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Madagascar: The mayor proclaims himself president

A dispute between the president of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanan, and the mayor of the capital, Andry Rajoelina, thrust Malagasy citizens into violent rioting and looting last week, and has now escalated into a power struggle for the presidency itself.

In December, Rajoelina, a DJ and advertising tycoon turned Antananarivo's mayor, mobilized his supporters when the government shut down his television station, VIVA. Now, it seems his tens of thousands of followers will demand not only restoration of democracy and freedom of speech, but also control of government.

Two scheduled negotiation talks between Ravalomanana and Rajoelina have been canceled.

The mayor has been able to tap into Malagasy growing discontent and disapproval of the current regime to gather a following. This Saturday, on the Place du Treize Mai, in front of tens of thousands of supporters, Andry Rajoelina has proclaimed himself the new leader of Madagascar.

“Since the president and the government have not taken their responsibilities… I will run all national affairs as of today,” he said.

He has also announced plans to impeach Ravalomanana, the current elected president, who has according to him, disrespected the Malagasy constitution.

As reported by Avylavitra (who posted pictures on his flickr account as well) :

“Notanisaina teny an-kianja daholo androany ireo teboka efa ho folo lazain’ireo mpomba an’i Andry fa fanitsakitsahana lalampanorenana nataon’Atoa Ravalomanana Marc, ka tafiditra ho isan’ny tena antony azo analana azy amin’ny toerany, ka isan’izany ny resaha ‘haute trahison’ momba ny fanafarana mpikarama an’ady hamono ny taranaka Malagasy, ny fanaovana fanavakavahana ara-pinoana sns….

Teny ampamaranana ny fotoana, rehefa ela no niandrasan’ny vahoaka azy, dia nivoaka ihany ilay fanambarana lehibe nataon’i Andry Rajoelina, ka nanabaràny fa izy ny mitondra vonjimaika ny tetezamita, ary manome baiko sy mitantana ny raharaha rehetra. Nisy ny fanaingany ny tafika sy ireo ministera isan-tokony mba hanaraka ny baikony.”

“Andry's supporters counted ten instances of Marc Ravalomanana holding the constitution in contempt, they included some that validate his impeachment, one of them being “high treason” for importing mercenaries to kill Malagasies (author's note: this is an unsubstantiated claim, officially refuted by one of the army's leaders. The presence of foreign mercenaries was a recurring rumor during unrests.), another instance was Ravalomanana's alleged religious discrimination, etc…

At the end of the rally, after his supporters had long waited for it, Andry Rajoelina finally showed his ace card, when he said that he would lead the transitional government, and he would be the one giving orders and in charge of all affairs. He urged the army and ministers to follow his commands.”

News2Dago wonders if this is democracy:

“Toy izao ilay atao oe vahoaka  maro an'isa izany oe 80.000/20.000.000 na koa oe 0,004 % no hadidy sy hanapaka ny tany sy ny fanjakana. Dia atao ahoana izany ireo vahoaka tsy milahatra tsy tia korontana kanefa tsy sahy maneho hevitra fa ampitahorina bemiranga sy olona milanja basy handromba sy hanampim-bava. Demokrasia ny bandy bokona sy beloha no tiana hanjaka eto @ tanana.”

“Here are the numerous people, 80,000 out of 20 millions inhabitants, meaning 0.004% of the population that will order about the nation and the government. What about the population that does not demonstrate, does not want chaos, but cannot express their views because of intimidation from armed looters. Democracy of muscles and stubbornness is what they want to impose.”

Madagascan wonders what will happen next:

“…une question se pose tout de même: La solidité de ses soutiens au sein de l'armée et des forces de l'ordre? Jusqu'à présent, aucun évènement n'a pu démontrer la supériorité d'un camp ou d'un autre au niveau des forces armées. Cette déclaration sera donc le grand test pour Andry Rajoelina.
En tout cas, cela ôte tout doute sur le fait que le maire d'Antananarivo possède des soutiens dans la classe politique d'opposition, qui ont préparé cette confrontation. Tout seul, il n'y serait pas arrivé.
Le week-end risque d'être encore agité. La logique voudrait que Marc Ravalomanana lance un mandat d'arrêt contre Andry Rajoelina, et que ce dernier soit fait prisonnier dès aujourd'hui. Cela sera le premier grand test: Les forces de l'ordre vont-elles obéir?”

“…one question begs an answer: how solid is the mayor's support among the army and the police? Until now, no event has demonstrated one side or another's superior handle on the army. This announcement will be a big test for Andry Rajoelina. It removes any doubt that the Antananarivo mayor has solid support among the opposition parties, which have been preparing for this fight. Rajoelina would not have managed this alone. The weekend will be eventful again. Marc Ravalomanana will logically want to issue an arrest warrant against Andry Rajoelina and arrest him today. The first big test: will the army obey him?”

