31 March 2009
Leaders attending an extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), chaired by South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, have suspended Madagascar from the bloc for an unconstitutional change of government.
The SADC further called on Andry Rajoelina to vacate Madagascar’s president’s office as a matter of urgency or face the consequences.
“The extraordinary summit suspends Madagascar from all community institutions and organs until the return of the country to constitutional order,” SADC executive director Tomaz Salomao told media at the close of the summit in Swaziland this week.
Marc Ravalomanana withdrew his leadership of the east African island under pressure two weeks ago. The military handed power to opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, who was then installed as head of a transitional authority.
The 15-member SADC held a special summit in Ezulwini outside Swaziland’s capital Mbanane on Monday to discuss the findings of a fact-finding mission which was sent to Madagascar to investigate the crisis.
The SADC troika on politics, defence and security said earlier this month that it would propose that SADC impose tough sanctions on the country.
The African Union decided on 20 March to suspend Madagascar’s membership, denouncing the change in the government as a coup and giving the island country six months to hold a general election.
Western governments have agreed and some have suspended non-humanitarian aid to the island nation.
‘Lift Zim sanctions’
Meanwhile, the summit also called for the lifting of all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe and urged donors and international financial institutions to support Zimbabwe financially for its economic recovery.
It is estimated that the short-term emergency recovery programme developed by the government of Zimbabwe towards its recovery plan could be around US$10-billion.
Last week, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed that the country’s woes were worse than initially estimated, with at least $8-billion being needed to revive its economy.
Hospitals, schools, roads, water and sanitation are in need of urgent attention. Most Zimbabweans are on the verge of starvation, with the UN estimating that about seven million of the country’s nine million people are in dire need of food aid.
Biti said running the government was costing $100-million a month – way above its monthly $20-million revenue collected.