Rajoelina on tour

In a bid to obtain the support of Africa and the SADC, Andry Rajoelina has been touring Africa meeting with the presidents of Mozambique Armando Guebuza (Apr 20, 2011), South Africa Jacob Zuma (May 17, 2011) and Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos (May 18,2011) pleading for support on his illegal governments in a bid to be recognized internationally.

The illegal head of Malagasy government has been pleading the case that they are in full compliance with a corrupt or horribly misinterpreted SADC road map and that they are making all the preparations for a ‘free’ and ‘open’ election sometime between May and November 2011.

This road map that calls for ‘inclusive’ dialogue and the formation of a national unity government led by the consensual prime minister and a consensual and inclusive reorganized government. This new transparent, consensual and inclusive is in charge of running the country, cooperating with the international community and setting the conditions for a free, fair and credible election. This does sound good at first blush, but almost immediately after working through the road map, Rajoelina had appointed Camille Vitale as prime minister once again. While this is not ‘technically’ breaking road map rules as Camille Vitale is not officially part of the HAT as a party member, but it definitely breaks the spirit of the road map as Vital is Rajoelina’s right hand man and Rajoelina unilaterally appointed him, there was nothing consensual about his appointment.

The problem with all these negotiations is that there will never be a free, fair, or credible election because it is precisely what Andry Rajoelina doesn’t want. Rajoelina has consistently shown no respect for the spirit of any road map or accord calling for the formation of a consensual, transparent transitional government. Every time an agreement has been reached, he has been quick to appoint members of his own party to the most powerful and influential parts of the Malagasy government, leaving the scraps for the opposition parties. He has also shown no respect for the constitution of Madagascar simply going into the 4th republic of Madagascar by having a referendum that was riddled with problems and irregularities and subsequently by altering the constitution so that he can legitimately be president and adding all sorts of clauses to suit his agenda such as demanding presidential candidates live in Madagascar 6 months before the election while at the same time banning their entry to the country.

So under these conditions, how will it ever be possible to pull Madagascar out of this crisis? Rajoelina can and will continue manipulate the rules of Madagascar, ban demonstrations and arrest dissidents. The SADC road map is flawed and it seems as though the general consensus on the internet by international parties is  that they would be quick to accept any SADC resolution, flawed or not. Madagascar is destined to be stuck in this quagmire of a coup for a while as Rajoelina has nothing to lose, and will not stop his manipulation of his own country until he is internationally recognized as the legitimate president of Madagascar.

Until he is, the country will be stuck in a state of poverty while the de facto president uses whatever money the country has to periodically goes on tours in Africa, France and possibly some parts of Europe to promote himself as the saviour of Madagascar who is unfortunately illegitimate and to try and garner support for his cause. So expect there to be more SADC proposals and talks, stalling and diversion as well as periodic vain tours to try and convince African/French leaders to take up his cause.

SADC to the world: Military coups pay off

No doubt you have seen this headline in various headlines around the internet, but I had to use it because it is completely and utterly true (or at least at the moment since SADC has not reversed their direction). It is not likely that they will actually reverse their decision as the ‘Leonardo Simao’ the chief negotiator for this roadmap continues to support it despite Rajoelina clearly violating its stipulations by re-appointing Camille Vital as the PM. So the SADC is setting the precident and announcing to the world that military coups do pay off, I suppose, if you wait long enough for people to cease caring.

If the SADC is going to stick to this position and not support democracy, then there is virtually no hope for Madagascar. The international community only seems to be interested in commenting on the issue and nothing else, Madagascar does not have much, if any, mind share. Clearly the rest of the world has other priorities… France and the UN seem to favour the Ivory Coast (perhaps because of the violence) and have no problems intervening and bringing Ggabo to justice. In Libya (a supporter of Rajoelina) coalition of the willing, including my country, are intent on removing a dictator they dislike based on an ever changing UN directive (which is anything but setting up a simple ‘no fly zone’)’. And if those two items don’t capture the attention of the world, the remnants of the Arab uprisings or the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan have the remainder of the international community’s attention.

