Category Archives: Madagascar

Madagascar – Date for legislative elections announced

In the previous post on Madagascar I said that it looked as if the transition process was back on track. I spoke too soon.

The protagonists had met in Addis Ababa and agreed a power-sharing arrangement, including the distribution of the major political posts between the four main groups. There was then due to be another meeting in Maputo last week to determine the rest of the positions. However, Andry Rajoelina, the leader of the coup and the current President of the Transition, refused to attend. Moreover, he then refused to allow the three former presidents who did go to Maputo and the consensus prime minister of the Transition to return to Antananarivo.

Anyway, increasingly isolated externally and with his opinion poll ratings dropping internally, Jeune Afrique reports that yesterday Rajoelina announced that legislative elections would be held on 20 March 2010. This is much earlier than expected. Rajoelina says that the Assembly will serve for five years.

Obviously, this decision raises all sorts of issues. What is the constitutional status of the Assembly? What is the status of the Addis Ababa agreement, which outlined quite a detailed set of institutional arrangements? How can there be a free legislative election if all the opposition leaders are not allowed in the country? If Rajoelina’s power is slipping away, will there be an internal revolt?

Madagascar – Addis Ababa agreement

The transition process in Madagascar looks back on track. Last week, the opposing parties met in Addis Ababa to try to complete the details of the agreement that had been reached in Maputo in August. (See previous post).

In essence, the Maputo distribution of top-level posts has been confirmed. Andry Rajoelina will remain as the head of state and President of the Transition. There will be a three-person presidential council, comprising Rajoelina and two vice-presidents of the transition, one from (presumably now) former President Ravalomanana’s movement and one from former President Zafy’s movement. President Rajoelina’s acts will be counter-signed by the two co-presidents.

There will be 31 ministers in the government with an equal distribution of posts for the three movements plus an equal number of ministers for former President Ratsiraka’s movement and those for ‘other tendencies’. In addition, there will be three broader consultative, legislative organisations, each of which will be headed by one of the three main movements. These organisations will themselves have a similar balance of representatives from the different groups and movements. There are some other organisations too, including legal ones that have a similar balance of power.

The Addis Ababa accord also reiterates the Maputo clause concerning the candidates at the next presidential election. It states that the heads of the movements (i.e. Rajoelina, Ravalomanana etc) reaffirm their commitment to Art. 5 of the Maputo agreement whereby members of the transition government agree not to stand at the presidential election that will be held at the end of the transition process. I may be misinterpreting this part of the accord, but it strikes me that this does not disqualify, even morally, Ravalomanana from standing because he is not a member of the transition government. In theory, however, it does imply that Rajoelina will not be standing. That said, Rajoelina has a ‘get-out-of-jail’ clause in this regard because the Addis Ababa accord also states that if a member of the transition government does decide to stand then he has to resign from his government post 60 days prior to the election.

The text of the agreement is available at the Constitution en Afrique site.

The result is that all parties consider the agreement to be satisfactory, including, seemingly, Ravalomanana who had vehemently opposed Rajoelina staying on as President. A sign that the situation is improving is that Monja Roindefo, the prime minister appointed by Rajoelina after the coup, is arranging to hand over power to the new Prime Minister of the transition, Mangalaza Eugène, in the next couple of days, according to madagascar-tribune.com. That said, Roindefo still seems to harbour a grudge at being evicted from power.

Overall, the chances of a successful transition some time probably late next year do seem to have increased.

Madagascar – New meeting proposed

As reported in a previous post, the various parties in Madagascar appeared to have reached some sort of agreement as to how to manage the transition back to democracy. The process has since moved forward a little, but the situation is still very delicate.

While the Maputo accords established a framework for the transition to democracy, the devil, obviously, was in the detail and, in this case, the detail concerned the names of the people who were the transition process. Basically, the framework provided for a president during the transition, a PM, three Vice-PMs, as well as a number of other posts. There were four parties to the accords, notably those of Andry Rajoelina, who took power in the coup, and Marc Ravalomanana, who was ousted. The problem was that the various parties could not agree how the posts would be distributed.

Anyway, a few weeks ago some sort of agreement was reached: Rajoelina would remain president, Eugène Mangalaza from former president Didier Ratsiraka’s movement will be the PM, the Vice President will be from former president Albert Zafy’s group, and the head of Congress of Transition will be from Ravalomanana’s group.

