“The people” have spoken

What a busy week! I haven’t been able to post anything until just now. Can you believe that it has only been a week (essentially) since the TGV have imposed themselves as the government of Madagascar? It already seems like such a long time ago that things “suddenly” turned in Andry Rajoelina’s favour and they rushed into office. Remember these arrogant quotes?

“These condemnations “do not bother us much”, said Roindefo. “If they haven’t understood the process, they may well react. But if they stick to their line after we have spoken, it will be annoying.”

“Ravalomanana has already resigned, the prime minister and his government have also resigned; I am at the head of the transitional government … So you can call me president,” Rajoelina told French television channel LCI in a telephone interview.

“We will explain to the whole world our cause … The people demanded liberty and the military rallied to the popular movement but it did not seize power … We are confident the international community will understand,” Roindefo said.

“The referendum is already done. The people have already expressed themselves,” Rajoelina told national television. “The resignation of Ravalomanana is the solution.”

The reason I bring this up is that there has always been talk from day 1 about “the people” from TGV and it is obvious now that not all “the people” agree with him. In fact, over the last week or so we have been seeing that the whole world seems to disagree with him, except for France who is a little ambiguous on their stance and recently scaled back their use of the word coup.

How presumptuous of them was it for TGV to think that everyone in the country would want them to govern without having a say in it. All of the rallying that took place since January 26th was, for the most part, in Tana and almost every other part of the country had no idea what was going on, especially since the some of the Radio/TV broadcasts were knocked out on the January 26th. Most people in other parts of the country don’t even know who Andry Rajoelina is, so imagine what they must feel like knowing that he has stolen power from someone that they had elected?

Anyway, it would appear from all the news articles online that the HAT government is going to have a short shelf life, and is almost certainly doomed to fail. And it makes me happy to know that this failure, if and when it happens, will be in large part a result of the international communities condemnation of the coup. It is great to know that other countries around the world think what happened in Madagascar was wrong, and should be dealt with by letting “the people” choose their government. But it is not the international community alone that will cause this government to fail… no, no,no… HAT will actually have a hand in it’s own demise as well, look at these announcements and just think of how you would feel as a supporter when you heard them:

  • Thanking Didier Ratsiraka or Pierrot Rajaonarivelo during inauguration: This “thanks” I think sheds some light on the type of government it will be and of what is to come.
  • Releasing Prisoners: One of the first actions of the government was to release Pety Rakotoniaina, General Fidy, Voninahatsy Jean Eugene, General Bolo, Colonel Coutiti and others. Some of these people had taken part in the destruction of bridges that isolated Tana in 2002, some are actually criminals, they aren’t exclusively political prisoners as much as they would like you to believe.
  • Julien Razafimanjato, minister of education delcares French is the official language to be taught in: I am not sure on this, but I thought that Ravalomanana had done some reforms so that people could learn in Malagasy to put some value in their own culture and language. French will always be around, but why so eager to return to it? Why would this be an important thing to do?
  • Ny Hasina Andriamanjato threatens Malagasy Ambassadors: Malagasy ambassadors from around the world must have been watching the crisis and possibly furious with the results. Then they get word from the new government that they can’t complain about it and have to accept it or be replaced. This is just another “threat” tactic that this government uses to try and get their way.
  • Benja Razafimahaleo, minister of finance, takes away benefits and allowances provided to civil servants: This is HUGE, considering that the primary goal according to the HAT was to help people and lift them from poverty. How do you then reduce benefits and allowances and take away privelages they have such as their fuel cheques?
  • Benja Razafimahaleo, minister of finance, gives 48 hours to the officials of the Senate, National Assembly and presidency governmental departments to restore function or else face prosecution: This shows that virtually no one wants to cooperate with this government, and also is another perfect example of how they intend to get things done, by threatening people. This is also a good reason why no one else would want to be a part of this government, the rumour goes that the vacancies in the government aren’t being filled because people are afraid of associating themselves with it.
  • Monja Roindefo, prime minister, mentioned something odd to the UN envoy who had just read the order entrusting the executive “You can keep this piece of paper that you will remember your holiday in Madagascar”: I couldn’t really make sense of this one, the only thing that makes sense is that it is very odd. It could possibly go with one of the quotes above where he believes that eventually people will understand, but I fail to see how this helps the government legitimize itself to the international community… especially the UN.

I am sure that I have missed one or two points in my list, but I think the idea comes across loud and clear. The HAT government currently doesn’t, and never has had any direction. I don’t know how many times that I have said before that TGV had never shown what it was going to do for the people or how it is going to solve their problems. Everthing that has happened over the last week don’t make any sense, they just seem to show how disorganized they are and that they believe that they can just force people to do as they wish. This is not type of government that the people of Madagascar wanted, this is the government that the TGV crowd that rallied at May 13th square wanted. Sidebar: Speaking of rallies, there was this comment that I heard, and I don’t remember where, but it was a comment made regarding the pro-Ravalomanana rally from an onlooker. There was a bus that was going through the crowd and the onlooker said something to the effect of “Wow, if that bus went by during the TGV rally it would have been attacked!”. That, in addition to the looting and destruction, really says something about the TGV support base, don’t you think?

