afrol News, 27 June - The United States government has confirmed that it now recognises the government of President Marc Ravalomanana as the rightful representative of Madagascar. This major diplomatic victory for President Ravalomanana also means that his government soon will have access to frozen Malagasy assets in the US.
Richard Boucher, spokesman of the US State Department, tonight told the press that the US had "begun doing business with the government of President Ravalomanana. We accept his administration as the Government of Madagascar," he added.
Boucher said the goal of the US government all along had been "to help the people of Madagascar to solve their governance crisis in a transparent and democratic way, while avoiding civil war." His government however appreciated "the sustained efforts of Senegal's President Wade, the African heads of state, the Organization of African Unity [OAU], and the others who have facilitated mediation and sought to resolve Madagascar's political crisis." The OAU however had refused to recognise Ravalomanana only last week and called for new elections.
- We believe that accepting Mr Ravalomanana as president will now prevent additional violence, Boucher continued, saying it also would "speed an end to Madagascar's political crisis, and help the Government of Madagascar get back on its feet." Working with President Ravalomanana was also "consistent with our democratic principles, supports the rule of law, and fosters regional stability," Boucher said.
Boucher said his government had based the decision on the Malagasy High Constitutional Court's vote recount and naming of Ravalomanana as legitimate President. "We're saying we accept that court decision, we accept the results of that election, and we're going to work with this government," Boucher explained. Therefore, the US considered "Mr Ravalomanana president."
Asked whether the US expected President Ravalomanana to take any kind of reconciliation steps towards his former rival and his supporters, Boucher was by far vaguer than the OUA has been. Saying he thought "we would continue to support any steps towards reconciliation," he still emphasised that "at this point, I think our involvement is to work with the government and to work, we hope, together with the government on the needs of the people of Madagascar."
Turning to the question of Malagasy assets frozen in the US, Boucher could confirm that these now would be made available to Ravalomanana's government. "I would note that Secretary [Colin] Powell has initiated steps to restore access to Madagascar's funds at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York earlier following the disputed December 2001 election," Boucher confirmed. In order to prevent unauthorised access to the account, the Federal Reserve Bank had suspended operation of that account.
Powell had now, on Wednesday, "signed the paperwork permitting the Government of Madagascar to access the funds," Boucher said. He did not know the exact amount of Malagasy funds so far frozen in the US, but Ravalomanana's repeated appeals to get access to these funds indicate they are considerable.
Earlier, signals have been given that European countries were turning over to the side of Ravalomanana's government, although no formal recognitions yet have been announced. The spokesman of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday told afrol News that Norway and most European countries "de facto" had recognised Ravalomanana' government.
Sources: Based on US govt and afrol archives