Meanwhile, in Madagascar:

  • Families are having problems keeping their children in school.
  • Families are having a hard time even finding food.
  • Healthcare is rapidly declining with government health spending down to $2/person down from $5 in 2009 and $8 in 2008.
  • The purchasing and distribution of medicine in Madagascar is virtually collapsing, reducing family access to essential drugs.
  • The government continues to oppress freedom of expression and assembly having done the following:
    • Forceably dispersing public demonstrations
    • Shooting peaceful protesters
    • Shutting down virtually all independant radio/television networks
    • Tampering with the independance of the judiciary
    • Harrassing advocates of constitutional democracy
    • Arresting political opposition members
  • Government funding has fallen and has been reduced from $400 million to $200 million causing health, agriculture and economic development to receive much less funding.
  • Basic social services are at risk because of said funding cuts.
  • Nationwide poverty is up to %76.5 from %68.7.
  • Government is burning through money trying to artificially lower the price of staple foods and gas from market costs..

The longer that the coup government is left in place, the deeper Madagascar gets into economic, humanitarian and environmental problems. And worse, if they continue on their path of attempting to legitimize a coup leader it could lead right into another dictatorship where no doubt the Malagasy people will continue to suffer. It will also set a precedent for the rest of Africa that coups do in fact pay off because the SADC is busy trying to save face by speeding through negotiations rather than actually taking the required time to resolve them.

The SADC ‘must’ reverse their support of this absurd roadmap and reconsider their appointment of Leonardo Simao as negotiator. This is the only time we have ever seen the SADC take a path that diverges from the international community and its own previous direction. Also, all negotiations up to this point have been completely in favour of Andry Rajoelina, the roadmap presented by Leonardo Simao allows Rajoelina to concentrate his presidential powers and provides him with a mechanism where he can ‘officially’ run for president whenever the elections are held. There are so many things wrong with this round of negotiations that it can only be related to the individual that is heading them. Leonardo Simao is corrupt, is in the back pocket of Andry Rajoelina and should be removed from all negotiations.

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.

Never ending cycle of failure

As expected, at least by me, the political meetings spurred by the sudden military ultimatum are a complete failure and it appears  that they were failed before they had even started according to Andry Rajoelina’s senior advisor Rolly Mercia:

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina expects that talks aimed at resolving a political crisis on the Indian Ocean Island probably will fail, said one of his senior advisers, Rolly Mercia.

“There is very little chance that this meeting will succeed,” Mercia said in a phone interview today from Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, which is hosting the negotiations. “As it stands now, there won’t be anything to sign.”

You probably know by now that I don’t buy into Andry Rajoelina’s notions of a unity government or anything that he has done up to this point for “the people”. What I do believe, and pardon me for repeating myself, is that there is only ever one goal for him and that is to be the legitimate president of Madagascar, recognized by all. So it is no surprise to me and probably to anyone that follows this travesty of a government that these talks have failed.

I did my own analysis on previous events that led up to the failed Pretoria meeting before I became wrapped up in the following events and back tracked a little bit. Now with the information from the most recent events, I think I am now squarely back to my previous thought that all of this was just a ruse, the goal of which was to rush into negotiations hoping that the other parties would sign, without thought, an agreement drafted up no doubt by himself and a representative of France.

From my perspective, all the signs are there:

