SADC/COMESA to oust Andry Rajoelina?

Sorry guys, have been very busy the last week and haven’t had time to post anything at all until now. It is suprising though, because over the span of a typical 10 days you wouldn’t expect much to happen other than the regular cycle of negotiations and demands. The past 10 days have been different as we have had:

  • Manandafy Rakotonirina cut off from all forms of communications.
  • A completely made up sentence for Marc Ravalomanana by a HAT judge to keep him out of Madagascar.
  • Legalists stating that they expect Marc Ravalomanana’s return by June 26th
  • 19 countries in COMESA supporting the return of Marc Ravalomanana by force if necessary.
  • 10 billion Ariary recovered from the sale of TIKO stocks??? (hardly makes sense to me)
  • HAT making up reasons not to allow either Marc Ravalomanana or Didier Ratsiraka back into Madagascar.

But before we get into all of that, I thought it would be interesting to post some links related to Andry Rajoelina’s fabulous birthday trip (which included the hijacking to make a pit stop in Dakar).

Here is an article from MyDago on the ‘fabulous life of a putschist: http://mydago.com/2009/05/pilier-nord-langoustes-et-crustaces/

It is a french article that basically runs through how nicely Andry Rajoelina took advantage of his current status to fly off to Paris to celebrate his 35th birthday (as I am writing, just found out that mydago.com is down until 06/13/09… here is a cached link)

So one of the reasons why he turned the Air Madagascar flight on 28 May, is one of the reasons for which he has taken hostage the passengers of the plane, is one of the reasons that these passengers were forced to suffer for twelve hours waiting and flying over on Thursday 28 May 2009: to pay for a royal birthday dinner at the Eiffel Tower!

The other is a link to the actual response of the captain of the Air Madagascar flight that was diverted to Dakar at the whim of Andry Rajoelina via l’express Mada (also french): http://www.lexpressmada.com/display.php?p=display&id=26853. Apparently, the pilot is a staunch supporter of Andry Rajoelina and will not have anyone speaking badly of his president:

The commander who has 20 000 hours of flights to his credit and 23-year career with Air Madagascar, does not hesitate to put  to explain his decision. “We are working with the HAT and give him our support. We even have a social project that we will submit to the Government to advance the country, “he says.

With patriotic support he warranted a call to order to a foreign passenger who had dared to “insult” the president of the HAT when descending  the aircraft to Dakar. “I have never allowed and will never allow a foreigner to speak ill of my president and my country,” says Toto Alphonse.

Just thought I would share those little tidbits as I thought it was interesting that the new self imposed leader of Madagascar would choose to celebrate his birthday in France rather than his own country, knowing how that might look to the people of Madagascar. Rajoelina and the HAT government raked Marc Ravalomanana over the coals for buying a private jet to do presidential business but Rajoelina thinks it is more appropriate to take control of a passenger aircraft to do his government business before continuing to Paris for his birthday dinner.  That’s what the private jet was for! The only thing that could have made this story more funny is if he had taken Force One to do his little visit and then go onto Paris… apparently they still have it and are trying to sell it (according to Sobika on 05/30/09):

In 0100 still the minister of transport, the sale of Force One is currently underway.  The price is set at more than $ 60 million

Anyway… now onto the news:

Manandafy Rakotonirina cut off from communicating:

There wasn’t much press on this, but I would suppose it would be difficult to confirm as he would be hard to get a hold of. But this seems to be part of a growing trend (I don’t know if you would call it that as they have done this all along) of the HAT trying to suppress the voices and figures of their opposition.

There have been odd occurances as of late as well, primarily with TopMada.com. They were a very good source of news up until about the 3rd of June when any sign of an update disappeared. It is very suspicious and I doubt that they decided to take a vacation from news and do something else. Even before this, they previously had a timeline of the days events (a good one) and then for some reason they just went to a few stories per day. If you ask me, it smells of oppression and I bet that Andry Rajoelina’s “people” found  TopMada and detained everyone involved.

