Who am I?Where am I?

24 February 2009

Madagascar in the News

Within weeks of my arrival in South African in January 2002, I became ill. My childhood asthma, which has dissipated as I grew older, returned with a vengence. During the medical briefing on Monday of week 6, the Peace Corps doctor heard me coughing and decided I needed to go to Pretoria. After that meeting, I was whisked away and taken for medical tests.

It was a great week and broke the monotony of training! I was able to explore Pretoria while staying in a nice guest house...all on the Peace Corps. While there, I met other Peace Corps Volunteers who had something seriously ailing them. One such Volunteer was a stationed in Madagascar. She had been in Pretoria for a month. She had been evaucated from Madagascar for health reasons but had been cleared to return. The only problem in February 2002 with that plan: the political unrest that was gripping Madagascar.

In 2002, Marc Ravalomanana, the former mayor of the capital city of Antananarivo had run for President against the incumber President, Didier Ratsiraka. When the results were announced, neither candidate had a majority and thus a run-off was required. Ravalomanana and his supporters protested against this result claiming that Ravalomanana had in fact won a majority and did not need a run-off. This led to street protests in Antananarivo, which was pro-Ravalomanana. As a result, the capital city was sealed off by supporters of Ratsiraka. Ravalomanana declared himself president in February giving Madagascar two Presidents.

The vote was recounted and it was deemed by the High Constitutional Court of Madagascar that Ravalomanana was indeed the winner. He was then declared President again in May. The violence and unrest did not end in May. Ratsiraka's supporters then began protesting and causing unrest. This unrest lasted until July, when Ratsiraka was forced into exile in France (for the second time) after losing control of most of the island.

So upon what does the current violence in Madagascar center? There has been growing unrest brewing over the past few months. According to Lova Rakotomalala, the recent problems have been brewing since December of 2007 when Ravalomanana's party lost the municipal elections. The mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, came to power during that election. He has much in common with Ravalomanana in that both are self-made businessmen. Instead of seeing eye-to-eye, the two clashed.
Andry Rajoelina
On November 19 of last year, Daewoo signed a deal with the Malagasy government that, according to The Financial Times, allowed them to lease half of the arable land in Madagascar for 99 years. This was a way for South Korea to gurantee food security for the next century. Needless to say, this was extremely controversial, with many viewing this deal as a blatant act of neo-colonialism. This viewpoint was further supported when it was revealed that Daewoo was actually not paying one-cent for the lease, but was instead offering to hire Malagasy workers to work on Malagasy land. Daewoo would pay to clear the land for farming. Thus is in a country with a unique biosphere and a problem with deforestation, Daewoo had offered to clear land the size of half of Belgium, and hire a few Malagasy workers in exchange for taking all of the crops grown out of the country and exporting these crops to South Korea. This offer had then been accepted by Ravalomanana's government.

A second recent flashpoint came in December when VIVA, a national broadcaster owned by Andy Rajoelina, broadcast an interview with former President Didier Ratsiraka. The current government was not amused and ordered the station closed. This led to a conflagration between the Mayor and the President, which was further exacerbated in January when three separate prison breaks occured within two days. These prison breaks were not reported on by the media until much later. Consequently, Rajoelina criticized the government. Strikes ensued in the capital, and subsequently ministry buildings have been occupied and then re-taken by troops loyal to the President. This has all resulted in chaos and confusion in a country that has seemingly lurched from one crisis to the next over the past few years with only intermittent lulls.

Only today did the two leaders sit down and begin negotiations to end the crisis. This after scores of unnecessary deaths. Clearly, Madagascar's political system needs to be reformed. One can only hope that the talks today are a first step in a legitimate process that leads to improved governance on the island.

Nomadic Richard

Sources used for this article are as follows:


Anonymous said...

A guy who has never done politics, a guy who did not study, a guy who knows nothing, a guy who took power by force and murder? Since the beginning, we all knew that a coup d'état by marriage against nature of petty bourgeois Tana with the bottom quarter, supported by the military, sponsored by the exiles, with the blessing of a foreign power.

