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Monday, July 12, 2010

Madagascar’s Political Crisis

Lauren Ploch
Analyst in African Affairs

Political tensions on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar between President Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, the former mayor of the capital city, escalated in early 2009, culminating in President Ravalomanana's forced removal from office. In preceding weeks, over 135 people had been killed in riots and demonstrations. Under intensifying pressure from mutinous soldiers and large crowds of protestors, Ravalomanana handed power to the military on March 17, 2009. The military then transferred authority to Rajoelina, who has declared a transitional government. Rajoelina's "inauguration" as president of the transitional authority was followed by days of protests by thousands of supporters of Ravalomanana. Several subsequent demonstrations have led to violent clashes with security forces. Negotiations in August 2009 between the parties led to the signing of an agreement in Mozambique to establish an inclusive, transitional government, but Rajoelina subsequently appointed a new government seen to be primarily composed of his own supporters. Southern African leaders and Madagascar's opposition parties rejected the proposed government, and negotiations in Mozambique resumed. On October 6, the parties announced that they had reached agreement on posts in the new government, which would be led by Andry Rajoelina until new elections are held. Ravalomanana reportedly agreed to the arrangement on the condition that Rajoelina would not vie for the presidency in those elections. Rajoelina later rejected the accord and announced that elections would be held in March 2010. The international community objected to the proposed date, arguing that elections could be held without opposition consensus. In late January 2010 Rajoelina reportedly consented to postpone the elections and re-engage in negotiations. Legislative elections are currently scheduled for September 2010 and presidential elections are slated for November 26, 2010.

The political uncertainty has strained relations between international donors and Madagascar, which was the first country to sign a U.S. Millennium Challenge Account compact, worth an estimated $110 million. That compact was terminated in May 2009. Following coups in Mauritania and Guinea in 2008, the African Union, the United States, and the European Union, among others, warned against an unconstitutional transfer of power on the island nation and have suspended most foreign aid and threatened sanctions. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community have suspended Madagascar until constitutional order is restored.

Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island, is extremely biologically diverse, with as many as 150,000 species of flora and fauna that are unique to the island. The country faces a host of environmental pressures, however, and the U.S. State Department reports that illegal logging and the endangered wildlife exports has substantially increased since the HAT has taken power.

Date of Report: June 30, 2010
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: R40448
Price: $29.95

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