Anyway, it is good that people are rallying to the defence of democracy, or against TGV or for Ravalomana. It doesn’t really matter what the cause so long as it is for the people of Madagascar to make the choice in who governs them. The rallies starting on the 21st of March during the inauguration with about 2,000 – 4,000 to yesterday with 10,000 to 12,000 people. I think more and more of the silent majority are starting to feel safe to come out and support democracy and I imagine that the numbers are only going to get larger. There are even reports of big rallies in other cities as well, I believe there was a big rally in Antsirabe yesterday too. So what does that say about “the people” Andry Rajoelina? Your people were rarely ever this large in number, and they didn’t really span multiple cities, so should you not step down because now “the people” have decided on something else? As if it could be that simple… ;), they are illegitimate and they know it, so they aren’t going to step down even if 100,000 people protested.

I wonder how long the HAT government will last? They are facing a huge uphill battle, as they should, to try and maintain their position. Here is the list I have so far of problems that they have:

  • International funding drying up: This is probably the biggest reason why the government would fall if any. It is quite obvious with all of the cutting that Benja Razafimahaleo is doing and the urgency in which they want to sell Force One that they do not have any money to work with. This is going to make for a good example as to what happens to a non-elected government (I think the AU wants to use Madagascar as an example of how things should be done in the event of a coup).
  • Senate, Nataion Assembly, etc refuse to return to office: This would almost seem as though the entire government has abandoned them. How are you going to govern if there are no people? A 48 hour ultimatum will only drive them away further and I don’t think you will see an all HAT Senate and National Assembly.
  • Civil workers give a 48 hour ultimatum: All civil workers will refuse to work after 48 hours unless Andry Rajoelina steps down. If there are no civil workers, there will be chaos… so I am not sure how they are going to resolve this.
  • Lacking 6 ministers: They haven’t filled ministerial positions yet. And if there is such a rebellion within the government, would anyone want to be a minister in a government that is illegitimate? I don’t think there are too many people that want to sign up for this right now.
  • Growing Daily Rallies and May 13th Square: The rallies are growing in number by the day and don’t show any signs of stopping. I have heard that a member of the HAT government wants to use force to prevent people from going to May 13th square (hypocritical, don’t you think?). There have already been reports of use of force on demonstrators trying to hand out leaflets for the rally, doesn’t look good on them.
  • World Condemnation: Since the AU, EU, US have condemned the new government as a coup d’etat, there is not a country on the planet now that will officially say they support the new Madagascar government. I wonder if that 50 million from the mysterious country has dried up or not?
  • AU Summit cancelled and moved: This was to be the pride and joy of Madagascar and it has now been completely cancelled (who knows what will happen to all the construction that was occurring for it). Bad publicity for the new government as well as loss of revenue.
  • Francophonie summit is cancelled and moved: They do not recognize the illegal government of Madagascar and therefore cannot host the summit there. More bad publicity for the new government as well as loss of revenue.
  • SADC meeting on the 30th in Mbabane: This will be a BIG meeting on possible sanctions against the new government for taking power. If it wasn’t bad enough already that they do not have funding, the sanctions are going to make it that much worse.
  • Albert Zafy opposes the HAT: He has come out in a statement saying that he does not support the TGV and only supports a transitional government (whatever that means). I think he is just trying to position himself for the coming elections, but since he is well known it can’t be good within Madagascar.
  • The director of NGO states that the provinces are not ready to accept Rajoelina as president: As was previously mentioned, most people in other parts of the country do not know who he is, so why would they want him to be in power. This is something that could grow with the rallies as more and more people discover what is happening.

I think in the end, when the pressure becomes too great, you will see them bow down to the AU/EU’s request to have elections ready within 6 months and I don’t think you will see Andry Rajoelina on the card for president… not only because it is illegal, but because he knows he will be trounced. This will open up the opportunity for other people to throw their names into the pot for the position as president such as Albert Zafy. I think you will also see Marc Ravalomanana return once the elections are set up and it is safe for him to be there with his name on the card for re-election. Part of me wants to return to my conspiracy theory about Arema and say that since there has been an illegitimate pardon, you will see someone from the Arema party… probably Pierrot Rajaonarivelo throw his name in the hat (no pun intended) for president. It is inevitable that this government will be temporary considering the adversity that they face and perhaps that was all they were ever meant to be… temporary, either by exiled political figures or just to interrupt current government. I think it is probably safe to say that some time in the near future (2 weeks? 1 month?) you will see some election dates as the pressure on the new government increases and that can only be good for Madagascar.

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The youngest puschist never elected as president

Nicolas Sarkozy might have ruined my conspiracy theory regarding France by announcing the TGV government as a coup d’etat, but my other theory (and many other  people’s) seems to becoming closer to being true.  Today in a lavish inauguration party (complete with fireworks I have heard and Rossy, which probably drew the crowd only to see the free show) Andry Rajoelina was sworn in as president of the High Authority of the Transition, a completely fabricated post in the government that is his  “work around” for it currently not being constitutionally possible to be pronounced president. A bit of good news is that there were no international ambassadors present at the inauguration to recognize Andry Rajoelina’s new post.

