Obama's Africa Visit Inspires Hope and Courage in Madagascar

Jul 03, 2013, 04:00 ET from Ravalomanana 2013

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, July 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Presidential candidate, Lalao Ravalomanana, has joined US President, Barack Obama, in calling for Madagascar to follow Nelson Mandela's example and have the courage to create a better future.

In a visit to Robben Island last weekend - where the former South African President was kept political captive - the US President spoke of Mandela as a symbol of hope for Africa and a hero for the world with his own determination to deliver change. The US President's words about using Mandela's inspiration to propel Africa back to peace and prosperity resonate strongly with Mme Ravalomanana, as Madagascar prepares for its first democratic presidential election in over a decade.

Speaking in Antananarivo today, Mme Ravalomanana urged the need for free and fair elections in Madagascar: "Since the coup in 2009, Madagascar has experienced such political instability and poor governance that there has been significant decline in our country and increased suffering of our people. This year's elections are an opportunity for the Malagasy people to open a new chapter for Madagascar, by having the courage and conviction to elect a strong, viable leader who will work tirelessly for a better future and reinstate its rightful position on the world stage."

Departing Africa following his eight day visit, which took him to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, the US President also urged the importance of foreign-direct investment (FDI) in helping to drive Africa forward to a better future.

Reflecting on the US President's pledge to increase FDI in the world's poorest continent, Mme Ravalomanana continued: "Madagascar has so much to offer and be proud of, but we will never earn the respect of the international community without significant change in the way our country is governed. Madagascar will not attract high profile world leaders and the foreign direct investment (FDI) they bring with them - unless the people choose a new President who can lead the country to greater prosperity and international recognition."

Foreign Direct Investment into Madagascar increased from $85m in 2005 to $1.2bn in 2008 under the presidency of Marc Ravalomanana, before falling to $860m in 2010 after he was ousted by a military-backed coup. The latest figure for FDI was $907m in 2011, according to the World Investment Report 2012, as previous investors cancelled funding after Andry Rajoelina seized power. Increasing FDI back to pre-coup levels is a major pledge of Mme Ravalomanana's campaign.

Mme Ravalomanana continued: "Increasing foreign investment and international aid into Madagascar is key to putting more food on the table of our people and increasing their quality of life. To ensure this happens, we must come together at the ballot box and unite as one people. We will only make a difference if we act in unison and, if elected, I will work hard to ensure this happens."

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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/96646855@N04/

For more information email press@ravalomanana2013.com or call +261-34-07-200-77.

SOURCE Ravalomanana 2013