An open letter to the friends of putchism

I have been meaning to write this blog post a lot sooner, but it has been hard to find the time to analyze the existence of something that completely took me by surprise.

Here is my surprise tweet on January 21st when I had stumbled across a WALL STREET JOURNAL article written by Andry Rajoelina with a most incensing title “An Open Letter to the Friends of Madagascar”.  In the Wall Street Journal of all places! Granted it was in the opinion journal, but did Andry Rajoelina end up with a Wall Street Journal article?

So I took the time to read the article and was furious! (not that I wasn’t sufficiently furious from the title of the article alone) The article was so full of wrong and misleading information it was clear to me that it was “designed” to try and curry sympathy from all of us in North America (but then Andry Rajoelina wrote it, so should I be surprised?). If you were unfamiliar with Andry Rajoelina, after reading this article it might be good enough to convince you that Andry Rajoelina is some sort of David to the international communities Goliath. Since I don’t want that to happen, I have written this post to explain a few things.

I hope I don’t get called out for copying the article verbatim into my blog… but I want to take the article paragraph by paragraph and attempt to right all the wrongs that it may do just by existing. So here we go:

Madagascar, my country, is sinking into a political crisis of extreme gravity, and there is no exit in sight. This situation is the result of the following series of events:
Last March, my predecessor, Marc Ravalomanana, at last became conscious of the limits of his autocratic exercise of power, having been awakened by an unprecedented popular movement. He took the initiative to leave the country, entrusted a military directory with power, then felt it was right to transfer power to me, as the constitution allowed him to do. The Malagasy High Constitutional Court, which was composed at the time only of members designated by Mr. Ravalomanana, validated these actions and ruled that they were in accordance with the Constitution.
(Pardon the underscores, WordPress formatting isn’t agreeing with me)  _
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While there may have been some legitimate reasons why the public would have been upset with Ravalomanana, namely the Daewoo land deal, the purchase of a presidential jet (validated by Rajoelina himself as he could have used a presidential jet on a trip to Dakar, but instead hijacked a jet and forced passengers to wait for him) and perhaps the closure of VIVA, but I would not say that Ravalomanana was autocratic maybe just cocky on how he used his presidential powers. And it may have been the cockiness and public sentiment on these issues that garnered support for Andry TGV’s “unprecedented movement” which inevitably led to the coup.
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To say that Marc Ravalomanana “took the initiative” to leave the country and that the military was constitutionally allowed to transfer power to Andry Rajoelina is completely false. The “initiative to leave” began when Andry Rajoelina had gained army support from the CAPSAT mutiny on March 8th, 2009. With no military backing Marc Ravalomanana had no choice but to gradually retreat from Tana to Iavaloha (outside of Tana) where he would put up his last stand. But after a very short and meek resistance to Andry Rajoelina, on March 17th, 2009 Ravalomanana transfers his presidential power to Hippolyte Ramaroson, the oldest and highest ranking army official and shortly after fled for his life in the night to Swaziland.
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The jury is still out as to whether or not the military “felt right” about transferring power to Andry Rajoelina or if the power transfer was done under duress. This statement highlights a mystery that I feel has gone fairly unnoticed by the media which is the possibility that Hippolyte Ramaroson and his accompanying generals were forced to transfer power at gun point.
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At some point on March 17th, 2009 Hippolyte Ramaroson and 3 of his generals along with Pastor Rasendrahasina (president of the FFKM) were intercepted in transit by CAPSAT and taken to their camp where eventually presidential power was officially signed over to Rajoelina. There has never been any confirmation of this but when asked about the transfer of power the captured generals stated that “the decision was not made under duress” which only makes it that much more mysterious (why insist?). An article from Midi Madagasikara provides some information on the arrests and threats to Hippolyte, Lala Rasendrahasina and Neils Marquardt. Personally I think they were either forced into signing power over at gun point or were made an offer that they couldn’t refuse, if you know what I mean.
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It is a constitutional stretch for Andry Rajoelina to hold power though as the constitution itself only allows individuals 40 yrs and older to become president. Most people believe that the High Constitutional Court’s (HCC) decision to validate the constitutional aspect of the transfer of power was made because of intimidation. Initially this was speculation, but when the HCC reversed its decision on April 23rd, 2009 it turned speculation into truth. This was only highlighted by the fact that  HCC was subsequently stormed by the military on April 27th, 2009 to arrest the head of security accused of “destabilizing the country” (whatever that means).