The  interesting part of the inauguration to me is not necessarily the amount of money that was spent on this inauguration, but instead it is what was  said during his acceptance speech (if that is what you call it), namely:

  • A pardon for political prisoners and reduced sentences for certain prisoners.
  • A “thanks” to the exiled Didier Ratsiraka or Pierrot Rajaonarivelo or both.

I guess it goes without saying that nearly everyone on the watching the crisis unfold were positive that Andry Rajoelina could not perform this coup on his own, and had help from more seasoned, experienced politicians. So doesn’t saying “thank you” to anyone exiled to France implicitly acknowledge they were responsible to some degree of his success? And doesn’t issueing a “pardon” allow the potential for most of the Arema party to come out freely into the open or return from exile? And if you are saying “thank you” to a certain exiled someone in France, could that not also mean that a pardon followed for the 8 million USD of Malagasy swindled away? I guess the interview and the inauguration could mean anything, but I think they are pretty good hints of what is to come.

His  “thanks” takes me back to what was said on the 18th, a day after the fall of Marc Ravalomanana when the media had an interview with exiled politician Pierrot Rajaonarivelo (see here). The article itself was very up and down, on one hand, he was delighted that Andry Rajoelina had accomplished what he has and called for the inclusion of exiled politicians from 2002 in their solution, and on the other hand he was denouncing the government as a coup d’etat. Here are some of the quotes from that article:

“In my opinion, what has happened has not always respected the legality of things, so what we have today is an insurrectional government, a coup d’etat,” he told Reuters late on Tuesday.

Rajaonarivelo was prevented from running in the 2006 election after his return to Madagascar was blocked by the former government.

He said he had been in contact with Rajoelina during the months-long stand-off that led to the ousting of the president. “I’m with Rajoelina, we’ve met,” he said. “We have a sort of deal and I’m among the people behind him but I think as far as his approach is concerned, there’s a bit of amateurism there.” Rajaonarivelo said that any solution would have to include opposition politicians exiled after 2002.

“That’s too long! Why and for what reason is he taking 24 months as his starting point?” he said, adding that the constitutional court should have been involved by declaring the presidency vacant and regulating a handover of power. (When speaking of having elections within 2 years)

Though it was a somewhat odd interview, it seems to confirm a couple of things. The first, that Pierrot and no doubt his affiliates seem to want to distance themselves from this new government. The second, is that along with the fact that Pierrot tried in 2006 tried to return to run for office, that he specifically states that “any” solution would have to include exiled politicians from 2002.  Combining the swearing in and the interview pretty much paves the way for the return of the Arema party, whether or not that includes Didier Ratsiraka. Time will tell I suppose, if in time we start to see exiled politicians showing up in Madagascar and they start to offer an alternative to the HAT, then we know we could be on to something. Midi-Madagasikara had a funny cartoon that best describes the HAT:

This is so true

But not everyone was happy about the inauguration, there were approximately 3000 people (though it looked like more) people in starting at Ambohijatovo and ending at May 13th square to protest the terrorist government TGV. According to this article in TopMada, this will be the first protest in a series of protests against the new government. One person at the rally stated “TGV (Rajoelina) is not our president. No moment he consulted us to do what he did. The democracy, it is to consult the people by the ballot boxes. Only the ballot boxes interest us. We want to be heard immediately. ” There are also rumours that have been spreading that not all of the army is with the TGV government as well. On the official TIM website you can find a “DECLARATION DES MILITAIRES BASES A IVATO” stating that the BANI and RFI  are preparing to hold CAPSAT to military law for what they have done.  Thought it is still thought of as a rumour, the fact that it was posted on the TIM site and that my own family have told me that there are flyers going out everywhere regarding this gives it a least a little more credibility. One of the protesters at the rally stated  “the sign sent by the international community should make the army reflect. The true army will join us soon, you will see. There is the whole world with us. We are not afraid”. If you would like to see many pictures of the Pro-TIM rally at May 13th square and Ambohijatovo, you can find many pictures here at AndryDago’s blog.

We will see in the coming weeks what turns out to be true and what doesn’t,  but what is true for certain is that this is not the end of trouble in Madagascar, just a new beginning.


Never to separate from France

A lot of us have probably been sitting on the edge of our collective seats waiting for what would happen around the world regarding how Andry Rajoelina’s government would be taken. Would the world just sit quiet and let it pass, or would it take action and collectively disapprove of how this TGV government achieved power.  My worst fear was that the international community was going to be complancent about the whole thing and attempt to continue on normally as if nothing happened.

THANKFULLY, the AU/SADC do not recognize Andry Rajoelina or his government and called for the suspension of Madagascar from the SADC and AU as well as urging the international community not to recognize Andry Rajoelina. Zambia’s foreign affairs minister, Kabinga Pande stated “(It’s) a setback and danger to the entrenchment of democracy and constitutional rule on the continent which should not be allowed to take root,” he said in a statement in government newspapers.” There was also a comment from Tomaz Salmomao regarding the coup stating: “You are aware that the president of the republic resigned yesterday and he hand over the power to a military directory themselves also transferred the power to the former mayor of Antananavivo,” [said Mr. Salmomao.] “So in practical terms we have a military coup. In view of that and because Madagascar is a SADC member state, SADC has to take a position.”

