Hoping for international recognition

Note – Older, somewhat incomplete post:

What can I say, I feel like I have Andry Rajoelina and his government all figured out.  Why? Because Prime Minister Camille Vital is currently awaiting “International Recognition”.

I find it odd that they cannot comprehend that there is nothing they can do aside from meeting the demands of the international community to legitimize the government of Madagascar. Rajoelina must think he is quite clever if he can pull a “referendum” with overwhelming support and he will be recognized as the legitimate leader of the country. How naive must we be to think that the overwhelming majority of voters who voted “yes” (and are now much worse off because of him) voted that way because they think Rajoelina is going to bring them the change they want? We know very well that the votes were either payed for or coerced…

In their absence the former radio DJ Rajoelina has waged a strong campaign – characterised by outlandish populist promises and guest appearances by a range of local pop stars – for a “yes” vote in the plebiscite. Consequently, Rajoelina’s proposed constitution is likely to be endorsed in the referendum.

Why would anyone in any country be interested in voting when their lives and country had declined so badly? And what exactly would they be voting for? There isn’t anything in the “new” constitution that would actually benefit anyone but Andry Rajoealina…

The proposed constitution does not effectively limit presidential powers and it will lower the eligibility age to run for president from 40 to 35 years – allowing the 36-year-old Rajoelina to contest the 2011 election. Rajoelina has thus far assuaged domestic and international critics by arguing that he is not interested in power and does not intend to stand in the next presidential election, but he now seems to be angling for the presidency.

He fully intends on concentrating as much power as possible into the hands of the president and lower the minimum age of said president, but we are not to worry because he seriously does not want to run in the next election. How gullible do you have to believe that? As I have said before… first thing he is going to do is lower the age so he can actually qualify to be president under Malagasy law (not the pseudo presidential position called HAT) and then he is going to find some reason to mess with results or force his way into being president for life. His pockets are too full of money for him to do anything but be president.

It is clear that most people, if they can speak about it, are not happy about the current state of affairs in the country.

Participation in a forbidden demonstration

Been catching up with a bit of news and noticed that there was a tiny bit of under reported action going on in Madagascar, namely, “the referendum” an exercise in which Andry Rajoelina is deceptively trying to encourage people to vote for his party with an endless amount of promises in return for his retaining the office of president.

On Nov 6th, 2010, Andry Rajoelina states that “The victory of Madagascar is in your hands. The time to talk is over. Now is the time to build” as if to sound as though he can be a man of action under the current financial circumstances and to create the illusion to the people of Madagascar that they actually have a choice, which is certainly untrue. To get the Malagasy people on board with him, he lays out a long list of promises that are almost too ludicrous to believe:

  • New stadiums
  • New housing
  • New hospitals
  • New highways/roads/transportation links
  • Food subsidies
  • Employment
  • Large construction projects
  • Restoring a state owned sugar refinery (most likely a TIKO in my opinion)
  • New train system
  • New cement factory
  • Modernize Air Madagascar’s fleet of planes

All of the announcements were cunningly designed to sound as though people will grant Madagascar some glorious victory from some form of oppression to make people feel patriotic and also to over promise (in typical politician style) to give the illusion that everything is fine and things are looking up.

Anyone who is well read and connected to international reports (the only kind that can be trusted since Rajoelina pollutes Madagascar with his own version of news) will know that this is just another pathetic attempt to try and convince the international community that his presidency is valid. After all, who could deny him his legitimacy when so many Malagasy voted for him?

We (the international community) are not stupid Mr. Rajoelina. We know how you handle dissension, you proved that at your rally by using tear gas against an opposition voice that was trying to speak against you and arrest 21 of people who dared speak against your corrupt government under the guise that they are destabilizing the peace. You have shown us many times over that you do not want to talk to or work with anyone else, that you do not value personal opinion or democracy and that you will not rest until one of your little tricks results in the international community recognizing your wicked government. Here’s a news flash for you, not going to happen!

I can only think of 2 reasons why Andy Rajoelina insists on having these rallies:

  1. He truly believes that if enough people vote for him that he can somehow legitimize his government.
  2. He is trying to create enough news as to give the illusion that he is really working hard to rebuild the country to the Malagasy, while behind the scenes his government condones many illegal activities to fund itself, as if to hide it.