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The international community, however, railed against what it deemed a “putsch” or a “coup d’état”—terms that I vigorously oppose, considering not only the Constitutional Court’s approval, but also that the will of the large majority of the Malagasy people is to see me lead the Transitional Government.
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As soon as I took office, I clearly said this period of transition should end as quickly as possible. I called for a return to the constitutional order through a rapid referendum, and through transparent and democratic elections. I asked the international community to support my country in these efforts.
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The answer (from the United Nations, from the African Union, from the International Francophone Organization, from the Southern African Development Community) consisted of imposing a “consensual and inclusive” transition under the threat of sanctions. The sanctions included suspending the economic help without which my country is condemned to durable and inevitable chaos. The principle of a “consensual and inclusive” transition is in itself perfectly praiseworthy. Unfortunately, this principle clashed with the Malagasy reality, the limits of which the international community has apparently not been able to measure or appreciate.
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Putting aside the fact that Andry Rajoelina neglected to mention the HCC decision reversal, he also neglects to mention that the large majority of Malagasy people he is referring to are in Tana when he speaks of the “will of the large majority of Malagasy people” charging him with leading a transitional government . Reports on the number of TGV supporters in Tana seems to vary widely from as high as 80,000 to as low as 3,000, but since I have been following this crisis I seem to remember the TGV crowds to be between 3,000 and 5,000 people. During the power struggle there was virtually no mention of support for Andry Rajoelina outside of Tana and most people outside of Tana had no idea who he was. In addition to this, supporters of Marc Ravalomanana came out by the thousands daily to protest against TGV in February it was reported to be 30 – 50,000 people at a rally at Mahamasima Stadium and thousands more came out throughout March after Rajoelina had succeeded in his coup (see pics here at AndryDago). So, if people outside of Tana aren’t familiar with him and thousands in Tana oppose him, how can a “large majority” of Malagasy support him to lead a transitional government?
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Regardless as to whether or not Andry Rajoelina’s intent was to transition the government quickly, the fact is that he had gained his new powers from the use of military force and not via political means. Therefore it would go without saying that the international community would not support him and his efforts because by doing so, they would be endorsing the coup d’etat itself.
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The standard reaction to a coup d’etat is inclusive talks with all parties to reach an agreement that would allow for a democratic solution to a country’s problems. I am not surprised that Andry Rajoelina would take this almost sulky stance insinuating that he does not comprehend why the international community is reacting the way it is to his coup. Sanctions, restrictions and condemnation are the only tools that the international community has to push a country in the direction that it wants (generally toward a democratic solution) and are typically the only thing that forces change in a country aside from some form of military intervention.  He alone is responsible for the current “economic chaos” as he puts it, and if he were truly concerned about his country he would have stepped aside, or agreed to whatever the AU/SADC were proposing. Unfortunately for the people of Madagascar, the principle of “consensual and inclusive” talks are clashing with Andry Rajoelina’s principles and the international community is well aware of the Malagasy reality, but cannot relent as this would also be endorsing the coup.
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What kind of consensus could have been found with a former president who is hated by his people, who plundered his country for his exclusive benefit, who ordered the shooting of a crowd demonstrating its legitimate will to see regime change?
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Why demand, at all costs, that a national reconciliation process include two former heads of state—one who was deposed by the National Assembly and the other who is under severe penal prosecution, and whose political representation in Madagascar is almost nonexistent?
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How could one imagine that a “consensual and inclusive” solution could be found with heads of parties and former heads of state, who have been disqualified by the Malagasy people but brought back to the political stage through gamesmanship? Why, when their sole aim is to demand more than what is reasonable, to block compromise, and to serve only the forces of inertia, should I be the only one held responsible for the failure of negotiations?
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Clearly we have established by now that the former president is not hated by his people if there are many support rallies for him and against TGV to this day. But stating that Ravalomanana had actually ordered the slaughter of his own people is misleading and just a way for him to accentuate his assertion that he is a hated president. He neglected to mention that his supporters were put in danger that day by his call to install the TGV PM in the presidential palace. I definitely do not agree with the shootings that occurred on February 7th, 2009, but I can’t help but wonder what anyone else would have done if there was a rush of angry, politically charged people heading straight forward for them. Your life would almost certainly be in danger, so how would you react? On top of this you would be in charge of defending a “red zone”, a place where you have the authority to shoot. So perhaps it was the circumstances and panic set in causing someone to fire, or perhaps it is just that they are authorized to use force (since it is a red zone)… either way, it was the wrong decision. No one will ever really know what happened that day.
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To this day, no one knows exactly why Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy were included in talks to resolve the crisis. Obviously there must have been some form of political gamesmanship to bring them back, but know one knows how it was done or by whom. What we do know however is that their involvement has made the negotiation process more complex than it needed to be and this complexity can be blamed for the delays in the resolution of the crisis, surely 4 presidents coming to an agreement on anything is not an easy thing to achieve.
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Perhaps it cannot be proven that Marc Ravalomanana did not do certain things for his own benefit (as there were many conflicts of interest) but you cannot say that he “plundered” his country, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Ravalomanana had increased the GDP of the country year over year, made significant investments in infrastructure, education, provided good quality local foods with his company TIKO (one of the potential conflicts of interest),  attained many benefits for Madagascar such as AGOA and MCC. It is Rajoelina’s illegal government has taken away all these benefits from Madagascar and is plundering the country’s precious rosewood, the country is now in a downward economic spiral as a result.
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There are in Madagascar living forces who are much more representative of the people and of their aspirations than those who are responsible for the failures of the past, and who are still today demonstrating their incapacity to overcome mere partisan interests.
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I have however accepted, under pressure from international authorities and considering the risk of eventual sanctions for my country, to compromise with heads of parties designated by these authorities. My hope is that if we are guided solely by the interest of the people and of the country, we can find a consensual way to organize quick elections.
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Readers should recall that, despite the fact that I have the support of a large majority of the Malagasy people and of the army, I have, during diverse negotiations in Antananarivo, Maputo, and Addis Ababa, agreed to many compromises—probably more than I should have, given my strong base. But this is not enough for my interlocutors. Their revanchist spirit and appetite for power overwhelm the general interest.
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But the Malagasy people have been waiting for six months, impatiently, for the end to an illusory and unnatural mediation. Madagascar is being held hostage to a logic that it does not understand. Because there is no exit in sight and because the country is in the midst of a long stagnation, my fellow citizens are made into victims. There is an urgent need to end this situation.
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I have therefore taken the decision to stop participating to the so-called Maputo negotiations. It is my responsibility as president of the Transition is to give the Malagasy people a voice. Only a legitimate authority will be able to democratically put an end to this difficult period of trouble.
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I have designated a new prime minister in charge of leading the current government, whom I am confirming in his duties and whose only mission, apart from the management of daily affairs, is to organize the next elections. I can announce that the election of the members of the Constituent Assembly of the Sixth Republic will take place on March 20, 2010. On that date, the current government will resign.
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The only reason that Andry Rajoelina has ever accepted any negotiations is in hopes that he can somehow obtain international recognition so that he can resume the flow of donor money into Madagascar, hardly over concern or interest for people or country.  As you know he has failed to gain international recognition, the most notable failure being prevented from giving a speech at a UN general assembly in September of 2009.
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When Rajoelina compromised for Maputo II it was once again an attempt to try and legitimize himself and to restore the flow of donor cash. It was obvious that his plan was to compromise just enough to be declared the legitimate transitional president, but not enough to lose any significant amount of power. So a consensual transitional government was formed and talks of ministry distribution were to occur later as disagreements didn’t allow them occur at that time.
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When it came time for the follow-up meeting to discuss the distribution of the government ministries Rajoelina was notably absent so the meeting continued without him and subsequently the consensual government collapsed with Rajoelina deciding that he knows what is best for the country. Rajoelina then appoints a military figure as PM and unilaterally declares that he will have parliamentary elections in March of 2010, pretending that he is a legitimate authority and that the people of Madagascar will have a choice (as anyone elected will need to be HAT friendly). All this in preparation to move to the 6th republic the sole purpose of which is most likely to change the minimum age of a Malagasy president from 40 to a level that would legally allow Rajoelina to become president.
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A new prime minister will then be appointed from the party which wins a majority in the next elections. That prime minister will be in charge of forming a new government, taking into account the representation of various political forces in the new parliament. This government, the result of legislative elections, will be charged with organizing presidential elections so that the new president of the Republic could take up his post before June 26.
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After the Maputo failure, there is no other solution to end this crisis. The Malagasy people must have the liberty to choose their own future. May the international community understand that there is no other alternative, and help us on the path to return to the constitutional order.

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At this point I don’t think anyone believes that there will be any sort of inclusiveness in Rajoelina’s elections and that they is a “solution” to the political crisis. The election, if it occurs, can not possibly be transparent as it will be run exclusively by the illegal government (since the international community does not agree with his elections) and it will do nothing but elect yet another PM that will Rajoelina’s bidding.

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The only part of this article that I believe to be true is that the Malagasy people must have the liberty to choose their own future, but unfortunately they will not have the opportunity as long as Rajoelina governs. All of us in the international community understand that there are no other alternatives but to negotiate our way out of this crisis and we hope that Rajoelina will take the path to returning constitutional order and peace to Madagascar.

Sanctions

There are signs now that the United states are going to be imposing sanctions in the near future in Madagascar as a result of the actions of the Rajoelina government (creating his own transitional government and arresting opposition members). Karl Wycoff, the deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the US says:

“We support a consensual and political solution, and we are completely opposed to the unilateral actions that the de facto regime has taken in recent weeks. We do not see that as a way forward for Madagascar.”

“Continued unilateral action and failure to find a mutually acceptable way forward could draw sanctions from the international community,”

This statement falls right in line with a communique from the from the recent SADC summit in Maputo that calls for a return to talks on the original Maputo agreements of August 2009:

“Summit rejects any attempt to use democratic means, institutions and processes to legitimise governments that came to power through unconstitutional means, and urges the international community, in particular the development partners, to support SADC’s efforts to promote and sustain democracy in the region in general and Madagascar in particular.”

This in many ways is a very good thing, because we can see a stand being taken by the SADC and US that they will not tolerate any of the games that Andry Rajoelina is playing. Once the US makes talks of taking action against a particular country, it is not uncommon that the rest of the world will follow suit. So not surprisingly, Andry Rajoelina doesn’t have a hope of continuing his disastrous rule of Madagascar.

But what of the sanctions? What does that mean for Madagascar? While not tolerating what the Rajoelina government is doing may be a good thing sanctions in addition to everything else that has happened to Madagascar certainly won’t be good for its economic health.

I found this blog entry from Jason Pbolete’s blog on April 29, 2009 that suggests some of the things that could be done to Madagascar should sanctions be laid upon the country:

The U.S. should seriously consider economic sanctions against the coup plotters and urge our allies in the region and Madagascar’s trading partners to do the same.  All leaders and government officials should be added to the Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control, specially designated nationals and blocked persons list.  Any assets held in U.S. back accounts should be frozen and access to the U.S. financial system blocked.   In addition, because the coup is inconsistent with U.S. policy and national security, as well as with provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as well as other U.S. economic assistance laws,  the Millennium Challenge Corporation should suspend all lending programs until this matter is resolved consistent with the laws of Madagascar and the MCC Compact.

It’s not to say that all or any of these things will happen, but if sanctions were to start you can expect that this would increasingly isolate Madagascar from the rest of the world and cause a country whose textile industry is or will be reeling from the loss of their AGOA benefits to continue to go down their economic downward spiral.

Despite sanctions and all other measure taken against the the illegal government of Madagascar, the government seems to expect 2.6% growth in its economy despite the fact that there was only a 0.6% growth in the economy last year. But rather than offering specific information on how they are going to grow the economy, the government states the following:

Private industry will drive economic growth this year, now that the “monopoly on economic activity” presided over by former President and businessman Marc Ravalomanana has been removed, Fienena said. “Now everyone can participate in the economy.”

Essentially saying that despite the annual growth that was occurring during Marc Ravalomanana’s tenure as president (7% in 2008), that he is somehow the reason behind the current economic crisis and things should get better from here. Below is a graph from  indexmundi.com on Madagascar’s growth through the years after the last political crisis:

Madagascar GDP

Madagascar GDP

It would seem that Rajoelina’s governments estimates are not based in reality and are only a weak effort in trying to convince the Malagasy and the world that they optimistic and doing well in Madagascar. But in my opinion, it is impossible for the Malagasy economy to grow at all, or at least significantly while he is running the government illegally. When they have lost all of their donor money (which accounts for a significant amount of the governmental budget), lost their tourism industry, lost the ability to export freely to the US (AGOA) and face the prospect of having sanctions laid against the government there is no possibility that they have any chance of growing the economy. In addition to that, there will be no new investments in the country, current investors must be on edge about what may happen to their businesses it is unlikely that the benefits for anyone would outweigh the risks to investing there. The analyst in the bloomberg.com story seems to agree stating:

“We have forecast the economy to grow by 0.1 percent in 2010,” Kissy Agyeman-Togobo, senior Africa analyst at London- based Global Insight, said in a telephone interview. “All the indicators show that the economy is in difficulty. Uncertainty over future political and investment developments leaves Madagascar’s short-term growth prospects subject to a large degree of risk, especially because of a lack of donor support.”