The United States has ordered March 13 to their non-essential staff to leave Madagascar and issued a new travel advisory
Belgium and Switzerland discourage all travel to Madagascar
Zambia, called for SADC and the AU to suspend Madagascar

Diplomats consider the accession to power of Andry Rajoelina as a creeping coup, helped "step by step" by the military for about ten days
This is the descent into hell. The vote was stolen Malagasy (...) It may fool the politicians the most heinous, but does not force the people's freedom to think. The truth will come out of herself and history will judge

Anonymous said...

You know I waited to see the HAT(Haute Autorité de la Transition)president of transition, for 2 years, Andry Rajoelina. He arrived a bit late from Nosy Be. He cannot be seen, I could just saw him waving and trying to stand up,the car was smoked. We are near the airport and he delivered a speech in downtown the city hall. I didn't wave at all. You know, he decreased the price of rice. A price that you cannot believe like you buy a donought and the price of bread, oil is half the previous price and the transport fare in Tuléar, the South of Madagscar decreased. Some grocers, drivers are complaining as it is detrimental to their interests. I think they are right. My former student I met talked while in a bus as she lives in Tanà and got more information that these cheap goods are all from the ex-president looted supermarkets(MAGRO) and his goods which are due to disembarked (imported goods).They say it's temporary aid just to catch up from the previous strike.And Ravalomanana has already been donated some 4xD used to welcome the 2010 African summit. Now they are sold like cookies. This student said at 100 000million MGF(malagasy francs) maximum. And she said Andry was just an instrument to remove Ravalo from his seat. And that Ratsiraka was behind all this as he with some Malagasy citizens were not allowed to get back to Madagascar during Ravalo's administration. Andry was an instrument as he is MERINA(an ethnic group from the midlands of Madagscar) as Ravalo,Asian looking. So, there's no fear to create a tribal war or ethnic conflicts which is very dangerous in Madagascar. And the people from the coasts who are rather African looking , do not digest that a Merina lead the country and especially those who are in favour of Ratsiraka. She said Andry was given billion for that and it's all prepared years before he became a mayor.Many malagasy young people are very disappointed with Andry although he was said to be billionaire from his mother's womb and is dual nationality(French and Malagasy), he's not satisfied. And his nickname is TGV(train à grande vitesse)when he was a DJ when not married yet,and he has changed it into Tanora(young)Gasy(Malagasy)Vonona(Ready),it urges him to go on.When he was a mayor, I thought he was a good guy....Ravalo has gone to Swaziland for SADC meeting and complaining there. Anyway Ravalo too was a dictator,wanted to sell Madagscar,his second plane after 'Force 1'was so striking that people hated him.He was a good president,there was nice programs like the reconstruction of the infrastructure, Madagscar Action Plan(MAP) but he's too greedy.Maybe there's a lot of temptation in power when you become a president.and now , I heard the IMF ,American Embassy, and some other diplomatic entities refuse to cooperate, assist but I don't much know what is it like now as I don rush to listen to the news.

The university students are back to school now,some techers didn't turn up yet.The pro-Ravalo are still meeting.And now there's a rush to win the seats.I see that Andry doesn't well-mastered the situation.There has never been a transfer of power in Mada/car,it's always been by force.There are no people trained to become politicians.I just don understand the real mentality of Malagasy people with the all nice saying 'wisdom' etc.Just swollen with honor, greediness not thinking of poor people. Madagascar is ranking in the last among developing countries or underdeveloping. But there are still rich people, amazing.

Anonymous said...

Well, before coming here I heard in a taxi from passengers and driver discussing that Ravalo got a container of money that he keeps for himself.They said that's why he had to get back here and just fetch for it.Ravalo said he would come back and appoint a very old politician(a kind of lame duck)as a prime minister.In fact this man should get retired.People just think he suffers from the shock and gets lost.In fact ,I don't anymore know who is wrong who is right but ,seemingly Ravalo reconstructed all the infrastructure and pretended to do good deeds to hide his embezzlment.Now it is said that there is firing in Tanà(the capital city) and two people were injured.
As for Andry he's continuing his programme .The taxi driver and the man say there will no more visa to get to Madagascar,it is cancelled to retrieve or to boost the tourism area.Not bad idea too!!!.Let's wait and see.