I have been watching what has been going on in Madagascar ever since the talks broke down earlier this week and up to today it seemed like they have no direction, even up to today. I have been a little busy recently so I haven’t been able to update the blog as much as I would have liked, so I put a short rundown below of the last 3 days and what I think of it:
On Thursday (Feb 26) of this week there was a call by TGV to rally at Mahamasima to try and remove the mayor that was installed by the president (Rivo Randrianarisoa) and install his selected replacement Michèle Ratsivalaka. The rally was small and rather short and was quickly dispersed by the army and police.
On Friday (Feb 27) of this week there were some protests in Fianarantsoa where there were 13 injuries and 2 deaths. One of the dead bodies was taken from the hospital to the “place of democracy” (May 13th?) with the Madagascar flag draped on top of it. Also after his meeting with the UN, Odon Razanakolona is ready to return as a mediator under 3 conditions: TGV and Ravalomanana take their commitment seriously, respect freedom of expression, and no arrest policy. TGV announces that they are creating a new entity called the CNC (National Coordinating Committee) which consists of opposition leaders such as: Rolland Ratsiraka, Alain Ramaroson, Jean Lahaniriko, André Ramaromisy, Jean Max Rakotomamonjy, and Jean-Jacques Rabenirina but the comittee is chaired by Andry TGV.
Today (Feb 28) there was another gathering at May 13th. Speeches were given criticizing Ravalomana and also accusations made that the government of trying to scramble TGVs media. They also tell followers that there are going to be “unlimited” strikes starting this coming Monday at May 13th. There were also accusations from TGVs media outlets that the government was importing weapons from China (that wasn’t too wild of a claim was it? The government obviously needs more weapons to shoot it’s own people right TGV?). China denies selling any weapons to Madagascar.
So there you have the last 3 days of what I have gleaned from various news sources. The only interesting points for me are that the amount of people attending the rallies seem to remain small, TGV announces the CNC and that there are now “unlimited” rallies starting this Monday. I am not so interested any more in talks of negotiation for the time being as I highly doubt that either side will be eager to get back into a room and get right back to another deadlock. TGV is going to want to pull off some more tricks before they ever go back to the negotiating table, so I am not holding my breath for talks anytime in the near future.
I was personally hoping that the break from all the turmoil and return to semi-normal life would have convinced the Malagasy people that the rallies haven’t been worth their while. But as with anything, there are some die-hard supporters of the movement that are convinced that the TGV can do no wrong and will always continue to show up whenever they are called.
What bothers me the most about the news is that TGV are now calling for “unlimited” strikes in the city. Are they considering what is going to happen to the city and the businesses? It has been stated many times previously that people in the city could barely operate with the rallies that occurred before, so wouldn’t this essentially shut down businesses for an “unlimited” time? Isn’t there some other place that they can do this that would not be so impactful? Wait… of course not… the place that garners the most attention is May 13th, and anything that makes local businesses and people suffer is sure to gain more attention for the TGV.
I have seen reports on the net that tourism in the country is basically dead with nearly 100% cancellations. All the tourism businesses are suffering immensely, if they are not already shut down. This turmoil is costing the tourism industry for this country $390 million US dollars, and is giving a bad name to Madagascar internationally.
What do you think of the CNC? What a clever way to remove yourself from the responsibility! What great way to defer responsibility for something going wrong than to blame it on 7 people instead of just 1. I wonder if this is the beginning of TGV pulling himself out of the spotlight, or perhaps this is how they think they could be more legitimate in the eyes of the Malagasy and international community.
But either way, it will is going to slow down the progress of TGV. Maybe it is just because I live where I do, but when I see the word “committee” it usually means that nothing gets done, or if it does, it doesn’t get done for a long time and it costs a lot of money. Does this mean that now before the TGV announces anything they have to come to a consensus amongst the 7 people? Whatever they do now is going to take a great deal longer than it did before when they just had 1 person making the decisions (or taking orders, whatever the case may be).
I guess it is going to be a real shame for the people of Madagascar for the next week or so. There are no announcements that have been made that really provide any direction on what either side is going to do next. The shake up in how the TGV operates, means that that there most likely won’t be any real direction from them for some time. You also have little to no info coming from the government (even during the negotiations it seems), so no direction there. So I guess this means that there will be daily disruptions of lives and businesses for the next week or two until someone breaks this deadlock. And even if the deadlock is broken, it will probably be because of some drastic event, which will will be good for no one.