Former presidents not welcome

In interesting news, and what I thought would be seal the fate of Marc Ravalomanana had never come to pass, why? Because Andry Rajoelina has barred him and apparently all other presidents from returning to the country.

In the back of my mind, and probably in a previous post somewhere I had thought that a while ago when Ravalomanana first fled from Madagascar to South Africa escaping near death that the HAT had attempted to get him extradited from South Africa to face all of the crimes that they accuse him of. And for the past couple of years, Ravalomanana has been living safely in South Africa and advocating his and the other former presidents stance to the SADC. So looking at the most recent news, does it make sense now that at a time that Ravalomanana is basically offering himself to the HAT that they refuse his entry to the country? It doesn’t add up.

But perhaps it starts to make more sense if you look at what both the SADC and the HAT are saying…  we have the SADC on one hand stating:

Leonardo Simao, who is heading SADC’s international mediation team, said negotiations over Madagascar would be closed “within the coming days,” with eight of 11 parties signed up to the “road map.”

“Those who have chosen not to participate, for strategic or other reasons, will have the responsibility for explaining to their activists, their supporters, why they are not participating, not the mediation team,” Simao said in an interview in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, today.

And on the other side you have the HAT PM stating why they want to keep Ravalomanana back:

Madagascar’s government will ask South Africa to “keep Ravalomanana there for as long as possible” to avoid any trouble and allow the country to move forward with mediation, Prime Minister Camille Vital said today.

A little bit peculiar isn’t it? The SADC stating that the discussions will close very soon and those who have not chosen to participate for strategic or other reasons facing the outcome of the mediation? And at the same time the HAT PM very stern in his statement to keep Ravalomanana (and most likely Ratsiraka) away from anything to do with mediation or elections?

There is something very wrong with a mediator and the PM of an illegal government meeting in Madagascar, negotiating and not allowing any other party who wants to participate to do so. Don’t forget, they just recently arrested a lot of the representatives of the opposition from a trumped up ‘illegal demonstration’ charge previously, so if they are tied up… who is it that they are negotiating with? It also strikes me as very odd that the negotiator and the PM seem to be of the same mind… we will push through, it’s taking too long… if the opposition doesn’t or can’t participate, that’s too bad. It appears that you have to play along with whatever the proposal is whether you like it or not as a party, which will inevitably see Rajoelina as a legitimate president until elections in November.

Simao met Thursday with Madagascar’s Prime Minister Camille Vital, who said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) process is taking too long for the Rajoelina government.  Rajoelina has said he will hold his own talks with political parties next week and move ahead with the proposal, which recognizes him as president until elections are held later this year.”

I believe that the sudden urgency of Ravalomanana and others returning to Madagascar stems from the realization that after all of this silence and lack of negotiations that somehow Rajoelina has someone or many people taking there side. There is no other reason that the SADC could be taking such a hard line that is almost in perfect agreement with what the ultimate goal of the HAT is, a legitimate Rajoelina presidency. It is really too bad as I remember a while back that it was Rajoelina that was the one stating that the Malagasy have to solve their own problems and sadly, now it is Ravalomanana’s turn to state the same:

Malagasy-Malagasy dialogue; it is so important for the political parties,” said Ravalomanana.  “We need to talk.  They cannot solve it without these talks, reconciliation.”

This emphasizes how important it is to have the mediator on your side and for a time they were siding with the former president. Somehow over time this has changed and now Ravalomanana, Ratsiraka and Zafy will be in trouble if this proposal goes right past them and appoints Rajoelina as the legitimate interim president.

So in the coming week we will see negotiations occurring in Madagascar with the HAT and SADC under the guise of a resolution that in itself bans Marc Ravalomanana from returning to Madagascar (possibly ever) as defined by the very vague and loose term ‘political stability’ and that give Rajoelina everything he wants in the form of a legitimate presidency.

A SADC mediation proposal bans Ravalomanana from returning to Madagascar until political stability is restored, and it names Rajoelina as president of another transitional government until elections are held this year.

This is quite clearly a corrupted set of negotiations, but the question is… will the rest of the world acknowledge it to be legitimate or not? If they do not then the SADC looks as corrupt as the governments it attempts to mediate with and who knows what will happen to them, if anything. If they do, then you will be looking at the new president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina.

If it ever comes to pass that there is a legitimate Rajoelina presidency then you can guarantee that it will be in place a very long time, especially when the international aid begins flowing back into Madagascar. Any elections that are held will be a complete sham as all the ‘other’ political parties could easily have been setup by the HAT to make Andry Rajoelina look like the only good choice. Or it could simply end up as it always has and we will see another ‘delay’ in elections for whatever Rajoelina decides is good enough to tell the Malagasy.

We are on the very verge of having an illegal coup government legalized and endorsed by an African mediation group, and if this does happen it sets a very bad example for what may be to come for the rest of Africa and certainly does not bode well for all of the Malagasy who are already having a hard time under the thumb of Andry Rajoelina. I for one do not accept the proposal and the way in which the talks are being held and I certainly would not accept the outcome if it was not consensual with all of the other political parties involved in the crisis.

Here is hoping that this agreement never comes to pass… cross your fingers.

The Rajoelina Shuffle

Not too surprising is the news that the most recent proposals from the SADC were rejected and are far from sufficient, especially since that agreement essentially hands Madagascar to Rajoelina on a silver platter complete with international recognition.

