Military Junta

It has been 6 days since my last post and so much has occurred since then that this will most likely end up being an enourmous read. But what has been happening since the HAT has banned public protests has been outrageous and incomprehensible. I have been shaking my head wondering how it is possible such a beautiful country to decline so rapidly for a reason I have yet to find. How could the closure of one radio station lead to such a travesty?

And what bugs me most about everything that has happened up to this point is the hypocracy of the HAT government. A government that forced itself into power standing for their freedom of speech, freedom of expression and to rally. Promising the people that if they placed him in power he would solve all of their financial problems and make sure that the government does not waste money on such things as an government jet.

Since the roles have been reversed and he is calling the shots, he has done the exact opposite of what he had promised and is not listening to people at all, behaving no differently than a dictator. Banning all rallies that oppose his government, using force consistently to disperse protesters, using false accusations to gain access to buildings, mines and to arrest people, and actually reversing their opinion on one of the key issues that had easily given them their popularity, the DAEWOO land deal:

“The project by itself wasn’t bad and such a project is welcome,” Andrianainarivelo said in an interview in the capital Antananarivo yesterday. “The approach was wrong,” he added, citing protests by local communities.

Everything they had stood for when they were rallying against Ravalomanana was a lie, and I hope the supporters of Andry TGV now understand what kind of a mistake they made by supporting him.

But the support from the people that TGV had was just window dressing, it was the army support that tipped everything over the top and you really have to wonder what kind of deal was made to make this terrorist government happen.  That is an issue that we need to get to the bottom of because it is the only thing that is keeping the HAT in office.

Clearly there is some form of monetary incentive for them to go against their superiors and rebel, as well as do things that an army typically would not do. The army it seems, at least lately, is a bigger problem than the HAT itself! In recent days the military has been seen dispersing crowds by force, hunting down and arresting protestors (and on occasion killing), senators, and soldiers or anyone that remains loyal to Marc Ravalomanana.  My family tells me that it is not really that safe to be outside in Madagascar anymore no matter who you are siding with as apparently they stop people on a whim. What kind of country do you have if the military is behaving in this manner? I think topmada.com which I haven’t read today, but only glanced at the front page has it right, Madagascar is being run by a military junta.

It is truly pathetic, and now along with the HAT, the going theme for the month is to arrest people as a matter of “national securitiy”. As if anyone in Madagascar now has any security with his government! There is no such thing as “national security”, there is only “HAT security” as he is only doing these things to try and prolong his stay as the High Authority of Transition… god… I still laugh out loud when I write that because of how absurd that title is. You have to laugh about the fact that the title itself is proof of the illegality of Andry Rajoelina’s postition… he thinks that just re-naming the presidency somehow makes it constitutional to do what he is doing.

But I digress… ever since they have been trying to clamp down on TIKO by raiding their trucks and re-opening foreign contracts they have been sending the military everywhere under the guise of protecting the national interest so they can search for supposed weapons and mercenaries. I don’t think anyone ever believed for a second that they were actually doing that, we all know that they have alterior motives to almost everything that they do. But recently because of the HCCs decision to reverse it’s endorsement to the legality of the HAT, they almost made it comical as to how bogus their excuses are for arresting people. When I read this article or this one,  I almost laughed. Right after they reverse the decision, the army heads over to the HCC. They first disperse the crowd and reporters by gunshot (in the air) and then continue on their merry way, you know, making the point that people and reporters are not welcome on the scene.  Then minutes later, after all the army has had a chance to go inside they suddenly have a change of heart and welcome everyone to the scene… and what do you know… there are weapons hidden in the HCC… how did they ever get there??? (sarcasm). Why do they even bother to make excuses anymore, seriously!

It is too little too late for the HCC though, I saw the story and was excited to see that they have finally decided to cross back over to the legal side of things. But what difference does it really make now? It would have made every bit of difference on 03/17 or 03/18 whenever the date was because there would have been no doubt about the illegality of the HAT. But now how would a decision from anyone change the government of Madagacar? Now the HAT and military are trying to cover up their oppression by using a Ravalomanana loyalist as a scape goat. Planting weapons and stating that Andrianandraina Ralitera was somehow behind Black Monday and is trying to destablize the country and “To discredit the transition regime”. Well, I don’t think the HAT needs any help discrediting themselves, they are doing a great job on their own.

Where do we go from here then? They can’t trust the military. They can’t trust the government. They can’t count on the government for help because the government can’t help itself. They can’t protest. They can’t speak out against the government. Their freedom is essentially gone and there is no international body that is helping them.

Mialy Andriamananjara wrote a great article on how the transitional government is trampling on freedom of speech and just how bad it is in Madagascar right now. You can read it here.

