HC Deb 13 March 2002 vol 381 cc1173-4W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the transparency and fairness of the presidential elections held in Madagascar on 16 December 2001; [41847]

(2) what assessment he has made of the (a) economic and (b) political impact of the recent violence and instability in Madagascar on neighbouring countries on the African mainland; [41848]

(3) what contacts the Government have had since 16 December 2001 with Mr. Ravalomanana, presidential candidate in the Madagascan elections of December 2001; [41849]

(4) if he will list, by date, visits by Ministers from his Department to Madagascar since 1 January 2000; and what plans Ministers from his Department have to visit Madagascar in 2002; [41850]

(5) what Her Majesty's Government's policy is towards the situation in Madagascar; and if he will make a statement; [41851]

(6) what discussions the Government have had with President Ratsiraka since 16 December 2001 regarding the protests and violence in Madagascar. [41852]

Mr. MacShane

The UK, along with its EU partners, the US, the Organisation of African Unity and the UN, continues to encourage the two parties in Madagascar, at both local and international level, to find a common solution to the current impasse over the result of the December presidential election. The UK ambassador in Antananarivo, along with other resident ambassadors, is following events closely and maintaining close contact with representatives of the two sides.

In their draft report on the presidential election, and in a series of communiquél the consortium of independent election observers (which the UK part-funded) raised questions about the conduct of the elections, including their organisation, as well as their transparency and fairness. Because of the current volatile political situation, there has been no opportunity to examine these claims.

The crisis in Madagascar has had no impact to date on its neighbouring countries, although there is growing concern among both regional and international investors about the long-term impact on the Madagascan economy of the ongoing general strike. There were no UK ministerial visits to Madagascar in either 2000 or 2001, and there are no plans at present for visits during 2002.

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