Time and time again all of these plans end in abysmal failure as we are not forced to consume your brand of news as the people of Madagascar are. No one outside of Madagascar will ever recognize the HAT as a legitimate government and we will continue to push you to return to democratic, not autocratic, rule. Now if only there was a way to make that happen faster…. 🙂

While Madagascar poverty grows, HAT falsely promises economic recovery

Because I have not seen any news stories that report anything but the various attempts by the HAT to make people believe will be an election at some point in time, I haven’t felt as though there was anything particularly interesting to blog about.

But between last week and this one, I have found 3 reports that I think are a cause for concern, so I wanted to post them online and highlight some of the information from them.

Madagascar poll date set

The first article “Madagascar poll date set” is concerning because it appears that there is some sort of resolution that has been accepted by members of the HAT to systematically replace all municipal governments with HAT friendly politicians:

Elections for councillors and mayors will be held on Monday 20 December,” the statement said

The resolution stipulated that mayors and local councillors countrywide should be removed and replaced by transition officials, in all likelihood dignataries closer to the island’s strongman Andry Rajoelina.

I am not entirely how true this article is, but I don’t think it really matters because even if it is a rumor at this point, it does not sound outlandish enough that the HAT wouldn’t try it.

For quite some time now I have believed that the HAT would attempt to do something similar to this, but I was only thinking of other parts of national government.

If this turns out to be true, how will it be possible to have a legitimate election in the country? You can almost guarantee that each of the replacement mayors and/or additional governments top priority will be to spread misinformation or rig any votes in their municipality that do not favour the HAT. This kind of plan would never be accepted in a democratic country, so it just goes to show you how undemocratic the government is if it pushes ahead with such a horrible plan.

Poverty grows in Madagascar

The second article suggests that the Malagasy public as a whole is suffering horribly from the coup d’etat and does not provide much hope for the people of Madagascar:

Prior to the current political crisis, children being treated would get free milk, medication and treatment until they were ready to be discharged.

The centres now have to charge for feeding and medical treatment. A doctor explained that parents no longer bring their children because they cannot afford to pay.

Rising poverty means that families can no longer afford to send their children to school and are having increasing difficulty in providing them with an adequate diet. A quarter of all the health care centres have been forced to close. The purchase and distribution of drugs throughout the whole country are collapsing.

Another indication of the growing social crisis is that 18 women who have given birth over the last year have left, abandoning their babies at the Befelatanana hospital.

Rosa worked at the factory for seven years. She explained that she had lost her job and was now at home looking after her two children. Her husband works in the capital city at the informal street markets that have mushroomed since the coup. He is only able to scrape together $1 to $1.50 a day. The family can no longer afford to send their children to school. They are falling behind with the rent and fear eviction.

Labourers in the forest villages have to rely on this trade as their only source of income. They may get paid $2 for dragging out the felled trees that weigh around a tonne. Local merchants will pay around $53 for a 3-metre log of Rosewood, which on the international market could fetch $1,300. The trade, which is thought to be worth around $230 million a year to the handful of timber barons who control it, has generated widespread corruption.

It is clear that after 18 months of intrigue and political instability it is the poor masses of Madagascar who are bearing the brunt of cuts in aid and trade to this already impoverished country.

There was so much information in this article on just how much your average Malagasy person is suffering that I had to include so many quotes from the original article. But it does highlight all the problems of the average Malagasy and just how bad it is starting to get in the country.

Why is it that there “used” to be assistance for those who need it? How does assistance work if it is priced in such a way that the poor cannot afford it? What happened to make them charge? Is the humanitarian aid disappearing?

And just how many people lost their livelihood when Madagascar’s AGOA privileges were cancelled? It almost appears that anyone that is not lucky enough to own their own business or work for one that has survived is forced to try and sell anything they can in hopes of getting a lowly $1 – $2 a day.

How does a Malagasy person resist taking part in some sort of illegal action to survive? It appears as though the only way to make money in the country these days is to be performing some sort of illegal activity or working for the HAT.

There are just too many questions and uncertainties in Madagascar and because of the HAT’s “orange revolution” many Malagasy can no longer afford to pay rent, send their kids to school, feed their families or purchase medicine and it seems to be getting worse.