But in terms of help, it almots appears as though the international communities are softening their stance on Madagascar, and that is very concerning. There have been rumours and news articles stating that Andry Rajoelina has been invited to a UN conference in Brussels. Most people thought that it was a lie and it is just more grand standing being done by the HAT to try and alter perception. I hope it’s true, I really do not want to see him accepted by the international community because that would make all us members accomplices to what is going on over there. What is worse than this though is the SADC, the group that all legalists were pinning their hopes of salvation on. They have had 2 delegations visit Madagascar in the past week trying to “assess” the situation. But from some of the articles I am reading it sounds is if they along with the AU are softening their positions as well. Check out these alarming paragraphs from this article. The key to the paragraphs is that they are based on a press release issued by Andry Rajoelina… so it is most likely a lie. But if there are no results release to the international press by the SADC, what are we to think?

“The Madagascan transitional government said that the SADC, which left the country Tuesday afternoon, was satisfied with the efforts of the High Transitional Authority (HTA) to establish peace and democracy over the country.”

A press release issued by the HTA said that the SADC delegation, led by John Kunene, a political analyst under Defense ministry of Swaziland, held closed-door consultations with HTA cabinet director, Zazah Ramandimbiarison and foreign minister Ny Hasina Andriamanjato.”
The press release said that the SADC delegation was satisfied with the HTA efforts to seek consensus in the country, saying that SADC was willing to lend a helping hand to restore constitutional order in the island country.

As he told the transitional foreign minister Ny Hasina Andriamanjato last Saturday, Kunene reiterated that SADC had no intention to send armed troops to Madagascar, nor to help the outgoing president Marc Ravalomanana return home.

It took the media here by surprise that the SADC delegation, arrived here last Thursday, has not met the press during their 5-day stay in the country, though Kunene, the head of delegation, had promised to informed the media of the results of its visit.

The regional community seemed to soften its position on Rajoelina and his transitional government together with the African Union, which also suspended the membership of Madagascar.

The only good paragraph is :

All representatives of international and regional organizations based in Madagascar and partners of the country had been invited for the contact group meeting, main tasks of which were to prepare for an earlier national election.

So at least we will have early elections hopefully… but it doesn’t seem like we will have much else. And all the while we wait for political negotiations to occur and this conflict to come to an end, the rest of Madagascar suffers. There are 150,000 people that are suffering from malnutrition and drought in the south and on the coast there are 60,000 people that were affected by hurricane Jade. There are some articles here and here that discuss how the rest of Madagascar suffers. And because of the new HAT government donors are slow to help:

“Donors are waiting for the HAT [Higher Transitional Authority] to show that it is [honest], said Guy Ratrimoarivony, a retired General and Director of Strategic Seminars at the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in the capital, Antananarivo. Donor re-engagement would be easier if HAT showed a genuine commitment to holding fresh elections, “and as soon as possible”, he told IRIN.

I guess we all have to wait for a miracle, don’t we?

Terrorism reigns

I have been watching, but have not had time to comment on all the things that have happened since my last blog post… I can hardly believe that there is so much to write about in a matter of 4 days. And for some of the things, it seems like deja vue as they have  parallels to what has already happened since January 26th:

  • Marc Ravalomanana shut down VIVA, infuriating people and starting the daily demonstrations at May 13th.
  • Andry Rajoelina shuts down TVM and RNM, infuriating people and starting more aggressive demonstrations.
  • Marc Ravalomanana stops people from accessing May 13th square.
  • Andry Rajoelina stops people from accessing Ambohijatovo.

These are the only similarities, really, it is the way in which the Ravalomanana and Rajoelina handle public discontent that is very different.

Marc Ravalomanana knew when it was time to back away from a decision, especially if it would result in violence, and he tended to respect people and democracy.

Andry Rajoelina doesn’t seem to back away from any decision, regardless of whether or not it results in violence. We already know that he does not respect democracy by the simple act of not allowing people to vote for their new leader, but he is also trying to censor information, is installing his own people in place of elected officials to the head of almost every institution (regardless of what the public thinks), and is on a regular basis allowing acts of violence to transpire against the Malagasy people.

I guess you could say that the real difference is that Marc Ravalomanana cared about Madagascar and Andry Rajoelina doesnt. Marc may have been seen as cocky, or arrogant, but he never caused any problems for the people of Madagascar and most of the time he had the interests of the country in mind. Andry Rajoelina has only one thing in mind, keeping his power, and he has shown time and time again that he will stay the course regardless of what happens in the country.