The plan is for the four sides to meet in Addis Ababa on 3-5 November to finalise the agreement and sort out the remaining distribution of posts.

Anyway, the ‘agreement’ has caused two major problems. First, former (and still, in his eyes, current) president Marc Ravalomanana says that he will not accept any agreement that confirms Rajoelina as president, though this now seems to be the dominant position.

Second, Monja Roindefo, the prime minister appointed by Rajoelina after the coup, is extremely angry that he has been forced to step aside. He has challenged the decree that appointed Mangalaza as the new PM following the ‘agreement’ and has broken with Rajoelina. A reconciliation meeting has taken place, but the emergence of another actor with another grievance and with at least some support is a further complicating factor.

At this point, the transition still seems a long way away.

Madagascar – Maputo Accord

Peace seems to have broken out in Madagascar. On 8 August four current or former presidents, along with representatives from international organisations, signed a deal that put in place a transition process. The text of the agreement is available here.

The text, as well as a more detailed Charter that is available here, establish interim institutions and commit all parties to holding elections within 15 months.

In addition, there will be a new constitution. The accord explicitly states that a committee will be established to write a constitution that will lead to a Fourth Republic. (The Third Republic was established in 1993). The Charter specifies that there will be a directly elected president who can be re-elected once. However, there are no other details.

So, it remains to be seen whether the new Constitution will lead to a return to semi-presidentialism in Madagascar.

Madagascar – Political accord likely

United Nations mediators seems to have been able to come up with at least a short-term solution to the political crisis in Madagascar.

Les Nouvelles reports that four major actors in the country, including President Ravalomanana’s TiM party as well as Andry Rajoelina’s supporters, have agreed in principle a way out of the country’s crisis.

A key element of the apparent agreement, which has not yet been made public, is Article 3. This Article is supposed to state that no former president will be eligible to stand at the next presidential election, which seems to be planned for 2010. This Article would not only interdict Ravalomanana and Rajoelina, but also two former presidents, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, both of whom had very controversial presidencies and who remain not insignificant figures, particularly Ratsiraka.

In a clarification on Thursday, L’Express de Madagascar reports Rajoelina as saying that he has not agreed not to stand, only that he will not stand if all the others agree not to stand and he indicates that all of the other presidents have not yet signed the agreement. So, there is still some question as to whether the accord will be finalised.

Prior to any election, there is still promised to be a new constitution. Les Nouvelles reports that a new constitution will be presented to a national conference next month. No draft of the constitution has yet emerged to the best of my knowledge.

There is a nice review of the (il)legality of the Rajoelina transition in the La Constitution en Afrique blog.

Madagascar – Once again two PMs!

If you are getting a strong sense of déjà vu, then it is entirely understandable. (See the previous post here.)

Madagascar seems to be making a habit of having two PMs.

Jeune Afrique reports that Marc Ravalomanana, the ousted president of Madagascar, has appointed a new prime minister – the legal one, according to the former president at least. The new PM is Manandafy Rakotonirina.

Former (or current, depending on what you will) President Ravalomanana has been taking refuge in Swaziland. However, it is reported that in Tripoli on 10 April he signed a decree that nullified another decree that he signed on the day he ‘abdicated’ and that transfered power to his generals. (Remember that these generals then in turn quickly transfered power to Andry Rajoelina, the president of the High Authority for the Transition).

Anyway, President Ravalomanana’s decree is said to state that the previous decree was null and void and that power had never been legally transfered. He then signed another decree that nominated Prime Minister Rakotonirina. (I hope you’re paying attention. There will be a test later).

What this underlines is that President Ravalomanana made a big mistake when he transfered power to the junta as he was about to leave the country. On the assumption that the junta was friendly to him, which seems to be the case as they let him leave (and also because they seem to have been at least mildly coerced into signing over power to Rajoelina a few hours later), and, therefore, that Ravalomanana himself was not coerced into signing the decree, then transferring power was a major error. Even if the international community considers Rajoelina to have seized power in a coup, at least he has a veneer of legality in office, and all thanks to Ravalomanana.

In the meantime, there is a rumour that Ravalomanana is planning to return to Madagascar perhaps as early as Saturday.

Madagascar – Election timetable

Hat tip to La Constitution en Afrique blog, which has performed another valuable service by posting a link to the 19 March decree that establishes the current institutional situation in Madagascar.