The US was right behind the AU regarding the coup, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said “”We view this as undemocratic transfer of power” and that they were going to re-evaluate their aid to the country. The EU also refused to recognize Andry Rajoelina,  “This was a coup d’etat, this was not a democratic election said  Karel Schwarzenberg the Czech foreign minister on the first day of a two-day EU summit in Brussels. Norway was also quick to respond, I tweeted an article I found on 03/18/09 at a Norwegian blog stating that they are freezing all bilateral aid to Madagascar stating: “We are assessing the situation on an ongoing basis. Any takeover of power that is not in line with democratic rules will have consequences for Norwegian aid to Madagascar,” commented Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.

It is really good to know that people are recognizing this so-called government for what it is, an illegitimate mob government, who achieved power using bribes, misinformation and force.  This as a relief in the sense that people are recognizing the wrongs that Andry Rajoelina has committed against democracy. Speaking of democracy, I found a funny quote from Andry Rajoelina that he said to a crowd at May 13th square: “We will bring about the return to a normal life, to security and above all national reconciliation, which is at the heart of democracy.” The heart of democracy? Who is he to talk about the heart of democracy? It was just 2 days ago he had the army holding AK47s on his hostages to get them to transfer presidential power to him and was mistreating a high ranking member of the church. Incredible!

Almost everyone on the net and even in Madagascar has stated at one time or another that they think this whole crisis has been linked to France, especially since in 2002 Ravalomanana began to distance the country from them. So I have some points that I think might lead to a good conspiracy theory:

I thought it might be fun to outline how odd France’s behaviour seems to have been throughout the crisis and especially towards the end. Smells like a little bit of France with a touch of exiled Arema politicians don’t you think? And who else could have orchestrated and funded such a coup? Especially one that looks very similar to what Ravalomanana had to do in 2002 because of the outcome of the elections, the dates and the methods just make it look like this is revenge.

Well… that’s enough from the conspiracy portion of my mind, and now onto something that I am wondering about, especially in light of the fact that Andry Rajoelina states that he is going to bring prices down. What is going to happen to Marc Ravalomanana’s businesses? Before Ravalomanana was president he already owned most of the business (if not all), so is the TGV government going to take them and nationalize them? Will he let them continue to run as they are (if they are even running)? What will people do without TIKO? As far as I knew that was the most affordable variety food products available to the malagasy people. I know I enjoyed the yoghurt, milk, juice, soda, and it was priced well vs. the imports. How is Andry Rajoelina going to keep prices down if this brand is gone? If they are gone, then I suspect there will a lot more imports and less local brands which to me, doesn’t translate into lower prices.

I think that Andry Rajoelina has bitten off a bit more than he can chew, and it will only be a matter of time before “the people”, as he so enthusiastically calls them, will realize how he has pulled the wool over their eyes. And considering how tired “the people” are of the political turmoil and the high priced goods that resulted from it, he is going to have to start helping the poor a lot faster than he thinks. If what this political science professor says is true, then Ravalomanana was making good progress on helping the country which would have eventually translated into helping the poor. But since the political strife, it looks like the reset button has been pressed on the progress on Madagascar and if Andry sticks around, he will be unpopular in very short order.

Ratsiraka, the sequel?

I am still reeling from all the events of yesterday, I can hardly believe that such a travesty of democracy could happen so quickly. Almost everyone I know has been upset over the events since January 26th, and are fuming about the results of this struggle. What this coup represents is a serious step backwards for Madagascar, or at least freedom in Madagascar and potentially some trouble for it’s future. There are a great deal of things that I want to get out into the air, but I want to try not to write the novels that I seem to be writing on this blog… so I am going to attempt to keep this brief. Oh, by the way, I have updated the crisis timeline (except for the events of this morning), videos and a few pictures if you want to take a peek.

Anyway, the thing that bothers me the most about this coup is the fact that nearly 100% of their “progress” (if that’s what you want to call it that) for the TGV has come from lies/propaganda, threats and use of force (ie. threats to news papers, web sites, pirating radio/tv and forced resignations). The methods used by the TGV to obtain power were illegal which makes the fight was unfair from the very beginning. You cannot compete fairly with someone that is not afraid to use any means necessary, legal or not, to obtain power. And now today it appears that the High Constitutional Court (HCC) has accepted him as the president… gee… I wonder why that would be (was there even a choice?). There ABSOLUTELY has to be repercussions for what happened to the government of Madagascar, and hopefully the international community will start that. But this is just the tip of the iceburg…

Now you are going to see people come out of the woodwork, now that their puppet (or scapegoat) has taken control of the country. I don’t have any hard facts,  I am just speculating (but it is not too big of a stretch) that you are probably going to see an interesting “alternative” to Rajoelina eventually when it comes time to do the elections. How can a 34 year old DJ with approximately 1 year of political experience being mayor bring down a government without major help from someone else. People were advising him from the get go, and they had all the connections and money to get this job done, I bet it was an expensive project. I think there were basically 2 things that lead to the accelerated downfall of the Ravalomanana:

  1. 03/09/09 – The mutineering soldiers: How could such a young inexperienced person convince the military to join their side, especially considering what was being done was clearly wrong. Who could convince such a high ranking officer to turn his back on what is right and take sides in a political feud when they are supposed to be neutral? I am guessing it is someone that used to be a high ranking officer himself, or someone associated with him.
  2. 03/14/09 – Jaques Sylla: How do they convince the President of the National Assembly to switch sides? This really is the point at which the downfall was accelerated. How much money was spent? What was done behind the scenes? Obviously Sylla knows a lot about the inner workings of the government, so he is probably the reason it fell apart so quickly.