It paints a very grim future for the Malagasy, especially considering there are no prospects of a legitimate resolution to this crisis any time soon. Even if there was, would it matter? An internationally recognized president might start the funds flowing back into the country, but since the damage to the country is so extensive it would take years to bring the country back to where it was when Marc Ravalomanana was president. And would the Malagasy people have patience for a recovery? Would another opportunistic politician derail recovery for their own benefit?

Madagascar to Revive Economy Without Foreign Aid, Finance Ministry Says

The final and most ridiculous news comes from a Bloomberg article where the HAT states that they are perfectly capable of resurrecting the economy without help from anyone.

Madagascar’s government plans to revive economic growth next year without resorting to loans or grants from abroad, said the cabinet director of the Finance and Budget Ministry, Hugues Rajaonson.

The government has “its own resources to make the economy work,” Rajaonson said in an interview in the capital, Antananarivo, yesterday. “We don’t need one dollar from abroad or any of their help in how to manage our economy. We have the same diplomas as them.”

The government can fund its spending through tax revenue, Rajaonson said, without giving details. In September, the budget for all ministries was cut by 40 percent.

“We have a strategy but we are not going to tell it to anyone, even the World Bank,” Rajaonson said. “We have nothing to see until we do the budget,” which should be published by Jan. 3, he said.

This is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in a long time from HAT and I would be surprised if even Hugues Rajaonson believes what had come out of his mouth. Here is quick summary of what he had said:

    • The HAT has mystery resources it is going to leverage to recover the economy.
    • The HAT is going to rely on tax revenue to fund its operation.
    • The HAT believes it has freed up money by cutting government budgets by 40%.
    • The HAT has a strategy that it cannot tell anyone that will fix the Malagasy economy.

I think perhaps that Andry Rajoelina should have picked another person to talk to the press about the economy. There is not one single part of Hugues Rajaonson that is even remotely believable:

Resources

The “only” resources the HAT has at it’s disposal are illegal ones. They HAT will continue to export whatever it can to make up for the money it is lacking from the international donors.

Tax Revenue

Where is this tax revenue coming from? Most of the country has resorted to local trade to make a measly $1 – $2 a day if they are lucky. And if a business is fortunate enough to remain in business, I am sure that they cannot possibly produce the amount of tax revenue to make up the difference missing from the donor money.

Cutting Budgets

How does cutting ministry budgets by 40% make sense?. If the budget for the government before the crisis was composed of 50-60% donor money what is 40% of the remaining 40%-50% non-donor money? You would assume that the remaining 40%-50% was revenue from Madagascar itself (manufacturing, tourism, exports… etc). But since there is virtually no manufacturing, tourism or exports now… I doubt that the 40% non-donor money is even close to being as much as it used to be, so cutting that by an additional 40% doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

Perhaps the quote from Hugues Rajaonson would make more sense if he had said it like this:

The government has “its own rosewood resources to make the economy work,” Rajaonson said in an interview in the capital, Antananarivo, yesterday.

“We have a no strategy and we are not going to tell it to anyone, even the World Bank,” Rajaonson said. “We have nothing to see even when we do the budget,” which should be published by Jan. 3, he said.

It is truly sad that the Malagasy continue to suffer as the HAT runs around desperately trying to prove that it will have elections to an international community who is tired of it crying wolf.

There is no focus on Madagascar right now and unless something drastic happens, I doubt there will be in the near future. Madagascar is stuck, and will never move forward so long as a criminal is running the country for his own benefit.

 

Kangaroo Court

Incase you didn’t catch it, the HAT has been back in full unilateral action trying to set some new dates for various elections, get some unknown supportive signatures (from 90 some-odd political parties) all in an attempt to once again prove he is legitimate.

Madagascar President Andry Rojoelina has signed an agreement with least 90 minor political parties settings dates for a constitutional referendum, and parliamentary and presidential elections.

The agreement was signed in a ceremony in the capital Antananarivo late Friday. The signatories included representatives of three former presidents, including Marc Ravalomanana, the man Rojoelina ousted in a coup last year.

The part about representatives of the previous presidents signing is complete garbage and is just spin put on the story by the HAT before it could be clarified.