The decree confirms the end of semi-presidentialism. Andry Rajoelina personally has full powers. In this capacity he has decreed the creation of the High Authority for the Transition to the Fourth Republic, which will operate for no more than two years. During this time, as reported widely, the Senate and the National Assembly are suspended.

Article 3 of the decree sets out the powers of the President of the High Authority. Notably, the president appoints and dismisses the prime minister. Article 6 allows the president to legislate by decree in the Council of Ministers and to appoint and dismiss ministers.

Article 7 sets out the powers of the prime minister, who is deemed to be the chair of the Council of Government.

Last week, Jeune afrique reported that the date of the presidential election had been fixed for October 2010. This would the culmination of a transition process. There will be a National Conference before 26 June 2009, a constitutional referendum in September 2009, and then the presidential election a year later.

In the meantime, Madagascar is isolated. The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie has suspended the country, as has the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

Madagascar – Still SP?

It is always difficult to know in these situations, but it is unclear whether, constitutionally, Madagascar remains semi-presidential. To the best of my knowledge, the Constitution has not been formally suspended. However, as reported in the last post, President Ravalomanana’s last act in office was to sign power over to a military directory. Jeune Afrique reports that, soon after, the officers in the military directory were arrested by soldiers loyal to Rajoelina and taken to an army barracks. Later that evening they declared that they refused to assume power and that they had signed a decree that gave Rajoelina power to govern the transition process. Despite the fact that the Constitution states that the president has to be at least 40 years of age, and Rajoelina is 34, reports say that the High Constitutional Council ratified the decree on Wednesday morning. No doubt the situation will become clear in time, but, at the moment, there seem to be some constitutional ambiguities to say the least.

For his part, Rajoelina has stated that he will ensure elections within two years and that a new Constitution – for a Fourth Republic – will be drawn up. Despite the protestations of Rajoelina and his supporters, it is difficult to see how the events of recent days amount to anything other than a coup, though clearly President Ravalomanana failed to mobilise a great deal of support behind him.

Topmada.com is a really useful site that has frequent updates on events as they unfold.

Madagascar – President resigns

Marc Ravalomanana resigned as president of Madagascar today.

In the end, events moved very quickly. Late on Monday afternoon, the army took over the presidential residences in the centre of Antananarivo. The gates to the palace were knocked down by two armoured cars. Jeune Afrique reports that some shots were heard. In the meantime, President Ravalomanana had taken refuge in another presidential palace in the suburbs of the capital about 12 km from the centre.

At a rally on Saturday, Rajoelina declared that the president, Assembly and Senate were defunct/deposed (déchu). He also gave President Ravalomanana four hours to resign. France 24 has video of TGV, as Rajoelina is known, on Saturday. He defends the action as the people taking back power and denies a coup. President Ravalomanana refused to resign and proposed holding a referendum as a way out of the crisis. In turn, this offer was rejected. On Monday, Rajoelina called upon the security to forces to arrest President Ravalomanana without delay.

France 24 has a video report of Monday’s events. It shows that there was violence, even though a coup is again denied. The African Union condemned any illegal seizure of power, but was unable or unwilling to intervene to help President Ravalomanana.

Jeune Afrique reports that President Ravalomanana transferred presidential and prime ministerial power by decree to a military directory led by Admiral Hyppolite Ramaroson. Events on Monday showed that the military and security services had moved over to the opposition. So, further conflict does not seem likely. President Ravalomanana is reported to have taken refuge in the US Embassy. There are reports that Andry Rajoelina is going to take an oath of office this afternoon.

Madagascar – Army mutiny

The crisis in Madagascar shows no sign of abating. Last week, there was an attempt to arrest Andry Rajoelina, self-proclaimed president of the so-called ‘High Council of Transition’ and the leader of the opposition to President Marc Ravalomanana. On Friday evening, Jeune Afrique reports, Rajoelina took refuge in the French Embassy in Antananarivo.

On Monday, the tension mounted a notch when there was an army mutiny in the capital. Madagascar Tribune reports that soldiers in one barracks refused to take orders because, had they done so, they would have had to repress any demonstrations in the capital. There were rumours that the presidential guard were going to attack the barracks, but they were quashed and no intervention took place.

Obviously, these developments demonstrate that the situation is far from stable. There had been plans to hold further negotiations later this week with the participation of wider sections of society. However, it is unclear whether these will go ahead.