“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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