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Rajoelina Steps Aside for Madagascar's Presidential Race

Written by Rakotomalala · Translated by Dieyna Ba On 20 January 2013 @ 9:24 am | 5 Comments

In Breaking News, Citizen Media, Elections, English, France, French, Governance, History, International Relations, Madagascar, Malagasy, Politics, Sub-Saharan Africa, Weblog

Andry Rajoelina annonce candidature [1]

Andry Rajoelina sur wikipédia. License Creative Commons 3.0

[All links forward to french articles unless otherwise stated] 
With interim President Rajoelina announcing that he withdraws from a bid to run for the presidential elections [2] following a similar announcement by former President Ravalomanana in December 2012 [3],  Malagasy people are likely to have a new president in 2013, provided that elections take place as planned in the electoral agenda. Many of the observers are skeptical about the elections timeline in light of the statements of Rajoelina after his announcement and his wishes to change the electoral agenda.

After nearly four years of political crisis with the same political leaders changing positions repeatedly, observers wonder if yet another reversal is in the works.

Andry counts himself among the skeptics [4] [en] :

Are we really sure… that he [Rajoelina]  will just sit and  admire the landscape? Even if he made an official declaration to the nation, to all the Malagasy people, what guarantee do we have that he will keep his words? It is not the first time that he denied his own [words].

Maurice Beranto, one of the candidates for the presidential elections, asks a similar question on his blog [5] :

Beaucoup d’entre nous, et moi en premier, se sont toujours demandé pourquoi autant de tergiversations face à une évidence. Comment pouvait-on effectivement imaginer que le président de la transition  pouvait se présenter à une élection qui va sceller la fin de la transition qu’il préside ? [..] En second lieu, en estimant que les législatives devraient être organisées avant la présidentielle, Rajoelina montre qu’il n’a pas pris cette déclaration de non participation à la présidentielle de gaité de cœur. Au lieu de calmer le jeu définitivement,  il va continuer à mettre de l’huile sur le feu..

Many of us, including myself, have constantly wondered why so much procrastination for a decision that is self-evident. How can he truly believe that the interim president will be a candidate for an election that should officially seal the end of the transition he chairs? [...] Secondly, by stating that legislative elections should take place prior to the presidential ones, Rajoelina shows that he really struggled with the decision to not run in the presidential elections. Rather than providing a calming influence to the nation, he only managed to add fuel to the fire..

Rabelazao [6] also questions whether there are any hidden agenda with his wishes to switch to organising  legislative elections prior to presidential ones, despite the fact that the decision has already been taken several months ago by the Independent National Electoral Commission for Transition CENI-T [7]. Rabelazao posted on twitter [mg]:

@Rabelazao [8]@harinjaka [9] kajy ankandrina daholo izany e! tsy hilatsaka ho fidiana ho prezida aho, de ahemotra aloha ny fifidianana prezida. fetsepr

@Rabelazao [8]@harinjaka [9] That's just a trick ! I am not running for president so I will push back the presidential elections. Slick..

Jack goes further in analysing the reasoning behind Rajoelina's persistence to hold legislative elections before presidential ones:

Si il réussi à faire passer les législatives en premier, et toujours président de la transition, celles-ci se dérouleront de la même façon que le référendum. Le TGV sera majoritaire et une session parlementaire exceptionnelle transformera dans les 8 jours la constitution en semi-présidentielle. Il sera désigné premier ministre.

If he succeeds in holding the legislative elections first while still the interim president, those elections will turn out like the referendum [in 2010, with suspicion of fraud]. TGV will hold the majority and a parliamentary session will change the constitution into a semi-presidential regime. He will then be appointed as prime minister.

Rajoelina himself responded to such an hypothesis in an interview for Radio RFI. He evoked a scenario similar to the one that occurred in Russia with V. Putin [when Putin became prime minister after being president] . Here are excerpts from the interview with Christophe Boisbouvier [10] :

CB: Vous vous posez en homme d’Etat. Y a-t-il un homme dont vous vous êtes peut-être inspiré, avant de faire votre choix ?

AR: Il y a deux personnes, effectivement. Un homme qui a beaucoup souffert, mais qui a gagné son combat : Nelson Mandela. Et puis, du côté européen, pourquoi pas, je ne serais pas le de Gaulle malgache?

Que retenez-vous, justement, de de Gaulle ?

Prendre une décision de se retirer au moment voulu. Mais le peuple s’en souviendra. Et c’est le peuple même qui réclamera celui qui doit diriger son pays, au moment voulu.

[..] Est-ce que vous envisagez un scénario à la Poutine ? Votre candidat est élu, vous devenez son Premier ministre et vous revenez en 2018 ? 

Aujourd’hui, on n’a pas encore mis sur table de stratégie.

Donc, vous n’excluez pas ce scénario à la Poutine ?

Nous allons voir. Mais vous en serez beaucoup plus dans quelques semaines.

CB: You call yourself a statesman. Is there someone else that inspired you before making your decision?