And this is what scares me about Andry Rajoelina, that he is willing to do anything to carry out whatever evil plan he has in mind. It is ridiculous that in approximately 4 days the HAT has (from Sobika/TopMada/Twitter/Articles):

  • Closed down 2 radio/tv stations.
  • Banned public rallies
  • Stopping protests by force with:
    • 9 people died
    • 38 people injured
  • Have threatened doctors, according to Jose Andrianjatovo, Department head of the HJRA. It is suspected that the HAT are forcing the HJRA to not report the true casualties and is hiding bodies.
  • Dismissed and replaced four high ranking officials: the Prefect of police of Antananarivo, the Managing director of the BIANCO, the office which fights against corruption, the Managing director of the CIS, service of investigation and intelligence and the Managing director of the national police force.
  • Announced 19 new directors for the gendarmerie.
  • Ministry of Interior lied to the people to say the military had not fired on people at all.
  • Ministry of Environment lies and states that there has been no looting of rosewood since April 12th.
  • Has attempted to seize all bank accounts belonging to TIKO and Marc Ravalomanana.
  • Cause the Central bank to continue their strike because of threats against them and threats to use force.
  • Their new mayor of Fianarantsoa (Pety Rakotoniaina) states that “During the transition, the legalists have no right to speak”.
  • HAT PM lied stating that the legalists had guns and fired on the army/police first so they had to defend themselves.
  • Detaining executives of TELMA
  • According to the radio Fahazavana, 4 women were taken by the military and 4  pro-Ravalomanana deputies and senators including Senator Lanto Rabenantoandro, Henri Randrianjatovo were arrested in Ambanidia. Also 4 university students were taken as well.
  • Continue to hold Razily the student protestor that marched defiantly towards the army carrying a flag.
  • Accused legalists of having mercenaries, but have a 4×4 full of armed unidentified people giving police orders and chasing demonstrators.
  • Appointed 8 heads of regions in place of elected ones.
  • Caused taxis/buses to go on strike between Tana and Ivato due to threats.
  • Arrested 28 legalists.
  • Have blocked all entrances and exits at the HJRA with the army, controlling who goes in or out.
  • Andry Rajoelina announced the customs exemption of the sporting equipment.
  • Andry Rajoelina announced free 30 day visas to tourists.

This is unbelievable… and it just continues to get worse. I really don’t see the situation improving especially in light of all the censorship and oppression that the HAT government is putting on people. This will just be a catalyst for more violence because people are not going to allow themselves to be muzzled by the government. They will continue to rally and perhaps even riot because people and the country continue to get poorer with every passing day of a HAT government and because they have no one to turn to because they cannot trust the police, army or government. The more the HAT government tries to stop this from happening the more dire the situation will become… I am scared to see what is going to happen next. And if the riots don’t come from the oppression, they will most certainly come from desperation because if Andry Rajoelina thinks that free visas to a country run by terrorist or a custom exception for sporting equipment is going to save the country’s economy… then Madagascar is doomed.

Disappointed.

I can’t help but be dissapointed in the fact that there was no triumphant return this weekend for Marc Ravalomanana, despite the fact that it was not his fault.  I always thought that he would have to arrive in the country with a significant force in order to ensure that he is not captured and locked away (or worse) at the hands of the HAT. I must have gotten carried away with some sort of dream of Marc Ravalomanana arriving in Madagascar armed to the teeth with SADC military on a mission to remove all the corrupt CAPSAT military and put the HAT where they belong, in jail.

My first thought about him not appearing is that he had planned his return based on the fact that on fact that Andry Rajoelina at a press conference on April 16th the HAT said that they would not oppose the return of Marc Ravalomanana… perhaps because they had plans for him when he got there. Either way, it’s not like I seriously expected the HAT to allow Marc back into the country without any trouble. Now we are going to have to wait a few weeks… but for what I wonder, will he have a military backing the next time he comes back? From what I read in the news, he will probably need it, but I will touch on that later.

And as I suspected, they would use Marc and his former government as scape goats for the current financial trouble that they find themselves in. I don’t think I could think of a more lame excuse to arrest someone… yes HAT, it’s all Marc Ravalomanana’s fault that:

  • The HAT supporters burned and looted stores putting thousands out of work.
  • The harassed, then subsequently dismantled TIKO so that farmers would lose revenue and people would lose a valuable food necessity source.
  • The political turmoil caused by the their protests caused the tourism industry to dry up.
  • The HAT in itself is illegal causing most of the international community to cut funding to the country and start the discussion of sanctions.

Oh, I am sure there is a lot more to add to this list, but time is short for me, so I am going to leave it as is. It is not unusual for most governments around the world to blame the problems they face on the previous government, but in this case, I think the HAT has done far to much to Madagascar to get away with any finger pointing. Does anyone seriously believe that the HAT can just point a finger at Marc Ravalomanana and say “he did it…” and think that anyone would buy it? The fall out from this is all yours Andry Rajoelina, inevitably you and your government will never be able to run away from that. The only thing that Marc Ravalomanana is responsible for is the growth that was seen in the country since he has been president…. too bad that it was all taken away.