  • Rumours circulate that there is a coup a foot to overthrow the HAT : April 10th, Originally the rumours were that General Noel Rakotonandrasana was going to try and overthrow the government, someone loyal and instrumental in putting Andry Rajoelina where he is today. It doesn’t add up, he of all people must be enjoying the spoils of this coup, so why would he want to be the face of the coup?
  • Military Ultimatum : April 12th, we are to believe that the army has “had enough” of the HAT government, whose #1 priority to keep the army paid? Why the change of heart all of the sudden? Neither the HAT or the army has cared for the Malagasy public since this coup happened. And the unidentified “army bosses” asked Rajoelina to come up with a plan in 48 hours, but with no repercussions if he does not. There isn’t even any idea of what is going to happen with their end of April deadline, it is just basically do this “or else”. I fully believe that the “or else” part of the ultimatum is entirely up to Andry Rajoelina and that this was only a tool used to spark new talks.
  • New Road Map : April 14th, 48 hours after the ultimatum a new road map appears, sponsored mostly by France and the ICG (Brussels based). Big suprise, the proposal suggest that the Addis Ababas and Maputo agreements (all AU involment) be dumped and instead the focus should be on writing a constitution, and early elections. These are all things that Andry Rajoelina has been trying to trick people into doing and what he himself has tried to do unilaterally. So appears the EU is taking sides with Andry Rajoelina and wants to get a deal signed between Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, excluding the other presidents.
  • Coup Attemp was foiled : April 19th, Not to long after the rumours had started, there was this miraculous series of arrests relating to the coup rumours. They arrested some ex-military personnel, reservists and soldiers. There were never any links to Noel Rakotonandrasana and the people the arrested don’t even look like they would succeed in a bank robbery, let alone going against an entire coup government who has the majority of the nation’s army on it’s side. Seriously… if they had gotten to a building or even taken some HAT ministers hostage, does anyone think that the army would just accept them as the new leaders of Madagascar? Of course not, the HAT and the army are in it together… this would have never succeeded despite what Alain Ramaroson might say. This is just tying up a loose end to the “military dissatisfaction” that lead to the ultimatum and new talks.
  • Talks scheduled : April 20th, supposedly on pressure from the army, Rajoelina defines a “new path” with a meeting with himself and Ravalomanana on April 24th to “overcome” the settlements of Maputo and Addis Ababa. Clearly Andry Rajoelina wants to erase any consession he had ever signed at Maputo or Addis Ababa and wants to start over again to gain an advantage. He also wants to deal with only Marc Ravalomanana stating that the International community realized its mistake by adding Ratsiraka and Zafy in hopes that this will speed up the process of Ravalomanana signing his (and France/ICG’s) agreement.
  • Preparation for meeting : April 27th, Ravalomanana releases a framework for discussion, agreeing in principle to meet to resolve the crisis, but only if all 4 political parties should be present and no unilateral action is taken by any party.
  • Pre-Meeting Optimism : April 28th, Rajoelina is quoted as being optimistic regarding the new meetings.
  • Post-Meeting Pessimism :  April 29th, Rajoelina’s senior advisor Rolly Mercia states that there is little to no chance that this meeting would succeed. Based solely on the fact that 75% of participants wish to stick to the Maputo and Addis Ababa agreements, the 25% being Rajoelina. It is very apparent at this point that Rajoelina never did have any intention of negotiating, he was actually just hoping people would sign the “road map” as it was drafted.
  • Negotiation Failure : May 1st, In news articles everywhere the stumbling block to an agreement was the formation of a unity government (as usual), most likely because Rajoelina does not want to give up key ministries. They were also divided on election timelines with Rajoelina wanting to have legislative elections (to stack the deck) followed by presidential elections and Ravalomanana wanting the reverse.
  • Return to Madagascar and the “neutral government” : May 3rd, On his return to Madagascar Rajoelina announces that he will form a “neutral” government. Of course neutral is subjective, based solely on what Andry Rajoelina deems to be neutral. Interestingly there has been no comment from the military on their previous ultimatum as yet.

So to me, it appears that we have just been put through another one of Andry Rajoelina’s tricks. Now that it has failed, he has ran home sulking that:

“I showed patriotism and humility. But it was the last chance. There won’t be any more,” Rajoelina told reporters. “The time for negotiations is over.”

“We have decided -… when politicians can’t get on with one another, directing government affairs and the main political institutions must be left to neutral personalities,” he told reporters in the capital Antananarivo.

And will now create, yet again, another unilateral government that he will no doubt try to convince the world is legitimate and ultimately neutral based on his own definition of the term. He will also continue on his quest to push toward the 4th republic of Madagascar so that he can legally be elected as president at 35 if and when those “transparent” presidential elections happen.

“We have to move forward, we must build the Fourth Republic. The transition must end this year,” Rajoelina said. A final decision on how to take the former French colony forward would be made within 48 hours, he said.

And if there ever should be a situation where negotiating with the other former presidents would show some promise in getting what he wants, or if he is threatened sufficiently you can bank on the fact that he will be back there at the negotiating table for as long as it suits him.

Also, in more confusing news… the on April 30th the EU Rejects Madagascar Sanctions to which I was not too surprised.  I thought this shows how much support Rajoelina enjoys in the EU. However… in breaking news on May 4th, the EU Commission proposes Madagascar be suspended from the Contonou Agreement which would take away 600 million euros in assistance from 2008 to 2013. Not sure if they can’t make up their minds… or have changed them.

HAT attempt at controlling military division

So over the weekend we have seen various reports in the news of a miraculous break up of a coup attempt on the coup government:

“It was serious. Some officers had prepared a coup d’etat, to kill Malagasies … fortunately, we were able to prevent the attempt,” he said. “Their goal was to kill, and divide the military.”