It makes one wonder why a Malagasy person would attempt to greedily maintain control of his own country while knowing how much it is hurting its progress and people.

At any rate it is good to see that the opposition within the country are keeping up their protests against the government and also calling for the return to the Maputo accord. Interestingly, the once pro-Ravalomanana movement has now become a conglomeration of all opposition movements and is now called “Madagasikara movement”. While I am still a Ravalomanana sympathizer, I can see the benefit of becoming a larger entity to fight against a common enemy.

However, the troubling thing is that according to the Cyber Observer’s blog, the entity has plans on taking matters into it’s own hands and attempting to implement the Maputo accord on their own by taking over ministries to install their ministers, not unlike what Rajoelina himself had attempted to do. Here is an excerpt from the blog:

If the Madagasikara movement really have the intention to take over the ministries in Anosy, we all can expect some “heavy clashes” between ralliers and security forces. According to some local journalists, such take over will occur this week…

If it is infact true, we will have a case of history repeating itself within a year. I sincerely hope that they do not try to do this as it can only mean more violence for the country. I can understand that the diplomatic methods of resolving the crisis with an illegal regime are stagnating and that one would want to take action if no one else is willing to… but Rajoelina has the army on his side and will most likely use them to restore order. I personally do not want to see any more bloodshed like what had happened last year, so hopefully it is still just a rumour.

At any rate though, it would seem that there is at least some progress in many fronts (US/SADC and Opposition parties). There is certainly a great deal of pressure on this illegal regime, so with any luck we will see them crack soon as they certainly can’t have many options left.

Ravaging rosewood

According to mongabay.com, it appears that Rajoelina has given his presidential blessing to the illegal rosewood loggers of Madagascar to keep ravaging the precious rosewood found in Madagascar’s national parks:

The transitional authority led by president Andry Rajoelina, who seized power during a military coup last March, today released a decree that allows the export of rosewood logs harvested from the Indian Ocean island’s national parks.

The decree, dated December 31, 2009, says that “the export of export of precious wood can proceed.” Hundreds of containers’ worth of rosewood can now be shipped from Vohemar, a port in northern Madagascar.

Two weeks ago a $40 million shipment of rosewood from Vohemar was canceled after complaints that the French shipping company, Delmas, would facilitate the trafficking of illegally logged timber, potentially in violation of the E.U.’s FLEGT, a regulation which aims to reduce illegal logging.

But shortly after the Delmas shipment was canceled, Rajoelina’s government began applying pressure on Delmas to resume rosewood transports.

Patrick Leloup, an adviser to Rajoelina, reportedly threatened to prohibit Delmas from conducting future business in Madagascar if it refused to pick up rosewood stocks stored in containers in and around Vohemar.

It would appear now that the corrupt government is so desperate for cash that it is endorsing something that is condemned internationally in order to gain tax revenue. While this is travesty against nature, it does offer a glimmer of hope that this government does not have much life left in it. It may not be long before you see Rajoelina back at the bargaining table as I can’t see condoning something that is condemned internationally as something a sane government would do unless they felt they had to… not that I think that Rajoelina’s government is sane.

For those that don’t know, Rosewood is a strong/heavy wood that is often brownish and used to make things like furniture and luxury flooring (think red chinese furniture). Some species of rosewoods are on the endangered species list (if not all of them), and the logging is having a major impact on the national forests of Madagascar and it’s ecosystems. For more information on Rosewood, here are some links for your perusal:

The Madagascar Rosewood Massacre (Derek Schuurman/Porter P. Lowry III)

Madagascar Rosewood (Wikipedia)

Lemurs, Rare forests threatened by Madagascar Strife (National Geographic)

It really is a shame that it has come to this, and it is sad to think that anything that Rajoelina’s government does or has done may have been funded by this illegal activity.

In other news, it appears that Robert Mugabe is renewing his suggestion that the SADC should support a military intervention to oust Andry Rajoelina from his post and restore democracy. You might remember around July sometime last year there was speculation and great concern that COMESA (which Mugabe heads) was somehow going to get a military force to go to Madagascar and oust Rajoelina. Here is an excerpt from a June 8th, 2009 Reuters article:

“We welcome and agreed, as pronounced by the AU, to support SADC as they take a lead in efforts to restore constitutional order in Madagascar by examining all options, including the possibility of military intervention,” COMESA said.

There is always some irony to anything that Robert Mugabe suggests, as his own country is still mired in a political crisis because of this very suggestion, military intervention. Here are some excerpts from an Afrik.com article to elaborate on that point:

When he was the chairman of the SADC organ on defence, he sent troops to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a war that triggered excessive Government expenditure and was one of the major causes of Zimbabwe’s current economic meltdown. The war led to condemnation, as many Zimbabwean soldiers were killed while Zimbabwe received little benefit from it.

Mugabe also sent troops to Mozambique to fight the then Renamo that was led by Alfonso Dhlakama during the 1990s

Political analyst Chris Mawere in Harare said Mugabe’s move- if confirmed would be a disastrous one. “It would be a complete shock if the SADC meeting consider and endorse Mugabe’s plan. It’s a disastrous one. His own country is in a similar situation with that of Madagascar, will he accept a military intervention in Zimbabwe?” Asked Mawere.

A very small part of me agrees in taking some action now, only because I am so tired of how long the democratic process takes and how sick I am of hearing about AU “negotiations”.  The rest of me knows full well that this is the completely wrong way to go and would create more trouble than it is trying to solve.

I always go back to a quote from my favourite band (Linkin Park): “When the rich wage war, it’s the poor that die” and no doubt that it would be the Malagasy people that would pay the greatest price while Rajoelina would no doubt sit safely somewhere while everything transpires. The Malagasy army would not lie down and take any sort of invasion, so we would just be starting an additional crisis and adding complexity to an already overly complex problem. It’s a good thing that no one takes Mugabe seriously any more!

The only thing we have to look forward to is what kind of action will be proposed at the SADC summit today at 3PM GMT. However, since we already know what the outcome will be, I guess we really don’t have anything to look forward to in the near future. We can just sit back and wait to see how all the political parties take to the “renewed call for talks”… hooray.

Deja vu, another opposition crackdown

In preparation for upcoming elections in Madagascar, Rajoelina is starting to perform some spring cleaning of opposition party members.

According to Reuters, Fetison Andrianirina (Marc Ravalomanana’s avatar in Madagascar) is being charged by the police in relation to a bombing that had occurred in July of last year.

The “honourable” Justice Christine Razanamahasoa (appointed by Rajoelina and had issued an arrest warrant for Marc Ravalomanana and  Raharinaivo Andrianantoandro previously, among other things) has issued an arrest warrant for Fetison.

It makes you wonder why the HAT government even tries to conceal their intentions within trumped up charges, it isn’t like anyone believes that Fetison was involved in any of these crude acts of so called “terrorism”. If I am not mistaken, the two people referenced in the article that died planting a home made bomb had died most unfortunately when the 3rd suspect had dialed the number for the bomb rather than his girlfriend.

In addition to the opposition party member crack down, Rajoelina and the HAT are also cracking down on all sorts of opposition supporters and journalists. Didier Ravohangiharison and Lolo Ratsimba journalists from the FJKM church radio have been arrested (as well as Jaona Raoly who has only recently been freed) in December. You may remember this church because Marc Ravalomanana was an elected vice-president of this church during his time as president and there were heavy accusations that he was not keeping church and state separate. The “honourable” Justice Christine Razanamahasoa is charging them with a “failure to report the mutiny to police on December 29th”. Apparently, these two journalists are the only ones who could have notified the police of the mutiny.

It is no wonder the opposition leaders were “allowed” to return on December 18th, it is obviously the easiest way to control them. What better way to setup the parliamentary elections in March, than to shove all of your opponents into jail and pretend that you are being open and transparent.

Despite all of this, it blows my mind that there are people “in Madagascar” that still support Rajoelina’s dictatorship style rule. According to the newspaper ‘Les Nouvelles’ there is a group of youths called “Hetsiky ny mpitondra Fivavahana” that is appealing to Albert Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka to distance themselves from Ravalomanana (or else) and they fully support and defend Rajoelina’s version of a transition and democracy.

