Category Archives: Madagascar

Madagascar – Opposition joins the government

A brief update on happenings in Madagascar.

As posted previously, a new government has been formed. The government was to include members of all of the factions that were party to the all-inclusive transition deal that was brokered by the SADC.

However, initially, the choice of the new Prime Minister was contested. This meant that ministers from the movements of two former presidents, Marc Ravalomanana and Albert Zafy, refused to take their seats in the government. Now, though, L’Express de Madagascar is reporting that they have changed their minds and that they have taken their ministerial seats. This bodes well for the transition process generally.

Also, former president Didier Ratsiraka, another of the main figures in the transition process, has returned to Madagascar from exile in France. Again, this is another sign that the transition process is moving on. The big question now is whether former president Marc Ravalomanana will be allowed to return. In effect, this is a precondition for a successful transition. Certainly, things seem to be looking more positive now than for a considerable time.

Madagascar – New PM

Madagascar’s return to democracy looks almost as far away as ever. Even though strenuous efforts have been made to reconcile the various opposing forces since the coup in February 2009, there is still no timetable for elections and almost every decision is contested.

In theory, the SADC has brokered a road map for democratization between the four competing forces. This was signed in September. There are details here. The road map itself is available in French here.

One of the first elements of the agreement was the resignation of the incumbent PM, Camille Vital, who was appointed by Andry Rajoelina who led the coup against former president Marc Ravalomanana. PM Vital duly resigned last week. He was replaced by Omer Beriziky. PM Beriziky was chosen by Rajoelina.

The problem is that the choice of PM Beriziky is contested by some of the other partners in the road map. Jeune Afrique reports that even though he was appointed as an ambassador to Brussels by former president Albert Zafy and was maintained in position by former president Didier Ratsiraka and by Ravalomanana, who are the other three forces in the transition process alongside Rajoelina, PM Beriziky is a member of the so-called Leader Fanilo group that previously supported Rajoelina’s movement. Therefore, he is not seen as a consensus figure and this contradicts one of the explicit elements of the road map.

To date, the appointment remains, but so does the contestation.

Generally, this situation reflects on the difficult constitutional situation in Madagascar. The constitution was promulgated in December 2010. However, the country is effectively being governed on the basis of the transitional articles in that document. These articles effectively maintain the post-coup status quo. This means that Andry Rajoelina, the President of the High Authority of Transition, the organism that has governed since the coup, still has the power to issue decrees. The road map is an attempt to shape the transition in a way that is acceptable to the other political actors, but with little effect so far.

Madagascar – Constitutional history

In a previous post, a question was raised about Madagascar’s constitutional history from 1991 onwards and how it should be classified. This post sets out how I see it. With the exception of the 1995 reforms, the documents are all available in French at the Digithèque MJP.

In October 1991, there was a constitutional convention that governed the transition to democracy. There was a president and a prime minister, but no legislature. This was clearly an interim document that was not semi-presidential (or either presidential or parliamentary).

In August 1992, a new constitution was adopted. ICL provides an English version here. This constitution created a premier-presidential version of semi-presidentialism. Arts. 53 and 61 made no mention of prime ministerial responsibility to the president, only to the National Assembly. Responsibility to the National Assembly took various forms. According to Art. 90, it was on the basis of an investiture vote on the government’s programme, whereby a majority of the members of the National Assembly was required to approve the PM. Art. 91 also stated that if the government decided to change its programme during the course of a legislature, then it could ask for a vote of confidence. If two-thirds of the National Assembly voted against the government, then it had to resign. Art. 94 also allowed for motions of no-confidence. Such a motion was adopted if it gained the support of a majority of the members of the National Assembly. The wording of this constitution is unproblematic.

In October 1995, a constitutional law was passed. The details are in J. du Bois de Gaudusson, G. Conac, C. Desouches (eds.), Les Constitutions africaines publiées en langue française, Paris, La Documentation Française, 1998. This revision did change various articles that are potentially relevant to the classification of the country. There was still no mention in Arts. 53 or 61 of PM responsibility to the president, only to the National Assembly. However, Art. 90 was reworded. A new clause was added at the end stating that the president ends the PM’s functions (met fin aux fonctions du PM) either as a result of a vote of no-confidence (vote de défiance), or as a result of a motion of censure, or for any other determining cause (toutes autres causes déterminantes). This article is now very confusing. It seems to deal explicitly with the terms of the government’s investiture, but the new clause at the end seems more general. Presumably, it put the onus on the opposition to lodge a motion of no-confidence or censure rather than requiring the government to obtain a majority. Even so, the phrase ‘for any other determining cause ‘ seems to apply far more generally than just the investiture. What is more, it is not entirely clear how a vote de défiance is different from a motion of censure. Art. 91 was also reworded to allow the government to ask for a vote of confidence at any time. Again, a two-thirds majority was required to bring down the government. In addition, Art. 94 was amended such that a vote of no-confidence now required a two-thirds majority to bring down the government.