There are just far too many unanswered questions about how they were able to get this far this fast and I seriously don’t think that Rajoelina could have done this on his own without some serious connections. How on earth do we go from a cat and mouse game from January to the beginning of March to having the whole thing wrapped up in 8 days? It doesn’t make sense. Perhaps the Didier Ratsiraka broadcast on VIVA was a hint of who are behind the scenes and of what is to come.

The sick part of the news is that just a day after everything has been finalised he is going as if it is business as usual as if everything is OK. My entire family is very upset about this as are all our friends, the online community and probably many people in Madagascar, I don’t think anyone is ready to accept this or is even OK with it. He must be kidding himself if he thinks that he can just pretend things didn’t happen and start governing the country. He has yet to see the repercussions of such an anti-democratic take over from various international bodies and who can tell at this time whether people will just comply with this government or not. I hope to see:

  • Not a single country in the world recognise him as the president of the Madagascar
  • Sanctions against his government
  • Restrictions on donated/loaned money coming from the international community/world bank
  • An investigation into the TGV movement and their practices to punish any illegal activities undertaken by them.

There needs to be repercussions from this tragedy, not acceptance. We do not need to have another travesty by having the international community just agree with what has taken place and allow it to continue. I am waiting in anticipation of what is to come from the EU/AU/US/Canada… etc. Regarding the money, I am not saying that we cut of all money because we don’t want to make people suffer, but perhaps we have to do it through different means while this un-elected government is in place because I would not trust them with my money that’s for sure.

And finally… where is Marc Ravalomanana? The US embassy has emphatically stated that he is not there, so where is he? Can’t be at the Canadian Embassy (cuz there isn’t one)… I hope that he and whatever family was with him are safe. Part of me sometimes worries that he was captured at some point the same way the generals have been and he is being kept tucked away somewhere by the opposition. And what of TIKO? Classico? All the affordable brands of food that we have come to love? I must admit that I am selfishly mourning the loss of my Cocounut Yogurt…. But what kind of an impact is this going to have on the people? Will Rajoelina just march into the business, nationalise it and take control? I hope that Ravalomanana can get out of Madagascar and start talking with the various international bodies about what has transpired. It is a shame that he will most likely have to, at least for a time, live in exile the same way that Didier Ratsiraka has.

So… what’s next? A fourth republic? Massive overhall of the constitution? Didier Ratsiraka coming back to Tana for a visit? Who knows… but we will all be watching, hoping that someone will pay for what has been done to Madagascar.

A sad day for Madagascar, a sad day for democracy

Update 1 – Looks like it is official, Ravalomanana has dissolved government and transferred power to the military. Here is a link to the Malagasy government site:

Dissolution du Gouvernement, le Président a conféré les pouvoirs à un Directoire militaire

Here is a link to the actual resignation speech: http://www.madagascar-presidency.gov.mg/P/discours1.mp3

Now the question is, will everyone just stand behind Rajoelina? Or will the army that was given power fight against the army of Andry Rajoelina? If so, then the country will officially be shunned by the international community and that will be very unfortunate for the poor.

Here is a good article as well: Democracy in Madagascar, is this the beginning or the end? (French)

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If you have been having a hard time keeping up with things, I don’t blame you, I have too. There was a flurry of reports out there stating that Marc Ravalomanana has resigned, or that 8 ministers have resigned… etc.

I am trying to pull all the information in currently, so I am not going to make this post very long, but will update it later.

Here is what I have been reading so far that has been infuriating:

  • Someone has update Andry Rajoelina in wikipedia that he is now the president?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andry_Rajoelina – Somone correct it please… to say dictator… unbelievable… the crisis isn’t over and there is an article already!
  • Iavaloha is under attack. Grenades and guns heard as well as church bells sounding off the alarm.
  • Rumours that the head of the FKJM (or is it supposed to be FKKM) Pastor Rasendrahasina, Ramaroson Hyppolite and some general have been captured by rebel soldiers and are being held at CAPSAT.
  • Marc Ravalomanana has given Prime Minister and Presidential power over the the loyal army (Ramaroson Hyppolite)
  • Andry Rajoelina was again declared the president.

That’s it for now. Check out the Crisis time line and the Rumours pages, I am compiling information there first before I post anything. So much for working today.

I declare that we start a national day of morning for when Madagascar’s democracy was lost by a megolmaniac terrorist DJ. Since it duals as St. Patrick’s day we can all drown our sorrows.

Self-Proclamation Does Not Equate To Legitimate Power

Update – Just as I thought, Ravalomanana called Rajoelina’s bluff, and he has flat out rejected the democratic way of giving the people want.  And again he states that “the people” have already spoken… really? You gave all of Madagascar to speak of what they want? Then he goes on to say in a ridiculous statement that he has 50 million (or billion not sure, but does it matter?) USD from foreign investors. Is that supposed to calm people?