For now though, it looks like the people of Madagascar are in for more of the same from their corrupt army and corrupt government. As I eluded to above, it appears that the military is becoming hyperactive as they think that some “foreign force” or “mercenaries” are going to come and invade Madagascar. There was a statement on the April 18th, where they more or less stated that they are going to secure the whole territory for the month and that they will strongly defend the HAT (see the picture at the bottom of the post). And I am sure that their intent is really to “secure” the area. You know, it is pretty sad that almost everything that comes out of the news is completely unbelievable and almost always turns out to be a plan with alterior motives doesn’t it? As I am writing this I just had to stop and think, before I went on, that they are probably going to use this as an excuse to do something else. Who knows what that will be, but they have been too heavy handed with protestors, so it is unlikely that whatever they plan to do to “defend” the HAT will probably not be good.

And what of the economic crisis in Madagascar? Will their sole solution to their economic crisis be just a finger pointed at Marc Ravalomanana? Will it be their very weak and unrealistic solution to give all tourist “free visas” to visit Madagascar? Or perhaps it will be Monja Roindefo grovelling at the EU in Brussels on Wednesday to give them more money? I haven’t seen one single realistic solution to help Madagascar from them yet… especially since they just announced that they are going to be giving Tamatava a 1 Billion Ariary budget and will try to reduce the cost of taxi trips between Tamatave and neighboring cities. So… translated, that means that he is going to dump a lot of money that could be used elsewhere on a city and put the taxi drivers out of business because we all know how affordable gas and oil are.

Madagascar is a mess and it doesn’t look like it is going to be getting any better this year. From what I have been reading it almost seems as though the “solution” is to wait for an election… it is a disturbing trend that I am finding in more and more of the articles that I am reading. So… the question I guess now is, are we going to leave the poor people of Madagascar to live through 1 year under a terrorist government with little to no money? I certainly hope this is not what is going to happen, but the news, discussions, and everything else seems to be slowing down… I hope it is not a sign that it is true.

CAPSAT to defend the HAT (topmada)

CAPSAT to defend the HAT (topmada)

HAT economics 101

When going through the news for the last couple of days I could hardly believe my eyes at what I saw, and I had to re-read the information to make sure that I was actually seeing it.

Andry Rajoelina and his government made a statement on April 14th that they are going to revive the economy in only 6 months and guarantee “self-sufficiency” in NATIONAL rice production in 2 or 3 years.  I couldn’t believe someone would make such a bold and very stupid statement regarding the economy. Then they go on to hint that they are moving back towards nationalization stating that they are going to make the country self-sufficient in rice production? Is there not a vast amount of rice farming occurring in Madagascar? Wasn’t TIKO a big part of providing rice to the populace? I fail to see how Madagascar is not currently self-sufficient, perhaps I am missing information, but this statement does not make any sense to me, because people were enjoying their rice just fine before Andry Rajoelina came along. And it is almost as if they think that people don’t know how they are going to achieve this “self-sufficiency”… they have pretty much already stated it on the news! TIKO may owe taxes and it may not, who knows, but 26 billion Ariary for 2 years? That’s real believable HAT… it is an incredible number for any business in Madagascar, but it also makes for a perfect excuse to for the  seizure of all of TIKO’s assets. It is even more believable when you hear rumours that the HAT is also seizing products, bank accounts of companies and personal accounts of shareholders. I am sure after the seizure, you can expect that they will eventually start production again at all the TIKO factories, the products will just be re-branded under a name that pleases Andry Rajoelina.

But wait… theres more!

If you thought that last bit of information was unbelievable, wait until you hear about how they plan to re-fill the state coffers! In a statement today, reported  by Midi Madigaskara, Andry Rajoelina and his government plan on cutting civil budgets and increasing taxes! Andry Rajoelina spent months crusading for the poor, promising that he is going to help each and every one of them and then he and his government make a decision that will inevitably cause a rise in prices in virtually everything. Brilliant! Not only have the HAT facilitated the destruction of many businesses in the various occurrances of looting (which he has still not re-imbursed the businesses as promised) and dismantled the only affordable, high quality food producer in Madagascar, but now they are going to cause more businesses to close and punish the people who already cannot afford the basic necessities! Where did the HAT learn economics? There is a global recession all around the world now, do you see anyone else in the world raising taxes? It hardly makes sense for a developing country to raise taxes in a global and local economic recession… they need to go back to school!

