Madagascar has been abandonned

The news that is probably going to be all over the blogosphere today will be the ceasation of AU negotiations with politicians in Madagascar to work towards a democratic solution to the illegal government that currently occupies office in the country.

I was quite shocked when I read the article, and even to this moment am trying to make sense of the AU’s new stance because what is that really saying about the AU?

Here are some excerpts from a Reuters article:

“The international mediators have decided to take a break in their efforts,” Ouedraogo told reporters in the capital Antananarivo.

“We are not disengaging with Madagascar, nor abandoning the process. Our work remains the same: to find a long-lasting peaceful solution.”

“Any attempt to find a unilateral way out of the crisis by one or other of the movements will receive neither the backing nor the endorsement of the international community,” it read.

Ouedraogo and his U.N. counterpart were expected to leave Madagascar within the next few days.

If they aren’t disengaging or abandoning the process, then why would they be taking a break from it? There may not be any progress, but is that really a reason to disengage now? I was sure that the driving thought behind the negotiations were to continue to try to discuss a solution with all parties towards a peaceful, democratic solution.

How can the AU say they are not abandonning Madagascar when they do not provide a timeline for the break and also state that any attempt made outside of the now abandonned talks will not be endorsed? The AU is handing the country to the HAT indirectly and causing countless poor people to suffer because any money that comes into Madagascar is undoubtedly handled by the HAT government, so they will never see it.

None of us really believed that there would be any progress in the near future, but the fact that people were meeting and trying to negotiate meant that something was happening. Now what? Are we to expect that there will be elections as promised by the end of 2009? If there are elections by the end of the year, are we expecting them to be transparent? The AU and UN representatives are leaving Madagascar, who else will be departing now that the AU talks have ‘failed’?

If there is anyone than can be blamed for this, it can only be the AU. The very idea that being ‘inclusive’ means that we should include 2 additional past presidents in peace talks was ludicrous from the beginning! No one knows why they were involved, but we all know that they were the reason that talks had never gone anywhere. But the AUs insistence on including them in dialogue accounts for the complete lack of progress in resolving the current situation in Madagascar.

So are we or the people of Madagascar to believe that after this ‘break’ the AU will be coming back with the same urgency and prioty that it had before the break? Or even that they would come back from the break at all? I wouldn’t blame anyone at all for being skeptical of AU talks resuming as politicians tend to say one thing and do another. I personally think that this will become an excuse for the AU to drop the priority of the Madagascar coup down to relieve pressure on them from not resolving the coup. They are just waiting for the news stories to fade from the internet and from minds of people.

And why are talks suddenly ‘failed’ when the news all over the place yesterday were stating that there will be another meeting in Mozambique in early August:

In a communique issued after the consultative meeting, the contact group said the meeting, under the auspices of the AU, will take place under the leadership of former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, assisted by the mediation team of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the special envoys of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), the AU and the United Nations.

Chissano, the SADC mediator, “in close collaboration with the special envoys of the AU, the OIF and the UN, will work out modalities for a preparatory mission to Madagascar next week to facilitate the smooth and successful conduct of the meeting of the leaders of the Malagasy camps, and will liaise with all the Malagasy parties both within and outside Madagascar,” said the communique.

Are they actually cancelled? It sounds very peculiar that they are suddenly off… it almost makes me question the Reuters article that states that they are. Is there something going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of?

And what of the people of Madagacar? How would this affect them? The HAT is already running low on funding because practically all donor money has ceased (accounting for 70% of the funding for the country). And there are prospects of Madagascar being suspended from US AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act), which could completely devastate the Madagascar textile industry which is a $600 million a year industry (missed it in my last post):

“If that happens, no U.S. buyer will risk placing an order in Madagascar,” said John Hargreaves, acting head of the Madagascar Export Processing Zone Association (GEFP).

Half of the island’s 150 factories — employing 50,000 workers — supply major U.S. stores including Wal-Mart and Bloomingdale’s, and sports brands such as Puma and Adidas, according to industry observers.

The textile sector accounts for about 6.5-8 percent of Madagascar’s GDP, with almost half of textile exports destined for the United States.

“As you know, respect for the rule of law is a condition of eligibility outlined in the AGOA legislation,” wrote Florizelle Liser, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, in the letter seen by Reuters.

“In those cases where the President determines that a country no longer meets AGOA’s eligibility standards, that country’s eligibility for AGOA’s trade benefits is revoked effective January 1st of the following year.”

So if the HAT is broke, what is happening with people’s jobs? What is happening with private businesses? How will people cope with the massive losses that will no doubt occur so long as Rajoelina is in office? Madagascar is already poor and it’s people do not need things to be delayed or postponed… some were already having a hard time when things were good, I can’t imagine how they are doing now. Reminds me of some lyrics from a Linkin Park song (Hands held high):

“When the rich wage war it’s the poor who die”

If the AU is playing hard to get and is waiting for Rajoelina to come to them, now is not the time.

Oh… and I couldn’t end a blog post without mentioning that Andry Rajoelina has hijacked another plane. Its not really clear to me where the plane was going to, but apparently the passengers were suprised that they had to stop in Antananarivo for 90 minutes for a “technical problem of cooling the device.” The real reason of course is that Andry Rajoelina had to make an appointment in Tulear…. here is the article in French:

TGV diverting a plane

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