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.
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