16 March 2006 Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on the second leg of an official visit to Africa, today met with Madagascar’s President Marc Ravalomanana.
Later Mr. Annan and his wife Nane addressed hundreds of women gathered for a workshop on development. They both emphasized the importance of empowering women through education and economic opportunities as key to development.
They then visited a primary health centre in Antananarivo, the capital, 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.
Mr. Annan also had scheduled meetings with the President of the Senate, the President of the National Assembly and Prime Minister Jacques Sylla. He was also meeting with representatives of the opposition parties.
In the evening, he and Nane Annan were to attend a state dinner hosted by the President and First Lady.
Mr. Annan, who arrived in Madagascar yesterday from South Africa, will also the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In the DRC, where the UN is fielding over 16,800 uniformed personnel to back up a peace agreement that ended the most lethal fighting in the world since World War II, he will address the Congolese people and is expected to travel outside Kinshasa, the capital, to Kisangani.
The UN is currently helping to organize national elections for 18 June, in the largest and most expensive such operation it has ever undertaken, to cement the transition to peace and democracy after a six-year civil war that cost 4 million lives through fighting and the attendant humanitarian catastrophe.