Why so fast?

There have been a great deal of changes that have happened in the last 6 days and a lot of them leave me scratching my head. Basically on October 1st, we left off with threats of not allowing mediators back into Madagascar and that Madagascar would remove itself from the SADC.  Since then, we have had:

  • There was a poll, where Roindefo says that 80% of the Malagasy people favour the new government. (Le Courier)
  • Roindefo states that the Maputo accord is not viable. (Reuters)
  • HAT government accused of profiting from the illegal logging of rosewood. (Reuters)
  • Rajoelina gives an address to the Malagasy people stating that he is going to follow Maputo and appoint a new PM in hopes to provide Madagascar with a president by the 50th anniversary of independence. (AFP: Google)
  • International powers stated that they do not support the power grab and that Rajoelina’s demands made no sense suggesting that they give him money or he won’t hold elections. (Reuters)
  • Rajoelina and Roindefo receive a suprise visit from a delegation of 40 people from the army to request that they take action to resolve the crisis urgently and they do so to avoid disorders. (Clicanoo – Reunion) and (Xinhua).
  • At a meeting at the Carlton in Tana, the 3 missing posts from the Maputo accord have been filled by Andry Rajoelina (President) Emmanuel Rakotovahiny (Vice President – Albert Zafy) Eugene Mangalaza (Prime Minister – Didier Ratsiraka). (Globe and Mail)

Is your head spinning? Mine is. How on earth did we go from having Rajoelina on a power trip to the UN to gain international recognition to Rajoelina actually becoming president and fulfilling the Maputo accord??? Something is definitely fishy about everything that has transpired in recent days, but I will be damned if I can put my finger on it.

Here are some of the things that I think may have contributed to the abrupt change in direction:

  • France intervened.
  • The army threatened.
  • Money

Monja Roindefo abandoned?

I am really having a hard time swallowing that Rajoelina would just accept the Maputo accord out of nowhere because he and Monja have been (at least up to this point) inseparable. At almost every turn in the past, you would see Rajoelina defend Roindefo and vice versa and on any political statement, they just seemed to be in sync.

But ever since ‘the incident’ at the UN, it seems as though Rajoelina has left Monja on his own. You can see from the articles on the first 2 points (above) and from my previous post that Monja seems to be towing the traditional party line by stating that everyone is happy with the status quo, threatening mediator visas, threatening to pull out of the SADC and finally stating that the Maputo accord is not viable.

But on the same day after Roindefo’s statements about the Maputo accord, Rajoelina makes the announcement that he is ready to honor the accord an appoint a PM and a VP from the various opposition parties.

“We will implement the agreements in Maputo (providing a temporary sharing of power and elections) if there is a written commitment from the international community to help us organize all elections, to suspend sanctions affecting Madagascar, and resume funding, “said Andry Rajoelina, president of the High Authority of Transition, citing the support of the European Union and World Bank.

“If everything is agreed, I am ready to listen to proposals from other spheres of influence and to appoint a Prime Minister acceptable to all,” he said.

Mr. Rajoelina said he “wanted the Malagasy people have a president for the 50th anniversary of Independence,” June 26, 2010, while agreements Maputo gave fifteen months to achieve this deadline.

How could Monja make all those statements and know that Rajoelina was going to say that? Clearly, the intent there is to dispose of him as PM… so this must have sideswiped Monja completely.

To prove it, here is Monja’s response to what occurred at the meeting on October 6th pretty must says it all:

The Prime Minister left the meeting room an hour after his arrival. “I’ll go eat,” he said to justify his early exit. He also refused to comment on his return to the meeting. But this time, his fate seems sealed. Since then he became quiet.

Is it France?

This is the part that doesn’t add up to me. Everything was going the regular TGV way, spreading rumours and misinformation all while trying to gain international recognition. Which is what they were trying to do when they showed up at the UN knowing full well that they are not recognized as the legal government… so why show up if not for the chance to gain international recognition for the government (or at least lie about it) and why try this stunt if you have any intention of accepting Maputo?

The UN general assembly was in late September (25/26) and it was reported that before going home Rajoelina was received in the Elysee Palace by Nicolas Sarkozy on September 28th

Yet external sources and on the net, we learn that the President of the NDT was received at the Elysee Palace this Monday, September 28 despite a busy official agenda of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Other sources later deny this information. True or false? No one knows! Previously Andry Rajoelina have also met with Admiral Didier Ratsiraka had already discussed with the emissary of the International Contact Group (ICG) Joachim Chissano and Tiebilé Drama.

All these information flows while in the country, Prime Minister Monja Roindefo hosted at the Palais de Mahazoarivo, French personalities presented as close to President Sarkozy and benefactors because they will make the communication of Madagascar to restore the prestige of the country and improve branding power up. The aim is to attract investors especially in the tourism sector in Nosy Be and in the South and quickly get millions of dollars as was done in his time, former Prime Minister Jacques Sylla.

Here is another blurb:

“Twice humiliated” in the words of Midi Madagasikara,Andry Rajoelina cut short his stay in New York to go to Paris accompanied by his Foreign Minister Ny Hasina Andriamanjato. “Launched in vain to conquer the international recognition without going through the implementation of agreements in Maputo, Rajoelina met in Paris, Admiral Didier Ratsiraka and the mediators of the International Contact Group (ICG), led by former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, provides Midi Madgasikara.