And all we the the seekers of “true democracy” can do is sit and watch this all transpire as our favourite group of people come together with yet another meeting to discuss a ‘compromise’ for the crisis that afflicts Madagascar. According to AllAfrica, the AU will elaborate and present a compromise to the Malagasy people by January 25th. Which will then allow all involved parties 2 weeks to respond to their proposals, which will inevitably end in Rajoelina ignoring or stalling the process. So we will need to wait until mid to late February before we can even see Rajoelina spit the proposed resolution back in the faces of its creators. A little bit absurd, but then, who said democracy moves fast?

It has to make you wonder when the AU will cease the pursuit of a ‘consensus’ between all parties, and if it will ever reduce ‘all parties’ down to Rajoelina and Ravalomanana? There will be no consensus, and even if there were to be one it will take longer to reach with all 4 parties to negotiate, it is overly complex and they are doing nothing but setting themselves up for continual failure.

Farewell AGOA

It looks like the US has finally had enough of the illegal regime of Andry Rajoelina and has recently decided to end Madagascar’s eligibility for AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act). Related articles: AllAfrica and DefenceWeb

This could potentially have a HUGE impact on the economy and an even bigger impact on the textile industry of Madagascar. According to this July, 2009 Reuters article the industry could face collapse if it is no longer eligible for AGOA. Here are some high level points of that article:

  • Madagascar’s textile industry makes  $600 million a year.
  • Half of the 150 textile factories (employing 50,000 people) supply the following US companies: Walmart, Bloomingdale’s, PUMA and Adidas.
  • Madagascar’s textile industry contributes to 6.5 – 8% of the country’s GDP
  • Clothing exports from Madagascar to the US totalled $278.8 million in 2008.
  • More than half of Madagascar’s textile exports are destined for the US.
  • When US exports dry up, it will drive up costs in Europe which will cause Madagascar’s exports to become ‘unattractive’.
  • If AGOA is not in place, Madagascar’s distance would make it a very expensive operation due to fuel and electricity costs.
  • Mauritius, Swaziland and Lesotho stand to experience an impact if Madagascar loses AGOA as they supply textile materials to Madagascar.

According to the AGOA info page on Madagascar, since the country’s exports have been eligible under AGOA the number of exports from Madagascar have grown 3-fold.

The events of 2009 have had a tragic impact on Madagascar  and any progress that it has made since 1999/2002 virtually reversing the progress that the country has made. Over the course of 2010 we are going to start to see the textile industry suffer and slowly die, adding those 50,000 people to the already high number of poor and unemployed people on the island.

It is really sad to sit back and watch a country that was finally starting to make progress and prosper to fall apart as quickly as it has. I was rooting for Madagascar and the progress it was making, especially the difference I had witnessed in only 3 years between my family’s visits.

Now it is just frustrating:

  • Frustrating that I don’t feel like my family can go back to visit Madagascar in its current state.
  • Frustrating to see how long this coup d’etat has been allowed to drag on.
  • Frustrating that this whole thing was started on the lie that Rajoelina was somehow going save the poor from the evil Ravalomanana, who despite any conflicts of interest for his presidency has done way more good than bad.
  • Frustrating that Rajoelina is using diplomacy as a tool to prolong his control over the country. He knows full well that all everyone wants to do is come together and reach an agreement to resolve the crisis, but he continually negotiates, then breaks negotations to stall progress.
  • Frustrating that the army is siding with Rajoelina and allowed the coup to happen and that they are not doing anything to correct their mistake.
  • Frustrating that I know there will never be other way to approach the political crisis other than negotiations (and cannot be any other way).
  • Frustrated that Rajoelina himself is too greedy and does not see what is happening to his own country as a direct result of his actions. That he doesn’t have the wisdom to realize his mistake and start working towards a resolution to the mess that he has made.

I honestly don’t think that we will see anything good come of the crisis in 2010, I can only hope that Rajoelina finally gives up and we can start repairing the damage that has been done.

Square One

Now that all of his opposition is safely tucked away in Mozambique, Andry Rajoelina is starting to show the world his new, heavily faulted plan… same as  the old heavily faulted plan, try to rule Madagascar by himself insisting that he does not require any assistance from the international community.

As recent as yesterday, he was quoted as saying:

“We ask (the international community) to no longer involve yourselves in our problem. The solution to the crisis will only come from the people through this election”

It has been a little while since we have heard his “the people” line, but rest assure that when he says “the people” he means “Andry Rajoelina” so feel free to substitute. Here is another quote from the same article:

“The international community’s way out of the crisis was enforced cohabitation. But we have all seen that this won’t work,”

Why won’t it work Andry Rajoelina? It is quite simply because he  cannot allow anyone to have even be close to the same level of power as he has, because he is the “High Authority of the Transition”, a post he made up and would like to keep… he doesn’t know how to share.

So in this latest turn of events, Rajoelina is returning to his old strategy of trying to ignore any negotiations and forget that he wanted to obtain the donor money that has been missing since he took power. Instead, he is going to dust off that old party line that “The crisis only involves the people of Madagascar, and only the people of Madagascar can resolve it”.

Tentative parliamentary elections are scheduled for March 20th of next year where there will no doubt be a lack of transparency since he doesn’t want any international observers to meddle with the voice of the people. I am pretty sure that March 20th will mark the return of Monja Roindefo if he doesn’t return any sooner.

And here we are, back at square one… the exact same place we were right after they had taken control of the country… rejecting all international demands and once again preparing to setup his own government.

About the only thing that will change the country now would be if the army were to end their support of Rajoelina… but then… would that be any better? I don’t think you can ever expect that the SADC will be sending troops in to rescue Madagascar and you certainly can’t expect that there will ever be any sort of unity government any time soon. So all we can expect is that this stalemate will continue well into next year.

High Treason

After 5 long days of talks “without” Rajoelina, the 3 remaining political parties have determined a way to divvy up the governmental ministries among the 4 political movements. According to the associated press, the ministries have been split as follows:

Ravalomanana:

    • Commerce
    • Foreign

Ratsiraka:

    • Finance
    • Energy

Zafy:

    • Environment
    • Mines

Rajoelina:

    • Justice
    • Armed Forces
    • Economy
    • Industry

Despite an agreement being reached and signed between the 3 movements which in all appearances seems to be a reasonable way of dispersing the governmental ministries, Rajoelina fired back at his opposing leaders stating that the deal was an “attack on national sovereignty” and was tantamount to “high treason” as it violated previously agreed power-sharing principles and demoted Rajoelina to the same level as other faction leaders in the proposed interim government. Rajoelina even went so far as to strand all of the opposition leaders in Mozambique, forbidding any air exchanges between Madagascar and Mozambique, according to this associated press article.

So with all the opposition parties stuck in Mozambique, what can we expect next for the crisis in Madagascar? Most likely you can expect a great deal of banter back and forth between opposition parties, SADC and Rajoelina initially. But almost inevitably you can expect that Rajoelina will be coming back to the opposition/SADC with specific demands that will ensure that he not only maintains the ministries he wishes to control, but also ensure that he has supreme power over all other parties. These tactics are far from new and have been proven time and time again to be  a very effective negotiating tactic. So at some point in the next month or so, there will be a meeting amongst all parties to try once again to distribute the governmental ministries amongst all political parties… this is, of course, after concessions are made by the opposition party for one or more of Rajoelina’s demands.

I am finding that this whole political situation is a lot like a game of Monopoly. Initially, it looks like there is a lot of progress and that some amazing things happen. But after a while, particularly near the end, you just end up going around the board endlessly hoping not to land on any property containing hotels. The game continues endlessly until the people with the least amount of property give in and finally concede to the person that has the most money/property and hotels. Inevitably I think that all the opposition parties are of course going to have to give in to a lot of demands that are being made by Rajoelina in order to inch closer to some sort of deal that will actually stick. As long as they do not define at the time of negotiations every little detail of the transitional government, talks will break off, the transitional government will fall apart and we will again be forced back the the negotiating table.

The one thing that is absolutely clear about the negotiations is that the opposition parties cannot negotiate amongst themselves without the assistance of mediator. If they are left on their own to negotiate, we can expect that this type of situation will repeat itself, ad nausium. I think it is time to either arrange an immediate election (within 6 months) or threaten to topple the coup by force and then have the election. If Rajoelina is left alone to wield supreme power over Madagascar these types of negotiating stunts are going to continue, perhaps endlessly. What Rajoelina is doing to the citizens of Madagascar is criminal and something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

The never ending story

It has been a long time since I have made a post, partly because I was on vacation for 6 weeks, but also because quite frankly I am getting bored and angry with the failures in negociations.

