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US suspends aid, calling Rajoelina's ascent a 'coup d'état'

Video by Marina BERTSCH , Rachel MARUSAK

Latest update : 2009-03-21

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the US would suspend its non-humanitarian aid to Madagascar, as the means by which Andry Rajoelina took over the presidency were "undemocratic and contrary to the rule of law."

AFP - The United States on Friday called Madagascar's new president Andry Rajoelina's rise to power a "coup d'etat" and suspended its non-humanitarian aid to Antananarivo.
  
"The United States condemns the process under which Marc Ravalomanana was forced to resign as president of the Republic of Madagascar and Andry Rajoelina subsequently was installed as de facto head of state, as undemocratic and contrary to the rule of law," said State Department spokesman, Robert Wood.
  
"This series of events is tantamount to a coup d'etat and the United States will not maintain our current assistance partnership with Madagascar," he told the daily news media briefing.
  
"In view of these developments the United States is moving to suspend all non-humanitarian assistance to Madagascar," Wood added.
  
Wood did not specify the amount of non-humanitarian aid set aside annually for Madagascar but the 2008-09 State Department budget provides for a total of 33.5 million dollars in aid to the Indian Ocean island nation.
  
The sum includes 15 million dollars worth of food and 11.5 million of aid for health services and children. Development aid amounted to 6.6 million dollars, with an additional 350,000 dollars in military assistance.
  
On Thursday Wood called the change in leadership in Madagascar "undemocratic" after Rajoelina, the opposition leader, seized power on the island with army support.
  
Earlier in the week Wood said that the United States would suspend aid to the vast island nation if the US government determined that the change in power was "extra-constitutional."
  
The State Department spokesman urged Madagascar on Friday to return to the rule of law.
  
"The United States has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the people of Madagascar, and we call on them to immediately undertake a democratic, consensus process to restore constitutional governance, culminating in free, fair and peaceful elections," Wood said.
  
The European Union has also said it considers the army-backed ouster of democratically-elected president Marc Ravalomanana to be "a coup d'etat ... not a democratic election".
  
Following a deadly three-month power struggle, the Madagascan army transferred power to Rajoelina during a ceremony Tuesday.
  

Date created : 2009-03-20

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