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:
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.