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.

AFCON Beach Soccer: CAF Officials, Teams Arrive Nigeria

AFCON Beach Soccer: CAF Officials, Teams Arrive NigeriaThe stage is set for the second edition of the Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations to be hosted by Nigeria as officials of the Confederation of African Football arrived in Lagos on Thursday.

CAF Secretariat staff will set up a desk inside the Eko Hotel and Suites on Friday, just as thenff.com learnt on Thursday that all participating teams are to take up their accommodation on Saturday.

The delegations of Ghana, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Libya, Senegal and Morocco will fly into Lagos on Saturday, as host team, the Supersand Eagles, also make the short trip from their Aivoji Beach camp in Badagry to Victoria Island the same day.

Meanwhile, the Ivorian beach soccer national team on Thursday traded tackles with their Moroccan counterparts in an international friendly by both countries ahead of the second edition of Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations.

Cote d’Ivoire will face hosts Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt in Group A of the 6–day championship scheduled for the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, from December 13 to 18, 2016.

Morocco will confront Cup holders Madagascar, Libya and Senegal in Group B.

The Moroccans have been in camp since September, and arrived in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan on Monday.

Egypt, who have been in camp since August, participated in the Samsung Invitational Tournament in Dubai before flying to Lebanon, and will play the Lebanese team in a three–match series.

Ghana’s beach soccer team, which sent packing Kenya in the qualifying series, has also been in camp since August.

As part of its preparation for the championship, two–time African champions Nigeria will take on Switzerland in the Copa Lagos Invitational at the Eko Atlantic City on Sunday.

Officials of Kinetic Sports, organizers of the COPA Lagos Invitational that is being reduced to a one-day show this year as a result of the Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations, confirmed to thenff.com that the Swiss contingent is expected in Nigeria on Friday.

Enyimba FC of Aba will take on Pepsi Academy in a curtain raiser for the Nigeria/Switzerland match on Sunday, which kicks off at 4PM.

It is an opportunity for Coach Audu Adamu Ejo to see the level of fitness and tactical awareness of his players, who have been perfecting strategies at the Aivoji Beach, Badagry for several weeks.

Players in Supersand Eagles’ camp: Goalkeepers Godwin Anyalogu (Rivers United FC), Godwin Tale (FC Lokoja), Nurudeen Mudashiru (Kada Stars) and Majid Danladi Mohammed (Kwande Academy; defenders Lukman Ibrahim (Kada Stars), Ogbonnaya Okemiri (Abia Warriors), Taiwo Adams (Owibeseb FC), Godspower Igudia (Akwa United), Victor Tale (Bassa United) and Emmanuel Owheferia (Owibeseb FC) and; forwards Bartholomew Ibenegbu (Enyimba FC), Emeka Ogbonna (Leads United), Suleiman Ogodo (FC IfeanyiUbah), Abu Azeez (Enyimba FC), Kunle Olukotun (Shooting Stars), Sunday Alasco (Kada Stars), Abubakar Isah (Anambra BS), Badmus Babatunde (Owibeseb FC) and Clement Fayowole (Leads United)

2016 Davis Cup: NTF Wants Sports Ministry’s Support

davis cupThe Nigeria Tennis Federation has called for support from the Sports Ministry following Nigeria’s listing for the 2016 Davis Cup Africa Zone III championship scheduled for Antananarivo, Madagascar.

Poor funding has been identified as a major problem hindering the development of tennis in the country and the federation has asked the ministry to intervene by ensuring players and officials feature at continental and international competitions.

The International Tennis Federation ignored a possible sanction for Nigeria despite the last-minute withdrawal of the country from the 2015 edition in Cairo, Egypt.

Nigeria was included in the draw ceremony in its London headquarters on Monday, which brought some relief that there would not be any sanction for the country.

NTF President, Sani Ndanusa, while expressing gratitude to the international body, pleaded to the Sports Ministry for early release of funds to ensure its participation at the four-day tournament billed for the clay courts of the Antanarivo University.

“This is our New Year present from the ITF and we are not surprised because if there’s any country that the ITF has to be lenient with then it has to be Nigeria; our commitment to tennis has never been in doubt.

“Just last month, we hosted the Governor’s Cup championship which is among the top-rated Circuits in the ITF calendar. And in the next few days we will be hosting the Africa Junior Championship West and Central Africa Qualifiers which will be featuring about 14 countries. This is the second time in barely two years that we will be hosting the event. We also hosted the AJC proper in 2010.

“So this has put us in the good books of the ITF but that is not to say we will be taking them for granted. We will make sure that we put in place all modalities that will not only see us participate but go for one of the promotion tickets this year,” Ndanusa assured.

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia and Rwanda will also feature at the tournament.