Then basically there was no news until Rajoelina’s announcement on October 4th.

So how did we go from trying to gain international acceptance (to avoid accepting Maputo) to accepting the conditions of Maputo? It was like a complete shift in mentality from wanting to keep the current government as the transitional head to accepting the August negotiations? It’s really too bad that there was no information from his meeting in Paris and also too bad that the reports that did leak out were later denied.

Army Threats?

Now whether or not the Paris trip happened, it is true that at some point on October 4th that some delegates from the army had visited Rajoelina:

During the meeting, the officers underlined with the two eminent personages, the need for finding a solution with the current location urgently. They would have asked president Andry Rajoelina and the Prime Minister Monja Roindefo to intend itself on the position to hold during the meeting.

At the exit of the meeting, some officers made it clear that they “would not enter the political questions”, but which they “had asked (with the two authorities) to take decisions to avoid the disorders”.

or

In another development, army generals held a close-door meeting with Rajoelina and his Prime Minister Monja Roindefo for nearly two hours on Sunday, but no information was disclosed from the meeting.

So the army had stopped by for a little visit with Rajoelina and Roindefo, but whatever for? There have always been rumours surrounding the army and their various positions… but what could make a delegation come to the then heads of the HAT government and have a 2 hour meeting?


If you as me, the only reason that a delegation would come and have a 2 hour meeting with the current government is to express dissatisfaction or a present a problem. There was never any information leaked from that meeting, but I bet that it was either dissatisfaction or a problem that caused the impromptu visit.


Money?


Perhaps it was money that pushed everything over the top. With all of the sanctions imposed on Madagascar, I am surprised that the government has been able to last this long. Ever since Rajoelina overthrew Ravalomanana all you have seen in the news is how much worse it is getting for the average Malagasy person (tourism, loss of TIKO and food shortages.. etc) and how much the Malagasy Ariary has been depreciating in value. And now, if the recent accusations hold true, they have allowed the illegal logging to flourish because all they are doing about it is taxing the exports to other countries.

 

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Conservation International and Wild life Conservation Society said an inter-ministerial order issued last month granted an exceptional authorisation to export raw and semi-processed hard wood. “It legalises the sale of illegally cut and collected wood onto the market; allows for the potential embezzlement of funds in the name of environmental protection and constitutes a legal incentive for further corruption in the forestry sector,” the statement signed by the three groups said.

The Sept. 21 government order authorised 13 operators to export 325 containers of timber, with the authorities taking a 72 million ariary ($36,054) tax on each container.


The donor-dependent country has seen its reserves dwindle after key donors branded Andry Rajoelina’s March power-grab a coup and froze hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

If they are turning a blind eye to the lawless logging that has been going on (but taxing exports), then government must be desperate for income… which might just explain why Rajoelina was so desperate to address the UN and gain international recognition (not that I believe he could). Could money have been the reason for the abrupt change in direction for Rajoelina? I am certain that it definitely played a part… but I don’t think it is the catalyst.


Future of Madagascar

Well whatever happened to cause Andry Rajoelina to agree to the Maputo accord is a good thing because Madagascar was going nowhere fast with the HAT’s plan of avoiding Maputo and continuing to pretend that they govern Madagascar. Though it will never make sense that Albert Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka were included in the crisis negotiations, nor that Marc Ravalomanana’s party doesn’t seem to have any representation in the transitional government or even that Andry Rajoelina is leading the transitional government… at least we are moving some where and not stuck in the political quagmire we had been for so long.

But even with this progress have some really uneasy feelings:

  • Why and how did this sudden transition happen? I think I need this to be answered because I think we all need to know the reason, or who is behind the sudden change of heart. There is no doubt a reason behind it, but whose reason is it and how does it serve them?
  • Why is there no representation from Ravalomanana’s party? Though there may be some representation in some lower positions (I don’t know for sure), I find it disturbing that Ravalomanana’s party has not been given a power position. It makes me feel as though Andry Rajoelina has won somehow (he is now the president, Ravalomanana or his party really have no presence in the government). If the negotiations where to be between the 2 conflicting parties… how is it that 1 of the 2 parties is seemingly left out?
  • Didier Ratsiraka and Rajoelina: In some of the above articles it states that Ratsiraka and Rajoelina met in France. Also at the very beginning of the crisis there was some speculation that Ratsiraka was really behind the whole coup to extract his revenge on Ravalomanana for overthrowing his government in 2002. Now, Ratsiraka has influential power over the transitional government through his PM delegate and now that Rajoelina is not allowed to run for president in the next election… who is to say that Ratsiraka won’t? And if he does, he could easily appoint Rajoelina as PM if he did win… I don’t want to float conspiracies… but it seems that everyone but Ravalomanana is getting what they want, could this end up being the sweetest revenge?

I have this feeling that we are going to see this government stay intact until the elections are organized before we are going to see anything extremely newsworthy. Until then, the news in Madagascar is probably going to be dry with the occassional rumour for Ravalomanana or Roindefo.

So let’s hope that when the elections come that the combined forces of Ratsiraka and Rajoelina don’t try to rig the elections to continue to have their way. I hope that we can see many contenders for the presidency (hopefully some not related to any of these parties) so that the people of Madagascar can have a choice and not be forced or coerced into having the president that Rajoelina/Ratsiraka think they should have.

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