Madagascar: A political crisis without end…

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Manandafy Rakotonirina, the Prime Minister designated by Marc Ravalomanana, exiled President of Madagascar, was arrested Wednesday in Antananarivo. Mr. Rakotonirina had published, Tuesday, a partial list of his “legalist” government. These appointments were made a day after the arrest of three security officers at the High Constitutional Court of the country by the military. They are suspected of being loyal to the deposed president and also to have fired on protesters with the intention to undermine the high transition authority (HAT) led by Andry Rajoelina.

The political crisis continues unabated in Madagascar. Manandafy Rakotonirina, Prime Minister designate of the ousted president of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, was arrested Wednesday by soldiers loyal to the new regime, according to the AFP. During a commando operation to arrest Mr. Rakotonirina — conducted by officers involved in the ousting of Mr. Ravalomanana and involving some twenty soldiers — the PM was found hidden in the toilets of the Carlton Hotel where he had established his headquarters.

Before the arrest, pressure from Marc Ravalomanana supporters in the past few weeks, on Rajoelina’s government, had intensified. Tuesday, Mr. Rakotonirina, the Prime Minister appointed by the deposed president, whose supporters continue to demonstrate since he went into exile, had formed a”legalist” government, tentatively made up of six ministers. Names of other members of the “legalist” government were to be published on Wednesday.

“Restoring the functions of State”

“These are high-level technicians in their field,” said Manandafy Rakotonirina during the publication of a partial list of his new ministers. According to his spokesman, Constant Raveloson, this nomination “provides the foundation to a realistic, legal and constitutional government (…) If it puts pressure on the High transition Authority (HAT), so much the better,” he added. The Prime Minister who has no office has admitted that his team “cannot work outside the ministries.” But “neither can we force the doors open,” he added. In February, at the height of the crisis, the ministers appointed by Andry Rajoelina, then leader of the opposition, had tried to dislodge Marc Ravalomanana’s government from their offices. “There will be discussions with employees,” said Rakotonirina. According to the group’s new Minister of Finance and Budget, Henri Bernard Razakariasa, “the government’s overall mission is to restore the functions of the State”.

Mr. Manandafy Rakotonirina, who had also endorsed a Minister of National Defense, was to create, Wednesday, a defense cabinet composed of army officers — the same army that abandoned Marc Ravalomanana in March, while handing over power to the former mayor of the capital. Constant Raveloson, spokesman for Prime Minister, Tuesday revealed that they had the support of part of the army. “There will be senior army officers in the cabinet after which the stunt will begin,” he said.

Three security officials arrested

However, Monday, the military clamped down on the premises of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) in Antananarivo and arrested three army chiefs accused of being loyal to former President Marc Ravalomanana, according to the AFP. The HAT accused some members of the army to have opened fire on supporters of Marc Ravalomanana to undermine Andry Rajoelina’s credibility. Several people (at least four) were killed during pro-Ravalomanana demonstrations last week in the Madagascan capital.

A delegation of the HAT was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday to consult with the diplomatic community. The information was revealed after Agence France Press interviewed a diplomat “lobbying” on behalf of HAT within the diplomatic community and the African Union. Andry Rajoelina, following his disgraceful rejection by the South African Development Community (SADC) is pulling every possible string in his power to get the support of the African Union.

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