I think the HAT propaganda machine is firing up once again to try and convince people that Ravalomanana is bad for Madagascar. It would make sense for them I guess because in order for them to maintain their illegitimate power, they will have to demonize and criminalize Ravalomanana as much as possible so that the people will see that there is no one else but the HAT. This is why they had this bogus charge for spending money on Force One.  The HAT is systematically trying to dismantle everything that Ravalomanana had done for the country and would erase him from history if it was something that they could do.

Bogus charge against Ravalomanana

On June 3rd, 2009,  a Madagascar court found Marc Ravalomanana guilty of buying a private jet.

Justice Minister Christine Razanamahasoa told reporters it was for buying a presidential jet. The court also fined Mr Ravalomanana $70m (£42m).

Really? For buying a private jet? Most countries have ‘official’ methods of travel for their high ranking politicians, so I would think that it should not be out of the question for Marc Ravalomanana to have a private jet of some kind to travel all around Madagascar and to whatever foreign meetings that a president may have to attend. It just makes sense… would anyone want the representatives of their country to represent them arriving on a bus or via regular commercial flights? How would that make the country look? Andry Rajoelina already showed the world how it would look to take a commercial flight and essentially underlines why it is necessary for a president or government official to have his own method of transportation. And it’s not like former presidents haven’t spent money on worse things either, I am sure there are many examples of that.

Essentially, this ruling is a tool. It is a tool that will do a few things for the HAT:

  1. Allow them to demonize and criminalize Marc Ravalomanana. They are continually trying to portray Ravalomanana as a criminal to the eyes of the public, and making him a fugitive from the law (law of the HAT) helps.
  2. Refresh all of those negative feelings around the purchase of the jet. They are trying to anger the people upset about the purchase of the jet again and are trying to make it appear as if they are doing something about it.
  3. Makes it illegal for Marc Ravalomanana to enter Madagascar. The only thing that was stopping Ravalomanana from returning to Madagascar was fear for his life, there was no legitimate reason that the HAT could go after him. Since they have this bogus charge, they can now arrest him on sight, and lock him away for absolutely no reason.
  4. Flout the law. They can also use this as a way to try and portray Ravalomanana as a criminal to the international community, in the same way that the HAT flouted the decision of the HCC. Basically… that a ‘Malagasy’ authority has found Ravalomanana to be guilty, so it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say on the subject… the decision is legitimate.
  5. Remove Ravalomanana from negotiations. In addition to flouting the law, they will most likely try to use it as a tool to refuse to negotiate with Marc Ravalomanana. They most likely will also refuse to provide amnesty to the exiled polititions of 2002 as they are stating that this is a matter for the courts, and the courts only work as well as the HAT wishes them to.

Here are a few more articles on the subject:

Madagascar court sentences ex-leader in absentia (Reuters)

Jail term over jet scandal means nothing: Madagascar ex-leader (AFP)

Justice expéditive contre Marc Ravalomanana (Courrier International – FR)

It won’t be too long before the HAT tries to hold Ravalomanana responsible for everything that happened from January 26th to March 18th, 2009 I suspect.

19 countries in COMESA supporting the return of Marc Ravalomanana by force if necessary & Legalist expect return before June 26th.

This is the biggest story of the the past few months as it involves possible military action to remove Andry Rajoelina from power. COMESA a collection of 19 countries for a Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa stated that they should not condone unconstitutional change of governments and were mulling the possibility of military action:

“We welcome and agreed, as pronounced by the AU (African Union), to support SADC (Southern African Development Community) as they take a lead in efforts to restore constitutional order in Madagascar by examining all options, including the possibility of military intervention,” COMESA said.

“We can no longer be observers and protesters,”  Mugabe said.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday called on members to act against the “cancer” of conflict on the continent.“We can no longer be observers and protesters,” he said.

Does anyone else see the irony in Robert Mugabe calling on African members to remove the ‘cancer’ of conflict from the continent? Anyway, it looks like the AU will continue to make an example of Madagascar (and not of Zimbabwe) by authorizing the use of force to return Marc Ravalomanana to his post as president. And because they have been using Madagascar as an example of how the AU/SADC/COMESA will deal with illegal coups, I suspect that whatever they do, they will be throwing all of their weight behind it because they will want to create a standard response to the illegal governments that seem to plague Africa.