This HAT government is ridiculous and seriously should step down if indeed it’s interests are what is best for the poor (which is something I am pretty sure that no one believes at this point). There is no “feasible” way that this HAT government could ever succeed and if they are determined to cling to power it is only going to hurt Madagascar more. It is obvious that they are desperate for money and will do anything necessary to obtain the money they need to function, whether it is legal or not and regardless of its consequences. It goes to show you how badly a self-imposed government can be when they want to stay in power and there is no one that will co-operate with them. They really should have taken up Marc Ravalomanana’s offer to hold a referendum because that was their only opportunity to have a “democratic” government, not the illegal one that they are trying so very hard to maintain. If they were as popular as they think they are, then I am sure he would be legally elected and have the co-operation of all other democratic countries… but they most likely took this route because the knew they wouldn’t win. After all, in a lot of places outside of Antananarivo,  most people don’t have a clue who Andry Rajoelina is so it would be doubtful they would have voted for him. So, as far as I am concerned, the HAT government is just a mortally animal that refuses to die, but should be put it out of it’s misery.

I guess what this all comes down to now, or at least for the near future is what happens when Marc Ravalomanana comes back to Madagascar, which is rumoured to be this Saturday at a rally in Ambohijatovo. Will he come flying into the country accompanied by SADC troops? Or will he be alone? One thing is for sure, the HAT will be looking to put him in a jail cell as quick as possible and try and hold him accountable for all of the economic troubles they are facing, so he better not be coming back without any protection. I tend to think that since Marc Ravalomanana has been in Africa for this long, and has been talking with so many African nations that he must have some sort of master plan. I guess it doesn’t make sense to think that he wouldn’t because it wouldn’t do anyone good if he just showed up to speak and was arrested, he couldn’t be that stupid. So… who or what will be coming with him? And what will happen in Madagascar on Saturday?

One thing is for sure though… my father in-law will be furious that Johnny Halliday will not be coming to Madagascar!

Return of the ex-presidents

Don’t you find it amazing that a crisis that had initially started out with only 2 parties, TIM and TGV now has four? How did this happen?

I am not sure for how long, but the AU and UN have been holding talks between envoys of Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana to try and discuss a possible end to the crisis. This makes sense, though judging from the previous rounds of talks between Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana this will most likely be an exercise in futility. But what doesn’t make sense is why we now have Albert Zafy and envoys for Didier Ratsiraka at the table. I thought this discussion was for a possible end to the crisis in Madagascar? How exactly does introducing new parties into the negotiations help matters? Well, it doesn’t… some might say that they are their because they will form some sort of other “transitional government”, which is probably true to an extent, but I highly doubt that they have even gotten that far in the talks so it is irrelevant. How can you hope to discuss peace and establish conditions for crisis resolution when you have 2 other people adding to the complexity of the talks with their own conditions and agendas?

Well, you can’t… because it doesn’t make sense. How can you trust this dialog will  go anywhere when you are trying to negotiate with 3 opposing parties? How did they even become involved in these talks? You might want to point a finger at both Andry Rajoelina and the UN envoy that is conducting the talks. There is an article here that points out that the UN envoy may not be trustworthy as he has already assisted Andry Rajoelina by providing him with sanctuary when he was to be arrested. But it also appears that the envoy of the AU could be a problem as well as he is married to a Malagasy woman close to the family of Pascal Rakotomavo, former Prime Minister of Ratsiraka and supporter Andry Rajoelina.

If this information has any credibility, it could mean that the UN and AU envoys are in the pocket of Andry Rajoelina or Didier Ratsiraka in which case all is lost. Especially since the envoy for Marc Ravalomanana have left discussions because  “it was a dialogue of the deaf”. This seems to be a very clever way to do one of three things:

  1. Provide more legitimacy for Andry Rajoelina.
  2. Provide talks of a new transitional government with all remaining parties and re-introduce one of the two ex-presidents as interim President.
  3. Discredit Marc Ravalomanana in front of the international community for walking out on negotiations.

If these parties are taking part in transparent/independent  “democratic negotiations”, despite the fact that all parties involved could possibly be corrupt (a fact that most people wouldn’t know anyway), then everyone will look as though they are striving towards a common democratic goal… everyone except Marc Ravalomanana. If we go back a bit on some theories that I share with a lot of people regarding Andry Rajoelina being a puppet of Didier Ratsiraka then you can see the makings of a very clever, but dirty underhanded plan (or conspiracy theory). Andry Rajoelina’s government has never gained recognition outside of Madagascar, so it is essentially illegal. His government has been going out of its way to free “political” prisoners, freeing up the return of the AREMA party and they have been systematically replacing people in high positions and repressing any dissent. So… if they were to work towards a “transitional government” or even a permanent one, what better way to do it than through the use of a temporary illegal one? Since it is only temporary it can force people to do what they want initially and pave the way for another more permanent government and since it is illegal it has to be replaced. Now that Marc Ravalomanana’s envoy has left the discussion I have no doubts in my mind that all the remaining parties will continue to talk and will eventually come to an agreement. Then, I would say that it is “mission accomplished” for whomever is behind all of this because now they have taken away any possibility of external assistance from Marc Ravalomanana because the solution was born of the UN/AU and political parties. Then you will either have the HAT stay on as “transitional government” or have Albert Zafy lead a new transitional government. And finally you will see an election where you will have Albert Zafy (possibly) and either Didier Ratsiraka or Pierrot Rajaonarivelo among others running for president with Marc Ravalomanana remaining an outlaw from his own country.

