Free pass

So I was looking around the internet today to find out what has happened in the crisis since I have been busy as of late. Big surprise, I found a few articles that spurred me into actually writing a blog post about them.

Most of the articles that I have found revolve around the decision of the SADC and AU along with others to remove their unofficial, but implied support for Marc Ravalomanana and instead ensure that they do not look like they are in support of either Marc Ravalomanana or Andry Rajoelina.

While this is the position that they should have emphasized from the beginning, I guess you could say that it is good to keep all the mediators and international bodies impartial. The obvious problem to this impartiality is that it provides Andry Rajoelina a free pass to continue running the country as he sees fit, without fear of SADC or any foreign forces coming to ouster him from his illegitmate position of power. It also sets a precident (though I am sure the precident was set a long time before this) that the AU/SADC will not interfere or stop any illegitimate government from taking power and will only condemn and attempt to discuss a solution out of any crisis.

I personally think that it is far from effective (it may be right, but not effective) and it has such a human cost to stay diplomatic. You have seen what kind of a toll the long and drawn out diplomatic efforts had in Zimbabwe (many lives lost and ruined economy). Now if you look at the ‘unity’ government that was proposed, it almost looks like Tsvangirai has very limited ability and Mugabe is essentially still in control of the country despite that fact that Tsvangirai could have won an election if it wasn’t rigged or people harrassed and tortured into supporting Mugabe.

It would appear that all you have to do if you want to rule an African country of any kind is to start a coup, take over the government and refuse to co-operate with the AU and SADC. This will in-turn lead to endless so called ‘negotiations’, the leader of the coup can remain in control and have the upper hand at the negotiations bargaining table. Here my version of the SADC/AU/EU/US crisis procedure:

  • Condemnation
  • Removal of country membership from trading groups… etc.
  • Stop the non-humanitarian aid to the country
  • Begin political negociations
  • Wait for the illegitimate government to give in

This is exactly the case for Andry Rajoelina… everyone that knows of this crisis is aware that the government took power in a coup d’etat and therefore is illegal. It’s the same thing time and time again… the key thing, and the only thing that has major impact on the illegal government is the stoppage of non-humanitarian aid. It is key because this is the only ‘real’ pressure that could possibly cause an illegitimate government to agree to any terms outlined in a negotiation or to fall. There is no other reason, especially now, that Andry Rajoelina would need compromise on anything put forth by the AU, actually there is barely a reason to even participate. He can now send delegates to listen to the negotiations, draw out time, and then pull out of them completely again so we repeat the same process only with a different AU negotiator. The absolute only time that Andry Rajoelina would agree with anything put forth by the AU is if money is completely dry or some other threat is posed to their government, only as a cry for help essentially. I am sure that Rajoelina can make deals with people who could care less about the legitimacy of his government and just want access to Madagascar’s vast resources. We have already seen the Saudi’s (if that was even real) talk about investing… there is no reason why any other country or individual could not. There are many ways that Rajoelina can keep his government afloat (perhaps misusing humanitarian aid??), so what does he really have to worry about? Here are some excerpts from articles that almost highlight this fact:

Madagascar’s transitional authority has given a cool response to a call by Southern African leaders to speed up negotiations aimed at ending its three month-old political crisis.

«Dialogue is not a problem,» Monja Roindefo, the man Rajoelina calls his prime minister, told The Associated Press late Sunday. «The problem is when, under the pretext of international mediation, you force one party to accept the unacceptable.
Roindefo did not explicitly rule out further talks. No date has been set for resuming negotiations.

«Whether the negotiations are between heads of state or their deputies is of little importance,» Roindefo said. «What is most important is to see whether the talks reflect the change the people want, whether it reflects the democratic advances toward a new constitutional order.

Of course the transitional authority gives a cool response to SADC call for ending the crisis… all of the incentive to end the crisis are gone! There are no troops coming, there are no additional amounts of money being taken away from them… they can just continue doing what they are doing.

