Nelly Bassily | April 6, 2009
Madagascar’s new leader has cancelled a deal to lease half of the country’s arable land. Backed by the military, Andry Rajoelina declared himself leader in mid-February. On March 18, one day after president Marc Ravalomanana’s forced resignation, Mr. Rajoelina announced that a deal with South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics was off.
Reports of an agreement between the Malagasy government and Daewoo surfaced last November. It was reported that Daewoo planned to lease 1.3 million hectares of Malagasy land for corn and oil palm production, to be shipped to South Korea.
The announcement sparked controversy and raised concerns about a new era of colonialism in Africa. According to Daewoo, negotiations ground to a halt after the Malagasy people responded negatively to media reports of the deal.
Mr. Rajoelina says the Malagasy constitution is clear on this matter: Madagascar’s land is not for sale or for rent.
Mr. Ravalomanana’s resignation and Mr. Rajoelina’s position as Madagascar’s leader remain controversial. The African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community both criticized Mr. Ravalomanan’s forced resignation, with the African Union suspending Madagascar’s membership on March 20.