I am on the fence with this proposed solution simply because of the ramifications of a foreign force invading Madagascar to put the HAT out of it’s misery. Knowing the HAT, they will tear everything down with them on their way down and certainly, the HAT and CAPSAT are already preparing for the possible invasion. But the end result of all of this most certainly will be war, between the forces loyal to the HAT and the invading African forces. And when there is war you can never tell how long it will drag on, and you certainly don’t know what kind of casualties it will cause.

I don’t agree and never will agree with what the HAT does, and I would love nothing more than to see them removed from all their illegal posts and punished, but I am not so confident about this restoration of democracy by force.  The reason behind that is mostly fear… fear for my family in Madagascar and fear for the casualties and fear for the length of time it would take to force everything back the way it was before the HAT had come into being. But looking at the long list of failed negotiations, you could almost say that nothing would happen if you pursued peaceful means as well. So you can see why I would be on the fence about this decision… as there is no apparent ‘easy’ way out of the crisis… the only thing we do know for sure is that there would be less casualties if they were to continue discussions… but that would allow the HAT to ravage the Madagascar economy more and set itself up to continue governing the country.

Here are some more links related to the COMESA decision:

19 COMESA states to intervene militarily in Madagascar?

The defenders of legality expect Marc Ravalomanana’s return before June 26th

Comesa mulls military action

Comesa mulls miltary action (news 24)

Madagascar action ‘not advisable’

Mugabe orders invasion of Madagascar

10 billion Ariary recovered from the sale of TIKO stocks

I just have to mention this one because it makes absolutely no sense to me.

If TIKO was owned by Ravalomanana and was basically being forced out forced out of business by the HAT wouldn’t the stocks for the company would be worthless?

I don’t know what kind of market they are trading in, but I would think by this time TIKO would be a penny stock.  How they got 10 billion Ariary from selling TIKO stocks is beyond me. If I believed that it was true, then I would have to think that there is some sort of miraculous TIKO recovery coming if people are buying up the stock and generating 10 billion Ariary. But since I don’t believe a thing they say, I have a couple of questions:

  1. Where did they get the authority to sell stock of a non-government company?
  2. How did they convince anyone to buy stock in a crippled and practically dismantled company? Have the somehow convinced an investor that this is a good thing to do?

Actually I guess those are rheotorical questions since we all know that they are lying and are just trying to make up excuses to declare to the public that they have money and that they don’t need those international donors.

HAT making up reasons not to allow either Marc Ravalomanana or Didier Ratsiraka back into Madagascar

So, the last thing I wanted to touch on was the way in which the HAT has been behaving. Does it not look like the HAT is trying to lock all other political figures out of Madagascar? Its easy enough to see with the bogus charges laid against Marc Ravalomanana to make him a criminal to give them a reason to arrest him and keep Marc from returning. But the relationship that the HAT has had with AREMA seems to be straining.

In his inauguration speech he gave thanks to the exiled political prisoners and says that there will be amnesty for them. A little later, he releases some political prisoners and grants the prisoners and exiles a presidential pardon… but not amnesty. And for a few months after that, the political exiles have been practically begging the HAT to grant them amnesty so that they can operate the way that they once did, but it always seems to be delayed.

The amnesty is something that is within Andry Rajoelina’s power to grant (at least while he has power), but he insists that it is something that must be brought into negotiations and something that cannot be decided upon until June.  This doesn’t make sense, especially since they will be negotiating amnesty when they have already condemned Marc Ravalomanana who is also part of the negotiations (for how long who knows). So how long until the next delay?

I think the truth is starting to come out, and the HAT is trying to convince all of Madagascar that they are the only solution and that any other political figure is basically a criminal. And since the HAT’s opponents are not ‘legally’ allowed to return to Madagascar, there is no one strong enough that could stand against the HAT. Didier and Marc are big political figures that everyone can identify with… can anyone take their place? Not likely, the HAT would quash any opposition before they had a chance to say a word.

The HAT are going to have free and transparent elections… but only when all of their strongest opponents have been removed from the country.

I am not sure what is in store for the country… but I am sure that there will be action some time soon.  And as soon as you see reporting increase and foreign reporters arriving in Madagascar, you can be sure something will be happening.

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