Rajoelina on tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SADC to the world: Military coups pay off

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

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

Meanwhile, in Madagascar:

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

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

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

Former presidents not welcome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rajoelina Shuffle

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

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

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

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

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

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