Madagascar says IMF restores ties five years after coup

ANTANANARIVO Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:03am EDT

Madagascar's Minister for Finance and Budget Lantoniaina Rasoloelison speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in the capital Antananarivo, October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Madagascar's Minister for Finance and Budget Lantoniaina Rasoloelison speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in the capital Antananarivo, October 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

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ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund has restored ties with Madagascar for the first time since a coup on the Indian Ocean island in 2009, the government said on Thursday, making it the first donor to do so since a peaceful election late last year.

The election of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina marked an important step towards ending a five-year political crisis that saw donors suspend funds, depriving the government of cash and stunting economic growth.

Outgoing Finance Minister Lantoniaina Rasoloelison did not say when the IMF had informed the government that it was restoring ties, but said the move was critical to getting aid flowing once again to the cash-starved Treasury.

The IMF has not made a public statement announcing a change in its relations with the Antananarivo government.

"We have been waiting for this decision. The IMF is the key to opening the door to discussions with other donors," Rasoloelison told Reuters.

External financing made up 40 percent of the Indian Ocean's island's budget until donors withdrew aid after rebel troops in March 2009 stormed the presidential palace and former disc jockey Andry Rajoelina seized power.

Rasoloelison was finance minister in Rajoelina's government in the run-up to the presidential and legislative elections in December and will remain in the post until a prime minister is named and a new government formed.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by James Macharia and Alison Williams)

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