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Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Maputo II: Arrests. Former ruler, Admiral Ratsiraka reclaims Madagascar

In Elections, French, Politics, Terror on August 26, 2009 at 6:35 pm

So predictable, but yet, surprise to some local journalists: the long-time domineering ruler of Madagascar, Admiral Didier Ratsiraka reclaims the leadership of  the transition, report Sobika, Madagascar Tribune, and L’Express de Madagascar.

This comes as a “surprise” to some journalists who evidently have not observed Madagascar history or have underestimated Ratsiraka keen sense of strategy. Ratsiraka has been a domineering ruler for over twenty years, hated and feared by many but uncontested until the emergence of then prominent businessman Ravalomanana, who became fed-up of the system, and who embodied all oppressed and repressed parties. Lately, local media had reported that Ratsiraka just wanted to retire peacefully in his homestead on the East Coast of Madagascar. Partially true, maybe. But it would almost be inconceivable to imagine Ratsiraka staying “lost” on the East Coast.

This is an extraordinary man who graduated from one French elite military school, managed to stay in power in Madagascar for over twenty years, changed Madagascar to fit his personal eclectic vision of socialism through his famous “Red Book”, managed to “avoid” extradition from his country of asylum, France, and consequently, the international tribunal of La Haye for crimes of genocide and against humanity (Gazety.Malagasy, Midi Madagascar, Prevent Genocide International).

This is a man who has been suspected to be behind the Rajoelina-led movement, according to several local media reports and some foreign media as well. Ratsiraka is not and will never be the “aging, fragile” politician that local media have decrypted lately. Ratsiraka is and will remain a man of power, and certainly a redoubtable and resourceful adversary to Rajoelina and all parties involved in Madagascar politics. Ratsiraka cannot be ruled out of the picture. He is a charismatic speaker, an influential political and military figure, utmost capable of reinventing himself.

Is Madagascar going back under Ratsiraka rule? Maputo II may not reach its resolution goal in a timely manner. At this point, it becomes evident, according to local medias, that Ratsiraka’s motivation is not the interest of the country. Neither are the motivations of those who are behind Rajoelina. Observers were doomed to have realized that Maputo I was the endorsement of Ratsiraka come-back. But is was a necessary risk in an attempt to resolving the months-long deadlock.

In the meantime, negotiations are threatened: at this writing, Taiwan News reports that five Malagasy armed men have just been arrested in Maputo upon suspicion of  disturbing negotiations.

Ravalomanana, unlike other members of the negotiating parties, was escorted upon arrival by military men, had reported Midi Madagascar. Evidently, Ravalomanana security and safety remain a subject of concern. Public safety and security have been quasi nonexistent in Madagascar since the military-backed Rajoelina take-over.

 

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Madagascar: Out of Control?

In Freedom, Politics, Society, Terror, Timeline on August 20, 2009 at 5:46 pm
August 26-27, 2009: Madagascar peace talk deal is extended while stakeholders fail to reach a consensus on who will lead the transition. Meanwhile, in Madagascar confusion climbs. There is frustration both in Maputo and in Madagascar. Is Madagascar getting out of control? When the people will want to have their say? In Madagascar, the fate of the country lies within the hands of the most vocal and powerful ones. All the reason for international mediators intervention. Mediators urge for wrapping up of negotiations today regardless of the outcome.

Rajoelina Camp: Ruthless or Lawless?

  • August 27, 2009

China Viewreports that the five men arrested in Maputo were reported to be Rajoelina security staff. They were apprehended for illegal detention of arms and were to be extradited to Madagascar, said Maputo police.

While the talks are being extended to a third day in Maputo, Tovonanahary Rabetsitonta, an economist in Madagascar has been calling on the armed forces to take over power for holding earlier elections, according to the same source.

Madagascar Tribune gives more details about the subject. In fact,  Rabetsitonta is a politician, founder of the Group of Reflection and Action for the Development of Madagascar or GRAD/Iloafo party. In 2002, the party was part of a coalition party supporting President Zafy, and that contested the 1993 National Assembly Election, according to African Elections Database.

Antananarivo daily L’Express de Madagascarquotes a senior officer, general Randrianafidisoa : “No power that does not get the support of the army will succeed in leading the country. Therefore, it would be impossible to refuse the transition presidency to Rajoelina.”

Midi Madagascar notes that power sharing deal results that seem to anticipate the allocation of major Transition seats to non-Rajoelina members could lead to an unprecedented economic crisis and civil war.