I seriously didn’t expect there to be any progress made while on vacation, and from the looks of things it was a reasonable expectation. Perhaps you can tell how hopeful I am of this situation ever being resolved?

At any rate, as I usually do, here is the rundown of all the things that had occurred during my vacation:

The sad part is that they will never change diplomatically because Rajoelina is where he wants to be, in his position of power. The AU/SADC and international community can throw all the negotiators they want at this problem, but all they are ever going to get from it is failure.  After all, you are negotiating with a person that came to power via a coup d’etat, does anyone expect him to share or cooperate with anyone? The only thing that he will ever do is try to legitimize himself so he can restore the donor money to Madagascar so he can really have his way. About the only time you will ever see him ‘negotiate’ is if his government is about to fail or there is some risk to him personally (a la uprising).

So while we hear about the poor Malagasy to the south wishing for a cyclone to give them temporary relief from a nasty drought, while the Malagasy economy is capsizing, and while just about everything else could go wrong with the country, we have all the political buffoons sitting around each trying to figure out how they can obtain more power. I am tired of all of it and the suffering that these negotiating failures are bringing to the country as a whole. We need to stop this nonsense of flying all these politicians from country to country where they enjoy the local hotels and hospitality and implement a solution immediately.

About the only thing that I can think of as a solution is one that the Malagasy choose for themselves, which logistically would be very difficult… but would be the only acceptable way since negotiations with all former presidents is nothing but a power struggle. Since the government in Madagascar is more or less non-existent, we should just ramp up elections to happen in less than 6 months if possible. We cannot trust the army, the politicians or any transitional government… so this I think would be the only acceptable way out of this mess. Give all interested political parties a short time to communicate what they would do for the country and then put it to a heavily monitored vote… at least this way the Malagasy could choose the mess they are in rather than it being thrust upon them such as it was by Rajoelina.

If we continue on the path we are on, nothing will ever be achieved. And the longer we continue to ‘negotiate’ the worse it becomes for all Malagasy.

Why so fast?

There have been a great deal of changes that have happened in the last 6 days and a lot of them leave me scratching my head. Basically on October 1st, we left off with threats of not allowing mediators back into Madagascar and that Madagascar would remove itself from the SADC.  Since then, we have had:

  • There was a poll, where Roindefo says that 80% of the Malagasy people favour the new government. (Le Courier)
  • Roindefo states that the Maputo accord is not viable. (Reuters)
  • HAT government accused of profiting from the illegal logging of rosewood. (Reuters)
  • Rajoelina gives an address to the Malagasy people stating that he is going to follow Maputo and appoint a new PM in hopes to provide Madagascar with a president by the 50th anniversary of independence. (AFP: Google)
  • International powers stated that they do not support the power grab and that Rajoelina’s demands made no sense suggesting that they give him money or he won’t hold elections. (Reuters)
  • Rajoelina and Roindefo receive a suprise visit from a delegation of 40 people from the army to request that they take action to resolve the crisis urgently and they do so to avoid disorders. (Clicanoo – Reunion) and (Xinhua).
  • At a meeting at the Carlton in Tana, the 3 missing posts from the Maputo accord have been filled by Andry Rajoelina (President) Emmanuel Rakotovahiny (Vice President – Albert Zafy) Eugene Mangalaza (Prime Minister – Didier Ratsiraka). (Globe and Mail)

Is your head spinning? Mine is. How on earth did we go from having Rajoelina on a power trip to the UN to gain international recognition to Rajoelina actually becoming president and fulfilling the Maputo accord??? Something is definitely fishy about everything that has transpired in recent days, but I will be damned if I can put my finger on it.

Here are some of the things that I think may have contributed to the abrupt change in direction:

  • France intervened.
  • The army threatened.
  • Money

Monja Roindefo abandoned?

I am really having a hard time swallowing that Rajoelina would just accept the Maputo accord out of nowhere because he and Monja have been (at least up to this point) inseparable. At almost every turn in the past, you would see Rajoelina defend Roindefo and vice versa and on any political statement, they just seemed to be in sync.

But ever since ‘the incident’ at the UN, it seems as though Rajoelina has left Monja on his own. You can see from the articles on the first 2 points (above) and from my previous post that Monja seems to be towing the traditional party line by stating that everyone is happy with the status quo, threatening mediator visas, threatening to pull out of the SADC and finally stating that the Maputo accord is not viable.

But on the same day after Roindefo’s statements about the Maputo accord, Rajoelina makes the announcement that he is ready to honor the accord an appoint a PM and a VP from the various opposition parties.

“We will implement the agreements in Maputo (providing a temporary sharing of power and elections) if there is a written commitment from the international community to help us organize all elections, to suspend sanctions affecting Madagascar, and resume funding, “said Andry Rajoelina, president of the High Authority of Transition, citing the support of the European Union and World Bank.

“If everything is agreed, I am ready to listen to proposals from other spheres of influence and to appoint a Prime Minister acceptable to all,” he said.

Mr. Rajoelina said he “wanted the Malagasy people have a president for the 50th anniversary of Independence,” June 26, 2010, while agreements Maputo gave fifteen months to achieve this deadline.

How could Monja make all those statements and know that Rajoelina was going to say that? Clearly, the intent there is to dispose of him as PM… so this must have sideswiped Monja completely.

To prove it, here is Monja’s response to what occurred at the meeting on October 6th pretty must says it all:

The Prime Minister left the meeting room an hour after his arrival. “I’ll go eat,” he said to justify his early exit. He also refused to comment on his return to the meeting. But this time, his fate seems sealed. Since then he became quiet.

Is it France?

This is the part that doesn’t add up to me. Everything was going the regular TGV way, spreading rumours and misinformation all while trying to gain international recognition. Which is what they were trying to do when they showed up at the UN knowing full well that they are not recognized as the legal government… so why show up if not for the chance to gain international recognition for the government (or at least lie about it) and why try this stunt if you have any intention of accepting Maputo?

The UN general assembly was in late September (25/26) and it was reported that before going home Rajoelina was received in the Elysee Palace by Nicolas Sarkozy on September 28th

Yet external sources and on the net, we learn that the President of the NDT was received at the Elysee Palace this Monday, September 28 despite a busy official agenda of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Other sources later deny this information. True or false? No one knows! Previously Andry Rajoelina have also met with Admiral Didier Ratsiraka had already discussed with the emissary of the International Contact Group (ICG) Joachim Chissano and Tiebilé Drama.

All these information flows while in the country, Prime Minister Monja Roindefo hosted at the Palais de Mahazoarivo, French personalities presented as close to President Sarkozy and benefactors because they will make the communication of Madagascar to restore the prestige of the country and improve branding power up. The aim is to attract investors especially in the tourism sector in Nosy Be and in the South and quickly get millions of dollars as was done in his time, former Prime Minister Jacques Sylla.

Here is another blurb:

“Twice humiliated” in the words of Midi Madagasikara,Andry Rajoelina cut short his stay in New York to go to Paris accompanied by his Foreign Minister Ny Hasina Andriamanjato. “Launched in vain to conquer the international recognition without going through the implementation of agreements in Maputo, Rajoelina met in Paris, Admiral Didier Ratsiraka and the mediators of the International Contact Group (ICG), led by former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, provides Midi Madgasikara.

Then basically there was no news until Rajoelina’s announcement on October 4th.

So how did we go from trying to gain international acceptance (to avoid accepting Maputo) to accepting the conditions of Maputo? It was like a complete shift in mentality from wanting to keep the current government as the transitional head to accepting the August negotiations? It’s really too bad that there was no information from his meeting in Paris and also too bad that the reports that did leak out were later denied.

Army Threats?

Now whether or not the Paris trip happened, it is true that at some point on October 4th that some delegates from the army had visited Rajoelina:

During the meeting, the officers underlined with the two eminent personages, the need for finding a solution with the current location urgently. They would have asked president Andry Rajoelina and the Prime Minister Monja Roindefo to intend itself on the position to hold during the meeting.

At the exit of the meeting, some officers made it clear that they “would not enter the political questions”, but which they “had asked (with the two authorities) to take decisions to avoid the disorders”.

or

In another development, army generals held a close-door meeting with Rajoelina and his Prime Minister Monja Roindefo for nearly two hours on Sunday, but no information was disclosed from the meeting.

So the army had stopped by for a little visit with Rajoelina and Roindefo, but whatever for? There have always been rumours surrounding the army and their various positions… but what could make a delegation come to the then heads of the HAT government and have a 2 hour meeting?


