Terrorism reigns

I have been watching, but have not had time to comment on all the things that have happened since my last blog post… I can hardly believe that there is so much to write about in a matter of 4 days. And for some of the things, it seems like deja vue as they have  parallels to what has already happened since January 26th:

  • Marc Ravalomanana shut down VIVA, infuriating people and starting the daily demonstrations at May 13th.
  • Andry Rajoelina shuts down TVM and RNM, infuriating people and starting more aggressive demonstrations.
  • Marc Ravalomanana stops people from accessing May 13th square.
  • Andry Rajoelina stops people from accessing Ambohijatovo.

These are the only similarities, really, it is the way in which the Ravalomanana and Rajoelina handle public discontent that is very different.

Marc Ravalomanana knew when it was time to back away from a decision, especially if it would result in violence, and he tended to respect people and democracy.

Andry Rajoelina doesn’t seem to back away from any decision, regardless of whether or not it results in violence. We already know that he does not respect democracy by the simple act of not allowing people to vote for their new leader, but he is also trying to censor information, is installing his own people in place of elected officials to the head of almost every institution (regardless of what the public thinks), and is on a regular basis allowing acts of violence to transpire against the Malagasy people.

I guess you could say that the real difference is that Marc Ravalomanana cared about Madagascar and Andry Rajoelina doesnt. Marc may have been seen as cocky, or arrogant, but he never caused any problems for the people of Madagascar and most of the time he had the interests of the country in mind. Andry Rajoelina has only one thing in mind, keeping his power, and he has shown time and time again that he will stay the course regardless of what happens in the country.

And this is what scares me about Andry Rajoelina, that he is willing to do anything to carry out whatever evil plan he has in mind. It is ridiculous that in approximately 4 days the HAT has (from Sobika/TopMada/Twitter/Articles):

  • Closed down 2 radio/tv stations.
  • Banned public rallies
  • Stopping protests by force with:
    • 9 people died
    • 38 people injured
  • Have threatened doctors, according to Jose Andrianjatovo, Department head of the HJRA. It is suspected that the HAT are forcing the HJRA to not report the true casualties and is hiding bodies.
  • Dismissed and replaced four high ranking officials: the Prefect of police of Antananarivo, the Managing director of the BIANCO, the office which fights against corruption, the Managing director of the CIS, service of investigation and intelligence and the Managing director of the national police force.
  • Announced 19 new directors for the gendarmerie.
  • Ministry of Interior lied to the people to say the military had not fired on people at all.
  • Ministry of Environment lies and states that there has been no looting of rosewood since April 12th.
  • Has attempted to seize all bank accounts belonging to TIKO and Marc Ravalomanana.
  • Cause the Central bank to continue their strike because of threats against them and threats to use force.
  • Their new mayor of Fianarantsoa (Pety Rakotoniaina) states that “During the transition, the legalists have no right to speak”.
  • HAT PM lied stating that the legalists had guns and fired on the army/police first so they had to defend themselves.
  • Detaining executives of TELMA
  • According to the radio Fahazavana, 4 women were taken by the military and 4  pro-Ravalomanana deputies and senators including Senator Lanto Rabenantoandro, Henri Randrianjatovo were arrested in Ambanidia. Also 4 university students were taken as well.
  • Continue to hold Razily the student protestor that marched defiantly towards the army carrying a flag.
  • Accused legalists of having mercenaries, but have a 4×4 full of armed unidentified people giving police orders and chasing demonstrators.
  • Appointed 8 heads of regions in place of elected ones.
  • Caused taxis/buses to go on strike between Tana and Ivato due to threats.
  • Arrested 28 legalists.
  • Have blocked all entrances and exits at the HJRA with the army, controlling who goes in or out.
  • Andry Rajoelina announced the customs exemption of the sporting equipment.
  • Andry Rajoelina announced free 30 day visas to tourists.

This is unbelievable… and it just continues to get worse. I really don’t see the situation improving especially in light of all the censorship and oppression that the HAT government is putting on people. This will just be a catalyst for more violence because people are not going to allow themselves to be muzzled by the government. They will continue to rally and perhaps even riot because people and the country continue to get poorer with every passing day of a HAT government and because they have no one to turn to because they cannot trust the police, army or government. The more the HAT government tries to stop this from happening the more dire the situation will become… I am scared to see what is going to happen next. And if the riots don’t come from the oppression, they will most certainly come from desperation because if Andry Rajoelina thinks that free visas to a country run by terrorist or a custom exception for sporting equipment is going to save the country’s economy… then Madagascar is doomed.

