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The Year that Was in Madagascar : Part III

Earlier, Lova Rakotomalala gave us an overview of Madagascar in the first months of 2009 and the events that lead to the coup d'etat that brought Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of Antananarivo, to power.  Mialy followed with the next several months, which saw more protests, the boycott of Rajoelina at the UN, the strength of Malagasy citizen media, and a devastating toxic spill.  Here, she continues by taking a look at the events which marked the final month of the last decade.

December 2009

Negotiations in Maputo and yet another new Prime Minister

Only former Presidents Ravalomanana, Ratsiraka and Zafy attended the next round of power sharing negotiations in Maputo at the invitation of Mozambique's president, Joachim Chissano. The negotiations concluded with details on sharing the highest state offices and ministries. Rajoelina boycotted the negotiations and later called the opposition parties “putschists”. He then barred them from returning home. They were stranded first in Maputo, then in Johannesburg. Instead of negotiations, Rajoelina announced the organization of parliamentarian elections on March 20, 2010, as reported by Voice of America:

“Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina has called for parliamentary elections after rejecting negotiations aimed at ending the crisis caused by his military-backed take-over of the country earlier this year.

The head of Madagascar's transitional authority, Andry Rajoelina, announced on national television that elections would be held on March 20 for a new parliament which would choose the next prime minister and draft a new constitution.”

Meanwhile, the consensus prime minister agreed upon in October was removed, replaced by Cecile Manorohanta, a former Minister of defense under Ravalomanana, and Madagascar's first female Prime Minister. She did not last long however, as Rajoelina replaced her with a military official one day after nominating her. Madagascar's Prime Minister is now Colonel Vital Albert Camille. The BBC reports:

“The consensus Prime Minister, Eugene Mangalaza, was sacked by Mr Rajoelina on Friday and replaced by Col Vital Albert Camille. Mr Mangalaza's sacking came just a day after Mr Rajoelina called a parliamentary election for 20 March 2010.

But local observers, quoted by Reuters, have expressed concerns that an election organised unilaterally by a military-led government will lack credibility. “

On December 22, protesters are fired upon again in the capital.

Then a mutiny is organized but fails. Mydago.com publishes the mutiny declaration of some low level military officials. Avylavitra took pictures of the barracks where the mutiny took place.
Mutiny in Antananarivo Barracks

Jentilisa thinks it was all for show, and the mutiny was somehow staged, a fake.

“Nandalo teny aho, tanaty fiarakaretsaka, ny alahady hariva ary gaga raha nahatsikaritra fa tsy nahita na dia vata-miaramila iray aza niambina ny vavahadin'ireo toby rehetra teny sy ny vavahadin'ny biraon'ny minisiteran'ny Fiarovana. Mpijerijery hatrany ny zavamisy ny tena, noho izany, efa niahiahy zavatra hafahafa sahady aho raha nanana io tsikaritra io. Amin'ny fotoanan'ny hotakotaka indray ve vao tsy misy miambina ny toby? Na misy fandrika mivelatra eo na efa misy fifanarahana miafina eo amin'ny samy miaramila indrindra fa eo amin'ny lohandohan'ireto miaramila ireto. Efa nisy fanomezantoky eo amin'ny fifanarahana hatao sahady angamba hoe ataovy amin'izay ny iraka nampanaovina anareo fa navelanay malalaka ny toerana hanaovanareo azy!
Tsy tena gaga loatra aho ny maraina raha nandre fa nisy fikomiana nataona vatamiaramila notarihina manamboninahitra lefitra tamin'ny toby iray tetsy Ampahibe ity. Vao maika moa tsy gaga mihitsy aho raha nandre fa voafehy vetivety ihany ilay
fikomiana sady nanaiky hosamborina mora foana ilay mpitarika ity fikomiana sandoka ity. Dia efa fandre sy mahazatra ihany koa raha malaza avy hatrany fa nahitana volabe teny an-toerana ary nanaiky avy hatrany ireo mpandray anjara fa nandray vola tamin'ny fanaovana ity fikomiana ity. Dia nisy koa ny solombavam-bahoaka notondroina no nanome ny vola hanaovana ilay hetsika. Hita avy hatrany fa fihetsiketsehana fotsiny no betsaka ary misy ny fandrihana”.

