afrol News, 4 June - The European Union (EU) will continue freezing its substantial aid to Madagascar for another year, disagreeing with the transition process announced by coup leader Andry Rajoelina.
A continued suspension of EU aid to Madagascar was today recommended by the European Commission. The advice is presented to EU Ministers, which are expected to approve the aid freeze in a meeting next week.
European aid to Madagascar, prior to Mr Rajoelina's March 2009 coup, was among government's main revenues. Madagascar had turned into a donors' favourite during the presidency of Mr Rajoelina's predecessor Marc Ravalomanana
During President Ravalomanana's rule, EU aid was extended and Europe became Madagascar's main donor. After the coup, the EU froze pledged aid funds for Madagascar worth around euro 600 million, demanding a return to constitutional rule. The EU backed an African Union (AU) mediated scheme for a transitional power-sharing government and tied its aid resumption to its implementation.
Also the US and AU have imposed sanctions on Madagascar. The US has suspended Madagascar from its AGOA programme, which gave Madagascar very favourable conditions for exports to the US. Also the US and AU tie their lifting of sanctions to the implementation of the negotiated power-sharing agreement.
However, Mr Rajoelina has failed to implement the power-sharing agreement he originally signed. Talks in South Africa between Mr Rajoelina and ex-President Ravalomanana during the last months failed to materialise in a new transitional government.
New dynamics entered the process last month, as Malagasy leader Rajoelina unilaterally announced elections would be held in November. He also promised not to stand candidate in the upcoming polls.
After initial positive reactions, Malagasy leaders opposing Mr Rajoelina now agree that the election announcement is not the way forward for Madagascar. There were no guarantees elections organised by Mr Rajoelina's coupist government could be free or fair, especially as human rights violations and attacks against the press are increasing in Madagascar.
"Unilateral decisions and actions should stop," Mr Ravalomanana said in a recent statement. "Only an inclusive, consensual solution will bring about peace and stability," he added.
Madagascar's political parties are again united in demanding an implementation of the AU's power-sharing agreement. The deal seeks the establishment of a unity government including the parties of Mr Rajoelina, Mr Ravalomanana and two other ex-presidents. This unity government then should organise free and fair elections. Until this transition process is well advanced, the US and AU will not lift their sanctions and the EU will not unfreeze its aid.
According to the European Commission's recommendation, however, humanitarian and emergency aid to Madagascar should not be affected by the suspension of development aid. But the Commission wants humanitarian aid to be channelled outside the Malagasy government and institutions under control of Mr Rajoelina.
The need for humanitarian aid to Madagascar has exploded since the coup, which strongly has harmed the Malagasy economy. The Great Island has experienced negative growth and a sharp drop in exports, leading to a boom in unemployment and expanding poverty.
Meanwhile, the EU's delegation in Antananarivo is assessing project proposals "for actions in the field of human rights carried out in Madagascar." The EU office had been given fresh funds from Brussels to find local partners in Madagascar to counter the negative human rights trends on the island under Mr Rajoelina's rule.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.