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Return of the ex-presidents

Don’t you find it amazing that a crisis that had initially started out with only 2 parties, TIM and TGV now has four? How did this happen?

I am not sure for how long, but the AU and UN have been holding talks between envoys of Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana to try and discuss a possible end to the crisis. This makes sense, though judging from the previous rounds of talks between Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana this will most likely be an exercise in futility. But what doesn’t make sense is why we now have Albert Zafy and envoys for Didier Ratsiraka at the table. I thought this discussion was for a possible end to the crisis in Madagascar? How exactly does introducing new parties into the negotiations help matters? Well, it doesn’t… some might say that they are their because they will form some sort of other “transitional government”, which is probably true to an extent, but I highly doubt that they have even gotten that far in the talks so it is irrelevant. How can you hope to discuss peace and establish conditions for crisis resolution when you have 2 other people adding to the complexity of the talks with their own conditions and agendas?

Well, you can’t… because it doesn’t make sense. How can you trust this dialog will  go anywhere when you are trying to negotiate with 3 opposing parties? How did they even become involved in these talks? You might want to point a finger at both Andry Rajoelina and the UN envoy that is conducting the talks. There is an article here that points out that the UN envoy may not be trustworthy as he has already assisted Andry Rajoelina by providing him with sanctuary when he was to be arrested. But it also appears that the envoy of the AU could be a problem as well as he is married to a Malagasy woman close to the family of Pascal Rakotomavo, former Prime Minister of Ratsiraka and supporter Andry Rajoelina.

If this information has any credibility, it could mean that the UN and AU envoys are in the pocket of Andry Rajoelina or Didier Ratsiraka in which case all is lost. Especially since the envoy for Marc Ravalomanana have left discussions because  “it was a dialogue of the deaf”. This seems to be a very clever way to do one of three things:

  1. Provide more legitimacy for Andry Rajoelina.
  2. Provide talks of a new transitional government with all remaining parties and re-introduce one of the two ex-presidents as interim President.
  3. Discredit Marc Ravalomanana in front of the international community for walking out on negotiations.

If these parties are taking part in transparent/independent  “democratic negotiations”, despite the fact that all parties involved could possibly be corrupt (a fact that most people wouldn’t know anyway), then everyone will look as though they are striving towards a common democratic goal… everyone except Marc Ravalomanana. If we go back a bit on some theories that I share with a lot of people regarding Andry Rajoelina being a puppet of Didier Ratsiraka then you can see the makings of a very clever, but dirty underhanded plan (or conspiracy theory). Andry Rajoelina’s government has never gained recognition outside of Madagascar, so it is essentially illegal. His government has been going out of its way to free “political” prisoners, freeing up the return of the AREMA party and they have been systematically replacing people in high positions and repressing any dissent. So… if they were to work towards a “transitional government” or even a permanent one, what better way to do it than through the use of a temporary illegal one? Since it is only temporary it can force people to do what they want initially and pave the way for another more permanent government and since it is illegal it has to be replaced. Now that Marc Ravalomanana’s envoy has left the discussion I have no doubts in my mind that all the remaining parties will continue to talk and will eventually come to an agreement. Then, I would say that it is “mission accomplished” for whomever is behind all of this because now they have taken away any possibility of external assistance from Marc Ravalomanana because the solution was born of the UN/AU and political parties. Then you will either have the HAT stay on as “transitional government” or have Albert Zafy lead a new transitional government. And finally you will see an election where you will have Albert Zafy (possibly) and either Didier Ratsiraka or Pierrot Rajaonarivelo among others running for president with Marc Ravalomanana remaining an outlaw from his own country.

I hope that makes sense, but at the same time I hope that I am completely wrong.  There is nothing that infuriates me more than to see corruption spread itself so far that there is no possibility for truth and democracy. This whole thing is starting to appear as some sort of enourmous well thought out master plan that I hope never succeeds.  I guess we will see what next week brings.

