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Dissension in Madagascar between Rajoelina and His PM

In Politics on September 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Some international media have been quick at spreading the news about Madagascar withdrawing from the SADC following the UN incident but locally signs of dissension are observed between Rajoelina and his Prime Minister, Monja Roindefo, while the population shows lassitude.

As usual, and as expected, the UN incident has prompted a diverse array of reactions from political parties and simple citizens. Five political parties that poorly performed during last elections demand that Madagascar withdraw itself from the SADC group and that the mediation group or International Contact Group (GIC) be denied entry in Madagascar, as published by Midi Madagascar and le Courrier de Madagascar.  These minor political parties, among them the MONIMA Roindefo’s party, have manifested their outrage, calling the UN incident an “”attempt to National Sovereingty”” and plan on organizing an anti-SADC and anti-GIC protest. The mediation team (GIC) is scheduled to meet in Antananarivo on October 6, 2009. As of today, one political party goes futher as to propose legislative elections for December 13, with the formation of a new transitional government, led by a consensually-nominated head of goverment.

According to Reuters, Roindefo, who is the HAT head of government, was to protest against  the UN. The claim is that Madagascar was not excluded from the UN yet and as such should have been entitled to speech delivery at the UN Assembly. UN News Centre reports that Assembly President Dr. Trekki had previously consulted with UN Secretariat legal officials who had confered that Rajoelina be allowed to speak pending UN Credentials Commission ruling, but ultimately decided to submit the issue to a vote. In conclusion, the majority of members who were present denied Rajoelina access to the podium. Audio files of the summit have been made available through  Tiako i Madagascar and  Ground Report.

There are signs of dissension between Rajoelina and his premier. As of September 29, Madagascar time, and while Rajoelina was still absent from the country, Roindefo announced that he demanded an explanation from opposing countries, among them India, Canada, and South Africa. The decision was made following a government meeting. According to the same source, continuing of negotiations would be subject to feed-back from concerned countries. Roindefo plans on denying visas to negotiating mediators who are scheduled to lead the GIC meeting on October 6 in Antananarivo, says Reuters.

There is no verification as to know if Rajoelina shares the same stance. In theory, under normal circumstances, such a meeting is led by the President. However, Rajoelina was not back in Madagascar yet. Indeed, while these decisions were made, Rajoelina was said to have been present at several meetings in Paris with Chissano, the leader of the mediation team,  former head of state Admiral Ratsiraka, and another major political party leader, Hasina Andriamanjato, according to the same source and Midi Madagascar . Nothing transpired from the meetings but it is  speculated to have been in preparation of the October 6 Antananarivo negotiation.

In fact, it is also speculated  that Rajoelina wants to return to the negotiating table, according to L’Express de Madagascar . The source says that this would provide Rajoelina with the opportunity to rid of his Prime Minister who seems to start weighing down on him, and who has been showing too much independence lately.

Complexity of political affairs in Madagascar can be mostly attributed to lack of information and lassitude and political disengagement of citizens, who at this time are more concerned by the disastrous economic situation, growing insecurity, and survival .

Breaking News: Rajoelina defends the SADC

October 1, 2009

Upon his return to Madagascar following the UN incident and Paris meetings, Rajoelina confirms speculations about his reversed position. Today, Rajoelina announces that the only way out is early elections. It is also fair to understand that Rajoelina disagrees with the anti-SADC nad anti-GIC initiatives. In fact, Madagascar Tribune reports that Rajoelina excuses the SADC. According to Rajoelina, it is not the SADC that is the source of the UN incident but a handful of leaders bribed by some powerful Malagasies.

Midi Madagascar anticipates that Rajoelina will have a choice to make between France and Roindefo within the next few days, as the Quai d’Orsay seems to have been the cause of Rajoelina’s change of position about elections.

In the meantime, VOA reports that Congo denies undermining Madagascar’s government. Rather, the question would be if it is not some Malagasy leaders who are undermining Madagascar’s principles and laws, continues the article, citing Lambert Mende, communications minister of Congo.


The HAT Controls: The UN Corrects

In Economics, Politics, Society on September 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

These last few days, controversial statements, questions without answers made the news in Madagascar ever since the HAT had announced that Rajoelina was invited to the 2009 United Nations (UN) summit on Climate Change, in New York. For Madagascar, it did signify the beginning of intertnational recognition of the HAT. At least, this is what the HAT wanted Malagasies to believe and let them believe. As of yesterday, Malagasies were led to believe that Rajoelina’s UN address would be retransmitted live in Madagascar, according to local media. RFI is more explicit but is  unfortunately not widely read in Madagascar. Accordingly, this is an administrative slip.

Today, local newspapers attempted to give some update on the situation: Rajoelina – or Madagascar– according to interpretations or perceptions has been removed from the list of heads of states or countries to address their statements at the New York UN summit, at the last minute, without explanation.