If you as me, the only reason that a delegation would come and have a 2 hour meeting with the current government is to express dissatisfaction or a present a problem. There was never any information leaked from that meeting, but I bet that it was either dissatisfaction or a problem that caused the impromptu visit.


Money?


Perhaps it was money that pushed everything over the top. With all of the sanctions imposed on Madagascar, I am surprised that the government has been able to last this long. Ever since Rajoelina overthrew Ravalomanana all you have seen in the news is how much worse it is getting for the average Malagasy person (tourism, loss of TIKO and food shortages.. etc) and how much the Malagasy Ariary has been depreciating in value. And now, if the recent accusations hold true, they have allowed the illegal logging to flourish because all they are doing about it is taxing the exports to other countries.

 

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Conservation International and Wild life Conservation Society said an inter-ministerial order issued last month granted an exceptional authorisation to export raw and semi-processed hard wood. “It legalises the sale of illegally cut and collected wood onto the market; allows for the potential embezzlement of funds in the name of environmental protection and constitutes a legal incentive for further corruption in the forestry sector,” the statement signed by the three groups said.

The Sept. 21 government order authorised 13 operators to export 325 containers of timber, with the authorities taking a 72 million ariary ($36,054) tax on each container.


The donor-dependent country has seen its reserves dwindle after key donors branded Andry Rajoelina’s March power-grab a coup and froze hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

If they are turning a blind eye to the lawless logging that has been going on (but taxing exports), then government must be desperate for income… which might just explain why Rajoelina was so desperate to address the UN and gain international recognition (not that I believe he could). Could money have been the reason for the abrupt change in direction for Rajoelina? I am certain that it definitely played a part… but I don’t think it is the catalyst.


Future of Madagascar

Well whatever happened to cause Andry Rajoelina to agree to the Maputo accord is a good thing because Madagascar was going nowhere fast with the HAT’s plan of avoiding Maputo and continuing to pretend that they govern Madagascar. Though it will never make sense that Albert Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka were included in the crisis negotiations, nor that Marc Ravalomanana’s party doesn’t seem to have any representation in the transitional government or even that Andry Rajoelina is leading the transitional government… at least we are moving some where and not stuck in the political quagmire we had been for so long.

But even with this progress have some really uneasy feelings:

  • Why and how did this sudden transition happen? I think I need this to be answered because I think we all need to know the reason, or who is behind the sudden change of heart. There is no doubt a reason behind it, but whose reason is it and how does it serve them?
  • Why is there no representation from Ravalomanana’s party? Though there may be some representation in some lower positions (I don’t know for sure), I find it disturbing that Ravalomanana’s party has not been given a power position. It makes me feel as though Andry Rajoelina has won somehow (he is now the president, Ravalomanana or his party really have no presence in the government). If the negotiations where to be between the 2 conflicting parties… how is it that 1 of the 2 parties is seemingly left out?
  • Didier Ratsiraka and Rajoelina: In some of the above articles it states that Ratsiraka and Rajoelina met in France. Also at the very beginning of the crisis there was some speculation that Ratsiraka was really behind the whole coup to extract his revenge on Ravalomanana for overthrowing his government in 2002. Now, Ratsiraka has influential power over the transitional government through his PM delegate and now that Rajoelina is not allowed to run for president in the next election… who is to say that Ratsiraka won’t? And if he does, he could easily appoint Rajoelina as PM if he did win… I don’t want to float conspiracies… but it seems that everyone but Ravalomanana is getting what they want, could this end up being the sweetest revenge?

I have this feeling that we are going to see this government stay intact until the elections are organized before we are going to see anything extremely newsworthy. Until then, the news in Madagascar is probably going to be dry with the occassional rumour for Ravalomanana or Roindefo.

So let’s hope that when the elections come that the combined forces of Ratsiraka and Rajoelina don’t try to rig the elections to continue to have their way. I hope that we can see many contenders for the presidency (hopefully some not related to any of these parties) so that the people of Madagascar can have a choice and not be forced or coerced into having the president that Rajoelina/Ratsiraka think they should have.

Holding Madagascar hostage

I have been meaning to blog and have had a few drafts, but I thought I would scrap that and write a new one today while I have a few moments. I have been really busy over the past couple of weeks and haven’t been able to find the time to eek out a post or update any of the timeline pages.

Anyhow… a lot has happened since the last time I blogged, but I can’t really say that it is anything suprising… here is a rundown of the stuff that has happened since September 1st:

    • Rajoelina holds a mini-referendum at Mahamasima to ‘pretend’ to consult his people on the next steps since Maputo had ended.
    • The opposition (Ratsiraka, Rajoelina, Zafy) called on the army to break the deadlock and form an interum government.
    • Army refuses political role.
    • Monja Roindefo charged with creating a ‘unity’ government (by himself) in 72 hours by Rajoelina.
    • The opposition & SADC reject the new government
    • Protests begin on September 11th & 12th and are met with arrests and tear gas
    • The HAT starts to arrest opposition supporters
    • Rajoelina feels ‘betrayed’ by the international community
    • Rumours:
      • The HAT obtains support from Libya military for rural areas and possible donations.
      • Army give Roindefo 24hrs to resign.
    • Rajoelina was invited to the UN General Assembly on climate change
    • Rajoelina goes to NYC to attend UN summit
    • Rajoelina goes to Paris where he is accompanied by French diplomates
    • Rajoelina to give climate change address to UN and plagiraises the VPM of luxemburg
    • Rajoelina denied not once, but twice at the UN general assembly
    • Now HAT is threatening to deny visas to mediators unless a HAT satisfactory explanation occurs
    • Madagascar says to withdraw from SADC

Obviously there has been a complete reversal in anything gained by the Maputo accord, and the HAT is back up to their usual tricks of trying to misinform and trick people into giving them what they want. Let’s start at the top:

Rajoelina holds a mini-referendum at Mahamasima

So everything was going well with Maputo, we had some concessions made and some crimes forgiven… everything looked promising and everyone including myself thought that the crisis may finally be on its way to being over.  We were all so convinced of this that we didn’t even think of what would happen at the next when Maputo II was scheduled to choose who would be the transitional leaders that would lead Madagascar back into a legitimate elected government.

So at Maputo II the negotiations began over the period of a few days to decide who would lead the ‘transition’ and naturally Rajoelina would insist that he be the leader of the transition, a position that he feels is his alone… why didn’t we see that coming? So a few days later the talks were at a complete standstill and eventually broke off under the auspice that Rajoelina and the others would take some time to deliberate on who should lead the transition.

Of course, not to miss any opportunity to make it into the headlines and to look as though he cares, Rajoelina holds a mini-referendum at Mahamasima stadium to consult the ‘Forces of Change’  to ‘ask’ them if he should lead the next transitional government. This of course is more or less a rhetorical question as we all know that Rajoelina already had the answer to that question long before he ever organized this ‘referendum’.

The opposition (Ratsiraka, Rajoelina, Zafy) called on the army to break the deadlock

After the Maputo peace talks had broken off and talks slowly began to fail, the 3 former presidents: Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy create an unofficial united opposition to Rajoelina and the HAT. Fully expecting the outcome of the referendum and knowing how Rajoelina is, they decide that it would be best if the military just took the reigns of power and broke the deadlock that was occurring in the presidential power struggle. Albert Zafy seems to completely understand where these negotiations are going and offers this quote:

“It is now the military to take responsibility. For us, this is the only solution because the civilian side (…), it did not happen to resolve the situation, “he told reporters the former president Albert Zafy.

“They (the military) can impose their point of view (…) because it is the military who gave the power to Andry Rajoelina. So they may well decide and influence Mr. Rajoelina “said Zafy.

Though it is true that there is virtually nothing aside from a complete military takeover that will change things, the request sadly falls on deaf ears as those who placed Rajoelina into power are quite content to keep him there.

Army refuses political role

After all the struggle that was had placing Rajoelina into power, did anyone seriously think that they would entertain a thought about what was good for Madagascar and assume control? Of course not, is that a question that can really be asked? The military is seeing more action then they have seen in a long time and received bonus wages from the government (among other things that have been seen around the net). They just came back to the opposition with the typical good guy answer stating that they don’t want to be involved in politics and want to remain neutral… only, they are a bit late on that choice ever since they had sided and continue to side with Rajoelina.

Military police head General Claude Ravalomanana said in a statement that the armed forces had no role to play in politics and would not risk creating internal rifts.
“We are categorically against the establishment of a military government,” he told several hundred officers.
“We urge the politicians to find a solution so that the transition can establish a fourth republic.”

