Africa in the News: Madagascar Elections, 1992 Mozambique Peace Agreement Fails, Kenya’s William Ruto to Attend ICC Trial

This marks the second edition of the weekly “Africa in the News” roundup that we will be doing every Friday for our readers on the major news stories related to Africa. This week’s Africa news has focused a on the election in Madagascar, the failed peace agreement in Mozambique, and the ICC trial for William Ruto.

Election Today in Madagascar

Madagascar is currently in the process of voting for its next president, who when elected will be the first democratically elected leader following the coup in 2009. Neither the current president, Andry Rajoelina, nor the ousted president, Marc Ravalomanana, is on the ballot as they were both barred from running as a precondition to the results being internationally recognized. Rajoelina indicated that after he overthrew Ravalomanana there would be a vote within two years, but it’s just now taking place after being pushed back multiple times.

The election is hoped to be an important step in allowing the country to recover suspended foreign aid, and become a full member again of the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) after being suspended from both groups following the coup in 2009. It could also allow Madagascar to become eligible again for the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which supported a successful textile and apparel sector in the country and provided thousands of jobs before Madagascar was made ineligible.

There are 33 candidates running for president, so it’s likely that there will be a run off in December when no single candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote today.   It should also be noted that we at the Africa Growth Initiative will soon be unveiling a new data visualization tool that will show the political transitions for each country in Africa over the past five decades. 

Mozambique’s Failed Peace Agreement

On Monday, Renamo, which is the Mozambican National Resistance Movement, declared that it would no longer honor the 1992 peace deal made with the ruling government.  Renamo points to the government forces’ capture of a jungle base where the group’s leader was staying as the motivation for withdrawing from the agreement.

Mozambique has seen a lot of economic progress in recent years, and large discoveries of coal and gas have led to significant foreign investment in the country recently. There is widespread concern that this instability could be a threat to the country’s progress.  Amadou Sy and Josephine Kibe from Brookings weigh in on the difficulty of the situation here.

The African Union and the United Nations have condemned the recent events and called on the government and Renamo to stop the violence. The AU spokesperson has said that, “We strongly believe that Mozambique and Mozambicans have the means and have the capacity to resolve this issue and to overcome the challenges facing them.”

Kenya’s Deputy President to Attend ICC Trial

The International Criminal Court announced today that Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto will still be required to attend his trial in The Hague, where he is facing charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly orchestrating violence that occurred after the 2007 Kenyan elections.   Ruto will only be excused from attending if there is an exceptional circumstance that the court deems allowable; Kenya’s Daily Nation reports that Ruto is requesting to be absent next week when President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to travel to Rwanda for a regional summit.  The news is thought to add further tension to a case that is said to have heightened African countries’ criticism of the court for what is perceived as its unfair targeting of African leaders.