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!