Military police head General Claude Ravalomanana said in a statement that the armed forces had no role to play in politics and would not risk creating internal rifts.

“We are categorically against the establishment of a military government,” he told several hundred officers.

“We urge the politicians to find a solution so that the transition can establish a fourth republic.”

Well it is too late for the rifts General Ravalomanana they have been there ever since the take over and still exist to this day, you are just lucky nothing has happened so far.

Monja Roindefo charged with creating a ‘unity’ government (madatribune article here)

Since talks have completely stalled and it would seem that no one can agree on anything, Andry Rajoelina takes it upon himself to solve this problem by creating a ‘unity’ government without any involvement from the other former presidents. He charges his PM Monja Roindefo to create a unity government within 72 hours to solve the current stand still.

Is it just me, or does it seem that Rajoelina (and perhaps the HAT) do not think things through completely before executing them? Clearly the other 3 ex-presidents are not going to accept the new government since they were not a part of its creation and obviously the rest of the world won’t accept the new government for the same reasons. There was absolutely nothing to be gained by creating this unity government as it was something that was doomed to failure from the very start. This is just one of many ‘stunts’ (the Maputo accord being another) that Rajoelina pulls to obtain media attention and it would seem to make someone (perhaps the forces of change?) believe that he was truly trying to solve all of Madagascar’s problems. Rajoelina only wants 3 things:

  1. To lead the transition to the next republic of Madagascar and into the next government of Madagascar (which will, if he was ever successful in leading a transition, probably be his government).
  2. International recognition as the president of Madagascar.
  3. To keep himself in the news.

Of course there is the power, money and fame… but almost everything that Rajoelina does seems to revolve around those 2 things. So clearly, forming this ‘unity’ government all alone is some sort of absurd attempt at trying to look as though he is ‘doing something for Madagascar’ and a way to garner media attention.

“I give instruction to Prime Minister Monja Roindefo to form an open government of national unity with 72 hours,” Rajoelina said in a statement.

He said his government would set up all the institutions that were agreed under the terms of an initial power-sharing deal reached in Maputo in early August.

Yup… ‘his’ government would obviously include himself and Monja to lead the government and if they were lucky some elements of the opposition parties, albeit most likely in lowly positions. It would actually be quite funny if he seriously did believe that this was agreed to in the Maputo power sharing deal.

The opposition & SADC reject the new government (other links here and here. Government details: here)

Needless to say, the idea was categorically rejected. First, by the opposition, who were not too pleased that Rajoelina had taken it upon himself to conjure his non-unity government.

“Of course we will not participate in this government. We reject it,” Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, a senior member of former President Albert Zafy’s delegation, told Reuters.

“The country is moving towards a dangerous situation where there may never be peace,” he added.

“Following the declaration of Andry Rajoelina, who has flagrantly contradicted what was agreed at Maputo … the Ratsiraka movement, and all those who support it, reject this decision of Mr Rajoelina,” the statement signed by Ange Andrianarisoa, head of the Ratsiraka delegation, said.

Second, by the SADC who also did not like the unilateral action taken by Andry Rajoelina.

Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique’s former president who is mediating in the island’s crisis, said Southern African leaders meeting in Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday had rejected “the unilateral decision taken in Madagascar”.

“We will continue to negotiate to find a consensual solution. The current (Southern African Development Community) suspension will remain in place until they find a consensual and inclusive solution to the problem,” he said.

Analysts said the government was unlikely to end the crisis, even if the balance of power currently lay with Rajoelina.

“Everybody agrees there must be negotiations as neither side can really go forward without the other. Rajoelina needs the donors back and the opposition wants to be back (in power), said Lille-based political risk consultant Lydie Boka.

Of course the HAT rigorously defends the new government, maintaining that it is inclusive even though they hand picked people for every position.

Roindefo defended the new government, which included several people until recently closely associated with Ravalomanana.

“The new government is not for one party alone. It is for everyone. For me, all four movements are represented,” he said in a televised statement.

Rajemison Rakotomahro and Jacques Sylla, former heads of the upper and lower houses of parliament respectively during the Ravalomanana era, took up the posts of the transition’s vice president and president of the transition’s congress.

That’s right, ‘until recently’ was associated with Ravalomanana… before they sided with the HAT. No doubt their government was full of people that were ‘formerly’ associated with their respective movements.

Since Rajoelina is so blatantly violating the spirit of Maputo by creating this unilateral government of his, the only recourse for the opposition parties is to return to the streets and protest against it (which they had stopped previously as a condition of the Maputo agreement).

Protests begin on September 11th & 12th (other links here and here)

So the opposition calls for the people to stand up and boycott the new so called ‘unity’ government and return to the streets as the legalists have been doing since Rajoelina took power. I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that the protesters were greeted with confrontation and tear gas from the police/army.

Backers of ousted President Marc Ravalomanana massed in a park near a central square, but security forces moved in saying the demonstration had not been authorized.

Raharinaivo Andrianantoandro, spokesperson for Ravalomanana’s party, said they had wanted to demonstrate peacefully to condemn Rajoelina’s appointment of a new government this week and to convince the ruling authorities to resume crisis talks.

“But the security forces stopped us,” he told Reuters, adding that he was not aware of any arrests or injuries.

Ah yes… the old, “You were not authorized to protest” excuse, as if a protest against a government must first be approved by that same government… how ludicrous!

Well regardless of how absurd the HAT’s reasoning is, they would greet any protest that occurred with confrontation and tear gas. It is amazing how much of a difference 8 months makes isn’t it? It was just like yesterday when Rajoelina had a movement that was protesting the Ravalomanana government, though with quite a lot less tear gas and military involved.

The HAT starts to arrest opposition supporters

And because the HAT is all for openness and transparency, they begin to go after opposition leaders and begin to throw them in jail. They start with Senator Naika Eliane following up with Raharinaivo Randrianatoandro, drumming up some clearly fake charges to take them off to prison.

Raharinaivo Randrianatoandro is the second leader of the movement Ravalomanana be thrown in jail since Friday, September 11 after Senator Naika Eliane has been in custody at the prison Manjakandriana. Other arrests are expected.

On top of this there were reported injuries and protester arrests as well.

Rajoelina feels ‘betrayed’ by the international community

Now that it is quite clear that no one but the HAT wants their newly created unilateral ‘unity’ government, Rajoelina cries foul to get himself back into the headlines.

“Rajoelina feels betrayed by the International Contact Group (ICG),” Roindefo said late on Tuesday in a televised debate with the head of ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana’s movement.

“The president and the prime minister of the transition reflect the national will. The ICG then created these other parties. If we are not careful, we will end up like Somalia with warlords,” he said.

At least now Roindefo and Rajoelina are stating the truth of the matter by stating that the president and PM of the transition reflect the national will (aka the HAT’s will). It does make you wonder how someone can say something like that with a straight face doesn’t it? Months of protests from 10’s of thousands of people, growing opposition from across the country and Roindefo can actually manage to say that they represent the ‘nations will’…. please.

I think Fetison Andrianirina’s statement best describes the HAT’s double standard of using the Maputo accord to condemn the opposition, but at the same time not respecting it when they created their unilateral government.

“You brandish the Maputo charter when you feel it suits you, for example, in creating a government. But you fail to respect the agreement’s terms when it comes to setting up the agreed institutions,” Andrianirina said.

Roindefo then goes to the Malagasy High Consitutional Court for interpretation of the Maputo accord, apparently finding it unbelievable that people aren’t interpreting the agreement the way the HAT as no one is accepting his new ‘unity’ government.

Despite all of the nonsense from the HAT, the unusual alliance between Ratsiraka, Zafy and Ravalomanana continues with all of the involved parties wishing to reach the consensual government defined within the Maputo accord.

Rumours (other link here)

While all of the bickering was taking place over the unity government there were 2 articles of news that had come up and had gone away as quickly as they had came.

One of these rumours was that Madagascar had somehow procured from Libya 3 MI8 helicopters and 1 military transport plane. This was rumoured to be a donation to help them fight dahalo (highwaymen) who I have actually heard are becoming an increasing problem on Madagascar’s highways.

The second rumour was that the army had proposed a 72 hour deadline for Monja Roindefo to step down as PM. According to the military (in the Les-Nouvelles article) they wanted Monja to step down so that an officer they have selected can succeed him. This didn’t make any sense to me because:

  • The military have been quite happy where they are.
  • Rajoelina has gone out of his way to retain Monja, this is why the broke off the Maputo talks.
  • If the military are going to be a part of the government, wouldn’t they just completely take over government? Why just follow orders from Rajoelina if they are in government? They are already doing that without being part of it.