So since this fizzled out, and there are some new dates coming, the HAT has to ensure that there is no chance that Marc Ravalomanana can return to Madagascar to run in the elections. They do this by using a heavily biased court to decide that Marc Ravalomanana alone is solely responsible for the loss of life that occurred in March 2009, as if he was standing there gunning people down that day.

Of course, we all know that anything the kangaroo court of the HAT decides is heavily biased and is completely lacking in fairness and due process. There should be an impartial investigation into the events of that day, and in my opinion someone who had incited and misled people to run through a red zone should be just as guilty as anyone who had fired a gun.

Anyway, they passed judgement on Ravalomanana in August assigning total responsibility for the deaths of the people in March 2009 and sentencing him to life in prison, I think with hard labour.

The sentencing of Madagascar’s former president Marc Ravalomanana to hard labour for life may prove to be one more obstacle in the island’s attempts to emerge from its current political crisis.

Ravalomanana, who lives in exile in South Africa, was sentenced in absentia Saturday by a court in Antananarivo for his part in what are known as the February 7, 2009 killings, the third sentence handed to him since his ouster.

On that day, Ravalomanana’s presidential guard fired without warning on supporters of the island’s current strongman Andry Rajoelina making their way to the presidency, killing at least 30 people and wounding more than 100.

Rest assured though, the show that the HAT is putting on for the international community regarding the new election dates (that inevitably get postponed indefinitely to keep Rajoelina in power) is not working on anyone, especially in light of the judgement that was passed in absentia for Marc Ravalomanana.

South Africa has strongly criticised Madagascar over the life sentence passed on exiled President Marc Ravalomanana last week.

Such sentences would not help end Madagascar’s political turmoil, said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

No one except France (of course) has said anything about the prolonged crisis. And until Rajoelina decides to start talking again with the other stakeholders in the crisis, Madagascar is not going to improve any time soon. Actually, if you want to know how Madagascar is doing, there was an interesting article by Gregory Simpkins on the state of Madagascar:

Andre Rajoelina has alienated the international community and the country’s political community. Donor nations, including the United States, have cut off all but humanitarian assistance, which is particularly damaging to Madagascar since the country’s budget was dependent for more than half its revenue from donors.

The cutoff of foreign aid has caused health clinics to shut down. A quarter of the country’s health clinics have shut down, and the distribution of essential drugs has collapsed.

More than half the country’s children are considered malnourished.

Madagascar had been one of AGOA’s success stories, earning US$600 million annually and accounting for 60% of the country’s exports. The closure of factories servicing the U.S. market has caused 50,000 to lose their jobs, exacerbating an already problematic economic picture.

“Slash and burn” agriculture is being practiced by poor farmers oppose a significant threat to Madagascar’s forests, but the report says the forests likely can’t be protected without addressing “fundamental economic issues that maintain rural people in abject poverty.”

So people in Madagascar will attempt to try and “survive” while all the political fools speak of unity, resolution, just posturing while doing little else. Until the fundamental issue of the coup is addressed between Rajoelina and Ravalomanana (and others), nothing will happen in Madagascar and the people that Rajoelina promised he would raise up will continue to suffer beneath his false rule.

Down with the HAT, Rajoelina and his cronies should be the ones serving life for what they have done to Madagascar and it’s people, not Ravalomanana. What Ravalomanana has done to Madagascar is not even comparable to the disaster that the HAT has caused.

Self-Proclamation Does Not Equate To Legitimate Power

Update – Just as I thought, Ravalomanana called Rajoelina’s bluff, and he has flat out rejected the democratic way of giving the people want.  And again he states that “the people” have already spoken… really? You gave all of Madagascar to speak of what they want? Then he goes on to say in a ridiculous statement that he has 50 million (or billion not sure, but does it matter?) USD from foreign investors. Is that supposed to calm people?

Madagascar will be shunned by the international community if he ever takes power, I don’t know if he realizes it yet, but he doesn’t want to put himself in the kind of position where he has to explain why the people are suffering, especially because it is a direct result of his actions. “The People” will be furious with him in the coming days/months of decline if he does manage to “steal” power, because without the foreign investment and assistance Madagascar is in trouble and there will be no way out but to have a referendum. Marc has got you, you just don’t know it yet Andry.

