Madagascar: Election Outcome is a U.S. Setback

15 January 2019
CAJnews (Cape Town)
opinion

from MARIO RAJOMAZANDRY in Antananarivo, Madagascar
ANTANANARIVO, (CAJ News) – THE just-concluded elections in Madagascar is a major blow to the United States (US), which for long has sought to gain a foothold in the national resources-endowed island country.

Andry Rajoelina, who headed the transitional administration of Madagascar from 2009 to 2013, has been confirmed as the winner after he beat his main rival and ex-president (2002-2009), Marc Ravalomanana, during the second round of polls held in late December.

Although Ravalomanana was the preferred candidate for the US, in the list of 36 candidates were two candidates with American links. One is Emma Roseline Rasolovoahangy, who graduated at the Stanford University. Another is Stephan Narison, a researcher from the same institution.

These candidates circulated pro-American views among the citizens of the island. In their speeches, they also lobbied the deployment of military bases in the country.

While the duo has accepted defeat, having stood little chance, Ravalomanana has declined to endorse the outcome that saw him secure 44,34 percent of the vote to the winner’s 55,66 percent.

Ravalomanana had from the onset of the election campaign was talking about “dishonesty” in the election process.

This is despite numerous statements by both European and African organizations that the elections were held without significant violations.

He urged supporters to protest as he appeared headed for defeat in a run-off poll. Ahead of elections, America’s influence on Madagascar was evident.

In December 2017, the US allocated $1,2 million to “support the election cycle” in Madagascar. This paved way for American non-governmental organisation to begin meetings with political functionaries.

In March 2018, the US Ambassador Stuart Wilson, indirectly pledged his support to Ravalomanana. Later, ardent opposition activist Hanitra Razafimanantsoa also came to the US Embassy to confirm his backing of the candidate.

Razafimanantsoa is playing a key role in organising protests against the elections. Ahead of the elections Ravalomanana’s backers managed to find a person to directly oversee all these processes in the interests of the US.

He is Abraham James, a member of the US Armed Forces. James is a controversial figure and in his Facebook page is a photo purporting to sell so-called ISIS Hunting Permits.

It is believed these were sold to raise money for the election campaign of the former Governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens. There is also American lawyer, Betty-Lynn White, who flew into the island country, according to critics, to look for flaws in the electoral legislation.

William Anderson a political consultant, was also influential. He was often seen in the printing houses of the capital Antananrivo, and sometimes he came with a small suitcase to some candidates.

It is hard to ascertain many more Americans are involved in this election process. But why is Madagascar such an attraction?

It has long had maritime trade routes. It is rich in resources and minerals. Madagascar is an attractive location in every sense, which makes it very profitable.

Most importantly, it is strategically located to control almost all shipping off the coast of Africa. Thus, many Western countries have long attempted to install a puppet government and receive the dividends.

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