Madagascar's incumbent President, Andry Rajoelina, is facing a turbulent path to re-election as protests and legal challenges rock the political landscape. Rajoelina, who has held a firm grip on power for years, is gearing up for the upcoming elections on November 16, determined to continue his tenure. Despite a history of ups and downs, he remains resolute in his quest for re-election.
Rajoelina, who earned the moniker "the disc jockey" due to his popularity for organizing parties during his youth, first came to power in 2009 through a coup. However, he later skipped subsequent elections, only to make a triumphant comeback in 2018. His political journey has been far from conventional, marked by controversy and resilience.
In a recent statement, Rajoelina emphasized his administration's efforts to address Madagascar's development challenges. He stated, "I've done everything to catch up with Madagascar's development lag, we've built and developed infrastructure close to the population that the population needs." Highlighting achievements in schools, roads, and hospitals, he positioned himself as a "builder president" in a country grappling with infrastructure and economic deficiencies.
Nevertheless, Rajoelina acknowledged the significant challenges ahead. In his words, "Now the challenges are enormous, so there are still a lot of things to be done, including job creation, integrating young people, and everything to do with social safety nets, all of which are challenges I'll have to tackle in the coming years." These challenges underscore the pressing issues that Madagascar faces as it seeks to improve the lives of its citizens.
Rajoelina's bid for re-election has not been without controversy. In June, reports emerged that he had acquired French nationality in 2014, leading to calls for his disqualification from the presidential race. According to local laws, acquiring a foreign nationality would entail the loss of Malagasy nationality and render a candidate ineligible to lead the country. Despite being the subject of criticism and mockery, Rajoelina explained that he had obtained French citizenship to facilitate his children's education abroad, drawing parallels to prominent international figures with dual nationalities.
In September, Madagascar's highest court dismissed appeals seeking to invalidate Rajoelina's candidacy, effectively closing the chapter on the controversy. However, this decision sparked outrage among the opposition. For more than a month, 11 out of 12 of Rajoelina's election challengers have staged almost daily protests in Antananarivo, alleging an "institutional coup" in favor of the incumbent.
Rajoelina, unshaken by the protests, redirected his election campaign away from the capital, highlighting his administration's achievements. He reiterated his commitment to addressing Madagascar's development challenges and stressed his readiness to lead the nation.
As Madagascar's election date approaches, Andry Rajoelina remains a prominent figure in the country's political landscape, displaying resilience and determination in the face of challenges and controversies. Whether he secures re-election or not, his influence on the nation's politics is undeniable, and he remains a key player in Madagascar's political arena.