|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Activities of Secretary-General in Madagascar, 15 - 19 March
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nane Annan arrived from Johannesburg, South Africa, in Antananarivo, Madagascar, in the evening of Wednesday, 15 March, on the second leg of his two-week Africa visit.
Upon arrival, he spoke to reporters at the airport (see Secretary-General’s Spokesman homepage “Off the Cuff”) and then issued a statement from the Malagasy capital welcoming the establishment of the Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly. (See Press Release SG/SM10376.)
On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General met with President Marc Ravalomanana at the Presidential Palace. After that, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan separately addressed hundreds of women gathered there for a workshop on development. They both emphasized the importance of empowering women through education and economic opportunities as key to development.
Together with the President and the First Lady, they visited the Vitrine de Madagascar, the President’s showcase development project on the palace grounds.
The Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan then visited a primary health centre in downtown Antananarivo, where they met with people living with HIV/AIDS, including the first person in Madagascar who was reported to have declared her HIV-positive status.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General had scheduled back-to-back meetings with the President of the Senate, Rajemison Rakotomaharo, at the Senate, the President of the National Assembly, Jean Lahiniriko, at the National Assembly, and Prime Minister Jacques Sylla at his office.
At the end of the day, the Secretary-General met with representatives of 14 opposition parties in Madagascar.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Annan visited a feeding centre for moderately malnourished children. She encouraged the mothers to feed their children a variety of healthy foods, in order for their children to grow up healthy and to ensure a bright future for Madagascar.
That evening, the Secretary-General received the Decoration Grand Croix de l’Ordre National, the country’s highest honour before attending with Mrs. Annan a State dinner hosted by the President and First Lady at the Presidential Palace.
Friday morning, he addressed and was made a member of the Académie Nationale des Arts, Lettres et Sciences (Press Release SG/SM/10379). In his remarks, the Secretary-General noted the progress he had seen in Madagascar, in terms of economic and social development. He said he was particularly impressed by advances in literacy, efforts to prepare for natural disasters, and the Government’s commitment to sustainable development. He said that the United Nations would continue to be a close partner to Madagascar, in addressing such areas as governance, education, AIDS and disaster prevention.
He then met the United Nations country team in Madagascar –- first with agency representatives and then with the staff at large.
The Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan, accompanied by the President and First Lady, also toured the ruins of the Queen’s Palace, a hilltop temple overlooking the capital that was destroyed in a fire in November 1995. The site, which holds great symbolic and political significance for the Malagasy people, is now undergoing extensive reconstruction.
They then travelled to Andasibe where they visited a rain forest.
Following a press encounter at the airport (see Secretary-General’s Spokesman homepage “Off the Cuff”), the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan left Madagascar on the morning of Sunday, 19 March, for the Congo.
* *** *For information media • not an official record