Madagascar continues to be subject to uncertainty despite the nation’s fresh political development. People and observers in the island are confused by the implementation of the recently-approved roadmap to end the institutional crisis sparked by the 2009 army-backed coup. The Malagasy opposition ultimately refused to support the deal that was to pave the way to the smooth return to constitutional normalcy.
Opponents dislike the unilateralism of interim president Andry Rajoelina who is used to impose his own view since his illegal takeover nearly 3 years ago. The unity government the country’s leaders unveiled in the capital city Antananarivo on Monday 21 November, expects to get international recognition soon. So far, only France welcomed the new Cabinet. “Recognition from humans is not a priority for our country. Recognition from God is needed at present. Politicians have to be sorry for their wrongdoings,” said Yves Rakotondrasoa, a modest rice-producer in Feramanga Ambatondrazaka. At the inauguration, five appointees were absent as was the main opposition. In effect, four of the newly-appointed ministers boycotted the first Cabinet council held two days later. To date, they are unwilling to take office unless former president Marc Ravalomanama is called back from South Africa, and political prisoners are freed. They also ask for the re-opening of all media closed down by the previous illegal government.
What is now more embarrassing is that Malagasy are bored with politics. Evidence lies in the rise of collective disdain towards the rule of law. The current authorities would therefore confront latent crisis of legitimacy. A comprehensive agreement between various stakeholders is key to unlocking the manmade crisis in Madagascar. Such idea is however a utopia at this stage. Former president Didier Ratsiraka, a major political player, is not a signatory of the roadmap. The position of those who signed the deal last September remains unclear. While some split over the unity government, with members taking up posts, others rejected the process in bulk. As it may be, the authorities, for their part, continue to move forward. For them, it is time to set the new Parliament or revamp the existing structures that emerged from the illegal government. “The train has left the railway station and we couldn’t wait for the undecided persons,” said interim president Rajoelina.
Meanwhile, change has happen in the national scene. Former leader Ratsiraka returned home, ending a nine-year exile in France. Calling for national reconciliation, he asked for the immediate release of all political prisoners. He also proposed a high level summit of all key players. That would include toppled president Marc Ravalomanana, currently exiled in South Africa. Yet, the transitional government might prevent him from coming back. The 75-year-old Ratsiraka vowed to never sign the roadmap as long as his proposal for a summit is ignored.
So many pending questions need further clarification as the nation plans to organise general elections in 2012, in accordance with the roadmap. National reconciliation is urgent. However, no one is focusing the debate in this direction. Repeatedly the Collectif de citoyens pour la conciliation (CCC), headed by the former deputy chair of the International Criminal Court, Prof. Raymond Ranjeva, underlined reconciliation is a must for Madagascar. Yet, this call has been ignored, so far. “The roadmap may cause unheard-of disasters in the future like those happened to Burundi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Somalia over the past, and recently to Ivory Coast. Conventions were signed there to deal with complex political situations but the follow-up were conflict and mass killings,” warned the CCC.
Involvement of civil society is problematic. Despite controversy, various non-political organisations were given the responsibility to monitor the implementation of the roadmap. But the most influent union of the Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, and Anglican Churches – FFKM – declined the offer, to the advantage of small aligned groups. The media, which could play a vital role in educating people, is also reluctant in taking up his role.