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.

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