(photo credit Avylavitra)
Since February 7th, when the political violence that began in late January culminated in the deaths of at least 30 Malagasies from armed forces’ fire, Madgascar has been burdened by a tense political standoff. For the past two weeks, multiple foreign diplomatic delegations have tried to mediate a resolution between President Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, head of the High Authority for Transition. Despite several attempts at mediation, the two rivals never met face-to-face as preconditions to meeting could not be agreed upon.
On Februrary 19th, Rajoelina urged his supporters to seize a few ministry offices and install the ministers he designated for the transitonal government. After the opposition delegation succeeded at entering the governmental buildings, armed forces retook control of the buildings at night. Ethan Zuckerman wrote a summary and provided a comprehensive context of this peculiar chain of events.
After vowing to do whatever it takes to bring democracy and remove the current administration, Rajoelina surprised many by finally agreeing to meet with Ravalomanana on neutral ground, namely the offices of the the ecumenical church council of Madagascar (FFKM).
The meeting resulted in a five-point document (mg) in which both parties agreed to suspend harsh rhetoric, public protests, and political arrests, and to further negotiations. Radio France International (RFI) has reported the possibility a new transitional prime minister will be created.
Public opinion to the latest string of events varied. The long-lasting political standoff seems to have effectively divided the country into three camps: two supporting each of the political rivals and a third, which seems to support the pre-crisis status quo.
Arinaina recalls the overtaking and reclaiming of the ministry offices:
Andry Rajoelina threatened the armed forces that their wives would be at the front line of the protests, were they to dare shooting at the people. On Thursday, TGV leaders proudly announced that 4 ministries were taken: Ministry of Education – Ministry of Interior – Ministry of Homeland Security – Ministry of decentralization. Early on Friday morning, bad news for the protesters with TGV. The news on RNM (the national radio) announced that, the night before, military forces came to the ministers and arrested the TGV agents who stayed there to keep the ministries. Those arrested were kept at the HQ of Betongolo. On Friday, angry or disappointed (I do not know), Andry Rajoelina announced the meeting at the Place du 13 Mai that the protesters will march on to keep fighting on Saturday
(photo credit Avylavitra)
Jentilisa outlines the lesson learned from that eventful day when put in a historical perspective (mg):
Hita manko fa tena fihatsarambelatsihy sy fombafomba fotsiny no nataon’ny tafika teo fa tsy zavatra hafa mihitsy. [..]
Indroa (intelo akory aza) manko izay no efa nisy fihetsika toy ireny teto Madagasikara fa tamin’ny vanim-potoana samihafa ihany koa.
Gazetyavylavitra sums up the feeling that the crisis has been going for a while now (mg):
Be izay andro very izay. Samy milaza sy manao izay tiany hatao na ny andaniny na ny ankilany. Mbola betsaka ny olona manaraka ny hetsika eny amin’ny 13 mai. Nefa koa tsy vitsy ny mpitazana no efa manomboka maneho hevitra eny an-tsisiny eny.
Aiky, blogging at Malagasy Miray, just wants to talk about something other than the crisis for once after giving his point of view in two previous posts (fr):
Lors qu’on recherche des articles sur Madagascar, on ne parle plus que de politique et de crise sur le web. Payons nous le luxe de parler d’autres choses dans Malagasy Miray