Monday, December 11, 2006

Marc Ravalomanana Re-elected to Lead Madagascar

Madagascar leader is re-elected

Malagasy leader Marc Ravalomanana has been re-elected president after winning 54.8% of the vote, Madagascar's interior ministry has said.

The absolute majority won by Mr Ravalomanana, a self-made dairy tycoon, avoided a second round of voting.

The result has to be confirmed by the Constitutional High Court.

In the last poll, in 2001, the island nation was pushed to the brink of civil war after then-incumbent Didier Ratsiraka refused to accept defeat.

A former speaker of the national assembly, Jean Lahiniriko, gained 11.68%.

Roland Ratsiraka, the nephew of ex-president Didier Ratsiraka, received 10.9% of votes.

A total of 61.45% of the country's registered 7.3 million voters went to the polling stations, the interior ministry said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/10 20:01:50 GMT

Country profile: Madagascar

Madagascar is the world's fourth biggest island after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. Because of its isolation most of its mammals, half its birds, and most of its plants exist nowhere else on earth.

The island is heavily exposed to tropical cyclones which bring torrential rains and destructive floods, such as the ones in 2000 and 2004, which left thousands homeless.

The Malagasy are thought to be descendents of Africans and Indonesians who settled on the island more than 2,000 years ago. Malagasy pay a lot of attention to their dead and spend much effort on ancestral tombs, which are opened from time to time so the remains can be carried in procession, before being rewrapped in fresh shrouds.


Politics: Poll officials say President Ravalomanana has won the December 2006 elections. He first took office in 2002 after a power struggle with his predecessor, Didier Ratsiraka
Economy: Many areas suffer food shortages. Madagascar is to benefit from a G8 pledge to write off debts of 18 poor countries
International: Plans by Rio Tinto to start coastal strip mining in the south-east has drawn the attention of environmentalists

After sometimes harsh French colonial rule, which included the bloody suppression of an uprising in 1947, Madagascar gained independence in 1960. The military seized power in the early 1970s with the aim of achieving a socialist paradise.

This did not materialise. The economy went into decline and by 1982 the authorities were forced to adopt a structural adjustment programme imposed by the International Monetary Fund.

The World Bank has estimated that 70% of Malagasy live on less than $1 per day. Poverty and the competition for agricultural land have put pressure on the island's dwindling forests, home to much of Madagascar's unique wildlife and key to its emerging tourist industry.

The island has strong ties with France as well as economic and cultural links with French-speaking West Africa.

Full name: Republic of Madagascar
Population: 17.2 million (via UN, 2006)
Capital: Antananarivo
Area: 587,041 sq km (226,658 sq miles)
Major languages: Malagasy (official), French
Major religions: Indigenous beliefs, Christianity
Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 57 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: Ariary
Main exports: Vanilla, coffee, seafood, cloves, petroleum products, chromium, fabrics
GNI per capita: US $290 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .mg
International dialling code: +261

President: Marc Ravalomanana

With the count very nearly complete, election officials declared Marc Ravalomanana the winner, in the first round, of the December 2006 presidential poll. The incumbent leader gained just over 55% of the votes.

The millionaire businessman's first term saw free-market reforms which were welcomed by donors and investors. Aid increased and foreign debt was cancelled. But poverty remained endemic and protesters took to the streets over rising prices.

When Mr Ravalomanana claimed victory in the 2001 presidential elections a bitter six-month struggle for power with his predecessor, veteran leader Didier Ratsiraka, ensued.

After the US and France recognised Mr Ravalomanana as the legitimate leader, Didier Ratsiraka flew to France and his forces on the island switched sides.

Mr Ravalomanana promised to tackle poverty and unemployment, but he inherited an economy which was suffering after months of economic disruption and political violence.

He was born in the village of Imerikasina, near Antananarivo. In true rags-to-riches fashion, he began his working life selling home-made yogurt off the back of a bicycle.

His dairy and oil products business is now the largest non-foreign-owned company on the island.

He took to the political stage in 1999 and gained a huge following in Antananarivo. As mayor of the capital he was credited with instigating a major clean-up of the city.

Prime minister: Jacques Sylla
Foreign minister: Marcel Ranjeva
Finance minister: Radavidson Andriamparany

National state radio and TV came under the control of presidential contender Marc Ravalomanana in March 2002 during the power struggle with veteran leader Didier Ratsiraka.

Mr Ravalomanana also owns the private Malagasy Broadcasting System, which operates the MBS TV and Radio MBS networks. Many private radio stations in the capital are owned by pro-Ravalomanana politicians.

A boom in privately-owned FM radio stations and more critical political reporting by the print media followed 1990's law on press freedom.

Although nationwide radio and TV broadcasting remain the monopoly of the state, there are hundreds of private local radio and TV stations.

The press

Midi-Madagasikara - privately-owned Antananarivo daily
Madagascar-Tribune - privately-owned Antananarivo daily
L'Express - privately-owned Antananarivo daily
La Gazette de la Grande Ile - Antananarivo daily
Lakroa (Cross) - Roman Catholic weekly
Dans Les Media Demain - privately-owned, Antananarivo weekly
Feon'ny Merina (Voice of the Merina) - privately-owned weekly for Merina people of Malay origin
Jureco - privately-owned, monthly
Revue de l'Ocean Indien - privately-owned, monthly, also covering other Indian Ocean islands


Television Malagasy (TVM) - state-owned
Radio-Television Analamanga (RTA) - privately-run, Antananarivo
Madagascar TV (MATV) - privately-run, Antananarivo
MBS TV - commercial, owned by Ravalomanana

Malagasy National Radio (RNM) - state-owned
Radio Don Bosco - Roman Catholic FM station in capital
Radio MBS - commercial network owned by Ravalomanana
Radio Feon'ny Merina - privately-owned, Antananarivo, promotes interests of Merina people of Malay origin
Radio Tsioka Vao - privately-owned, Antananarivo
Radio Lazan' Iarivo (RLI) (Glory of Iarivo) - privately-owned
Radio Korail - privately-owned, Antananarivo
Radio Antsiva - privately-owned, Antananarivo

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/08 16:43:13 GMT

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