- Southern Africa
- Conflicts - Politics - Governance
Madagascar: Sanctions force leader into submission
Malagasy leader, Andry Rajoelina has moved to settle the political instability in the island country by announcing that he would not participate in the forthcoming presidential elections. According to reports the President had succumbed to domestic and international pressure.
Andry Rajoelina caused political unrest in the country when he took power in a bloodless coup in March 2009.
The presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for September and November respectively, but the 35-year old former Disc Jockey under pressure to resolve the country’s political quarrel will not stand for elections. He [Rajoelina] has faced pressure from his former allies in the military who had backed him when he toppled former President Marc Ravalomanana last year.
Donors cut off aid from Madagascar because Mr. Rajoelina abandoned a power-sharing deal made in November. Sanctions imposed on the country by the African Union significantly reduced foreign investments while the masses grew restive.
"I declare in the name of the superior interest of the nation and of the people, my decision not to stand as candidate in the presidential elections for a fourth republic," Andry Rajoelina said in a televised statement on Wednesday.
Madagascar’s former colonial ruler, France welcomed the president’s move, stating that the move demonstrated a sense of responsibility and was a step forward for the nation. Until now, Rajoelina had been reluctant on forging a new agreement with his political rivals, but last week pledged to unveil a road-map for the country during talks in South Africa.
"The decision would place Madagascar on the path to returning to constitutional order and therefore the support of the international community," France’s secretary of state for co-operatino Mr. Alain Joyandet, was quoted as saying.
Rajoelina and 108 of his allies have been under travel restrictions and frozen foreign assets. A member of Rajoelina’s government, Evariste Marson, had told the AFP news agency that the sanctions against Rajoelina and his cabinets would have "no effect".
In December 2009, Rajoelina abandoned a peace deal he had signed up to by unilaterally appointing a military prime minister. The decision sparked violent protests outside the national assembly in the capital, Antananarivo.
Former President Marc Ravalomanana who is in exile in South Africa, remained optimistic that the targeted sanctions would spur Andry Rajoelina into cooperating with the international community.
Trouble began in the Indian Ocean nation when Mr. Ravalomanana shut down opposition media groups, and sacked the opposition figurehead Andry Rajoelina as mayor of Antananarivo.
These events led to an army mutiny which led to the resignation and fleeing of Mr. Ravalomanana, and the take over of Mr. Rajoelina.