Just for reference, I have tried to pluck all of the announcements/policies/actions made by the HAT in list form so it is easily viewed (in no particular order):

  • 22 region heads have been dismissed by HAT
  • Ndriarijaona gave an ultimatum to the ex-presidential guard to join them or be deserters.
  • HAT interim health minister and Telecommunications, Andriamananoro Augustine, tries to replace head of Befelatanana, Paul Rajaonarivelo, who has been at this post for 35 years. Andriamananoro Augustine faces strike and revolt when trying to replace him with a general practitioner, Dr. Dolores Rasolofiakarana, and states that they violate the ethics of law and medicine.
  • HAT education minister has replaced the headmaster of Lycée Moderne d’Ampefiloha, Nirina Razafindralambo, with their own headmaster. The previous headmaster was taken from the school and his whereabouts is unknown though it is suspected he is being held by CAPSAT.
  • Employees of Central bank went on strike when Monja Roindefo and HAT government attempt to impose their own rules on the bank.
  • HAT installs Pety Rakotoniaina, criminal, as mayor of Fianarantsoa. He was jailed for 12 years of hard labor for robbery, conspiracy and attempted coup with General Andrianafidisoa.
  • HAT plans to install new mayor in Toamasina.
  • Alain ANDRIAMISEZA a leading pro-legalist was arrested yesterday because of his vision of democracy, and that they were able to show for two months and the legalistic demonstrated peacefully for a week. He also pointed out that during their demonstration, there has been no vandalism or looting, or buildings burned.
  • Army/police have harrassed and incarcerated bloggers and journalists, forcing them to delete all photos taken at the site of confrontation with the police/army 03-30. They have used tear gas every day there was a rally and have open fire with live bullets on the crowd in a non-red zone.
  • HAT minister of security announces that any rallies require a permit from the AUC. Warning that organizers of the events are responsible before the law in case of overflow or acts of vandalism or damage of persons, private or public property. Gives a permit almost immediately to released criminals so they can occupy Ambohijatovo to prevent rallies.
  • HAT suspends parliament.
  • HAT removes Madagascar from SADC. The SADC represents a single market valued at $ 360 billion and 431 billion with the entry of Angola and the Congo. 15 countries are part of the SADC bloc including Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa and Mozambique. The objectives of SADC are the customs union in 2010, the common market in 2015 and the single currency in 2018.
  • HAT assigns a new headmaster to Lycée Jules Ferry.
  • MP William Rakoto went missing when pro-legalists were prevented from going to May 13th square.
  • HAT has military search mines and private businesses for weapons or mercenaries.
  • HAT is regularily commandeering TIKO trucks.
  • HAT has lowered wages and stripped benefits from civil workers
  • HATs finances depend on the sale of Force One, mysterious owed taxes from TIKO and the money that would come from the foreign contracts they are re-opening in hopes of obtaining extra money.
  • HAT has fired ambassadors abroad for not agreeing with their government.
  • HAT minister of education mandates that all learning is to be done in French rather than Malagasy.
  • HAT is going to draft a new constitution with it’s own rules once they have stacked government.
  • HAT has filled 10 of 11 seats of the HCC with its own members.
  • HAT appoints Ranary Robertson as the new Attorney General of the Supreme Court.
  • HAT gets almost all non-humanitarian aid suspsended to the country. France continues to support Madagascar and the EU supports Madagascar until their contract is up.

Remember, all of this was done in just 22 business days (5 days, Mon – Fri) of being in office.

The youngest puschist never elected as president

Nicolas Sarkozy might have ruined my conspiracy theory regarding France by announcing the TGV government as a coup d’etat, but my other theory (and many other  people’s) seems to becoming closer to being true.  Today in a lavish inauguration party (complete with fireworks I have heard and Rossy, which probably drew the crowd only to see the free show) Andry Rajoelina was sworn in as president of the High Authority of the Transition, a completely fabricated post in the government that is his  “work around” for it currently not being constitutionally possible to be pronounced president. A bit of good news is that there were no international ambassadors present at the inauguration to recognize Andry Rajoelina’s new post.

The  interesting part of the inauguration to me is not necessarily the amount of money that was spent on this inauguration, but instead it is what was  said during his acceptance speech (if that is what you call it), namely:

  • A pardon for political prisoners and reduced sentences for certain prisoners.
  • A “thanks” to the exiled Didier Ratsiraka or Pierrot Rajaonarivelo or both.