On April 12, the army gave the president until the end of April to offer an acceptable way out of the political crisis and end the uncertainty that has hit foreign investment and left the economy struggling.

Also:

The military reportedly developed signs of division since Prime Minister Camille Vital dismissed former minister of armed forces Noel Rakotonandrasana On April 7.

Vital said Rakotonandrasana had held suspicious meetings with senior officers without informing him, accusing him of causing confusion in the military ranks.

HAT President Andry Rajoelina made no comments on Ravalomanana’s dismissal, but soon promoted colonel Vital to the rank of brigadier general, indicating the logic that colonel Vital could not overpower general Rakotonandrasana over the control of military officers, without the necessary promotion.

I find this to be a very interesting development because I think this could potentially prove me wrong on my thoughts from my previous post.

I was trying to figure out where this recent development would fit into everything that I had said… thinking to myself, what purpose would this serve if the HAT had orchestrated this, especially since this coup attempt was clearly orchestrated by the HAT.

They say that they have arrested 19 people, which I feel would be a pretty low number of people required to over throw a government. On top of that, they don’t look like they would be a threat to anyone:

Coup Organizers

So, the only thing that I could come up with as to why they would manufacture a coup is that there are actually divisions in the army and they had staged this coup for the following reasons:

  1. To show that the HAT has control of the military and that there are no problems with the military being united.
  2. To quickly promote Camille Vital to the rank of brigadier general so that he has more authority than Noel Rakotonandrasana.

They seem to be trying harder in recent days to convince the press and the Malagasy people that they have everything under control and that there is most certainly no divisions or problems within the military. It is clear now that this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially in light of the recent firing/arrests of:

Two of the most well known military personnel that had been instrumental in helping the HAT with their coup d’etat. Now they are being fired and arrested? How can this make any sense?

Well, if there are in fact true divisions in the military or if it is just that the military is starting withdraw it support of the HAT government then all this makes perfect sense. So I guess the clock is really running and perhaps the ultimatum is real, and maybe there really will be some repercussions at the end of April.

All of the effort that they have put foward thus far seems to be around trying to contain the threat that the military has put on his government:

  • Removing high ranking officers that would pose a threat.
  • Elevating Camille Vital to outrank Noel Rakotonandrasana to try and have authority over the military.

I wonder who will be next on the hit list for the HAT? Andre Andriarijaona?

I have my doubts as to how successful this will be since Camille Vital appears to be more of a tool for the HAT to try and bridge the gap between the politicians and military rather than the military controlling the HAT as I had previously thought.

I can’t imagine that any of this will work though, I think of the military as a group of people that are loyal to one another so I doubt that it would make an ounce of difference if the HAT said that Vital controlled the military. I guess we will now have to wait and see what comes of the ultimatum and if there will actually be talks between Ravalomanana and Rajoelina.

End of the HAT or ruse?

So over the past couple of weeks there have been some interesting developments, primarily, the rumours of an impending coup on Andry Rajoelina’s government. This seems to have set of a chain of events that looks like it could be the end of an illegitimate government, or could be another one of the HAT’s many tricks.

Here is a quick rundown of what had lead up to where we are today, which is a 48 hour ultimatum for Andry Rajoelina before the army does “something”:

  • Before 04-06-10: Rumours swirling around Madagascar that there was an impending coup by the army.
  • 04-07-10: General Noel Rakotonandrasana was fired by the HAT clearly for fear that he would be responsible for the unconfirmed reports of a coup. Prime Minister Colonel Camille Vital is designated as his replacement and is supposed to control the armed forces ministry and promoted to General.
  • 04-08-10: General Noel Rakotonandrasana refuses to leave office.
  • 04-12-10:  Army “bosses” give Andry Rajoelina until the end of April to resolve the crisis and demands that he prove he can pay public salaries and the money to finance legislative and presidential elections.
  • 04-14-10: Andry Rajoelina states he has a new “road map” from France, South Africa and the SADC that he intends to follow and is ready to work with Marc Ravalomanana.
  • 04-15-10: Andry Rajoelina vows to form an interim body and electoral commission for elections in the shortest possible time.

Now at first blush, my reaction to this was, “whoa… the army is putting their foot down and Rajoelina’s days are numbered”.  But after looking into some of these stories a little deeper, I am not entirely confident that it is what it appears to be and that it could just be yet another way for Rajoelina to retain as much power as possible and become a legitimate authority.

