Madagascar: Andry Rajoelina won’t budge

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A year after grabbing power in Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina remains adamant. Despite African Union (AU) sanctions, announced Wednesday, and an opposition demonstration in Antananarivo, the Malagasy transitional president, who disregarded power-sharing agreements signed with a representation of the Madagascar political sphere, won’t budge. To consolidate his power, the former mayor is seeking to hold elections in the soonest time possible.

The President of the High Authority of transition in Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, remains rigidly uncompromising.

Responding to sanctions imposed Wednesday by the African Union (AU) against Rajoelina’s regime, one of his close allies announced: “we must maintain our decision and hold elections as soon as possible”. The pan-African organization, after insisting on the implementation of the Maputo and Addis Ababa power-sharing agreements between the various political groups in 2009, has been completely ignored.

In December 2009, Andry Rajoelina dealt a final blow to the process that was to end the country’s crisis when he unilaterally sacked the consensus Prime Minister. In the process, he announced his decision to hold early parliamentary elections in May to establish a constituent assembly.

According to observers, Andry Rajoelina wants a snap election because of his flagging popularity.

The targeted sanctions come only a year after the former mayor of Antananarivo grabbed power from former President Marc Ravalomanana. Besides Andry Rajoelina, the sanctions also affect 109 officials.

Those affected are “mainly government officials, senior officials, members of the armed forces, courts (…)” announced AU security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra. “It is a refusal to grant visas and a freeze of financial assets in foreign banks as well as diplomatic isolation by requesting all international organizations (…) to refuse the accreditation of representatives of the regime in place in Antananarivo,” said Mr. Ramtane Lamamra.

Pleas from Marc Ravalomanana

Marc Ravalomanana, for his part, “pleaded”, in a statement echoed by La Tribune de Madagascar, with his rival Rajoelina “to work with all parties in Madagascar and the international community to help restore constitutional democracy to Madagascar and alleviate the suffering of the Malagasy people.”

The African Union hopes that these measures will help the Rajoelina regime to “come to the virtues of dialogue and negotiation.”

But only moments after the sanctions were imposed, politicians close to Rajoelina rushed to reiterate their determination to organize prompt elections, AFP indicated.

Wednesday morning, supporters of the three political groups who have been kicked out of the transitional government – those of the three former heads of state Didier Ratsiraka (1975-1993 and 1996-2001), Albert Zafy (1993-1996) and Marc Ravalomanana (2002-2009) – staged a demonstration in Antananarivo in protest against the Rajoelina regime. They were dispersed with tear gas.

The economic situation in Madagascar is likely to deteriorate further, as the AU is not ready to restore its development aid programme which was suspended a few months ago.

The current political crisis has also led to the suspension of essential aid from donor countries. Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world.

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