Madagascar will be shunned by the international community if he ever takes power, I don’t know if he realizes it yet, but he doesn’t want to put himself in the kind of position where he has to explain why the people are suffering, especially because it is a direct result of his actions. “The People” will be furious with him in the coming days/months of decline if he does manage to “steal” power, because without the foreign investment and assistance Madagascar is in trouble and there will be no way out but to have a referendum. Marc has got you, you just don’t know it yet Andry.

Here is a quote from Ravalomanana via TopMada.com: “On Monday council of ministers, the Government confirmed the holding of the referendum to be held by an Independent Electoral Commission with the assistance of the international community and the United Nations. I will only stay in power if the people want,” said the president. “The people should not be bernée” he added referring to an opposition that wants to grab power “through the street.” The referendum is “the most democratic way possible (…) that’s the true democracy”.

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Watching the crisis over the last few days has been very frustrating would you say? There has been a lot of information to digest, but none of it is good (or so it appears, because we never can trust what we read or hear from there anymore). So I am going to use this blog post as a place to vent out all of my frustrations… here is my list:

  • Jacques Sylla showing up at May 13th and also stating that Andry Rajoelina is now the new president of the republic.
  • That we have heard nothing but misinformation from TGV and rarely anything from TIM, is there a media bias?
  • The TGV just stating de facto that the current government is not capable of running and therefore they are now governing.
  • That the TGV are constantly lying to people and misinforming everyone of the news to manipulate the public behaviour.
  • That TGV took out any non-TGV source of news by hijacking TVM and RNM.
  • That it has come to having an early election and that I have no faith in the elections being fair if they did take place.
  • That Andry Rajoelina can make up an imaginary title “High Authority of Transition” or HAT, and pretend like it is legitimate in allowing him to control the country. But also the fact that he promises elections within two years… probably just after he has time to change the constitution.

That is quite a list isn’t it? It’s not in any particular order other than how they came to mind. But lets start from the top:

Jacques Sylla

I wonder why he has come out of the woodwork (maybe he has been out of the woodwork for longer than I know, but still). He resigned as prime minister of Madagascar after Ravalomanana’s first term had ended around January 2007. Then he gets elected as president of the national assembly and is “associated” with the TIM party, though I don’t think it was by choice.

So why is he there all of the sudden? Was there some sort of fall out that caused the resignation? Is he just appearing because he thinks that he will end up on the winning side? Or is it because there was a very sweet back room offer for him to come out and tip the scales on perception of the government?

I guess, really, I don’t care why. I just detest the fact that he just comes right out and stated that Andry Rajoelina is the president of the republic “tsy misy vahaolana ankoatra ny fialan’ny filoha’ny repoblika”.  And also the fact that all of the TGV camp are stating that the government is now incapable of running with quotes such as this: “There is only one solution, the resignation of the head of state,” said Jacques Sylla. “As president of the national assembly, I have to recognize reality.” When did this reality happen? When you were brainwashed?

Media Bias

Now, this one here is my own perception of things and my opinion, but I know that there is a lot of people out there that agree with me. Lets start it of with a statement, where the hell is media coverage of the president! I have been going through article after article, video after video and at best, I hear a reference to the president. But most of the time I see that various publications are having phone interviews with Andry Rajoelina and various side-kicks. Most articles I have read seem to paint the president as finished in a broad sort of way, or if Ravalomanana is having a good day that he is doing something wrong. There is only one place where I have found information on the president (aside from his own website)… and that is by Malagasy person that uploads videos/audio to the net. You can find him/her (not sure which) at http://www.dailymotion.com/webmalagasy most of them are in Malagasy. Most of the media are great though, I have to give them that, I would just like more coverage of the “other” side of the story instead of tending towards Andry Rajoelina (I don’t blame them if they couldn’t get in touch obviously).

Self declaring government

I can’t really put my finger on why people would not be upset about the TGV just breaking into buildings, declaring (in their humble opinion) that the government cannot function and then stating that they are in control.  Here is a translated quote from Monja “The National Assembly, the Senate and the Government are currently unable to normally perform the functions which are reserved for him by the Constitution and which they are largely disputed by the whole of the population which does not recognize any more any legitimacy to them” Are they mad? Have they checked with the whole population? Sometimes in my head I relate this to a cartoon… maybe like Pinky and the Brain, where he is out for world domination and he is using some sort of mind control device that has people mindlessly following every move/command he makes. What could possibly make these people think that just saying and doing these things, now and all along makes them legitimate? Have people forgotten about elections and what they are for? Or that there are other people in Madagascar that may want a say in this? The TGV are like a gang, extorting and threatening their way to the top… and if that is the government you end up with it would be sad. I wanted to say that everyone will get their cummupins, but I thought that wouldn’t be fair considering that they will only end up being more miserable because of their non-elected government.