I guess it goes without saying that nearly everyone on the watching the crisis unfold were positive that Andry Rajoelina could not perform this coup on his own, and had help from more seasoned, experienced politicians. So doesn’t saying “thank you” to anyone exiled to France implicitly acknowledge they were responsible to some degree of his success? And doesn’t issueing a “pardon” allow the potential for most of the Arema party to come out freely into the open or return from exile? And if you are saying “thank you” to a certain exiled someone in France, could that not also mean that a pardon followed for the 8 million USD of Malagasy swindled away? I guess the interview and the inauguration could mean anything, but I think they are pretty good hints of what is to come.

His  “thanks” takes me back to what was said on the 18th, a day after the fall of Marc Ravalomanana when the media had an interview with exiled politician Pierrot Rajaonarivelo (see here). The article itself was very up and down, on one hand, he was delighted that Andry Rajoelina had accomplished what he has and called for the inclusion of exiled politicians from 2002 in their solution, and on the other hand he was denouncing the government as a coup d’etat. Here are some of the quotes from that article:

“In my opinion, what has happened has not always respected the legality of things, so what we have today is an insurrectional government, a coup d’etat,” he told Reuters late on Tuesday.

Rajaonarivelo was prevented from running in the 2006 election after his return to Madagascar was blocked by the former government.

He said he had been in contact with Rajoelina during the months-long stand-off that led to the ousting of the president. “I’m with Rajoelina, we’ve met,” he said. “We have a sort of deal and I’m among the people behind him but I think as far as his approach is concerned, there’s a bit of amateurism there.” Rajaonarivelo said that any solution would have to include opposition politicians exiled after 2002.

“That’s too long! Why and for what reason is he taking 24 months as his starting point?” he said, adding that the constitutional court should have been involved by declaring the presidency vacant and regulating a handover of power. (When speaking of having elections within 2 years)

Though it was a somewhat odd interview, it seems to confirm a couple of things. The first, that Pierrot and no doubt his affiliates seem to want to distance themselves from this new government. The second, is that along with the fact that Pierrot tried in 2006 tried to return to run for office, that he specifically states that “any” solution would have to include exiled politicians from 2002.  Combining the swearing in and the interview pretty much paves the way for the return of the Arema party, whether or not that includes Didier Ratsiraka. Time will tell I suppose, if in time we start to see exiled politicians showing up in Madagascar and they start to offer an alternative to the HAT, then we know we could be on to something. Midi-Madagasikara had a funny cartoon that best describes the HAT:

This is so true

But not everyone was happy about the inauguration, there were approximately 3000 people (though it looked like more) people in starting at Ambohijatovo and ending at May 13th square to protest the terrorist government TGV. According to this article in TopMada, this will be the first protest in a series of protests against the new government. One person at the rally stated “TGV (Rajoelina) is not our president. No moment he consulted us to do what he did. The democracy, it is to consult the people by the ballot boxes. Only the ballot boxes interest us. We want to be heard immediately. ” There are also rumours that have been spreading that not all of the army is with the TGV government as well. On the official TIM website you can find a “DECLARATION DES MILITAIRES BASES A IVATO” stating that the BANI and RFI  are preparing to hold CAPSAT to military law for what they have done.  Thought it is still thought of as a rumour, the fact that it was posted on the TIM site and that my own family have told me that there are flyers going out everywhere regarding this gives it a least a little more credibility. One of the protesters at the rally stated  “the sign sent by the international community should make the army reflect. The true army will join us soon, you will see. There is the whole world with us. We are not afraid”. If you would like to see many pictures of the Pro-TIM rally at May 13th square and Ambohijatovo, you can find many pictures here at AndryDago’s blog.

We will see in the coming weeks what turns out to be true and what doesn’t,  but what is true for certain is that this is not the end of trouble in Madagascar, just a new beginning.


Never to separate from France

A lot of us have probably been sitting on the edge of our collective seats waiting for what would happen around the world regarding how Andry Rajoelina’s government would be taken. Would the world just sit quiet and let it pass, or would it take action and collectively disapprove of how this TGV government achieved power.  My worst fear was that the international community was going to be complancent about the whole thing and attempt to continue on normally as if nothing happened.