AR: In fact, two leaders inspired me. One is a man who has been through much suffering, but eventually won his battle: Nelson Mandela. And, on the European side, why shouldn't I be the de Gaulle of Madagascar ?

What do you precisely remember of General de Gaulle's actions? 

People will remember him with his decision to retire on his own term. And that is also what the people will remember. And the same people will decide who should lead the country when the time comes.

[..] Do you envision a Putin type of scenario? Your candidate is elected, you become his prime minister and you return in 2018? 

At the moment, we have yet to decide on a strategy.

Therefore, you do not exclude this Putin-like scenario?

We shall see. You will find out more about that in the following weeks.

Patrick in the Madagascar Tribune details the hesitation before this announcement and explains that the legal risks surrounding Rajoelina have perhaps encouraged him to give up on his candidacy  [11]:

Le plus difficile avait bel et bien été obtenu avec le désistement de Marc Ravalomanana, car celui-ci avait toujours semblé plus rétif que son rival sur ce point. Toute résistance semblait désormais futile : au cas où la perspective de sanctions financières contre Madagascar n’avait pas été suffisamment dissuasive, il aurait par exemple suffi à la Justice française de se déclarer compétente vis-à-vis d’une plainte déposée en France par un binational franco-malgache pour mettre Andry Rajoelina et ses proches dans un sérieux embarras

The most difficult step was to get Marc Ravalomanana to withdraw from the race because he always appeared to be more reluctant than his rival on this issue. All resistance seems futile after that: sure, the prospect of financial sanctions imposed on Madagascar were not a sufficient deterrent.  But the prospect of an investigation by the French justice system following a complaint from a Franco-Malagasy bi-national that could put Andry Rajoelina and his family in serious embarrassment was seemingly sufficient.

Whatever the next turn of events are, the year 2013 promises to be a year full of surprises.  The plethora of candidates who remain will have some difficult tasks ahead. Rajoelina's desired electoral agenda notwithstanding, the preparation of the electoral process faces many obstacles, such as its financing. A report states that “13 million dollars [12]  for financing the election set-up remain to be found”. However, the CENI-T adds that [13] :

Le Ministère des Finances et du Budget a octroyé 3 milliards d’ariary de plus à la CENI-T la semaine dernière. Ces fonds feront partie du budget de fonctionnement interne de l’institution indépendante. L’Etat reste la principale source de financement pour le bon déroulement des activités dans le processus électoral

The Minister of Finances has allocated 3 billion Malagasy Ariary over to the CENI-T last week. These funds will become part of the operating budget of the independent institution. The state remains the main source of funding for the smooth running of the activities related to the electoral process.

The economic climate is still very tense in Madagascar. The latest report from the World Bank on poverty in Madagascar is at the very least alarming [14]:

Selon ses prévisions, la pauvreté frapperait 84% de la population de Madagascar en 2013. En 2010, 77% des 20 millions d'habitants survivaient dans des conditions de vie difficile, avec 0,78 euro par jour [..] Chômage, inflation, baisse du pouvoir d'achat des ménages, tous les voyants sont au rouge.

According to estimates, 84% of Madagascar's population will be below the poverty line in 2013. In 2010, 77% out of the 20 million inhabitants lived  in these tenuous conditions with an income of 0,78 Euros/day [...] All the main indicators such as unemployment, inflation, declining purchasing power per household, are in the red.


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/20/why-rajoelina-withdrew-from-another-presidential-bid-in-madagascar/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Andry_Rajoelina_6_December_2011.png

[2] withdraws from a bid to run for the presidential elections: http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130115-madagascar-andry-rajoelina-renonce-presenter-prochaine-presidentielle

[3] December 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHXfjHHUUvw&feature=youtu.be

[4] the skeptics: http://andrydago.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/andry-rajoelina-gives-up/

[5] similar question on his blog: http://mauriceberanto2013.mg/ah-bon-est-ce-vrai/

[6] Rabelazao: http://valamaty.blogspot.com/

[7] CENI-T: http://www.ceni-madagascar.mg/

[8] @Rabelazao: https://twitter.com/Rabelazao/status/291250196996833280

[9] @harinjaka: https://twitter.com/harinjaka

[10] interview with Christophe Boisbouvier: http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130116-andry-rajoelina-rfi-madagascar-ravalomanana-fabius-france-mandela-poutine?ns_campaign=google_choix_redactions&ns_mchannel=editors_picks&ns_source=google_actualite&ns_linkname=afrique.20130116-andry-rajoelina-rfi-madagascar-ravalomanana-fabius-france-mandela-poutine&ns_fee=0

[11] encouraged him to give up on his candidacy : http://www.madagascar-tribune.com/Priere-de-ne-pas-rire,18362.html

[12] 13 million dollars: http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130107-madagascar-inquietudes-autour-moyens-financiers-censes-assurer-tenue-elections

[13] CENI-T adds that: http://www.ceni-madagascar.mg/3mil_07_12_12.php

[14] alarming: http://www.indian-ocean-times.com/Risques-d-augmentation-de-la-pauvrete-a-Madagascar-en-2013-selon-la-Banque-mondiale_a714.html

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