The article subtily refers to Ratsiraka’s winning edge over attribution of  major seats in Maputo and being animated by “vengence”.

   Maputo Deal Questionned by Rajoelina

  • August 20, 2009

People’s Daily Onlinereports that talks for Maputo II are being postponed by Madagascar parties. According to local press, Rajoelina set up a preliminary meeting in Antananrivo as a platform for leveraging his position. Some factions of the armed forces, regional leaders appointed by Rajoelina, civil servants unions, and Rajoelina himself overtly want to monopolise the new transitional institution and question the week-old signed Maputo deal.

Moreover, some terms of the agreement have not been respected, such as the immediate release of opposing leaders, reports Madagascar Tribune.

This is a signature move of Rajoelina. In the past, Rajoelina has always made a point of contradicting his previous statements, or any previous agreement he had consented to. Such has occured repeatedly during the crisis and had finally led to deadlock and violence (see Timeline).

Local media unaninously point out that this is all about holdhovers and personal interests.

The French newspaper Le Monde has remained silent on the subject since its August 14 reporting on the declaration of the Malagasy armed forces being against the Maputo agreement.

Madagascar’s Diversity and Sustainability

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2009 at 10:12 am

On March 13, Michael Schulder, CNN Senior Executive Producer in AC 360 of  Anderson Cooper quoted President Ravalomanana: “Killing me would not be in your interest.”

On the eve of  the  negotiations for peace and settlement for reinstating constitutional state in Madagascar  under the UN  newly-appointed mediator former Mozambican President Chissano, in Maputo, Mozambique, the  HAT-sponsoring army was threatening to disrupt any possible negotiated outcome, reported French local media L’Express de Madagascar.

There has been several previous attempts to negotiation that have all stalled due to unwilliness to open talks from all involved parties. We recall that HAT leader Andry Rajoelina reluctantly joined the Maputo negotiation table at the last minute.  His long-standing position was to refuse to participate in any talks that would include President Ravalomanana. Lately, the HAT had accused Ravalomanana team of causing terrorism.

According to a communiqué issued and co-signed by the HAT-assigned Madagascar army, national police and gendarmerie nationale leaders  unequivocally reject any eventual return of the President Ravalomanana to power.  Such event would inevitaby cause serious crisis according to them.

The new mediation team includes officials from the African Union, United Nations, the International Organisation of the Francophonie (French-speaking countries) and SADC, and has finally succeeded in breaking the  long-lasting stalemate.

According to AFP, the issue of amnesty was resolved last Thrusday for former President Didier Ratsiraka. Ratsiraka ruled over Madagascar for over 20 years with his omnipresent AREMA party. He had written a socialist-inspired manifesto known as “Le Livre Rouge” (the Red Book) that soon had to be applied in Madagascar’s everyday life.

As for President Ravalomanana, his situation has been clarified yesterday by Edem Kodjo, International Organization of Francophonie and International Contact Group representative in Antananarivo, report local papers. According to the Maputo deal, all condemnations toward Ravalomanana relating to the purchase of the presidential plane  FORCE ONE II are nullified and void. Most importantly,  Ravalomanana would be excluded from “amnesty” since “crime against humanity, genocide, and mass violations of Human Rights” are irrelevant, reports Midi Madagascar. According to Midi Madagascar and l’Express de Madagascar these were necessary clarifications as to interpret the Maputo deal terms. Indeed,  due to growing controversial interpretations and Rajoelina’s lack of transparency upon his arrival at the Ivato Airport,  confusion was paramount.

Madagascar Tribune raises the possiblity of “blackmail” on the part of the HAT. It suggests that the HAT could use the return of Ravalomanana as a leverage against the international community to formally recognize Rajoelina’s  “executive” authority. It is not clear if this is of mediatic interest or a realistic prediction. Apparently, Malagasy readers are divided. Many seem to have realize that the HAT had failed to deliver its promises.

The deadlock has ended but sustainability of the agreement is subject to caution. The Paris-based French Le Monde questions the authority of Rajoelina in Madagascar, raising the question of all parties reactions to the Maputo deal. Local medias confirm that Rajoelina has made no transparent public comment since his return from Maputo.

Most importantly, the mutiny army starts showing signs of division. However, the subject of its refusal of parts of the Maputo deal is subject to local headlines.

In sum, sustainability of the Maputo deal remains extremely fragile in the constant atmosphere of volatility and diversity of Madagascar politics.

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