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19 Oct, 2022 18:46

Foreign minister fired over Russia vote – Reuters

Madagascar’s leader has sacked his top diplomat, reportedly for acting without permission at the UN
Foreign minister fired over Russia vote – Reuters

Madagascar’s President Andriy Rajoelina has fired his foreign minister, Richard Randriamandrato, for a vote against Russia at the UN, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing two unidentified officials.

The country voted along with 142 other nations to condemn Moscow for the “illegal annexation” of former Ukrainian regions during a vote at the UN General Assembly last week. Madagascar had previously abstained from voting on UN resolutions related to the Ukraine crisis as Rajoelina chose to maintain neutrality and non-alignment on the conflict.

The latest resolution denied recognition of the September public referendums in which the residents of four formerly eastern Ukrainian regions – Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye – all voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. Last week’s UN vote came after the General Assembly refused a request by Russia to use secret ballots amid pressure from the US and its allies to join them in rebuking Moscow.

Like many other African nations, Madagascar has resisted Western pressure to take sides in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. More than half of the 35 countries that abstained from last week’s General Assembly vote were African. Russia was joined by Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Nicaragua in voting against the resolution.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been among the most vocal critics of Washington’s pressure tactics. During a visit to the White House last month, he urged US officials not to “punish” African nations by coercing them to sever relations with Russia. “We should not be told by anyone who we can associate with,” said Ramaphosa, who claimed earlier this year that the Ukraine crisis could have been avoided if NATO had heeded warnings against its eastward expansion.

Madagascar has had diplomatic relations with Moscow since 1972. The country reached an agreement to strengthen its defense ties with Russia in March, one month after Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine began. The deal includes arms sales, military training, equipment maintenance and co-development of defense products.