Editor’s note: Doug Tilton, who is based in South Africa, is on home interpretation assignment in the U.S. from July-December, 2013.
Madagascar is scheduled to hold presidential elections on Oct. 25, 2013. Legislative elections and a second-round presidential election (if needed) are scheduled for Dec. 20.
These are the first elections since a military coup d’état deposed the democratically elected government of Marc Ravalomanana in March 2009. Since then the social and economic situation has deteriorated markedly. Crime rates have soared. Levels of poverty and food insecurity have increased. Nine in ten Malagasy people live on less than $2 per day. The island’s environmental integrity and unique biodiversity are at risk. To make matters worse, locusts have been destroying crops in many parts of the country and bubonic plague is on the rise.
Many Malagasy people are hoping that the Oct. 25 elections will be a big step toward a return to democracy, constitutionality and rule of law. But there is widespread concern about the credibility of the elections and the possibility of pre- or post-election violence.
Key commitments made by the de facto government — to respect freedoms of speech and association, to permit the return of all political exiles — have yet to be honored. If the election results are widely questioned, then there is little chance that the poll will help Madagascar to emerge from the cyclical political crises that have periodically suppressed democracy since independence in 1960.
The PC(USA)’s partner church in Madagascar, the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), is involved in efforts to bring about reconciliation. The country’s Council of Churches has sought to facilitate a national dialogue at the grassroots level to develop a common vision for Madagascar’s future and the path out of the current crisis. There have been many meetings, but much work remains to be done.
- That elections on October 25 and December 20 will be reasonably free and fair
- That there won’t be pre- or post-election violence
- That effective means of reducing poverty and re-establishing law and order can be quickly implemented
- That church leaders and members can be effective witnesses to God’s grace and love during these challenging times
- That the PC(USA) can continue to find appropriate and meaningful ways of accompanying sisters and brothers in the FJKM
- That church leaders, including PC(USA) mission personnel in Madagascar, will be safe
Please join with us in our prayer every night at 9 pm (2 pm EDT) for peace.
John 12: 13-15.
This passage, about Christ's entry into Jerusalem, reminds folks preparing for elections that we have only one true King. There is a lot of confusion, a lot of many kinds of campaigns; let's put our eyes and our faith in the King of Kings
Also see the letter from Dan Turk in Madagascar.