I hope that makes sense, but at the same time I hope that I am completely wrong.  There is nothing that infuriates me more than to see corruption spread itself so far that there is no possibility for truth and democracy. This whole thing is starting to appear as some sort of enourmous well thought out master plan that I hope never succeeds.  I guess we will see what next week brings.

Just for reference, I have tried to pluck all of the announcements/policies/actions made by the HAT in list form so it is easily viewed (in no particular order):

  • 22 region heads have been dismissed by HAT
  • Ndriarijaona gave an ultimatum to the ex-presidential guard to join them or be deserters.
  • HAT interim health minister and Telecommunications, Andriamananoro Augustine, tries to replace head of Befelatanana, Paul Rajaonarivelo, who has been at this post for 35 years. Andriamananoro Augustine faces strike and revolt when trying to replace him with a general practitioner, Dr. Dolores Rasolofiakarana, and states that they violate the ethics of law and medicine.
  • HAT education minister has replaced the headmaster of Lycée Moderne d’Ampefiloha, Nirina Razafindralambo, with their own headmaster. The previous headmaster was taken from the school and his whereabouts is unknown though it is suspected he is being held by CAPSAT.
  • Employees of Central bank went on strike when Monja Roindefo and HAT government attempt to impose their own rules on the bank.
  • HAT installs Pety Rakotoniaina, criminal, as mayor of Fianarantsoa. He was jailed for 12 years of hard labor for robbery, conspiracy and attempted coup with General Andrianafidisoa.
  • HAT plans to install new mayor in Toamasina.
  • Alain ANDRIAMISEZA a leading pro-legalist was arrested yesterday because of his vision of democracy, and that they were able to show for two months and the legalistic demonstrated peacefully for a week. He also pointed out that during their demonstration, there has been no vandalism or looting, or buildings burned.
  • Army/police have harrassed and incarcerated bloggers and journalists, forcing them to delete all photos taken at the site of confrontation with the police/army 03-30. They have used tear gas every day there was a rally and have open fire with live bullets on the crowd in a non-red zone.
  • HAT minister of security announces that any rallies require a permit from the AUC. Warning that organizers of the events are responsible before the law in case of overflow or acts of vandalism or damage of persons, private or public property. Gives a permit almost immediately to released criminals so they can occupy Ambohijatovo to prevent rallies.
  • HAT suspends parliament.
  • HAT removes Madagascar from SADC. The SADC represents a single market valued at $ 360 billion and 431 billion with the entry of Angola and the Congo. 15 countries are part of the SADC bloc including Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa and Mozambique. The objectives of SADC are the customs union in 2010, the common market in 2015 and the single currency in 2018.
  • HAT assigns a new headmaster to Lycée Jules Ferry.
  • MP William Rakoto went missing when pro-legalists were prevented from going to May 13th square.
  • HAT has military search mines and private businesses for weapons or mercenaries.
  • HAT is regularily commandeering TIKO trucks.
  • HAT has lowered wages and stripped benefits from civil workers
  • HATs finances depend on the sale of Force One, mysterious owed taxes from TIKO and the money that would come from the foreign contracts they are re-opening in hopes of obtaining extra money.
  • HAT has fired ambassadors abroad for not agreeing with their government.
  • HAT minister of education mandates that all learning is to be done in French rather than Malagasy.
  • HAT is going to draft a new constitution with it’s own rules once they have stacked government.
  • HAT has filled 10 of 11 seats of the HCC with its own members.
  • HAT appoints Ranary Robertson as the new Attorney General of the Supreme Court.
  • HAT gets almost all non-humanitarian aid suspsended to the country. France continues to support Madagascar and the EU supports Madagascar until their contract is up.

Remember, all of this was done in just 22 business days (5 days, Mon – Fri) of being in office.

A moment of silence for TIKO…

Tiko - Vita Malagasy

Tiko - Vita Malagasy

One of the worst things that can happen for the Malagasy people has happened, the closure of TIKO. I wanted to take a moment to perhaps go through some history of the company followed by the reasons that it closed.

