Madagascar’s President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has promised to hold free elections after naming a consensus cabinet on 11th June, in order to curb the political crisis.
Last week, International Labour Organisation (ILO) representative Christian Ntsay was appointed Prime Minister in compliance with a court ruling for the formation of a new consensus government.
Early isolation from the supercontinent of Africa and India provided the island of Madagascar with the environment to host unique or endemic plants and animal species. The fourth largest island in the world, it is located off the East African coast in the Indian Ocean. Human settlers arrived only by 200BC as small tribal foraging communities. Over the past two thousand years the island has received waves of settlers of diverse origins including Austronesian, Bantu, Arab, South Asian, Chinese and European populations.
In the 19th century, the Merina Kingdom was formally recognised as sovereign power. They introduced the process of modernization and the establishment of European-style schools, government institutions and infrastructure. French colonisation in 1895 was followed by abolishment of slavery which freed 500,000 slaves, however, the Malagasy were employed as corveé (unpaid labour) on European plantations. By 1960 Madagascar received Independence, but the First Republic was heavily dependent on the French. After years of power struggle, Andry Rajoelina organised a coup deposing Marc Ravalomanana which culminated as the 2009 Malagasy political crisis.
The country is amongst the poorest countries in the world in spite of having massive reserves of nickel, uranium, gold and cobalt. Literacy and skilled labour is severely lacking and educational facilities have remained isolated from global changes, much like economy itself. The country now relies heavily on foreign aid and tourism.
Madagascar has a semi-presidential, representative democracy with an independent judiciary. A recent electoral reform incited protests as opposition members maintain that a proposed electoral reform will lock out Ravalomanana from contesting the elections. The protestors were fired upon by tear gas leading to one death and multiple injuries. After the constitutional court overturned the proposed reforms, the protests have turned into a movement to oust President Hery Rajaonarimampianina.
Marc Ravalomanana teamed up with his ouster Andry Rajoelina in opposition to President Rajaonarimampianina and his proposed reforms which they claim prevent opposition members from standing for elections. The opposition says the law requires a presidential candidate to produce a report on all previous judicial convictions, which could be a disadvantage for their candidate. Ravalomanana was convicted by a court when he was in exile after the 2009 coup for a range of offences.
The Constitutional Court ordered Rajaonarimampianina to form a government of national unity with a consensus cabinet. Prime Minister Olivier Mahafaly resigned on 4th of June to comply with the court ruling. “The government of [Prime Minister] Christian Ntsay has now been put in place after several rounds of negotiations," Rajaonarimampianina told reporters on Monday at his official residence.
The newly appointed Christian Ntasy is a 57 year old ILO representative who previously served as the Tourism Minister. With a past working with the UN, Ntasy is a safe bet to reassure Malagasy that their government will be free of further political turmoil. He is also an expert in labour management and leadership, according to a report by al Jazeera.
The President also appointed a new “consensus cabinet” comprising allies of the three most powerful persons: the DJ (Andry Rajoelina), the milkman (Marc Ravalomanana) and the accountant (Hery Rajaonarimampianina), as the citizens refer to their past occupations.
The President has promised free elections; however, he has not set any date regarding the same.
Our assessment is that the newly appointed “consensus cabinet” augers well for the country. However, if the political environment of the country is not overhauled, foreign investments necessary for the ailing economy will be pushed farther away.