Let’s start from the top…

Before 04-06-10: Rumours swirling around Madagascar that there was an impending coup by the army.

The rumours of another coup have been travelling around Antananarivo for several weeks, where the army with General Noel Rakotonandrasana at its head were planning to overthrow the HAT.

Now you don’t really have to look far to see how instrumental Noel Rakotonandrasana and Andre Andriarijaona were in Andry Rajoelina’s rise to become the illegitmate president that he is today, almost every Reuters/BBC article out there on this subject states as much.

Rakotonandrasana had been pivotal in both Rajoelina’s power grab as well as Ravalomanana’s ascent to leadership following months of disputed presidential elections.

However, other observers have described Rakotonandrasana as an opportunist who commanded little loyalty from junior officers. Many of the troops prefer to heed the chief of general staff Andre Andriarijaona, they said.

Appearances: That the army appears to support the popular opinion that negotiations are stalled, and the HAT is doing nothing to address the needs of the population. Something needs to be done to resolve the crisis before it has a deeper impact.

04-07-10: General Noel Rakotonandrasana was fired by the HAT clearly for fear that he would be responsible for the unconfirmed reports of a coup. Prime Minister Colonel Camille Vital is designated as his replacement and is supposed to control the armed forces ministry and promoted to General.

So with all the rumours swirling around, it would appear that the HAT had panicked and fired General Noel Rakotonandrasana since he was rumoured to be at its head.

Vital told AFP on Wednesday the armed forces minister had held meetings of which he had not been informed.

“We’re putting two and two together and decided to replace him,” he said.

Madagascar has been rife with rumours about an impending coup for days and security around the president’s office was tightened late Friday.

Camille Vital of course is set to be the replacement of Noel Rakotonandrasana to have control over the army ministry.

Appearances: The HAT is concerned that their power will be usurped by a military uprising so they move quickly to remove and replace the suspected coup leaders in an attempt to take and show they have control of the situation and also cool the rumours that the public will soon have a military government.

04-08-10: General Noel Rakotonandrasana refuses to leave office.

Despite the declaration of the HAT and Colonel Camille Vital, Noel Rakotonandrasana refuses to leave his post and insists that he was not going to stage a coup.

Gen. Noel Rakotonandrasana, who aided the former disc jockey seize power last year, said in a press conference Thursday that he had no plans to stage a coup, and would not leave his position.

Appearances: This shows that the HAT and perhaps even Colonel Camille Vital do not have as much control over the military as we or they think they do. After this statement there was virtually nothing done to remove Noel Rakotonandrasana from his post.

04-12-10:  Army “bosses” give Andry Rajoelina until the end of April to resolve the crisis and demands that he prove he can pay public salaries and the money to finance legislative and presidential elections.

This appears to have come out of nowhere as we have gone almost straight from the termination of Noel Rakotonandrasana to an ultimatum as opposed to Camille Vital taking control of the military as was expected. You could almost quickly deduce that this might be a case of Andry Rajoelina biting the hand that fed him.

As previously mentioned both Noel Rakotonandrasana and Andre Andriarijaona were instrumental in Andry Rajoelina’s rise to power, so to try and remove one of these individuals of their power could be considered a smack in the face of those that Andry Rajoelina should be eternally grateful to.

“The army bosses asked Rajoelina to present a road map in 48 hours, and after discussions everyone agreed on waiting until the end of the month,” said a senior military source present at a meeting between Rajoelina and the military leadership.

“We have asked the government, the High Transitional Authority, to publish a clear road map,” army chief General Andre Ndriarijoana told reporters at an earlier news conference.

Ndriarijoana, who backed Rajoelina’s ouster of former President Marc Ravalomanana in March last year, also demanded proof of how Rajoelina’s administration would pay public sector salaries and finance legislative and presidential elections due later this year.

“We call on the politicians to end all street action and to take part in the building of a nation for all within a timeframe that we have given to the government,” Ndriarijoana said.

The army demanded Rajoelina offer a solution that would be acceptable to foreign donors who have suspended aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Above all, it is demanded the government work with all actors … a necessary condition for a free and transparent election, accepted by the Malagasy people and the international community,” said Ndriarijoana.