THANKFULLY, the AU/SADC do not recognize Andry Rajoelina or his government and called for the suspension of Madagascar from the SADC and AU as well as urging the international community not to recognize Andry Rajoelina. Zambia’s foreign affairs minister, Kabinga Pande stated “(It’s) a setback and danger to the entrenchment of democracy and constitutional rule on the continent which should not be allowed to take root,” he said in a statement in government newspapers.” There was also a comment from Tomaz Salmomao regarding the coup stating: “You are aware that the president of the republic resigned yesterday and he hand over the power to a military directory themselves also transferred the power to the former mayor of Antananavivo,” [said Mr. Salmomao.] “So in practical terms we have a military coup. In view of that and because Madagascar is a SADC member state, SADC has to take a position.”

The US was right behind the AU regarding the coup, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said “”We view this as undemocratic transfer of power” and that they were going to re-evaluate their aid to the country. The EU also refused to recognize Andry Rajoelina,  “This was a coup d’etat, this was not a democratic election said  Karel Schwarzenberg the Czech foreign minister on the first day of a two-day EU summit in Brussels. Norway was also quick to respond, I tweeted an article I found on 03/18/09 at a Norwegian blog stating that they are freezing all bilateral aid to Madagascar stating: “We are assessing the situation on an ongoing basis. Any takeover of power that is not in line with democratic rules will have consequences for Norwegian aid to Madagascar,” commented Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.

It is really good to know that people are recognizing this so-called government for what it is, an illegitimate mob government, who achieved power using bribes, misinformation and force.  This as a relief in the sense that people are recognizing the wrongs that Andry Rajoelina has committed against democracy. Speaking of democracy, I found a funny quote from Andry Rajoelina that he said to a crowd at May 13th square: “We will bring about the return to a normal life, to security and above all national reconciliation, which is at the heart of democracy.” The heart of democracy? Who is he to talk about the heart of democracy? It was just 2 days ago he had the army holding AK47s on his hostages to get them to transfer presidential power to him and was mistreating a high ranking member of the church. Incredible!

Almost everyone on the net and even in Madagascar has stated at one time or another that they think this whole crisis has been linked to France, especially since in 2002 Ravalomanana began to distance the country from them. So I have some points that I think might lead to a good conspiracy theory:

I thought it might be fun to outline how odd France’s behaviour seems to have been throughout the crisis and especially towards the end. Smells like a little bit of France with a touch of exiled Arema politicians don’t you think? And who else could have orchestrated and funded such a coup? Especially one that looks very similar to what Ravalomanana had to do in 2002 because of the outcome of the elections, the dates and the methods just make it look like this is revenge.

Well… that’s enough from the conspiracy portion of my mind, and now onto something that I am wondering about, especially in light of the fact that Andry Rajoelina states that he is going to bring prices down. What is going to happen to Marc Ravalomanana’s businesses? Before Ravalomanana was president he already owned most of the business (if not all), so is the TGV government going to take them and nationalize them? Will he let them continue to run as they are (if they are even running)? What will people do without TIKO? As far as I knew that was the most affordable variety food products available to the malagasy people. I know I enjoyed the yoghurt, milk, juice, soda, and it was priced well vs. the imports. How is Andry Rajoelina going to keep prices down if this brand is gone? If they are gone, then I suspect there will a lot more imports and less local brands which to me, doesn’t translate into lower prices.

I think that Andry Rajoelina has bitten off a bit more than he can chew, and it will only be a matter of time before “the people”, as he so enthusiastically calls them, will realize how he has pulled the wool over their eyes. And considering how tired “the people” are of the political turmoil and the high priced goods that resulted from it, he is going to have to start helping the poor a lot faster than he thinks. If what this political science professor says is true, then Ravalomanana was making good progress on helping the country which would have eventually translated into helping the poor. But since the political strife, it looks like the reset button has been pressed on the progress on Madagascar and if Andry sticks around, he will be unpopular in very short order.

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.

Victims of Misinformation

I have been trying to keep the blog up to date as much as possible, but with the speed of the news that is coming out of Madagascar and lack of personal time, it has been hard to strike a balance. I have also been trying to come up with a timeline that I can put up somewhere on this website that will follow the events from start to finish in English. You might have noticed that there is a page called “Crisis Timeline” I am going to try and put the updates there starting from 01/26/09 to now…. there is a lot of information so I don’t have any idea how I am going to fit it all on one page without having to make people scroll forever.

