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African Union lifts Madagascar suspension

The African Union has lifted its suspension on Madagascar, which it sanctioned following a 2009 coup. The recent installment of a democratically-elected leader prompted the move.

The African Union voted on Monday to end Madagascar's suspension from the 54-nation bloc. Its Peace and Security Council cited "inclusive, credible and legitimate" elections and the "completion of the transition process and the restoration of constitutional order" in a statement.

"[The Council] decides, in view of [these reasons]…to lift the suspension of Madagascar's participation in the activities of the AU," the Peace and Security Council said.

The announcement came two days after

the inauguration of Madagascar's new president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina

. The former finance minister was

declared the winner in a run-off election

this month against Robinson Jean Louis, the country's former finance minister.

Madagascar has suffered from economic instability in recent years as a direct result of a 2009 coup, which saw the ouster of then President Marc Ravalomanana. The failure of the country to meet election deadlines under a power-sharing agreement caused Western nations to withdraw financial aid, further impoverishing its 22.6 million inhabitants.

Tourism also dropped by about 50 percent in the wake of the political crisis.

The loss of investment led to the implementation of austerity measures by the government, undermining signs of economic growth previously seen under Ravalomanana from 2002-2009.

African countries cannot participate in

the African Union

if they do not have a democratically-elected government, under the bloc's charter. The AU has suspended several countries in recent years, including Egypt.

kms/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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