The above article is the starting point to where I start to get suspicious, if only from a few statements from Andre Andriarijaona:

    • “We call on the politicians to end all street action and to take part in the building of a nation for all within a timeframe that we have given to the government,” Ndriarijoana said.

Why would anyone need to stop any street action at all? What purpose does it serve? To me it would appear that this would only benefit the HATs PR, so it would appear as though everyone is content. It certainly doesn’t benefit the other political camps as they cannot show their dissatisfaction or their demands, nor does it serve the military as it would almost be a show of support for them if people were to continue protesting the HAT. I am just not seeing why he would have said this knowing that street action is really not an issue.

    • The army demanded Rajoelina offer a solution that would be acceptable to foreign donors who have suspended aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Why would the army “demand” that Rajoelina do something that would be acceptable to foreign donors? I mean it makes sense that they point him in the right direction to resolve the crisis that is acceptable to the international community at large, but it feels as though the focus is more on the money that the donors represent rather than an end to the crisis, perhaps I am reading it wrong… But all the same, if Rajoelina does something that is “acceptable” to the international community, then does that not technically legitimize his government? If they have funding, that means he would be accepted as president so it only serves in the HAT’s best interest to implement a solution acceptable to foreign donors. And since they are virtually throwing out Maputo in favor of a French and South African solution, it makes this entire thing suspect (especially with France involved) but more on that later.

    • “Above all, it is demanded the government work with all actors … a necessary condition for a free and transparent election, accepted by the Malagasy people and the international community,” said Ndriarijoana.

Again this could just be me, but I am keying in on what I think is focused on elections. The HAT had organized and event March 4-5 on how they can proceed with “free and open” elections, so does this not play right into that? Perhaps not, since the international community would want it to be transparent and would have observers… but to me it appears that it is something close to Rajoelina himself would say while at the same time blasting the Maputo accord as unreasonable.

Appearances: It appears as though the military is asking Rajoelina for everything that the population and international community is. However, is it not convenient that there is a new “road map” available from France and South Africa that could be used as a solution?

04-14-10: Andry Rajoelina states he has a new “road map” from France, South Africa and the SADC that he intends to follow and is ready to work with Marc Ravalomanana.

Now I personally don’t recall any mention of this new road map anywhere, but it appears that there is some sort of road map that was proposed by France, South Africa, the SADC and the ICG. The only thing that I could find was an article that stated that the ICG was visiting Madagascar some time in March and proposed another solution:

The ICG in a March analysis proposed to give up the AU’s idea of a power-sharing deal, which was not being implemented by President Rajoelina and which could have led to further political instability due to the strong personal conflicts between the Malagasy strongmen. Rather, mediation should “aim for consensual writing of a constitution and early, internationally supervised elections,” the ICG concluded.

The invitation of an ICG representative to Antananarivo could indicate that Mr Rajoelina may opt for this early election possibility in his roadmap to the Malagasy crisis.

To this point, France has not really shown where it stands on the coup in Madagascar. When the coup first started Nicolas Sarkozy was more or less forced to condemn the coup by an unexpected question at some press conference, especially since all other countries in the world were condemning it. France was the first to send a politician to talk to the illegal government and over the duration of the coup has more or less welcomed Rajoelina into France (his second home some would say).

I can’t also help but to vaguely (since I do not have time to validate) remember legalist objections to some representatives of the SADC or ICG… can’t remember which. Anyway, at some point there was a discussion where the legalists found too many connections to Rajoelina for one of these organizational members.

With all that being said, I can’t help but suspect this new proposal that I have heard virtually nothing about and was proposed when international mediation had failed. When did it fail? If it did fail, it was only because Rajoelina did not participate and now we have a solution to this problem that Rajoelina seems very intent on following through with? Where are the other international bodies on this conveniently sudden and new road map? We have heard nothing from the AU or any other international body on this new road map and the declaration that Maputo accord was a failure.

Internationally, for once, there have been no official reactions to the Malagasy army’s threats. The AU, which normally is firm in its condemnation of military interference, has made no statement on the matter.

To me, it seemed that the Maputo accord was the way to go (minus 2 presidents that didn’t need to be there from the start)… but it seems now that it has been tossed aside:

A roadmap to end the crisis was proposed by France, South Africa and the Southern African Development Community. Rajoelina told state television that the roadmap was proposed after the realization of failure of international mediation.