So it does surprise me a lot less that in the wake of his most recent rejection that he lashes out in his usual form by arresting any opposition leader that he can find and propose a change to his current government.

February 10th, Rajoelina’s kangaroo court sentenced 21 people to 13 months in prison simply for taking part in a demonstration stating “The group was accused of gathering illegally, resisting police orders and destroying public property at an anti-Rajoelina protest in November 2010.” I do not suspect that they have any evidence that links them to any significant damages, but I suppose in the court of the HAT none of this matters as long as the voice of the opposition is quelled in some way.

Afterward the Rajoelina decides that his government needs yet another shuffle, which is almost becoming a regular occurrence when some sort of negotiation fails. The reshuffle is under the guise that this new version of this tired illegal government will in some way be more ‘inclusive’ than the last, despite the fact that they have just arrested 21 members of the opposition. We are all well aware of how ‘inclusive’ these governments are… so inclusive that most of the opposition party members resign and are replaced by people of Rajoelina’s choosing. I don’t think any of us can say exactly why he would try to do this a third time, he must know full well by now that he would not gain anything by it.

And to top things off for the week, the HAT government issues a statement to Marc Ravalomanana who seems to have had plans to return to Madagascar this coming Saturday. No one can really say for sure why Marc Ravalomanana would risk all by returning to the country, but if he insists on going, he clearly has a death wish. The HAT government has stated that “Authorities in Madagascar said Wednesday that ousted President Marc Ravalomanana will be arrested if he enters the country.” One might not think that this is not too terrible a fate for someone, but you need to remember that he was sentenced by the Rajoelina kangaroo court last year in absentia to life in prison and hard labour after his guards opened fire in front of the presidential palace, killing 30 opposition protesters in February 2009. I think you can almost guarantee that if Marc Ravalomanana returns to Madagascar that you will never see or hear from him again.

So we return once again to our stalemate where the only solution is the Malagasy ousting Andry Rajoelina themselves as no international community, UN, SADC, AU care one iota about this country or the condition of its people. Perhaps we can hope that the unrest triggered by Tunisia can spread from Africa over to Madagascar and spark an uprising against Rajoelina, time will tell.

Deja vu, another opposition crackdown

In preparation for upcoming elections in Madagascar, Rajoelina is starting to perform some spring cleaning of opposition party members.

According to Reuters, Fetison Andrianirina (Marc Ravalomanana’s avatar in Madagascar) is being charged by the police in relation to a bombing that had occurred in July of last year.

The “honourable” Justice Christine Razanamahasoa (appointed by Rajoelina and had issued an arrest warrant for Marc Ravalomanana and  Raharinaivo Andrianantoandro previously, among other things) has issued an arrest warrant for Fetison.

It makes you wonder why the HAT government even tries to conceal their intentions within trumped up charges, it isn’t like anyone believes that Fetison was involved in any of these crude acts of so called “terrorism”. If I am not mistaken, the two people referenced in the article that died planting a home made bomb had died most unfortunately when the 3rd suspect had dialed the number for the bomb rather than his girlfriend.

In addition to the opposition party member crack down, Rajoelina and the HAT are also cracking down on all sorts of opposition supporters and journalists. Didier Ravohangiharison and Lolo Ratsimba journalists from the FJKM church radio have been arrested (as well as Jaona Raoly who has only recently been freed) in December. You may remember this church because Marc Ravalomanana was an elected vice-president of this church during his time as president and there were heavy accusations that he was not keeping church and state separate. The “honourable” Justice Christine Razanamahasoa is charging them with a “failure to report the mutiny to police on December 29th”. Apparently, these two journalists are the only ones who could have notified the police of the mutiny.

It is no wonder the opposition leaders were “allowed” to return on December 18th, it is obviously the easiest way to control them. What better way to setup the parliamentary elections in March, than to shove all of your opponents into jail and pretend that you are being open and transparent.

Despite all of this, it blows my mind that there are people “in Madagascar” that still support Rajoelina’s dictatorship style rule. According to the newspaper ‘Les Nouvelles’ there is a group of youths called “Hetsiky ny mpitondra Fivavahana” that is appealing to Albert Zafy and Didier Ratsiraka to distance themselves from Ravalomanana (or else) and they fully support and defend Rajoelina’s version of a transition and democracy.

And all we the the seekers of “true democracy” can do is sit and watch this all transpire as our favourite group of people come together with yet another meeting to discuss a ‘compromise’ for the crisis that afflicts Madagascar. According to AllAfrica, the AU will elaborate and present a compromise to the Malagasy people by January 25th. Which will then allow all involved parties 2 weeks to respond to their proposals, which will inevitably end in Rajoelina ignoring or stalling the process. So we will need to wait until mid to late February before we can even see Rajoelina spit the proposed resolution back in the faces of its creators. A little bit absurd, but then, who said democracy moves fast?

It has to make you wonder when the AU will cease the pursuit of a ‘consensus’ between all parties, and if it will ever reduce ‘all parties’ down to Rajoelina and Ravalomanana? There will be no consensus, and even if there were to be one it will take longer to reach with all 4 parties to negotiate, it is overly complex and they are doing nothing but setting themselves up for continual failure.