“I passed by the barracks, in a taxi, on Sunday evening and was surprised to notice that the barracks and the Defense Ministry were not guarded by a single soldier. I worried already when I observed this. How are barracks not protected during troubled times like this? Either some trap is laid or some hidden agreement is brewing between soldiers especially their leaders. Perhaps there was even assurance given that the mutineers could now do the work they were sent to do as the barracks were now theirs to do with as they wished!
I was not very surprised in the morning to hear that some soldiers led by enlisted officers were mutinying at barracks in Amparibe. I was even less surprised to hear that this fake mutiny was very quickly controlled and the leader of mutineers let himself easily be captured. One is now also used to hear that a lot of money was found on the mutineers and they readily agreed that they were paid to mutiny. Then a parliamentarian was designated as the one who did the bribery. One can see that it was all for show and a plot. “

Madagascar is banned from AGOA

In a post titled “AGOA Obituary”, Ndimby writes:

“Pour 2010, sortie par la petite porte donc pour trois pays : la Guinée de Moussa Dadis Camara ; le Niger de Mamadou Tandja ; Madagascar d'Andry Rajoelina. Au niveau des chiffres de l’AGOA en 2008, les Etats-Unis avaient importé pour 324 millions USD de Madagascar, 106 millions USD de la Guinée et 44 millions USD du Niger. “

“In 2010, disgraceful exit for three countries : Moussa Dadis Camara's Guinea, Mamadou Tandja's Niger, Andry Rajoelina's Madagascar. Thanks to the AGOA, in 2008, the USA had imported $324 millions from Madagascar, $106 millions from Guinea and $44 millions from Niger. “

Twitterers had followed's campaign to ask the US government to spare Madagascar. Is it moral to punish ordinary citizens who work in the AGOA factoriesand who will lose their jobs, when the country is barred from the AGOA because of non democratic acts committed by their leaders?

In the same post, Ndimby asks :

“Les 100.000 employés des entreprises franches avaient les moyens de peser dans la balance : pourquoi ne sont-ils pas sortis dans la rue pour manifester de manière visible ? Car 100.000 personnes et leurs familles qui protestent pour protéger leurs emplois, c’est quand même plus noble et plus crédible que 5.000 à 10.000 pelés et tondus sur une place publique, qui se prétendent « peuple malgache »”.

“The 100,000 employees of the export processing zones had the means to throw their weight in: why did they not go demonstrate visibly in the streets? 100,000 persons and their families who protest to protect their livelihood, that has more nobility and credibility than 5,000 to 10,000 followers on a public place, who pretend to represent the “Malagasy people”. “

Achille52 writes ironically that new technologies will now be substituted for the AGOA :

“Maintenant que l’AGOA est parti sous d’autres cieux, on se demande que faire de ces milliers de chomeurs qui vont affluer
dans les mois à venir. Mais faut pas s’inquiéter ! La HAT a trouvé Ze Solution… Les nouvelles technologies !! Je ne voudrais
pas toujours jouer l’oiseau de malheur, mais cette idée est digne d’un conte de fée. En premier messieurs, il faudrait
essayer de réduire la fracture numérique pour que tout le monde puisse se connecter…et travailler le cas échéant. Ensuite, il faut des formations sérieuses, et non pas ces centres à la con où l’on apprend juste à utiliser le clavier. “

“Now that the AGOA has gone to other skies, one wonders what to do in the future months with the thousands of jobless workers. But one should not worry for nothing. The HAT has found The Solution… New technologies!! I do not want to be the bird of ill omen, but this idea belongs to a fairy tale. First, sir, one should reduce the digital divide so everyone can get connected… and eventually work online. Then serious training is needed, not those stupid centers where one is simply taught to use the keyboard.”

Avylavitra has a different take, criticizing international agreements and organizations that come with strings attached:

“Nosoniavina ity AGOA ity, hay izy ity rehefa taty aoriana, lasa fitaovana anankiray hanaovana “pression politique” avy
amin’ilay tany matanjaka mifanaraka amin’ny tena.”[...]
“Tsy misy nifampieràna fa tonga dia mambran’ny SADC isika, hay ity SADC ity aty aoriana: “handefa miaramila izahay e”,
“hanaovanay ’sanction’ ianareo e”, “hanaovanay ohatran’izao ianareo”.[...]
Mazava izany ny politikan’ny firenena matanjaka e, ny fanjakàna izay tohanany ny azy no problemany fa tsy ilay vahoaka
mahantra ao amin’izany firenena izany. Resaka fotsiny ity ilay hoe: “lutte contre la pauvreté” e, tena izany dia hypocrisie
internationale, fihatsarambelatsihy eo amin’ny sehatra iraisam-pirenena. Anisany ity resaka droits de l’homme ity, izay
champion amin’ny fiarovana an’izany ny Amerikana. Ary maro amin’ny organismes international no miady amin’ny firenen-dehibe amin’ity fanaovana embargo ity, satria ny fanaovana embargo dia midika ho misy ampahan’olona maro “victimes”, lasibatra noho izany embargo izany. Noho ny inona. Noho ny caprice politique, ny hoe “tsy mety aminay ity fa ity no mety aminay“, dia ny firenena manontolo no atao takalon’aina ao anatin’izany.[...]
Tena Andry Rajoelina ve no problème? Ratsiraka ve? Ravalomanana ve? Zafy Albert ve no problème eto amin’ny firenena? Sao dia mba tsara jerena tanteraka mihitsy hoe fa inona marina no tena véritable combat atrehantsika eto Madagasikara amin’izao fotoana izao?”