The TIKO Story (in Short):

Almost everyone knows that TIKO when Ravalomanana (then in his early 20’s) and his wife Lalao began making home made yogurt and selling it off the back of a bicycle on the streets of Antananarivo.

Two years after the sale of their home made yogurt and with the assistance of the Protestant Church he secured a loan from the World Bank to purchase the first TIKO factory.

After the factory, TIKO became the largest non-foreign owned company in Madagascar selling oil and dairy products. The rest you could say is history.

Why it is closing:

According to a communique posted here on TopMada.com all the threats, lootings and hijackings, they are no longer able to continue operations. Here is the English version as posted on the site:

TIKO SA has been forced by the HAT and mutinous elements of the military to suspend our operations.

Against our wishes we are no longer able to provide shipments of our products to the people of Madagascar.

We are strongly opposed to this action but have no choice as the HAT has made it impossible for us to operate.

Over the past few months our employees have been threatened with force, our factories and offices have been searched and looted, and our raw material shipments have been hijacked at the port by the mutinous members of the military in coordination with the HAT. Unfortunately, our company has been forced to suspend its operations and cannot provide any essential food products to the people of Madagascar at this time.

We strongly disagree with this closure, especially at a time when people need essential food products the most. We are concerned about the possibility of this situation deteriorating into a humanitarian crisis.

We promise to the people of Madagascar that we will resume our operations as soon as it is possible to operate without intimidation directed against our employees, interference by mutinous troops, or theft of our goods.

TIKO GROUP

Who can blame them? These HAT threats are the same thing that brought down the government and what is trying to quash the hopes and voices of the people of Madagascar. Now because of Andry Rajoelina and the HAT, people lose access to the affordable, high quality Malagasy produced food at a time when the country has more or less fallen apart.  TIKO was the only product that people could depend on and it had the only good quality products that people could afford. Now what are the people to do? Rely expensive imports? Or worse, rely on cheap imports of unknown quality? There are very few other brands that are made in Madagascar and as well distributed as TIKO was, so it is very sad to see this happen. I found this quote on the net somewhere, and I thought it was applicable as to how far within the country TIKO had reached:

There were only two constants throughout the journey. The first was the green, blue and white “Tiko – vita Malagasy [Made in Madagascar]” signs plastered all over the towns and in at least one stall in every village.

Here is another article I have probably linked to before, but here is an article entitled “Ex-leader’s employees face uncertain future in Madagascar” That more or less states that Ravalomanana may have been rich and mixed business with politics, but he was one of the few Malagasy to invest massively in the country’s economy. Here are some good quotes from the article:

‘By destroying Ravalomanana’s wealth, Madagascans and Madagascar are being destroyed.’

Observers say Ravalomanana was among the few Madagascans to invest massively in the country’s economy – sometimes to the point of extravagance. Through Tiko, for example, he built Africa’s largest rice factory.

Today, Tiko employees say they face intimidation and threats because of their association with Ravalomanana’s business empire. They await their fate under the new regime with some trepidation.

Will TIKO re-open?

I am hopeful that it will, but it is obvious that so long as the HAT is in power it will remain closed. This is probably just the beginning of many closures because of the economic situation there and the loss of jobs since January 26th.  And now that TIKO has been closed, some how items have made it out of the factories without having been completely processed, so on top of losing TIKO there is a good chance that a lot of people that depend on the products are likely to get sick.

I will miss TIKO… on my travels there, there was not a day that went by that I didn’t have a coconut TIKO yogurt… Mmmm… or went to a restaurant or visited a house that didn’t serve Classiko, or waking up in the morning to have a fresh cup of orange/pineapple or guava juice. So I have had my little moment of silence for the loss of TIKO and hope that post-HAT there is a swift return.

Sick of the lies

Over the last few days I have been watching what is going on and it astounds me that more people have not joined the protests against the illegal government because if I was poor in Madagascar, I would be worried right about now.

This government has not been in power for even a month yet and they are already facing a severe budget crisis, which I am sure is mostly due to the fact that almost every government in the world has declared the government illegal. I also suspect that it is a direct result of the uprising and trouble they caused throughout the city with regarding food and goods.  So over the past little while we have been seeing announcements like these coming from the new Minister of Finance/TGV:

  • Cutting back on civil servant pay and benefits.
  • Announcing that the primary funds of the government involve the sale of Force One and some mysterious funds that TIKO owes apparently.
  • Announcing that they will be reviewing all foreign contracts.
  • Announcing that they will be removing Madagascar from the SADC.
  • Are heading straight towards sacntions from other countries, possibly starting with the AU.

