Madagascar. After another year without a solution to
Madagascar's political stalemate, the most important
political leaders in September signed an agreement to hold
general elections within one year, tentatively in March
2012. 2009, had indeed promised elections several times
before, but this time the turnout was broader.
Countryaah official site, the agreement, mediated by South Africa's regional
cooperation organization SADC, would also allow former
President Marc Ravalomanana to return from his exile in
South Africa. Earlier in the year, he had again refused to
board an airplane to Antananarivo since the leadership of
the country's security forces opposed his return. The
ex-president Didier Ratsiraka also returned after nine years
of country escape. The agreement meant that a new unity
government could be formed with the participation of parties
that have so far refused to cooperate with Rajoelina.
The new cooperation climate gave hope for mitigated UN
sanctions. The UN's special envoy on issues relating to
everyone's right to food, Olivier De Schutter, had raised
alarms that the barriers to the public subjected the
population to difficult trials. He said that more than
three-quarters of residents live below the poverty line and
that 35% of rural people do not have enough to eat.
The political vacuum has also caused parts of the
judiciary to collapse, which has led to, among other things,
extensive forestry. In an attempt to curb the illegal timber
trade, the transitional authority tightened the penalty for
attempts to smuggle out rosewood and ebony. The authority's
ability to put the power behind the words was unclear.