texas. The electoral commission has until November 8 to announce a provisional count.

Presidential hopefuls have crisscrossed the Indian Ocean isle famed for its exotic wildlife and threatened rainforests, promising free primary education, better management of mineral resources and a crackdown on corruption.

Many Malagasy are less optimistic, however, and fear the result will be disputed. That would risk prolonging uncertainty and more turmoil on the world’s fourth largest island, situated in the Indian Ocean, as it struggles to lure back foreign investors, tourists and donors.

A Better Future

Madagascar’s cash-strapped economy needs budgetary support back from foreign donors, its finance minister said.

Rajoelina, 39, rose to power after galvanizing popular anger at Ravalomanana’s perceived abuses of power. He spearheaded violent street protests in early 2009 and toppled the self-made millionaire after dissident soldiers swung behind him.

Diplomats said they were keeping a watchful eye on the military, still headed by a general who backed Ravalomanana’s ouster and whose commanders are seen as loyal to Rajoelina.

“The Malagasy want a president … who is not hungry for power. The people deserve a better future,” Rajoelina said late on Thursday in a pre-recorded address to the country.

Both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana agreed with regional states not to run for the presidency in order to help restore order. Analysts say the bitter rivals remain influential in the voting.

Ravalomanana, who fled to South Africa and remains there, has openly backed Jean Louis Robinson, a former minister during his presidency and regarded as a serious contender.

Publicly, Rajoelina has not endorsed a candidate. But two aspirants, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, a former finance minister, and Edgard Razafindravahy, are both widely seen as close political associates of the outgoing president.

One Western diplomat said flaws in the voting process were inevitable but that the alternative was another delay. Rajoelina first promised an election in late 2010.

“Everybody knows the vote cannot be perfect but everybody is playing the game,” said Lydie Boka of French risk group StrategiCo. “Given the circumstances, maybe that is the best they can do.”

Madagascar Postpones Presidential Election Again

Madagascar postponed a presidential election, the government said on Thursday, further delaying a vote that the president promised to hold shortly after seizing power in 2009.

The decision to put the vote back a month to Aug. 23 came after the electoral commission said it could not hold the ballot because foreign donors had suspended financing due to President Andry Rajoelina’s volte-face on a promise not to run.

Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, the man he unseated from power, both bowed to regional pressure in January and agreed not to run in the election. The African Union said it would not recognise either as president if they won.

But Rajoelina said in May the deal was broken when Ravalomanana’s wife, Lalao, said she would run.

Ravalomanana’s allies said they wanted the election to go ahead as scheduled.

“But some people always find a way to upset the election calendar in order to prolong the situation for their own benefit,” said Senate Vice President Hanitra Razafimanantsoa, a Ravalomanana supporter.

She did not say whether Lalao Ravalomanana should drop her plan to run for president.

Madagascar’s finance minister told Reuters last month that prolonged political uncertainty risked slowing the Indian Ocean island’s economic recovery from the 2009 turmoil that deterred foreign investors and tourists.

Kung Fu Panda, Shrek Debut In World’s Biggest Gambling Destination

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc, the movie studio famous for family films like “Madagascar” and “Shark Tale”, has entered into a licensing agreement in Macau, the world’s biggest gambling destination, in a push to diversify revenues.

The deal with billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Sands China Ltd allows the casino operator to use characters like Shrek and Po from “Kung Fu Panda” in the casinos as Sands moves to attract leisure and family visitors.

California-based DreamWorks announced the deal on Tuesday with popular franchise characters on display. Guests at Sands’ Venetian and Cotai Central resorts will be able to see and interact with the characters during their stays, the film company said. The deal takes effect on July 1.

DreamWorks’ venture in Macau may help boost the $2 billion company’s efforts in China after it posted its first quarterly loss in almost six years in February.

In an advertising splash, DreamWorks took out three full-page color advertisements on Tuesday in Hong Kong’s main English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, displaying Po, Shrek, and the animal cast of “Madagascar”, asking readers to guess where they were taking their next holiday.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, is the only place in China where people are legally allowed to gamble in casinos. More than two-thirds of Macau’s visitors come from mainland China.

Chinese and Macau government officials have been pushing for casino operators like Sands to diversify their operations to appeal to a more mass-market international tourist destination.

Macau is heavily reliant on the gambling industry, with more than 70 percent of tax revenues coming from the casinos. Tourists come primarily to gamble as opposed to Las Vegas, where shows, fine dining and other forms of entertainment are in higher demand.

Rival casino operators located adjacent to Sands’ resorts on Macau’s Cotai strip have also been trying to diversify their gambling offerings. Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, owned by Hong Kong billionaire Lawrence Ho and Australian tycoon James Packer, produces the House of Dancing Water show, while Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd has a cinema and a skytop wave pool.

NBBF in a state of mourning over the death of D’Tigers Chinedu Onyeuku

The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) released a statement yesterday expressing shock over the untimely death of a key member of the D’Tigers’ 2011 Madagascar Afrobasket bronze medallist team, Chinedu Onyeuku a shooting guard who died last weekend.

Touted as a great patriot, Nedu as he is widely known, cut short his family vacation for national call as he reported to the  national camp in Orlando where D’Tigers were to play against Team GB and Team Netherlands in the 3-nation tournament in London in the build-up to the 2011 Afrobasket.

He was a member of the team that qualified Nigeria for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela, from where D’Tigers won the qualification ticket to 2012 London Olympic Games.

He also returned to the team for the Zwolle basketball days invitational tournament in Holland in December, 2011 which was his last national team outing.

According to the statement from the NBBF signed by the NBBF Scribe Francis Gbiri stated that “Nedu’s passion for playing with D’Tigers was deep-seated and he will be greatly missed. The federation joins his family and team mates to mourn a departed son, father, husband and great patriot”.

 

Orlando Bloom campaigns for children in Madagascar

channels_television_orlando_bloomEnglish actor Orlando Bloom who starred as blacksmith Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series has taken the role of the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador given him seriously after he led the a campaign to improve the living standards of children in Madagascar.

The move especially meant for the poor children in Madagascar is meant to amongst other things improve the educational standard of the children and Bloom is partnering with Sienna Miller on this project who is chairing the educational campaign for UNICEF.

The project is based on fundaing a day of school for 50 Madasgascar children.

On the on-going project,Orlando Bloom said he is very delighted working with UNICEF and Boss Orange management as it is seen as making a difference in the lives of African Children.

Orlando Bloom had his break-through roles in 2001 as the elf-prince Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and starring in 2003 as blacksmith Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

He established himself as a lead in Hollywood films, including Elizabethtown and Kingdom of Heaven after his breakthrough as he appeared in the ensemble films New York, I Love You, Sympathy for Delicious, and Main Street. Bloom made his professional stage debut in West End’s In Celebration at the Duke of York’s Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane, which ended its run on 15 September 2007.

On 12 October 2009, Bloom was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.