Top SADC envoy to attend Madagascar inauguration
21 January 2014, 18:27
Windhoek - A top Southern African Development Community envoy will attend the inauguration of Madagascar's new president, Namibia's foreign minister said on Tuesday, the latest sign the island's isolation may be at an end.
Namibian foreign minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told AFP that her president Hifikepunye Pohamba - currently SADC's politics, defence and security envoy - will attend the event scheduled for Saturday.
Pohamba's presence will be seen by many as a signal that SADC is ready to readmit Madagascar, four years after it was suspended following a coup.
Last week Hery Rajaonarimampianina was declared the winner of presidential elections designed to put four years of political and economic crisis to bed.
The election was endorsed by SADC member states.
If Madagascar were brought back in from the cold it could spell a return of aid to the country and open the spigot of foreign investment.
The World Bank has estimated that the political turmoil cost Madagascar around $8 billion in lost growth.
Nandi-Ndaitwah could not provide names of other dignitaries who are set to attend.
"I'm not sure whether I will attend because I also have other meetings such as the foreign affairs meeting in Addis Ababa," she said.
Rajaonarimampianina 55, a Canadian-educated former finance minister was declared president of Madagascar on Friday, winning just over 53% of the votes.
International observers who gave the vote the green light and called on the parties to respect the electoral process that happened in December 2013.