Here is a quote from Ravalomanana via TopMada.com: “On Monday council of ministers, the Government confirmed the holding of the referendum to be held by an Independent Electoral Commission with the assistance of the international community and the United Nations. I will only stay in power if the people want,” said the president. “The people should not be bernée” he added referring to an opposition that wants to grab power “through the street.” The referendum is “the most democratic way possible (…) that’s the true democracy”.

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Watching the crisis over the last few days has been very frustrating would you say? There has been a lot of information to digest, but none of it is good (or so it appears, because we never can trust what we read or hear from there anymore). So I am going to use this blog post as a place to vent out all of my frustrations… here is my list:

  • Jacques Sylla showing up at May 13th and also stating that Andry Rajoelina is now the new president of the republic.
  • That we have heard nothing but misinformation from TGV and rarely anything from TIM, is there a media bias?
  • The TGV just stating de facto that the current government is not capable of running and therefore they are now governing.
  • That the TGV are constantly lying to people and misinforming everyone of the news to manipulate the public behaviour.
  • That TGV took out any non-TGV source of news by hijacking TVM and RNM.
  • That it has come to having an early election and that I have no faith in the elections being fair if they did take place.
  • That Andry Rajoelina can make up an imaginary title “High Authority of Transition” or HAT, and pretend like it is legitimate in allowing him to control the country. But also the fact that he promises elections within two years… probably just after he has time to change the constitution.

That is quite a list isn’t it? It’s not in any particular order other than how they came to mind. But lets start from the top:

Jacques Sylla

I wonder why he has come out of the woodwork (maybe he has been out of the woodwork for longer than I know, but still). He resigned as prime minister of Madagascar after Ravalomanana’s first term had ended around January 2007. Then he gets elected as president of the national assembly and is “associated” with the TIM party, though I don’t think it was by choice.

So why is he there all of the sudden? Was there some sort of fall out that caused the resignation? Is he just appearing because he thinks that he will end up on the winning side? Or is it because there was a very sweet back room offer for him to come out and tip the scales on perception of the government?

I guess, really, I don’t care why. I just detest the fact that he just comes right out and stated that Andry Rajoelina is the president of the republic “tsy misy vahaolana ankoatra ny fialan’ny filoha’ny repoblika”.  And also the fact that all of the TGV camp are stating that the government is now incapable of running with quotes such as this: “There is only one solution, the resignation of the head of state,” said Jacques Sylla. “As president of the national assembly, I have to recognize reality.” When did this reality happen? When you were brainwashed?

Media Bias

Now, this one here is my own perception of things and my opinion, but I know that there is a lot of people out there that agree with me. Lets start it of with a statement, where the hell is media coverage of the president! I have been going through article after article, video after video and at best, I hear a reference to the president. But most of the time I see that various publications are having phone interviews with Andry Rajoelina and various side-kicks. Most articles I have read seem to paint the president as finished in a broad sort of way, or if Ravalomanana is having a good day that he is doing something wrong. There is only one place where I have found information on the president (aside from his own website)… and that is by Malagasy person that uploads videos/audio to the net. You can find him/her (not sure which) at http://www.dailymotion.com/webmalagasy most of them are in Malagasy. Most of the media are great though, I have to give them that, I would just like more coverage of the “other” side of the story instead of tending towards Andry Rajoelina (I don’t blame them if they couldn’t get in touch obviously).

Self declaring government

I can’t really put my finger on why people would not be upset about the TGV just breaking into buildings, declaring (in their humble opinion) that the government cannot function and then stating that they are in control.  Here is a translated quote from Monja “The National Assembly, the Senate and the Government are currently unable to normally perform the functions which are reserved for him by the Constitution and which they are largely disputed by the whole of the population which does not recognize any more any legitimacy to them” Are they mad? Have they checked with the whole population? Sometimes in my head I relate this to a cartoon… maybe like Pinky and the Brain, where he is out for world domination and he is using some sort of mind control device that has people mindlessly following every move/command he makes. What could possibly make these people think that just saying and doing these things, now and all along makes them legitimate? Have people forgotten about elections and what they are for? Or that there are other people in Madagascar that may want a say in this? The TGV are like a gang, extorting and threatening their way to the top… and if that is the government you end up with it would be sad. I wanted to say that everyone will get their cummupins, but I thought that wouldn’t be fair considering that they will only end up being more miserable because of their non-elected government.