In fact, although personal addresses were in order, the UN had planned on having “pre-recorded videotaped statements in lieu of live statements to “to allow for more inter-active discussions during the Summit”” according to the UN site itself . Morevover, Rajoelina was not really invited: a misstep by the UN admistration that attempted to correct it.

Meanwhile, in Madagascar, for Public Relations purposes,  HAT representatives are still attempting to “‘find an explanation” about the situation in Madagascar.

September 24 UN briefings addressed Madagascar questions, mentionning the SADC. As of that day, discussions were ongoing and clarifiactions yet to be made. And finally, to put local questions to rest, Rajoelina was not invited by Obama to the Head of States dinner.

According to SADC members had threatened to leave had Rajoelina been allowed to address the Assembly.

Rajoelina Controls: Violence Erupts in Madagascar

September 11, 2009

The expected happened in Madagascar: discontent and frustration have led to demonstration against Rajoelina’s unilateral new cabinet forming, swiftly counteracted by the HAT under the now usual repressive signature of Rajoelina and his military supporters.

The pictures without comments promptly posted by Madagascar Tribune reinforce the atmosphere of fear and violence perpetrated by the Rajoelina regime since its ascension to power. The population is frustrated against the military, which a few days ago declared an apolitical stand, and today continues to support Rajoelina, as published in Madagascar Tribune.

The international media have rapidly covered the news: there are no reports of injuries nor arrests but tear gas grenades and rubber-coated bullets have been used to disperse the crowd, according to  Reuters, Taiwan News, and AFP.

French major daily media  Le Monde, that made headlines of every hour of Rajoelina move toward power, angering both French and Malagasies, abstained to this point. Sarkozy had however issued a statement comdemning the unilateral decision of Rajoelina a few days ago, but it has been skipped by local press. At this time there is no indication in Madagascar that the population is angered by France as during the Rajoelina protest movement.

Upon Chissano’s report to the SADC, the organization issued a  communiqué, writes The Swazi Observer. The communiqué reportedly states that the “Summit noted with concern the attempts to undermine the agreements signed in Maputo by all Malagasy political movements on the 9th of August 2009″ and “The Summit firmly rejected and strongly condemned any unilateral decision which violates the spirit of the Maputo agreements.”  “The Summit reiterates its support to the current political dialogue in Madagascar and urges all political stakeholders to fully implement the Maputo agreements.”

In The Africa Report however, David Zounmenou, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa,  analayzes why Rajoelina could feel strong enough to “reject the Region”. Analysts agree that Madagascar’s crisis is far from being over.

Realities in Madagascar encompass far more than geopolitical interests, political wrangling, lack of political maturity, frustration and fear, anger and disillusion, and a post May 72 new breed that changed Malagasy culture. The root of the problem is complex.

In all eventualities the return of Madagascar to constitutional state is not and will not be an easy path.  What happened today is nothing but a prelude to the upcoming confusion. Madagascar is really on a very dangerous path and at this point it is hard to foresee internal protagonists succeeding in solving  the problem on their own. Madagascar is putting the region’s leadership to the test.

Tension at its Heights: Confusion in Madagascar

In Economics, Politics, Society, Timeline on September 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Confusion and cautiousness reigned in Madagascar after Rajoelina’s announcement of his new government, as the first reactions to Rajoelina unilateral decision of power grabbing were even more mitigated than ever.

Although the decision is immediately perceived  to be a deal-breaker by concerned parties, first headlines in the local press focused on the formation of the new government and the background of the new ministers. International press highlights the rejection of the unilateral decision by both the SADC and appointed crisis mediators.

However, by Thrusday 10th in Madagascar, local headlines have changed. Former President Zafy Albert states that Rajoelina is looking for “war” as reported by Midi Madagascar. According to L’Express de Madagascar Zafy Albert has set an ultimatum to Rajoelina for nullifying  his decision.

According to local press, the three former heads of state may come to a common decision on protesting against Rajoelina. Some factions of the army seem also to distance themselves from Rajoelina, according to

Controversially, the newly appointed cabinet members feel the need to justify their decisions, sharing their viewpoints with l’Express de Madagascar.  The argument is technical  rather than political, mention the majority of the interviewees.

Overseas, there are reports of violence and protests by the opposition. The situation is dangerous and could evolve rapidly.