“They do not want to admit it in public but even the African Union knows that it took sanctions against us just to defend its credibility. However, the international community is conscious of the fact that it is responsible for the failure of the political accords that we have signed,” he said.

“There’s neither Maputo nor Addis Ababa agreement, now the main preoccupation is the forming of a government of national unity,” Rajoelina said.

After the proposal of the new roadmap by the French secretary of state in charge of cooperation, Alain Joyandet, Rajoelina sent a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy to express his acceptance. Ravalomanana accepted the idea in his letter.

“We need to close the transitional period and move towards the organization of elections. We must learn some lessons from the one- year crisis. I believe that the Madagascan people have the wisdom necessary to move on into the Fourth Republic,” he said.

But Rajoelina made it clear that it is not yet time for Ravalomanana to come back to Madagascar. “The timing is not right for him,” he said. Ravalomanana went in exile abroad after ousted in March 2009. He is currently in South Africa.

Asked about his candidacy for future elections, he said he will not refuse to run if it is necessary.

“As for me, having power is not a priority,” he said, adding the most critical thing for now is to get the country out of the crisis.

I could have almost placed the entire article up because of how many red flags I see. The quotes from Andry Rajoelina in this article are screaming to me that he is behind some other type of deceptive plan to trick the international community into legitimizing him.

    • He states that “international mediation” is a failure, indicating that both Maputo and the international communities participation in the process is a failure, but there is no news anywhere stating that the AU or international community accept that it was in fact a failure.
    • He states that the AU is using sanctions to defend its credibility and that the international community is conscious of its responsibility for the Maputo accords failure. Again, no one has said it was a failure yet and there is no information from the international community. How could Andry Rajoelina of all people know what the international community is conscious of? I think it is bunk, and he is just playing on the fact that there is no information out there to disprove this yet.  Of course, the real problem is that there are only AU sanctions and no sanctions else where. The EU is said to be mulling sanctions, but since France is a prominent part of the EU I highly doubt they will come and this deeply undermines what the AU is trying to do with it’s sanctions and also discredits its ability to resolve this crisis (which I am sure is working out as planned) and its relevance perhaps. Here is an articl where Jean Ping pretty much says the same thing: AU Chief Says Madagascar Sanctions Undermined By Big Powers.
    • He again discredits anything the AU was attempting to do and states that he is focused on organizing elections, which is something he has been busy doing for quite some time now.
    • Rajoelina states that they need to move into the “Fourth Republic” which is more or less a republic of his definition that allows him to run as president being that he is younger than 40.
    • Rajoelina still states that Ravalomanana should not come back to Madagascar, not because of him (because he supposedly forgives him), but because of the victims of “Red Saturday”. How convenient for the following statement that he will absolutely refuse not to run in the next presidential elections.

If this does not throw this entire army ultimatum (that currently has no reprocussions) and new road map to quick resolution into question, I don’t know what does. It is just more “smoke and mirrors” as was said in Twitter by one of the many Malagasy I follow. The army ultimatum is just the distraction that is required so that the HAT can pull off another magic trick.

Appearances: At a glance appears that Andry Rajoelina is once again in control,  just less so because of the impending army ultimatum that does not have any consequences. However, looking deeper it appears as though Andry Rajoelina is definitely attempting to fast track his previous proposed solution of an election through as an accepted resolution before too much attention or reaction is paid to the new “road map”.

04-15-10: Andry Rajoelina vows to form an interim body and electoral commission for elections in the shortest possible time.

So we are now back at square one, to some extent where we have Rajoelina again declaring that he is going to be forming an interim body AND an electoral commission. I don’t think this is the first time that he has done this, but no matter how many times he suggests he is going to form an interim anything it is always created in his favour. It is said that this government will be based on successful talks with Marc Ravalomanana in South Africa, but I don’t think there is a person out there that believes that successful or not that Andry Rajoelina would form a free and fair interim body or electoral commission.

The president of the Highest Transitional Authority in Madagascar (HAT), Andry Rajoelina, vows to form an interim body and an electoral commission in a new bid to end the Indian Ocean island country’s year-long crisis.

On state television, Rajoelina said late Wednesday he would disband his government and form an interim governing body if talks with former president Marc Ravalomanana in South Africa turned out successful.

Rajoelina made the remarks after a roadmap to end the crisis was proposed recently by France, South Africa and the Southern African Development Community.