In April 1998 there were further amendments. Art. 53 was amended so that it now read: ‘The president ends the PM’s functions for any determining cause’ (pour toute cause déterminante), though Art. 61 still only makes reference to PM responsibility to the legislature. Art. 90 was amended to remove any need for an investiture vote and the clause that was added in 1995 was deleted. Art. 91 was also amended. A motion of confidence now required only a majority of the National Assembly to bring the government down. Art. 94 remained the same.

There were further amendments in 2007, but the wording of the above articles was not changed, though they were renumbered. The constitution was suspended in February 2009.

So, how do we classify Madagascar from August 1992-February 2009. It seems to depend on two things. Firstly, there is the super-majority requirement in Art. 94 from 1995 onwards. For me, this does not make a difference to the classification of a country as semi-presidential. I have already posted about this issue here. Secondly, there is the phrase “pour toute(s) cause(s) déterminante(s)”. This is a very unusual phrase that I cannot remember seeing in another constitution. I interpret it as meaning that the president can dismiss the PM on the basis of a given reason. To me, this allows the president to dismiss the PM.

Overall, I class Madagascar as semi-presidential from 1992-2009, and as premier-presidential from 1992-1995 and president-parliamentary from 1995-2009.

Madagascar – New government

Madagascar has a new government. The prime minister, Albert Camille Vital, remains in post, but there are 23 new ministers and only nine from the previous government.

The new government is, in theory, significant, because it is a government of ‘national union’. Allafrica reports that the government includes six representatives of former president Marc Ravalomanana’s movement, though my understanding is that Ravalomanana does not support the rapprochement. In addition, there are representatives of former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy. That said, the system still seems to be controlled by the de facto leader of the de facto coup in 2009, Andry Rajoelina.

The first elections under the new constitution are due to be held in September.

Madagascar and Niger – Formal return to semi-presidentialism

Both Madagascar and Niger have formally returned to semi-presidentialism.

In Madagascar, the official ceremony marking the start of the Fourth Republic was held on 11 December.

The final results of the recent constitutional referendum have now been published. They are:

Registered voters : 7,151,223
Voting : 3,761,977
Turnout: 52.61 %
Spoiled and blank : 179,423
Valid votes cast : 3,582,554
Yes : 2 657,9625 (74.19 %)
No : 924,592 (25.81%)

In Niger the new constitution was officially promulgated on 25 November.

The final result of the recent referendum has also been announced:

Registered voters : 6,720,335
Voting : 3,496,352
Turnout: 52.02 %
Spoiled and blank : 74,202
Valid votes cast : 3,442,150
Yes : 3,086,473 (90.19 %)
No : 335,677 (9.81%)

The following electoral timetable has also been announced:

8 January – municipal and regional
31 January – presidential (1st round), legislative
12 March 2011 – presidential (2nd round)

Madagascar – Constitutional referendum

L’Express de Madagascar is providing the provisional results of the constitutional referendum that took place last Thursday. The vote was held to approve the country’s new constitution. (The text in French is available in a previous post here.) The constitution is semi-presidential.

These are the results that have been provided:

Registered voters : 6,945,497
Voting : 3,671,043
Turnout: 52.86 %
Spoiled and blank : 177,620
Valid votes cast : 3,493,423
Yes : 2 585 215 (74.00 %)
No : 908 208 (26.00 %)

So, the approval of the constitution was not overwhelming. The turnout was low and there was an opposition vote. L’Express de Madagascar provides regional figures, which show that in one region there was a ‘No’ majority.

On the day of the vote a section of the military declared that they were taking power. There was little, if any, popular support for the rebellion, which lasted a couple of days before it was put down by loyal officers. Generally, though, the situation is still very unstable and consensus has not been achieved.

Still, Madagascar has formally returned to semi-presidentialism.

Madagascar – Draft constitution revealed (updated)

The Constitution en Afrique blog has provided a link to the draft constitution for Madagascar.