Lying, Threatening and Violence

I eluded to this above… and as I mentioned, the TGV are behaving like some sort of street gang, it’s like they control the streets (they probably do). They have and continue to do a lot of shady things, but I think the worst of it is just the general feeling that you have to watch everything you say when you go out to do your daily business, that you are not safe. I have read about it and have had it confirmed by my own family who had to run into a building to avoid being in the path of oncoming supporters. It is almost like Andry Rajoelina is a godfather type of gangster character, and some of his supporters are like the thugs that go out and break your leg if you didn’t pay back that loan you got from them.

Then there’s the lies and misinformation that people are constantly inundated with, it has obviously had a huge impact on the outcome of this coup. Yup, that’s right… coup. One of the things that is consistent with them is how they are always telling their supporters that everything they are doing is “for the people”. Was incitining them to loot, burn, pillage “for the people”? Prices have gone up like crazy as a result and there are fewer stores to buy from now. Was telling them that the presidential palace was “the people’s palace” for them as well? It is like one of those very annoying tag lines you see on a commercial or something that drives you mad… and what is more maddening is that it works. People are doing things they wouldn’t normally do because somehow he is empowering them with this nonsense. There are more “people” than just your crowd Andry Rajoelina… I bet you are going to break the constitution “for the people” too.

Taking control of other media

This is just a very unhappy end to the above point, now the poor Malagasy people have nothing to watch or listen to because it is all controlled by TGV. TGV hijacked TVM and RNM and are now broadcasting their propaganda over their airwaves as well. It has been confirmed that at least TVM is clearly biased towards TVM… but you would think they both would be if they were just taken over. I absolutely despise their strategy,  but unfortunately it is turning out to be effective both for programming their supporters, but also for excuses to do things… kinda like the excuse “weapons of mass destruction”.

The referendum

I think this is smart, but sad at the same time. Smart because this could possibly expose TGV for what it really is, a criminal organization (because if you send people to die, loot, break into government buildings, steal radio and TV networks and threaten newspapers… shouldn’t you be called a criminal organization?). It is a trap basically because it will do three things:

  1. Will provide for a democratic means of solving the problem. If  the people (meaning all people everywhere in Madagascar, not just Antananarivo) want TGV, then they will get them. At least someone is doing something “for the people” right?
  2. Because Andry Rajoelina is not 40, he cannot possibly be elected, someone else will have to be. It would be against the constitution to elect Andry Rajoelina… he could not participate.
  3. Shows a willingness of the incumbent government to go to a democratic method of resolving the crisis. This will obviously come with International support so denying this process would seriously affect TGV (not that it wouldn’t already).

I suspect that Andry Rajoelina will never agree to this because of #2 and will want to continue to push for Ravalomanana’s resignation… he is more likely to find a way to take Ravalomanana out than to agree to lose his nice little HAT position. But even if there were elections, who really thinks that they would be free of tampering? TGV would go out of their way to either threaten or coerce people to vote for them, or just plain cheat. And… to top it all off… even if Ravalomanana was elected a 3rd time, they would contest the results, saying they are invalid and would call for a rally because the vote was rigged. I truly believe they want to get to power just by walking into the government building and stating they are the government. And with people like that, who knows what would happen to the constitution and the country.

HAT

And if we didn’t go to a referendum and somehow Andry Rajoelina became the HAT of the country (as if that is supposed to = president)? He is basically violating the constitution by being in power, and who here believes that he would call an election in 2 years, raise you hand! I don’t… I think the first order of business would be to change the constitution to allow for him to be there. Either that, or he would make some excuses to postpone the elections, probably something to do with money and people being poor… why not? It has worked well for him up to this point right?

OK… I do have to sleep, and I am approaching 2000 words, but hey, I have WAY too much to say.

Anyway… let’s hope that nothing violent happens tomorrow and that we all just head into another election over there. OK, who am I kidding… I don’t even believe that. I am sure something bad will happen tomorrow, I don’t have any faith at all that TGV will ever accept a referendum, so they will have to approach the president in another way.

Victims of Misinformation

I have been trying to keep the blog up to date as much as possible, but with the speed of the news that is coming out of Madagascar and lack of personal time, it has been hard to strike a balance. I have also been trying to come up with a timeline that I can put up somewhere on this website that will follow the events from start to finish in English. You might have noticed that there is a page called “Crisis Timeline” I am going to try and put the updates there starting from 01/26/09 to now…. there is a lot of information so I don’t have any idea how I am going to fit it all on one page without having to make people scroll forever.

As for the news, what can you say? On 03/11/09 we were all petrified that there was going to be a military takeover and that Madagascar could possibly end up falling into another form of military dictatorship, because of course, the first thing that people think about when thinking of military  rule is 26 years of Didier Ratsiraka. The good news is… there is no longer a 72 hour deadline. The bad news is… the deadline was cancelled by the “new” chief of the army Col. André Ndriarijaona because the former chief Gen. Edmond Rasolomahandry was forced to resign by the mutineering soldiers from CAPSAT.  This is a bad sign for 2 reasons:

  1. Normally the Chief of the General-Staff for the army is appointed by the president.
  2. So, if the new Chief is not chosen by the president and does not take orders from the government, then who do they take their orders from?

