ANDRY NIRINA RAJOELINA, President of Madagascar, addressing the Assembly with a message of solidarity, said the current aim is to find “the ways and means” to relaunch the world’s economies. He called for acting together to build a post-crisis world. Some 4.5 million people have died, a shocking figure, while the impact of the pandemic on the jobs market has been stark: 255 million people have lost their jobs, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Those in the informal sector are those worst affected. Middle classes are disappearing and the world economy is in serious recession, with forecasts of 5 per cent per capita income loss, tipping many more people into poverty.
“We have seen we are not all equal,” he said, and countries such as his own have had to demonstrate ingenuity. “Our home-grown solutions were our best weapon in this fight,” he said. When people discuss developing countries, the “grim side of the story” is often foregrounded in the international arena. When speaking of Africa, there is a tendency to darken the reality. “It is time for this perception to change,” he said. “We must stop making use of these prejudices and move into new ideas.” Countries such as Madagascar dealt with the impact of COVID-19 better than expected. It adopted an optimistic attitude — and put its development vision into practice.
Describing a process of deep-rooted transformation, he said Madagascar is investing in health infrastructure, with the goal of instituting health care for all, and building hospitals and health facilities in all regions. It is also building stadiums, gyms and an elite sports academy because “sports unite people”, he said. It is also building a new city — Tana-Masoandro — which will be a window to the Indian Ocean. The Government is building an urban train network, while work on a cable car system will start later in 2021. On the social front, 2.5 million — or 500,000 families — benefitted from monetary transfers during the pandemic, he said, stressing that “we have a vision and a programme and we are moving forward”. Indeed, Madagascar is entering a new age, with a new generation of leaders driven by patriotism and practical decision-making.
On the climate crisis, he said Madagascar is affected by recurrent drought and the drying of water sources, while subsistence activities are becoming almost impossible. In the south, people are paying a heavy price for a crisis they did not cause. Noting that the Government is building a pipeline to the southern region so those living there can irrigate land and grow crops, he said the establishment of health care, education, energy and security infrastructure is also underway. He called on each State to act in a way that is commensurate with their polluting activities.
He went on to stress that commitments for the decolonization of Madagascar were made by France in 1945, with independence achieved in 1960. Yet, the decolonization process has not been completed, because the issue of des Iles Éparses has not been resolved. In 1979, resolution 34/91 called on France to begin negotiations with Madagascar, and in 1980, the Assembly expressed disappointment that these talks had not been initiated. Forty-two years later, he and the President of France are working jointly on the issue and “I have every faith in a positive, just and peaceful outcome,” he said, expressing faith as well in the ability of Madagascar to chart its own destiny. “We must demonstrate responsible leadership,” he asserted, advocating for strengthening the role of the United Nations, committing to what unites, rather than what divides, and for solidarity among nations.
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