As for the news, what can you say? On 03/11/09 we were all petrified that there was going to be a military takeover and that Madagascar could possibly end up falling into another form of military dictatorship, because of course, the first thing that people think about when thinking of military  rule is 26 years of Didier Ratsiraka. The good news is… there is no longer a 72 hour deadline. The bad news is… the deadline was cancelled by the “new” chief of the army Col. André Ndriarijaona because the former chief Gen. Edmond Rasolomahandry was forced to resign by the mutineering soldiers from CAPSAT.  This is a bad sign for 2 reasons:

  1. Normally the Chief of the General-Staff for the army is appointed by the president.
  2. So, if the new Chief is not chosen by the president and does not take orders from the government, then who do they take their orders from?

So far, media has reported that the commanders of nine military barracks in Antananarivo have joined forces with some 600 rebel troops of the CAPSAT. Clearly from the statement that they “follow their hearts” and the fact that some soldiers have been seen using the TGV “peace” symbol that at least some of them are aligned TGV. It seems are being toyed and TGV wants to make us question everything. An anonymous observer of the military situation states (TopMada.com): “To avoid panic and the worsening situation, it is very important that people are vigilant in relation to rumors and brainwashing (…) It must make a clear distinction between the ‘rebels’ and the army . The army is legalistic. She claims, but remains united to the side of the Gendarmerie and the Police to protect the population. The ‘rebels’ are composed of real and fake soldiers to overthrow the power, “. Could it be that they are just removing the appointed chief because of the 72 hour ultimatum and wish to keep their position neutral? Or could this new chief be someone appointed by the TGV? I guess we will never know until it is all over, but I would like to think that the military wanted to leave resolving the crisis to the politicians and the protection to them. I am certain though that TGV will do their best to misrepresent the military in order to trick everyone into thinking they control more of the military than they really do.

So was it just the TGV rebels that started forcing resignations? The resignations started with  Gen. Edmond Rasolomahandry, followed by Mamy Solofoniaina Ranaivoniarivo who just a month ago replaced Cecile Manorohanta as Defence Minister. Both men were held hostage by the mutineers until they had signed their resignations after which they were set free. Yesterday (03/12/09) there was a meeting between Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara and the opposition Prime Minister Roindefo Zafitsimivalo Monja and there were rumours that the army/rebels had surrounded the residence (not confirmed), but there were no details on the agenda or the outcome of that meeting. This morning the mutineering military submitted their demands to the president which included threatening undertones that harm would come to Marc Ravalomanana or his family should he not step down. Col. Noel Rakotonandrasa (part of the mutinied military) was quoted today as saying “For sure there will be no resistance. But if there is any, there’s other solutions we can discuss with the presidential guard. We want the president to go, so he should resign at once.”. This and the armies/rebels demands have now prompted fears of  that the mutineering military will attempt to assassinate Marc Ravalomanana or his family. Marc Ravalomanana acknowledges as much in the same article by stating “My assassination would not be in your interest. The people would suffer, and the international community would not accept it. Once again, I call on the army and the forces of order to remain united, and remain neutral.”

At the moment it is really unclear how much of the military is now following Col. André Ndriarijaona as it is very hard with the media in Madagascar to tell what is true and what is not. One could speculate that there may be a good part of army and police force now under his control since Ravalomanana and pro-TIM radio stations have called upon supporters for the protection of the ministries as well as the presidential palace. But it will probably turn out to be an illusion that was fabricated by TGV and media to make it seem to everyone that they have full control. There was an interesting press kit that was just released today by AllAfrica.com that states this as background for the crisis:

“For over two months, the movement led by the former mayor of the capital, Andry Rajoelina, has been grinding the country to a stand-still, refusing to dialogue unless the President resigns, calling all citizens to strikes, encouraging looting and violence. His supporters have sent threats to Ministers, senators, deputies, military and police officers, schools, and businesses to the individuals and their families. Mr Rajoelina’s private radio station, Viva, has been broadcasting propaganda, threatening anyone who might resist their movement and inciting the army to insurgency. After each rally organised by the movement, shops were looted and burnt, the house of an advisor to the President was pillaged and set alight. Andry Rajoelina proclaimed himself President of the “High Authority for Transition”, began naming his “own” Prime Minister and Ministers, and ordered all civil servants to follow his command. He called for his supporters to storm the Ministries, four of which were broken into by his supporters, who were later removed by the legal armed forces. The former mayor continued to ask for the President to step down, refusing to negotiate, even though the President repeatedly agreed to dialogue.”