He said the new proposal envisions elections in the shortest possible time. “Now the main preoccupation is the forming of a government of national unity,” he declared.

Rajoelina also stressed the need set up a National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) in anticipation of the upcoming presidential elections.

He recalled a national convention held on March 4-5, which recommended the forming of CENI, the drafting of new electoral code and the formation of a government of national unity.

Rajoelina said the decision will not weaken the government. “I can assure you that the army is still united despite various attempts to divide them,” he said, accusing some political forces of trying to bribe certain military officers.

“I do not think that we should use the army to take power,” he said.

Going back to the “fast tracking” this new agreement basically excludes the previous 2 presidents (Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy) from these new negotiations which would clearly speed up any sort of resolution. This is about the only thing that I agree with Rajoelina on, the previous talks should have never included the former 2 presidents because that is essentially what had stalled it and to this day we do not know why they were ever involved.

In the above statements he is nearly stating out loud that Ravalomanana and the international community should use his political exercise from March 4-5 as a base to form the electoral commission.  He also assures us that the military is still united and presumably behind him.

I have no doubt that the military are behind him, and are helping him to pull of another one of his deceptive misinformation campaigns in an attempt to get him what he wants, and by proxy everything they want (money). I just find it ironic that he makes the statement “I do not think that we should use the army to take power” when that is EXACTLY what he had done to get where he is today.

Appearances: It appears that everything that is being proposed favours Andry Rajoelina. There is virtually no input in any article that I have found since April 7th that state a position, proposition or even response to anything that has happened over the last 9 days.

So to summarize my post:

  • On rumours of a coup: It first appears that the army appears to support the popular opinion that negotiations are stalled, and the HAT is doing nothing to address the needs of the population. Something needs to be done to resolve the crisis before it has a deeper impact.
  • On the termination of Noel Rakotonandrasana: The HAT is then concerned that their power will be usurped by a military uprising so they move quickly to remove and replace the suspected coup leaders in an attempt to take and show they have control of the situation and also cool the rumours that the public will soon have a military government.
  • On Noel Rakotonandrasana refusing to leave his post: This shows that the HAT and perhaps even Colonel Camille Vital do not have as much control over the military as we or they think they do. After this statement there was virtually nothing done to remove Noel Rakotonandrasana from his post.
  • On the army ultimatum: It appears as though the military is asking Rajoelina for everything that the population and international community is. However, is it not convenient that there is a new “road map” available from France and South Africa that could be used as a solution?
  • On the new road map: At a glance appears that Andry Rajoelina is once again in control,  just less so because of the impending army ultimatum that does not have any consequences. However, looking deeper it appears as though Andry Rajoelina is definitely attempting to fast track his previous proposed solution of an election through as an accepted resolution before too much attention or reaction is paid to the new “road map”.
  • On Rajoelina’s new vows and road map: It appears that everything that is being proposed favours Andry Rajoelina. There is virtually no input in any article that I have found since April 7th that state a position, proposition or even response to anything that has happened over the last 9 days.

My opinion of everything that has happened is that we should slow things down, we need more input on this than just France, South Africa, the SADC and the ICG. We don’t even know for a fact that anyone outside of France and the ICG actually support any of this. There has been no time for a response from any other body and I think we need this first before we move ahead with any of the suggestions that seem to, for the most part be based purely on Andry Rajoelina’s previous proposals.

I don’t think that there is any actual ultimatum waiting at the end of April waiting for Madagascar. If it is only a “military government” then doesn’t that just really put on the true face of the people that control the government?  We heard stories everywhere that the only individuals that have benefited from this change of government is the military, and what other reason could their be for them to support the coup in the first place? Since most countries deeply oppose self imposed military governments, it is probably in their best interest to keep Andry Rajoelina as the face of the coup.

I think this is all just a trick to A) Get press for Andry Rajoelina since it was mostly stale following the AU Sanctions B) Promote a sense of urgency because of a military ultimatum. C) With the sense of urgency, push through some new road map seemingly based almost entirely on his previous proposals.

What matters now is how Marc Ravalomanana acts and how the AU and international community respond to this new old proposal. I am hoping that it goes back to Maputo minus the 2 ex-presidents and have it resolved with the AU as I think it should be. I don’t believe that we should take this road map at face value, an agreement has to come from negotiations between the 2 parties involving a 3rd independant party… not something that could be completely fabricated by the HAT.