This is the proposed constitution for Fourth Republic of Madagascar. It is a document that has been drawn up under the regime of Andry Rajoelina who seized power in 2009. While the legitimacy of the process is open to contestation, the document itself is fairly uncontroversial, at least in as far as the aspects related to this blog are concerned. The text of the proposed draft is available here.

As expected, the constitution will be firmly semi-presidential. The president will be directly elected for a five-year once renewable term. The government is responsible to the National Assembly either by way of a vote of confidence or no-confidence. The text clearly states that if the government loses either vote, then it must resign.

Generally, the constitution creates a fairly balanced version of semi-presidentalism. The president is a major actor, but the government has independent powers. Indeed, it looks rather much more like the original text of the constitution of 1992 in this regard and less like the text that was revised in 1998.

So, with a premier-presidential form of semi-presidentialism and a system of checks and balances generally, at least this element of the transition process looks positive.

UPDATE

Since the above post, La Constitution en Afrique has posted a copy of the hastily rewritten government version of the constitution. This version, which is available in French here, gives greater powers to the president, including a somewhat circumscribed power to dismiss the PM. The government’s version will be the one that is put to a referendum on 17 November.

Thanks to La Constitution en Afrique for the great work.

Madagascar – ‘National conference’

Having reported, on Friday, Polity’s confirmation that Madagascar is no longer a democracy, the issue is the whether the transition process is back on track. Recall that the coup occurred in February 2009. So, a considerable amount of time has passed since then.

Anyway, last week a ‘national conference’ was held. There were over 4,000 attendees, which was a greater-than-expected number. That said, the conference was not sanctioned by a number of the ‘opposition’ forces, including those of former presidents, Marc Ravalomanana and Didier Ratsiraka. Given Ravalomanana was recently condemned by a Madagascan court to hard labour for life as a penalty for his role in the 7 February 2009 shootings of demonstrators, it is hardly surprising that he refused to attend. Ravalomanana denounces the verdict as political and, to say the least, it scarcely helps the likelihood of a consensual transition process. It should also be noted that the international mediator, former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, distanced himself from the conference.

The conference adopted a number of resolutions, among which, Madagascar Tribune reports, was that the new Republic, the Fourth Republic, should have a mixed constitution, between presidentialism and parliamentarism. This confirms the idea that when the transition does occur Madagascar will have a semi-presidential constitution.

Generally, the conference reaffirmed that elections should take place next year. The big question, though, is whether they will be free and fair. As things stand, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the transition is still being controlled by Andry Rajoelina, the leader of the coup, who, with his supporters, will be best placed to benefit from the electoral process.

Madagascar – Transition timetable back on track?

In Madagascar there is a new timetable for the transition to democracy.

On Friday, an agreement between various political forces was signed. This established a timetable for the transition. These are the key dates according to Midi Madigasikara:

30 August-3 September 2010 – National Conference
17 November 2010 – Constitutional referendum
16 March 2011 – Legislative elections
4 May 2011 – Presidential election

In contrast to previous agreements, this one was arranged locally. However, even though over 80 groups are said to have signed up to the agreement, it is unclear whether the three main groups that oppose Andry Rajoelina, who took power in the coup last year, are fully committed to the deal. That said, there are reports that former President Marc Ravalomanana’s TIM party is split and that those who oppose the former president opponents are more willing to negotiate a deal than Ravalomanana himself.

Madagascar – Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is …

Is this a record? Madagascar has had three prime ministers in 48 hours.

The story began on Friday. With the Addis Ababa accord having broken down, Rajoelina dismissed the ‘consensus’ prime minister, Eugène Mangalaza, who had been appointed at the end of October. In his place, Rajoelina appointed Cécile Manorohanta, who had previously been a Vice-PM. Then, on Sunday, Rajoelina issued a decree dismissing Manorohanta and replacing her with Colonel Albert Camille Vital. No reason was given for the change, but Manorohanta is being described as an “interim” prime minister.

In addition, Rajoelina has reinstated the so-called High Council of the Transition, the body which took power after the coup earlier this year. The Maputo and Addis Ababa accords had replaced this body with new institutions, but they have now been replaced in turn.

While the new PM has some association with former president, Didier Ratsiraka, the reinstatement of the High Council of the Transition is a further sign that Rajoelina has abandoned any consensus position at this this point.

I am continuing to report on Madagascar on the assumption that it is likely to reinstate semi-presidentialism when a new constitution is adopted, though that point is looking an increasingly long way away.