EU suspends aid to Madagascar
Luxembourg - The European Union on Monday decided to suspend development aid to Madagascar in the absence of democratic progress since strongman Andry Rajoelina seized power last year.
"The EU considers the forcible transfer of power in Madagascar on 17 March 2009 a serious violation of democracy and the rule of law," the 27 EU nations stated in a text formally endorsed at a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg.
The measures will suspend all budgetary aid to Madagascar for 12 months.
Development funding which directly involves the controversial government is also suspended, though humanitarian and emergency aid will continue, so as not to hit the ordinary people most in need.
The EU move came days after Rajoelina, who grabbed power in an army-backed coup in March 2009, appointed generals as head of the armed forces and police, with military men also taking the health, fishing and environment ministries.
Prime Minister Camille Vital, a retired general, remains at the top of the government.
Former president Marc Ravalomanana was ousted by Rajoelina with the army's support in March 2009 and is currently exiled in southern Africa.
Rajoelina has said he will not run in a presidential election he has set for November in a bid to resolve the Indian Ocean island's protracted political crisis.
However Madagascan opposition groups have dismissed the impact of that decision, saying it did not resolve other key issues, and the EU statement said that "the political factions have not been able to reach consensus on the implementation of the transition process to which they agreed last year".
During the 12 months of sanctions, "political dialogue with Madagascar... will continue", the statement added.
A new mediation effort has been launched by South Africa and EU member France with a new roadmap towards democracy proposed.