Madagascar: Ending the Crisis

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To end Madagascar’s crisis “which deepened with expiration of an Africa Union deadline on 16 March” the mediation should cease trying to implement a transitional power-sharing deal and instead aim for consensual writing of a constitution and early, internationally-supervised elections.

Madagascar: Ending the Crisis,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses the underlying causes and offers a new approach to unlock the negotiation stalemate. Power-sharing agreements signed in Maputo in August 2009 and Addis Ababa in November offered opportunities to promote a consensual transition. But though he signed, de facto President Andry Rajoelina and his entourage have blocked implementation of the accords, so were hit by African Union (AU) personal sanctions on 17 March.

“The protagonists appear more concerned about securing the spoils of power than finding a solution in the national interest”, says Charlotte Larbuisson, Southern Africa Analyst. “The lack of political will to compromise has made genuine power sharing virtually impossible”.

Madagascar has been in crisis since the bloody upheavals in early 2009, when Rajoelina, the then mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, assembled several tens of thousands in the streets demanding the resignation of President Marc Ravalomanana’s government. Ravalomanana yielded power on 17 March 2009 to a military directorate that immediately transferred its authority to Rajoelina. Several rounds of mediation under the auspices of the African Union (AU) and others have not unlocked the stalemate. While violence has been kept at bay since the Rajoelina regime took power, its legitimacy is questioned, and a dire economic environment weighs heavily on an already impoverished population.

The 2009 stalemate is the product of a political elite that has constantly undermined the creation of stable and democratic institutions in favour of its own political and economic interests. Its practices have been at the root of the other political crises that have shaken Madagascar since independence.

To break this cycle and to end the crisis, the mediation team’s priority should be the negotiation of an agreement between the four political movements that allows rapid drafting of a new constitution, a referendum on that document, free and fair elections and clarification of the terms of amnesty agreed in Maputo. The four movements should agree that the constitutional referendum and the elections will be organised and supervised by a joint AU/UN mission. During the transition period, the activities of the Rajoelina administration should be reduced to that of a caretaker government.

For this to work, the AU and UN should appoint a joint envoy mandated to supervise the whole process. A joint AU/UN police mission should be formed and put under the envoy, charged to work closely with the Malagasy security forces to secure the electoral process. The international community, already represented in a contact group, needs to remain engaged, and its guarantor role should be enshrined in the political accord.

“A new constitution and speedy elections under international supervision offer the opportunity to focus on core issues rather than on the respective positions and manoeuvres of the protagonists”, says Daniela Kroslak, Deputy Director of Crisis Group’s Africa Program. “This would put an end to the prevailing power struggle and would move the country out of its current crisis”.

Source: International Crisis Group

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