Poor Marc Ravalomanana though, he has lost almost all avenues of returning to Madagascar, short of hiring a mercenary army bigger than the Malagasy army with his own money. It is an interesting contrast to see an article from before:

“I trust Sadc (Southern African Development Community) and the AU (African Union) will help me to return to Madagascar,”

He maintains that he is still the lawful president of Madagascar and that he retains the loyalty of all but a small fraction of the military. “Right now they are split,” he said. “I didn’t want bloodshed in Madagascar, that’s why I didn’t order the military to fight each other.”

Mr. Ravalomanana scoffed when asked if he had spoken to Mr. Rajoelina since the coup. “Why?” he asked. “He’s crazy. He has destroyed Madagascar.”

To now:

“I welcome the Southern African Development Community’s decision to intensify and expedite its efforts to restore constitutional order and democratic rule in Madagascar,” Ravalomanana said.

As if Marc Ravalomanana has any choice now but to welcome the decision. He seemed to have people backing him throughout the crisis, but perhaps that was always an illusion. It is very clear now that there isn’t anyone but the legalist protesting in Madagascar that now back Marc Ravalomanana’s return, which is sad. What choice do legitmiately elected officials have when they are overthrown by a coup? Apparently none according to the AU/SADC, they just have to stay in a foreign country and wait for something dramatic to happen. All the while the illegal government erases and degrades their home country and all they can do is sit and watch helplessly as it happens.

Where does it go from here? Most likely another year’s worth of failed negotiations. Andry Rajoelina has just recently paid the promised raise to the military, so we can’t expect that they will overthrow the HAT. As I mentioned before, we can’t count on the AU/SADC to propose anything but negotiations, and at this point it is solely up to Andry Rajoelina to participate in them or not. There really isn’t any consequence to him or his government if he chooses to ignore them completely, so it looks like the HAT now has full control.

Having said that he has full control now, some of the stuff that he has been doing as of late doesn’t seem to make sense:

Madagascar’s transitional authorities have beefed up security across the crisis-hit island ahead of the national day and following a string of bomb alerts, security officials told AFP Monday.

“The three main branches of the security apparatus have been mobilised — around 30,000 people — and the 22 provincial heads are encouraged to sensitise the population,” Brigadier General Claude Ravalomanana said.

Madagascar’s president said in comments published Tuesday the man he ousted as the country’s leader was planning a coup in a bid to come back to power.

“Today there are people who are thirsty for power,” Rajoelina told French RFI radio in an interview recorded on Friday. RFI released written excerpts of the interview, which is due to be broadcast Thursday.

“There are people who are even ready to come and retake power with mercenaries. Everyone is talking about it. And that is what Mr Ravalomanana is doing,” Rajoelina said.

Ravalomanana is planning to perform a coup on an illegal coup government eh? I am not sure how that works, but so far, it appears that Ravalomanana is out of options and that he is resigning himself to accepting the AU/SADC decision. So how and why would he want to fund a military operation in Madagascar to restore him to power? It’s not like he can hire a special team of commandoes to go into Madagascar and take care of business, his hands are basically tied. Any action on Ravalomanana’s part to attempt to take back power by force would be condemned by the AU/SADC/US/EU, so if he were to do it and start a civil war, he would be no better than Rajoelina in the eyes of the international community. As sad as it is to say, Ravalomanana has hit a brick wall and will not be returning to Madagascar until Andry Rajoelina has been ousted.

I am not sure what kind of an impact this will have on the legalist movement, I suspect that the prospect of him not returning will have little impact. There are more than enough people that are unhappy with the current government, so as long as there is that sentiment, the legalist movement will continue to flourish. The only thing I guess we have to worry about now in Madagascar is for complacency to kick in… what will happen when the legalist decide that it is not worth their while to protest daily? If/when that happens, the HAT stranglehold on the country will be complete as it will imply that people are content with their new president.

All the news in the last few weeks have been nothing but disappointing… now we can only sit back and wish for a change. All the negotiations and talk are only going to prolong the crisis and make all the Malagasy suffer with the rapidly rising cost of living. Yet another sad set of days for Madagascar!

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