So far, media has reported that the commanders of nine military barracks in Antananarivo have joined forces with some 600 rebel troops of the CAPSAT. Clearly from the statement that they “follow their hearts” and the fact that some soldiers have been seen using the TGV “peace” symbol that at least some of them are aligned TGV. It seems are being toyed and TGV wants to make us question everything. An anonymous observer of the military situation states (TopMada.com): “To avoid panic and the worsening situation, it is very important that people are vigilant in relation to rumors and brainwashing (…) It must make a clear distinction between the ‘rebels’ and the army . The army is legalistic. She claims, but remains united to the side of the Gendarmerie and the Police to protect the population. The ‘rebels’ are composed of real and fake soldiers to overthrow the power, “. Could it be that they are just removing the appointed chief because of the 72 hour ultimatum and wish to keep their position neutral? Or could this new chief be someone appointed by the TGV? I guess we will never know until it is all over, but I would like to think that the military wanted to leave resolving the crisis to the politicians and the protection to them. I am certain though that TGV will do their best to misrepresent the military in order to trick everyone into thinking they control more of the military than they really do.

So was it just the TGV rebels that started forcing resignations? The resignations started with  Gen. Edmond Rasolomahandry, followed by Mamy Solofoniaina Ranaivoniarivo who just a month ago replaced Cecile Manorohanta as Defence Minister. Both men were held hostage by the mutineers until they had signed their resignations after which they were set free. Yesterday (03/12/09) there was a meeting between Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara and the opposition Prime Minister Roindefo Zafitsimivalo Monja and there were rumours that the army/rebels had surrounded the residence (not confirmed), but there were no details on the agenda or the outcome of that meeting. This morning the mutineering military submitted their demands to the president which included threatening undertones that harm would come to Marc Ravalomanana or his family should he not step down. Col. Noel Rakotonandrasa (part of the mutinied military) was quoted today as saying “For sure there will be no resistance. But if there is any, there’s other solutions we can discuss with the presidential guard. We want the president to go, so he should resign at once.”. This and the armies/rebels demands have now prompted fears of  that the mutineering military will attempt to assassinate Marc Ravalomanana or his family. Marc Ravalomanana acknowledges as much in the same article by stating “My assassination would not be in your interest. The people would suffer, and the international community would not accept it. Once again, I call on the army and the forces of order to remain united, and remain neutral.”

At the moment it is really unclear how much of the military is now following Col. André Ndriarijaona as it is very hard with the media in Madagascar to tell what is true and what is not. One could speculate that there may be a good part of army and police force now under his control since Ravalomanana and pro-TIM radio stations have called upon supporters for the protection of the ministries as well as the presidential palace. But it will probably turn out to be an illusion that was fabricated by TGV and media to make it seem to everyone that they have full control. There was an interesting press kit that was just released today by AllAfrica.com that states this as background for the crisis:

“For over two months, the movement led by the former mayor of the capital, Andry Rajoelina, has been grinding the country to a stand-still, refusing to dialogue unless the President resigns, calling all citizens to strikes, encouraging looting and violence. His supporters have sent threats to Ministers, senators, deputies, military and police officers, schools, and businesses to the individuals and their families. Mr Rajoelina’s private radio station, Viva, has been broadcasting propaganda, threatening anyone who might resist their movement and inciting the army to insurgency. After each rally organised by the movement, shops were looted and burnt, the house of an advisor to the President was pillaged and set alight. Andry Rajoelina proclaimed himself President of the “High Authority for Transition”, began naming his “own” Prime Minister and Ministers, and ordered all civil servants to follow his command. He called for his supporters to storm the Ministries, four of which were broken into by his supporters, who were later removed by the legal armed forces. The former mayor continued to ask for the President to step down, refusing to negotiate, even though the President repeatedly agreed to dialogue.”

It does sound very biased, but if you think about it, most of the information there is true. There have been many fires, break ins, looting and propaganda ever since TGV movement had begun. You hear stories about people being afraid of voicing any sort of political opinion for fear of their life, and just recently 5 of the publications in Madagascar have stopped publishing their news because of threats against their buildings and reporters.

The real problem is the consequences of what Andry Rajoelina is doing and has done. We have already seen the enourmous loss of life, jobs, and personal property that are a direct result of TGV rallies. As recently reported, there was hundreds of millions of Ariary in damages, and it is going to take quite some time before any of the buildings that were destroyed will be rebuilt, if they are going to be rebuilt. The tourism industry is in dire straights, and there is no telling how much of the industry will remain or if people will be comfortable travelling to Madagascar after the crisis is over. Foreign investment will surely be scaled back, and depending on the outcome of the crisis could be significantly less. But the absolute worst part about all of what Andry Rajoelina is doing is that it is being done in a non-democratic way. There is absolutely no way the rest of the world would ever support a non-elected government that was forced upon the Malagasy. There have been statements from the EU/AU/Vatican and pretty much everyone else that will condemn this, and would not contribute another dollar to help Madagascar. Without this money, Madagascar is going to either be in a complete standstill in terms of progress, or worse, will start to rapidly decline. If he was so concerned about the poor people he would not be moving forward in an anti-democratic way to take control of the country, he would leave it to people across the country to elect him or the next president in 2011.

I have found some interesting articles that you might want to take a look at here:

Madagascar, Mired in Poverty, Lures Exxon Oil Search

Millennium Challenge Corporation

Why Madagascar is poor