“The AGOA was signed, who knew later one, it would become a tool of political pressure by the powerful country who signed it with you. [...]
We were not asked, but we became members of the SADC, who knew the SADC would later say :we are sending soldiers, we will impose sanctions on you, we will do this we will do that. [...]
The policies of powerful countries are clear, their concern is the government they support and not the poor citizens of these governments. All that “fight against poverty” is just talk, it is international hypocrisy. The same for human rights, of which Americans are the champions. Many of these international organizations fight against these powerful countries with their habit of doing embargoes, because embargoes result in many victim. Why. Because of political caprices, because “this is not good for us, this is what is good for us”, whole countries are held hostages. [...]
Is Andry Rajoelina really the problem? Ratsiraka? or Ravalomanana? Is Zafy Albert the problem? Should we really look at what is the real fight here in Madagascar?”

Sad news kept coming. Jacques Sylla passed away. Jacques Sylla, the heir of a prominent political family, had been a Prime Minister under Marc Ravalomanana, later his chief negotiator during the crisis. He then joined the ranks of Rajoelina's supporters and was seen with Rajoelina later on demanding that Ravalomanana quit.

This about face was severely judged by some, but a more measured opinion is expressed by Patrick, who also thinks Sylla's case illustrates the complications of Malagasy politics.

“Jacques Sylla était foncièrement un homme du centre, et les hommes du centre peuvent être aussi bien considérés comme des médiateurs qui rééquilibrent la balance lorsque le moment le nécessite, que critiqués par les radicaux comme étant des opportunistes prêts à manger à tous les rateliers.
Durant l’essentiel de sa carrière, Jacques Sylla aura démontré qu’il n’était pas un simple beni oui oui. Cela fut
particulièrement visible lorsqu’il était Premier Ministre de Marc Ravalomanana, et lorsqu’il ne le fut plus, par contraste
des situations et du comportement de l’exécutif. Élu Président de l’Assemblée, il prouva également qu’il n’entendait
nullement encourager cette institution à être un organe godillot, quitte à être
incompris.
[...]
C’est pourtant le même homme qui en 2002, prit d’assaut le palais de Mahazoarivo malgré la signature des accords de Dakar et organisa des milices que l’on appelait pudiquement « réservistes”.

“Jacques Sylla was innately a centrist, and centrists may be considered by mediators as those who reestablish balance when needed, or criticized by radicals as opportunists ready to put their fingers in every pie.
During most of his career, Jacques Sylla demonstrated he was no yes man. It was particularly obvious when he was Marc Ravalomanana's Prime Minister, and when he was not, in contrast of situations and behaviors of executive officials. Elected as President of the National Assembly, he proved as well that he did not want to encourage this institution to be a rubber stamping organization, even at the risk of being misunderstood.
[...]
However the same man, in 2002, assaulted the Mahazoarivo palace, despite the agreements of Dakar, and organized militias which were then tactfully called “reservists” “

A small consolation in this deluge of bad news during what is truly a “annus horribilis” (Ndimby) : the shipment of protected but pillaged Malagasy rosewood was successfully stopped due to international campaigns.
Since March 2009, there were reports of pillages :

“Armed gangs are logging rosewood and other valuable hardwoods from Marojejy and Masoala parks in Madagascar following abandonment of posts by rangers in the midst of the island nation's political crisis, reports marojejy.com and local sources. “

The Madagascar Rainforest Massacre is illustrated by a compelling video on youtube. Madagascar Rainforest Massacre

But this one shipment was stopped :

“The shipment, which would have been transported by Delmas, a French shipping company, had been scheduled for December 21st or 22nd out of the port of Vohemar.”

To continue with ecological and positive news, Patrick, of FOKO, participated via video conference to COP15 and did some truly amazing awareness rising campaing with a local NGO, Jade.
cop15tamatave

Read more about the year that was in Madagascar. Check out Part I and Part II of this three-part series.
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  • John Bogen

    Thank You Mialy And Global Voices

    And now on to 2010:

    There is no way that the elections called for by the dictator, A Rajoelina, will be free and fair.

    There repression on the island is extreme and there is no freedom of the press.

    To truly have their voices heard at home and around the world; the Malagasy people to do is to boycott sham Rajoelina’s elections.

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