At any rate, 72 hours passed along and Monja Roindefo was just fine, remaining the PM of the HAT.

AND NOW FOR THE INTERESTING PART….

After all the talk and bickering about the unity government and Maputo, Rajoelina was actually invited by the UN to the UN General Assembly on climate change. This could have been huge for Rajoelina in terms of his desire to obtain international recognition, or at least, some form of it.

Rather than being wise and abstaining from talking at the UN general assembly and simply going back to Madagascar stating he was invited to the assembly as the ‘leader’ of Madagascar, he insists that he give a speech to the assembly. And this is where karma catches up with Rajoelina as not only it was found that many key elements of his address were copied from an address made by the VPM of Luxembourg, but he inadvertently created one of the biggest  controversies ever witnessed at the UN!

His first problem with plagiarism started when people had received a copy of the address he intended to give to the UN. A malagasy blogger read through it and had noticed that it looked remarkably like a speech that the VPM of Luxembourg had given 3 years ago, here is how the blog compares the speeches:

Rajoelina’s Speech:

“In unison with other developing countries, Madagascar would like to reiterate that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (Principle 7 of Rio) and equity are the cornerstones that must guide international cooperation on changes Climate. We must recognize that environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources and character – now inevitable – change

Climate representing an obstacle or an obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and may negate the positive trends observed in some developing countries, provided that the environmental quality remains an integral factor essential to ensure sustainable economic and social harmonious long term.

It is therefore urgent to act quickly, effectively and collectively. Indeed, the fight against climate change and environmental degradation must be understood in the international framework set by Agenda 21, the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the United Nations Convention on the Fight against Desertification, the Convention United Nations Framework on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It is especially necessary to take into account that developing countries are particularly vulnerable to threats posed by climate change on economic and social development, since their economies are often more dependent on environmental resources and they not have as many resources as developed countries to pursue policies to adapt to climate change. “

Jean Asselborn VPM Luxembourg on Sept 24, 2007 (FR):

“The environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources and character – now inevitable – climate change represent a barrier but a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and may negate the positive trends observed in many developing countries. The quality of the environment is also essential to ensure sustainable economic and social harmonious long term.

It is therefore urgent to act quickly and collectively. Indeed, the fight against climate change and environmental degradation must be viewed collectively in the international framework set by Agenda 21, the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the United Nations Convention on the Fight against Desertification, the Convention United Nations Framework on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Millennium Development Goals.

It is especially necessary to take into account that developing countries are particularly vulnerable to threats posed by climate change on economic and social development, since their economies are often more dependent on environmental resources and they not have as many resources as developed countries to pursue policies to adapt to climate change. “

The blog can be found here in Malagasy and you can take the comparison whatever way you like as there was really no other coverage of this aside from the Malagasy bloggers entry so it could be completely false for all I know. If you wish to compare, I have found Rajoelina’s speech in english hosted here (PDF) on the UN site as well as is taped address below. I have also found the VPM of Luxembourg’s speech here at their government site.

Now this is really detracting from the biggest story of all, which is that UN members had voted to prevent Andry Rajoelina from addressing the UN because he was not the legitimate leader of Madagascar. Below are some of the headlines:

Andry Rajoelina prevented a second time to access the gallery (FR)

Delegates Prevent Madagascar Leader from Addressing UN General Assembly

AP Exclusive: UN leader cites rules on Madagascar

Rajoelina prevented from speaking at the UN: Madagascar will protest (FR)

Andry Rajoelina was supposed to make his speech on September 25th, 2009, but SADC members had strongly opposed allowing him to speak as he was not the legitimate leader of Madagascar. So strongly in fact, they forced the poor Ali Abdessalam Treki to put it to a vote and even though a VERY large percentage of the UN membership did not vote, there were 23 members opposing his speech and 4 members for his speech, so the speech did not happen.

In a rare intervention in the Assembly hall, the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alexis Mwamba, representing SADC, protested allowing Mr. Rajoelina to speak. “SADC would like to express its protest against the decision to invite Mr. Andry Rajoelina to take the floor at the general debate of our august assembly,” he said.

He insisted the matter be voted on under the rules of procedure and the assembly decided Mr. Rajoelina should be deferred from taking the floor. But confusion reigned both during and after the vote, and it remained unclear whether the decision was the final word on the matter.

Ali Abdessalam Treki insists that he was only following the ‘rules’ when granting permission for Rajoelina to address the UN assembly. But it now appears that there is a movement afoot because of this to prevent any illegal government official from ever addressing the UN. Now Nambia is pushing the UN to take a ‘hard line’ against coup d’etats:

Speaking on the fifth day of the high-level debate, Marco Hausiku said the 192-member General Assembly should “urgently pass a resolution” that prohibits unelected regimes from participating in UN activities.

“There is a need for the UN to support the AU [African Union] principle position of not recognizing governments that come to power through military coups,” he said.

I totally agree with the idea and it really makes me wonder why this hasn’t happened sooner? Clearly Rajoelina fully intended on using his address to the UN to ‘legitimize’ himself to the world, so why would the UN have allowed this to take place if not for the SADC objection? There should be no recognition and no invitation for those member states that come to power illegally through any method, and I certainly hope that they adopt this stance.

Now HAT is threatening to deny visas to mediators

Now that Andry Rajoelina and the HAT have been so immensely humiliated they are now responding to the embarassment by threatening to deny visas to mediators and even more intensely cracking down on demonstrations against their government.

Madagascar said on Tuesday it may refuse visas to officials from the Southern African Development Community after African nations blocked the island’s leader from addressing the U.N. General Assembly last week.

Prime Minister Monja Roindefo told Reuters he had sent letters to SADC member states represented on the Indian Ocean island to demand an explanation, as well as a letter of protest to the U.N. headquarters.

“For now, we will leave it at that. Further actions (regarding visas) will depend on the responses we receive to our demands for an explanation,” Roindefo said.

Doesn’t this ‘pretend’ sincerity by the HAT get under your skin? It drives me crazy to think that the HAT was even invited go to the UN Assembly in the first place. How can the HAT seriously be surprised that anyone would protest their address to the UN? They know they are illegitimate, it is exactly why they showed up to the UN meeting in the first place! How would anyone seriously want to allow an illegal government to use the UN as a tool to bolster the credibility of it’s international recognition? The invite shouldn’t have happened, and this is something that should have been addressed long ago with the UN.

So Andry Rajoelina and Monja Roindefo are in the process of throwing a fit of protest against everyone involved in blocking their speech to the UN. They are furious that anyone would think of blocking their chance at bolstering their international recognition, but mostly they are furious that their plan couldn’t have back fired worse than it did.

I have heard it mentioned on the net, and I completely agree that if they wanted to succeed in bolstering their recognition they should have just shown up and kept their mouths shut. They could have just walked away from the general assembly telling the world and anyone who wants to hear that they are now recognized because the UN invited them to an assembly, and it would be up to the UN to correct that error. But instead, they got greedy and pleaded with Ali Abdessalam Treki to let Rajoelina speak despite the process which in the end will cement a piece of the HAT in history. Of course the HAT won’t be remembered as the transitional government that lead Madagascar to it’s 4th republic, but rather as the illegitimate government that caused an uproar at the UN and most likely will result in new measures passed not to allow illegal governments to attend or participate in UN functions.

Madagascar says to withdraw from SADC

There is not much more for the HAT to do but complain to the world how offended they are about what had happened in the UN. Well… not much more than making empty threats! I almost can’t contain my laughter.

So, now they are going to prevent SADC members from entering Madagascar (not that they need to hold negotiations there)… but now they are going to withdraw from the SADC? You are kidding right? Madagascar was thrown out of the SADC shortly after the coup d’etat occurred!

Government actions on the granting of visas to SADC members, scheduled to arrive in Antananarivo on Oct. 6 for the International Contact Group meeting, will be specified depending on the response to these requests for explanation, said Roindefo.

Roindefo’s decision followed the declaration of two dozens of political parties allied to the HTA, proposing the withdrawal of Madagascar from the SADC, which Rajoelina’s supporters consider as “non-compliance of Madagascar’s sovereignty.”

Of course they are non-compliant with the HAT’s sovereignty! Nobody wants to side with the HAT. Don’t worry about your proposal, Madagascar will be out of the SADC until such a time as there is a legitimate leader, who I am sure will want to take part in the SADC once again.

Now there is no chance that the HAT will ever gain international recognition and possibly no way that he will ever lead a transitional government. They cannot do anything more but to hold all of Madagascar hostage until there is either a SADC military intervention or the 4 leaders come to an agreement. Which one do you think will happen first?


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