Madagascar: Rajoelina Power Grab and Slap to the US and the UN (September 8, 2009)

The pace of events has been making Malagasies hold their breath over the last forty eight hours as Reuters is among the first international medias to report that the opposition refuses Rajoelina unilateral decision of a “consensual government” of his group sole leadership, and quoting a politician that Madagascar is on its way to a “dangerous situation.” Caution is “de rigueur.”
This is a slap to the UN and US following their yesterday’s strong statements. Rajoelina had previously gathered his followers and prepared them for this decision. There is no indication if the decision is from Rajoelina himself or stems from his holdover surrounding aids, including the mutiny. Meanwhile,  reactions in Madagascar are mitigated, ranging from public silence to organized protests, typical manifestation of Malagasy culture and politics. The situation undoubtedly causes at least discomfort, if not frustration, awaiting official, international reaction. Local press is cautious: no one really can predict the turn of events at this time. Economic sustainability is a major question that is brought up by the medias and is the pivotal leverage of the “legalistic” opposition group.

Official statements have being issued by major stakeholders, justifying of their respective positions.   Sobika has posted Ratsiraka statement about his refusal of any involvement with the tandem Rajoelina-Roindefo. Tiako i Madagascar has published Ravalomanana Maputo statement denouncing the recognition of a “putschist” administration. Local press covered the Zafy position of curtailing the mutiny power through enforcement of neutrality. The Cyber Observer has posted the  statement issued by the army for refusing any political involvement. It is obvious that at this point, all stakeholders including Rajoelina,  despite his controversial unilateral decision,  claim to be wanting to remain firm in supporting the Maputo agreement.  However, public protests have resumed at the Ravalomanana quarters and overseas.

This is another evidence of power grab by Rajoelina who violently overthrew the Ravalomanana administration eight months ago,  putting the country in unprecedented turmoil, and where now fear and lack of public safety prevail due to lack of recognized structure.

Chaos and Panic In Madagascar Following Maputo II Deadlock

In Economics, Politics, Society, Timeline on September 1, 2009 at 7:37 am

Headlines In Madagascar reflect fear, confusion, and instability after three days of difficult negotiations between Madagascar four major stakeholders in Maputo that concluded in deadlock.  Meanwhile, the army demonstrates its interests in power controlling . Rajoelina, who was accompanied by a 30-member team, could not decide without consulting his base, reports Madagascar Tribune. A communication deadline has been extended until September 4th.

According to the French daily Le Monde, Joachim Chissano, previous head of state of Mozambique and main moderator, had made it clear that failure to reach agreement by September 4th will  officially result in lack of recognition of Madagascar by the international community. Restoring constitutional state in Madagascar seems to be far from the goal of some stakeholders.

Frustration against international mediators make headlines for Madagascar Tribune. The writer sees through the mediation the international community tendency to legitimizing an unpopular scheme led by prominent figures in Madagascar who are solely motivated by personal ambition and self-interest.

Reuters gives us a clear analysis of the situation wondering to what extent mediators would have the effective power to end the crisis, whereas local press in Madagascar focuses in generalized apprehension. Midi Madagascar reports that Foreign representatives in Madagascar are getting ready for “all eventualities”, anticipating “the worst.” Clearly, Midi Madagascar leaves one to understand that  civil war could be a close reality.

L’Express de Madagascar is more subdued and focuses on the Ravalamonana group willinesss to reach a consensus in an effort to aknowledge  some legitimate  claims of the population. However, the Ravalomanana group  firmly insists that it is determined to  refusing Rajoelina himself the leadership of the transition.

In response, the HAT is organizing a “mock” referendum as to “legitimize” its claim for total control of the transitional government leadership, and in preparation of the September 4th deadline, reports  Midi Madagascar. Meanwhile, the “legalistic” Ravalomanana supporters are rallying in opposition to a Rajoelina-led transitional government, according to the same source.

Sobika reports about the Rajoelina group  preparing itself for international sanctions, a clear indication that the movement seems to be unwilling to give up on the two leading chairs of the transition. The HAT has rounded up a group of economists to brainstorm on alternative solutions to foreign aid, according to local sources.

The latest is the news about the now usual military ouburts, as reported by the daily Midi Madagascar. General Rasolomahandry Edmond, who was a member of the Ravalomanana team in Maputo II,  fell short being arrested by the  Intervention Special Forces (FIS) for having publicly denounced the “political stand” of the army, writes the paper. The FIS, which was led by major Charles Andrianasoavina at the Ivato airport failed his planned arrest. According to  the same source, the general was apparently informed of his eventual arrest before boarding in Maputo, and did not return to Madagascar. Madagascar Tribune reports that, one more time, the FIS did burst at the Ivato airport while searching for Manandafy, Ravalomanana choice of PM, upon his return from the negotiaiton talks. Manadafy was wanted  for “insult” to the military in Maputo. Manandafy was only released from detention in compliance to Maputo round I deal. The FIS proceeded in leaving Manandafy free after causing chaos at the airport.

Social disarray, economic panic, military chaos, lack of general safety and public security, all lead to conclude that the present situation in Madagascar cannot perdure.

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