And just think, this is all in less than a month! It is incredible how fragile the economic situation is, and the majority of it is due to the fact that they are an illegal government. I don’t really understand how they are going to be able to help the poor, as promised, when their financial situation is such a disaster. What is worse is that everything that they are doing now is serving to exasorbate the problem even further… they have put themselves so far from helping “the people” that sooner or later it is going to affect everyone if it hasn’t already. Under Ravalomanana, Madagascar had a fast growing GDP, I believe that just the last year it was something like 7%. How do they plan to increase GDP when they are shunned by most of the world and have lost access to certain markets because of this coup d’etat? They are absolutely crazy if they believe that they can make things better by not being able to participate in the world market.  I am wondering how much time or suffering it will take before people rise up against this new government, because as long as they are in power, progress in the country will be moving backwards.

Then there is the matter of Democracy… or lack thereof. Since the beginning of the upheaval, TGV has been preaching that they want a real democracy and freedom from a dictator.  Now it is absolutely apparent that this government does not have a real interest in democracy, though they had shown signs of it all along if you looked. Though they continue to act as if they are doing everything for “the people”, their actions show that they are really doing things for their own benefit so they can secure power. If you are Malagasy you have to ask yourself if you really want to have a man in power that has gained that power under the guise of leading a transitional government but has fully disclosed that he intends to alter the constitution to legitimize himself and remain president. That pretty much states that Andry Rajoelina and his government have little interest in democracy, hostage taking and holding people at gunpoint to sign legal documents also doesn’t hurt in demonstrating this. So over the last few weeks we have heard about what they have done, and I don’t think any of it sheds any sort of democratic light on them at all:

  • Have recently implemented an approval process making it illegal to demonstrate without a permit from their government offices. They state that the reason for this is to prevent mishaps that result from these rallies and hold organizers responsible for anything that does happen at the rallies. However, it appears that this law is not retroactive, and it also appears that they favour other groups by quickly granting an opposing group permission to protest.
  • Pro-Ravalomanana rallies have almost been taking place daily since March 23rd (I think), but there is not one day where the army/police have not fired tear gas at the protestors in an attempt to disrupt them.
  • One of the TGV government officials now states that May 13th square should be protected by all means necessary. This was proven recently when the army/police had fired live bullets into the demonstrators and manhandled a couple of people that attempted to take a stand. They fired on people in an area that is not a red zone, making this violence even more senseless than it already is.
  • The army is now conveniently raiding any business they please now under the premise that there are some sort of mercenaries or weaponry hiding within the business. They have raided Rio Tinto mines and pulled over some TIKO trucks, who knows what other places they have raided and what has happened to them.
  • The army/police are now detaining any journalist that is taking pictures or reporting on the happenings at police/army and demonstrator confrontations. There are many reports of the mandatory erasure of pictures (aka “proof”) of the misdeeds of the police/army.
  • They have wiped out the High Constitional court and have stacked 10 of the 11 seats with their own representatives.
  • They have recently installed their own mayor in a city, and the new mayor is one of the “political prisoners” they had released.
  • They had previously had their supporters burn down all national radio stations. They have also coerced them into broadcasting in ways that they had not previously in order to keep in business.
  • They replaced the headmaster of a school with their own selection after having difficulty arresting the previous headmaster for unknown reasons.
  • They have changed the language of learning in schools from Malagasy back to French, reversing some of Ravalomananas reforms
  • They have called for elections to happen 7 months after Parliamentary elections occur. This almost certainly allows them to stack the deck and guarantee that a member of their own party will be elected.
  • TGV supporters have been reportedly assaulting and robbing Pro-Ravalomanana supporters.

I am sure that the list goes on and on… but even if you took one of the points, it would be enough to show you the type of government that they are… the type that makes all their own rules for their own benefit and deal with dissention by use of force. It is absolutely incredible that the same people that occupied May 13th square for as long as they required now deem that it is illegal and are using force to prevent anyone from rallying there. The same group then takes away the rights of people to protest freely in a public place without approval from the HAT (which would no doubt be denied) with the excuse that it is to protect people and hold people responsible. It is incredible how hypocritical this government has become, especially since no one is going to be holding Andry Rajoelina responsible for the damage and deaths that his rallies had caused.

It is infuriating to sit here and watch them peel back democracy bit by bit and destroy the country, if they are allowed to stay then they will just decemate Madagascar. And if no one does anything to remove this illegal regime, then I fear that democracy in Madagascar will be lost for a very long time as I doubt that anyone could be trusted with elections if they stayed long enough. According to the news it seems you can’t even trust the military as they seem to be working for the highest bidder. This whole thing is criminal and I wish that there is some sort of force that could just go in there and sweep up all the baddies and provide the people with the choice that they were supposed to be given… which is, do you want Marc Ravalomanana to be your president, or someone else. Let the ballot box decide!