Lying, Threatening and Violence

I eluded to this above… and as I mentioned, the TGV are behaving like some sort of street gang, it’s like they control the streets (they probably do). They have and continue to do a lot of shady things, but I think the worst of it is just the general feeling that you have to watch everything you say when you go out to do your daily business, that you are not safe. I have read about it and have had it confirmed by my own family who had to run into a building to avoid being in the path of oncoming supporters. It is almost like Andry Rajoelina is a godfather type of gangster character, and some of his supporters are like the thugs that go out and break your leg if you didn’t pay back that loan you got from them.

Then there’s the lies and misinformation that people are constantly inundated with, it has obviously had a huge impact on the outcome of this coup. Yup, that’s right… coup. One of the things that is consistent with them is how they are always telling their supporters that everything they are doing is “for the people”. Was incitining them to loot, burn, pillage “for the people”? Prices have gone up like crazy as a result and there are fewer stores to buy from now. Was telling them that the presidential palace was “the people’s palace” for them as well? It is like one of those very annoying tag lines you see on a commercial or something that drives you mad… and what is more maddening is that it works. People are doing things they wouldn’t normally do because somehow he is empowering them with this nonsense. There are more “people” than just your crowd Andry Rajoelina… I bet you are going to break the constitution “for the people” too.

Taking control of other media

This is just a very unhappy end to the above point, now the poor Malagasy people have nothing to watch or listen to because it is all controlled by TGV. TGV hijacked TVM and RNM and are now broadcasting their propaganda over their airwaves as well. It has been confirmed that at least TVM is clearly biased towards TVM… but you would think they both would be if they were just taken over. I absolutely despise their strategy,  but unfortunately it is turning out to be effective both for programming their supporters, but also for excuses to do things… kinda like the excuse “weapons of mass destruction”.

The referendum

I think this is smart, but sad at the same time. Smart because this could possibly expose TGV for what it really is, a criminal organization (because if you send people to die, loot, break into government buildings, steal radio and TV networks and threaten newspapers… shouldn’t you be called a criminal organization?). It is a trap basically because it will do three things:

  1. Will provide for a democratic means of solving the problem. If  the people (meaning all people everywhere in Madagascar, not just Antananarivo) want TGV, then they will get them. At least someone is doing something “for the people” right?
  2. Because Andry Rajoelina is not 40, he cannot possibly be elected, someone else will have to be. It would be against the constitution to elect Andry Rajoelina… he could not participate.
  3. Shows a willingness of the incumbent government to go to a democratic method of resolving the crisis. This will obviously come with International support so denying this process would seriously affect TGV (not that it wouldn’t already).

I suspect that Andry Rajoelina will never agree to this because of #2 and will want to continue to push for Ravalomanana’s resignation… he is more likely to find a way to take Ravalomanana out than to agree to lose his nice little HAT position. But even if there were elections, who really thinks that they would be free of tampering? TGV would go out of their way to either threaten or coerce people to vote for them, or just plain cheat. And… to top it all off… even if Ravalomanana was elected a 3rd time, they would contest the results, saying they are invalid and would call for a rally because the vote was rigged. I truly believe they want to get to power just by walking into the government building and stating they are the government. And with people like that, who knows what would happen to the constitution and the country.

HAT

And if we didn’t go to a referendum and somehow Andry Rajoelina became the HAT of the country (as if that is supposed to = president)? He is basically violating the constitution by being in power, and who here believes that he would call an election in 2 years, raise you hand! I don’t… I think the first order of business would be to change the constitution to allow for him to be there. Either that, or he would make some excuses to postpone the elections, probably something to do with money and people being poor… why not? It has worked well for him up to this point right?

OK… I do have to sleep, and I am approaching 2000 words, but hey, I have WAY too much to say.

Anyway… let’s hope that nothing violent happens tomorrow and that we all just head into another election over there. OK, who am I kidding… I don’t even believe that. I am sure something bad will happen tomorrow, I don’t have any faith at all that TGV will ever accept a referendum, so they will have to approach the president in another way.