Meanwhile, Ravalomanana was seen in various coastal cities, the latest being Nosy Be, where according to the Presidential communication team, he gave the following speech:

“Je suis là pour discréditer les rumeurs, car à Antananarivo il est dit que tout Madagascar est en feu. Je constate que la vie de tous les jours continue. Il faut se concentrer sur le travail pour faire progresser les pays. Je suis aussi venu pour constater les dégâts causés par le vandalisme et les incendies. Nous suivons de près les fauteurs de troubles afin que vous réalisiez qu’il y a un Etat de droit à Madagascar. Le constat général est le suivant: les troubles sont causés par des groupes qui viennent de nulle part et soudainement, pour semer la panique. Nous respectons la Constitution et la légalité, et ce ne seront pas gens qui vandalisent et pillent qui vont déstabiliser notre nation. Nous sommes profondément désolés de ce qui s’est passé, mais nous allons travailler ensemble pour redresser l’économie. “

“I am here to refute rumors, because in Antananarivo they say that all Madagascar is burning. I see now that everyday life continues. We have to focus on the work to develop the country. I am here also to look at the devastation caused by fire and riots. We are closely following the trouble makers so you can realize there is law and order in Madagascar. The overall assessment is that the troubles are caused by groups coming out of nowhere to generate panic. We respect the Malagasy Constitution and legality, it is not rioters and looters who are going to shake our nation. We are deeply sorry for what happened, and we will work together to get the economy back on its feet.”

Yahoo Forum reactions to Andry Rajoelina's self-proclamation range from bewilderment, consternation to elation. Some see in Rajoelina's power grab a move to protect his personal interests and fortune. Others are just glad. Still others wonder if the people are not again the dupe of politicians.

“Que faut-il faire pour que le peuple malgache ne soit pas sacrifié au nom de quelques intérêts personnels.
Rendons nous compte: pour accéder au pouvoir, ces gens là osent parler de démocratie et sont prêts à faire des actes terroristes et prendre le pouvoir de force!!!”

“What can we do for the Malagasy people not to be sacrificed in the name of personal interests. Let us realize: to accede power, those people dare to speak of democracy and are ready to commit terrorist acts and take power by force!!!”

“Manana “Filoha vaovao” aloha izao ny tenanay ka soava tsarà ingahy “ANDRY TGV”"

“We now have a “new president” and good luck to “ANDRY TGV”"

Others on the Sobika forum wonder about elections in Madagascar:

“Et le peuple malgache aura t'il son mot à dire? je ne me permets pas de juger mais il me semble que TGV devrait réclamer des élections? La seule légitimité démocratique peut donner un avenir à un homme ou une femme politique…ces méthodes d'auto proclamation sont d'un autre âge…”

“Will the Malagasy people have their say? I am not allowing myself to judge but it seems TGV should demand elections? The only democratic legitimacy that gives a politician a future. These self proclamations are of another age…”
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  • http://www.manitra.net Manitra

    Lorsque Andry réclame de la démocratie, pourquoi, ne parle-t-il pas une seule fois d’élection ?

    Comment puis-je avoir le moindre espoir de la bonne foi d’un homme qui fait exactement ce qu’il reproche aux autres ?

  • Corinne Raza

    I disagree with the title. He indeed said that he wanted to run the transitional government…He knows to well that he can’t be “President”. In Madagascar, it’s the Prime Minister who is the head of the Government. However People tend to make the confusion because the Prime Minister is usually just the President “puppet” ~> So sad!!! There will always be a dictatorial tendency when there is no counterbalance between governmental institutions…Way to go Madagascar!
    But again, we are a young country, we need to grow one step at a time. Unfortunately, some of the steps were violent :(((

  • Adam

    Je suis tout d’accord avec Manitra.

  • Mialy Andriamananjara

    Thank you all for your comments. Andry Rajoelina says he is commanding the army as well. Difficult to give him a title : prime minister since he is in charge of all affairs, but president as well since he is commander in chief?
    Our republic is indeed full of bananas…

  • http://gazetyavylavitra.wordpress.com Avylavitra

    Ka marina tokoa anie ilay ambaran’i Mialy hoe izy no milaza ho mpibaiko ny rehetra, ka tsy Filoha ve izany?. Sarotra izy ity ry zalahy a. Fa izay toheriko mafy aloha dia ny fanimban-javatra natao e! Na iza na iza naniraka, na iza na iza nanao azy. Tsy ijereko olona ny hadalàna toy ireny.

  • bartholomew J. Simpson

    The title is false. He didn´t proclaim himself president. He wanted to run the transitional government. You can´t have a president or prime minister in this case, because he couldn´t be president. Don´t be so typical of media and slant things around. If you want to be a good journalist, stay unbiased and pay attention to your word choice.

  • Mialy Andriamananjara

    Dear Bart Simpson,
    Thank you very much for your unbiased comment.

  • Pingback: Nova Scotia Scott » Blog Archive » Police open fire on peaceful march in Madagascar

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