WINDHOEK – The troubled island of Madagascar is ready to go to the polls to elect a new government and the mood in the country is calm, said Foreign Affairs Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who is the Head of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Observer Mission to the elections in Madagascar.
Madagascar is going to the polls on Friday to elect the country’s new president as well as members of parliament, following the unconstitutional removal from power of the elected president Marc Ravalomanana by mass protests led by the then mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina in early 2009. Since then, the African island nation has been suspended from both SADC and the AU, pending the restoration of constitutional order.
Nandi-Ndaitwah, who returned home at the end of last week after launching the SADC Observer Mission in Antananarivo Wednesday, told New Era that she was “satisfied with the preparation process and the way the Malagasy people are conducting themselves during the campaigns”. She said the observer mission is guided by various instruments that include the SADC Treaty, the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, as well as the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Elections.
The observers will employ a systematic assessment of the electoral process in accordance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Nandi-Ndaitwah emphasised that the mission’s observers would respect and abide by the SADC instruments, as well as the constitution and laws of Madagascar
“SADC is not here only to observe the present elections, but has supported this process since the crisis broke out more than four years ago. To demonstrate our commitment and regional solidarity with the people of Madagascar, the SADC leaders have also made a solemn commitment to provide funding to the tune of US$10 million (about N$99.6 million),” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
She said the delay in the implementation of the SADC roadmap has resulted in the delay of remittance by member states, but adding that such a delay should not be misinterpreted as a lack of commitment on the part of SADC because some countries, including Namibia, have already remitted their contributions.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said there are 33 candidates contesting the presidential elections and that the nine presidential candidates who were withdrawn by the Special Electoral Court a few months ago, which include three prominent political leaders whose registration had not complied with the laws of Madagascar, had accepted not to stand and have promised to allow the elections to go ahead.
“We as SADC applaud them because they have decided to put the interest of the nation first before their individual interests,” she said.
In August, president Andry Rajoelina, Lalao Ravalomanana, the wife of Marc Ravalomanana who was toppled from power by Rajoelina in 2009, and Didier Ratsiraka, who lives in exile in France, were removed from the list by the Electoral Court as they were found not to have met the full requirements of taking part in the elections. The court said Rajoelina had not filed his candidacy papers before the deadline, while Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka had not lived in Madagascar for the past six months.
The observer mission consists of representatives of the 14 SADC Member States and were deployed to polling stations in Madagascar following the mission’s launch last week.
The Namibian delegation is deputised by Tuliameni Kalomoh the special advisor to the foreign affairs minister, assisted by Veiccoh Nghiwete the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nora Schimming-Chase, a former member of parliament.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said she is expected to provide a preliminary report of the observer mission on October 27 and then the final report early next month.
By Tonateni Shidhudhu