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United Nations calls for fair elections in Madagascar
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09:24, April 08, 2009

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The United Nations is calling for "quick and inclusive elections" in Madagascar to restore faith in a constitutional government, a top UN official said here on Tuesday.

"The (Security) Council members expressed serious concern about the unconstitutional means of taking power by (Andry Rajoelina) and urged that there be a quick return to constitutional order through a transitional process that is based on consensus reached through wide participation of all stakeholders in Madagascar," UN Assistant Secretary-general Haile Menkerios told reporters after a closed-door Security Council meeting.

It remains unclear what transitional process will be employed, said Menkerios, as that is to be determined by the current and former governments. However, he reiterated that elections should ultimately be held allowing the people of Madagascar to decide the fate of their government.

Rajoelina, former mayor of the capital city Antananarivo, became the country's new president in March when his opposition movement forced Marc Ravalomanana to quit office after a series of anti-government demonstrations in the capital.

UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council members have stopped short of calling the transition of power a coup, instead preferring to label it as "unconstitutional" and "undemocratic."

Speaking in his national capacity as the Mexican ambassador to the United Nations, Claude Heller, who is also the Security Council president for April, told reporters that it was "very clear that there was an unconstitutional coup" and stressed that national elections were essential to move the country forward.

Madagascar has been ravaged by political turmoil since the start of 2009. More than 135 people have been killed, and foreign investment in the island's oil and mineral resources has plummeted as Madagascar's political future is still uncertain, reports said.

Tourism alone experienced an estimated downturn worth 390 million U.S. dollars in 2008 and some 25,000 jobs are critically at risk, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).


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