It does sound very biased, but if you think about it, most of the information there is true. There have been many fires, break ins, looting and propaganda ever since TGV movement had begun. You hear stories about people being afraid of voicing any sort of political opinion for fear of their life, and just recently 5 of the publications in Madagascar have stopped publishing their news because of threats against their buildings and reporters.

The real problem is the consequences of what Andry Rajoelina is doing and has done. We have already seen the enourmous loss of life, jobs, and personal property that are a direct result of TGV rallies. As recently reported, there was hundreds of millions of Ariary in damages, and it is going to take quite some time before any of the buildings that were destroyed will be rebuilt, if they are going to be rebuilt. The tourism industry is in dire straights, and there is no telling how much of the industry will remain or if people will be comfortable travelling to Madagascar after the crisis is over. Foreign investment will surely be scaled back, and depending on the outcome of the crisis could be significantly less. But the absolute worst part about all of what Andry Rajoelina is doing is that it is being done in a non-democratic way. There is absolutely no way the rest of the world would ever support a non-elected government that was forced upon the Malagasy. There have been statements from the EU/AU/Vatican and pretty much everyone else that will condemn this, and would not contribute another dollar to help Madagascar. Without this money, Madagascar is going to either be in a complete standstill in terms of progress, or worse, will start to rapidly decline. If he was so concerned about the poor people he would not be moving forward in an anti-democratic way to take control of the country, he would leave it to people across the country to elect him or the next president in 2011.

I have found some interesting articles that you might want to take a look at here:

Madagascar, Mired in Poverty, Lures Exxon Oil Search

Millennium Challenge Corporation

Why Madagascar is poor

15 days

Today is the second day in which TGV supporters could not reach May 13th square to continue their protest, the army had the area blocked off again before sunrise. In addition to the square being blocked off, there is heavy military presence around places like Ministries and Commercial areas, there are very few places now that TGV supporters can protest. From this point on, it is probably safe to say that Tana is in military lock down until there is stability.

Yesterday the army was quite busy dealing with rioters and “suspicious” people (whatever that means) resulting in a great deal of arrests for the day (including 31 in Mahajanga for looting).  There were also some reports of death (1 or 2) and injuries, but aside from that I could didn’t see any anything else other than reports of some confusion for non-rioting people and that some frustrated TGV supporters attacked CEG Antanimena. I am not sure if this is the same college that I mentioned yesterday when referring to what AndryDago had mentioned on his blog, but it seems it was true that some supporters were angry that there were people going to school when there was supposed to be a general strike. Here is a quote from a student via TopMada.com:

“Ils nous ont tiré par le col de notre chemise parce que nous ne sortions pas assez rapidement à leur goût. Et ils ont menacé de brûler le collège si nous ne sortions pas de nos classes”

Roughly translated by Google:

“They drew us by the collar from our shirt because we do not leave rather quickly to their taste. And they threatened to burn the college if we do not leave our classes”

What suprised about this is that it had prompted condemnation from UNICEF, “les menaces et intimidation (exercées) mercredi par certains groupes d’individus contre des élèves et des enseignants” or translated “the threats and intimidation (exerted) Wednesday by certain groups of individuals against pupils and teachers”. I thought this would have been something that might have flew beneath the radar, but it appears that the crisis in Madagascar is being more closely watched.

One thing that I saw that bothered me is that while reading through articles today, there was a sense that Ravalomana is only acting on the rioting now because of outcome of his meetings with members of the AU on Tuesday. From what I have read the AU stated more or less that the crisis must be resolved in 15 days or else the AU summit will be moved from Madagascar. Does this mean that JUST because of the potential for losing the AU summit we are now seeing a hard/fast response to the crisis? It would be terrible if this is the sole reason that we are seeing a response now rather than the  silence that we were used to. If this resolves the crisis though, I guess it is better late than never.

But now there seems to be some plans by TGV to organize another “dia be” for Saturday. Andry Rajoelina stated over Radio Antsiva that his followers must dress in white on Saturday to go for a march starting from May 13th square, but hasn’t stated where they are going yet.  If he says it is a dia be, then it will probably be a long march odds are that they are going to do a walk to Lavoloha.

Since there has been relative silence from TGV, it seems to me that the military blocking off May 13th square has been fairly effective in disrupting them. This announcement for me represents the next desperate attempt to gain support and attention, and if they do actually announce they are going to Lavoloha then it will most likely end badly for the people who march there (much like the marches on 05/13/1991 and 08/10/2002).  I guess we will see.