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Democracy Now In Madagascar


Democracy Now In Madagascar

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Talks have broken down again over forming a unity government in Madagascar, as the island nation's leader rejected the latest proposal aimed at resolving the current political impasse.

Andry Rajoelina, who forced the former president out of office and took power in March, accused opposition leaders of attempting their own coup d'etat after they agreed to name cabinet ministers for a consensus transition government and include him as a member of a presidential council, along with 2 co-presidents. He had boycotted the talks, but was angered nevertheless when it acted without him.

The stand-off continues a string of disputes that prevented a return to democratic rule, created political turmoil and isolated Madagascar diplomatically from its neighbors in Africa and much of the international community at large. Aid has been suspended by many nations, and this failure of leadership now threatens Madagascar with a loss of important trade benefits with the United States.

Since becoming eligible in October 2002 for reduced tariffs and other considerations under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, Madagascar has greatly boosted exports to the U.S. of textiles, wearing apparel and farm products, all key industries. In fact, Madagascar conducts more trade with the U.S, than all but 7 other African nations.

To remain eligible under the program, countries must meet or show continual progress in certain criteria, including the rule of law and political pluralism. The certification period for 2010 is about to end, and amid the current political turmoil Madagascar is on a track to fail that test.

The U.S. urges the Malagasy political leadership to take concrete steps toward re-establishing a constitutional, democratic government and the rule of law, for the benefit of all parties and the Malagasy people. These include forming a full transitional government cabinet, a national reconciliation council to address the issues behind the crisis, and an independent electoral commission to schedule a free and fair election to set the nation back on the correct path.

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