Lalao Ravalomanana Unveils Pledge to Be Africa's Third Female Leader

Jun 14, 2013, 02:00 ET from Ravalomanana 2013

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, June 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

  • First presidential elections in Madagascar after coup
  • Aims to improve living standards, education and women's rights
  • Build international standing and tourism industry

Lalao Ravalomanana, a successful businesswoman from Madagascar, will today outline her bid to lead the beleaguered country, bringing the total number of female heads of state in Africa to three.

Mme Ravalomanana aims to return Madagascar to political stability and prosperity in the country's first free and fair elections following a military coup in 2009. The former First Lady and CEO of a dairy company, which she has grown from a cottage industry into a nationwide business over a 30-year period, will outline her manifesto to a regional rally of thousands of her supporters today.

She is staking her election campaign on increasing foreign direct investment and international aid into the country, which were suspended after the current president assumed power in 2009 in a military-backed coup d'etat.

Mme Ravalomanana is pledging to expand the country's nascent tourism industry based on Madagascar's untouched natural environment, popularised in the animated movie 'Madagascar'.  Her overall aim is to improve the increasingly impoverished lives of its 20 million citizens, one of the poorest populations in Africa with over three-quarters of the population living below the poverty line. She will also improve educational opportunities and women's rights.

In the rally at Diego in the country's Northern province, Mme Ravalomanana will say: "As I travel around the country, families come to me and tell me they are struggling to put food on their table and they are worried about rising crime and the health of their children. That is why I decided to stand as President - to do what I can to start making life for families in Madagascar a little better.

"We have a very young population; two-thirds of our people are below 25-years-old. That means we owe it to tomorrow's generation to build a better future now."

The election has a provisional date of July 24. If successful, Mme Ravalomanana will become only the third female ruler in Africa, alongside President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Joyce Banda of Malawi, building on Madagascar's rich historical heritage of female leaders and making a strongest visible statement in support of the country's women.

Mme Ravalomanana was First Lady of Madagascar during her husband's presidency from 2002-2009, before he was ousted by the current incumbent, who is also running in the elections despite giving assurances he would abstain.

Notes to editor:

Madame Lalao Ravalomanana is the Presidential Candidate for the Mouvance Ravalomanana, a growing coalition of political parties dedicated to bringing a secure, peaceful and prosperous future to Madagascar. For high resolution images free to download, visit the Mouvance Ravalomanana Flickr page:

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SOURCE Ravalomanana 2013