ADDIS ABABA The new president of Madagascar called on Thursday for an international donor conference in the next three months to help his island state recover from a political and economic crisis triggered by a coup five years ago.
President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who was sworn into office this month after elections passed off calmly in December, made his appeal at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
When the military helped former President Andry Rajoelina, a one-time disc jockey, take power, donors shut off aid and investors fled, causing a sharp contraction in the economy that had been attracting miners and other businesses.
"I would like to strongly appeal today ... to convene within a period of three months a donors conference and of the friends of Madagascar in partnership with the international community so as to help us find indispensable funds and financing for the reconstruction of our country after the crisis," the new president said.
Malagasys were aware that a "fragile peace" prevailed, Rajaonarimampianina added. He promised to rebuild trust in the state and encourage reconciliation on the vanilla-producing island.
Most Malagasys rely on agriculture, while another revenue earner, tourism, was hit hard by the crisis as many visitors avoided the Indian Ocean island with its unique ecosystem.
The president's speech was a sign of Madagascar's rehabilitation, as the African Union had welcome the nation back into the grouping and lifted sanctions imposed due to the crisis.
(Reporting by Edmund Blair; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Andrew Heavens)