So for the sake of clarity and full disclosure, here is my personal view on what transpired in Madagascar, in chronological order:
- There was a laundry list of bad governance in the past few years in Madagascar. There was also an evident recognition of Madagascar as a good place to invest with a strong ROI. It is also a fact that those investments did not benefit the majority of the population who still suffered from endemic poverty.
- The Malagasy power shift was a military-backed takeover. No legal lingo can refute the fact that without the support of the CAPSAT ( one faction of the army) and (most probably) foreign financial lobbies, no power shift would have been possible. The fact that there might be a document from fallen president handing the power over to a military directory is irrelevant to the cause of the power shift.
. Given those two observations, I personally think that:
- 1) the transitional government only legitimacy or purpose would reside in preparing elections as soon as possible. Any attempt at changing the constitution without a clear mandate from the majority of the population is illegal and should be considered as such.
- 2) In the event that elections were to happen soon, I support that all candidates willing to do so be allowed to run for presidency, including former presidents and Rajoelina himself. I know that Rajoelina has been lobbying for former presidents to be banned from running ( and what basis I am not sure) and that he is too young according to the constitution but denying him would be denying the voices of a relevant part of the population.
- 3) I think that instead of criticizing Malagasy citizens' active involvement and discourse in the fate of their country, the so-called "silent majority" should help frame the future and ensure that transparent elections are held. That is the only way we can recover and move forward towards reconciliation. There is a humanitarian crisis and environmental crisis brewing at home and the faster we resolve the political conundrum, the faster we can attend to the problem at end. If we put the foundation of social harmony on the back burner because we have a few upcoming crises or are tired of the crisis, we will prove that we cannot learn from our mistakes in 91 and 02 and will go through all this again in 2012. No more of this shameful nonsense, please.
What of our leaders ?
Yes I am in favor of early elections and I 'd wish that all of them are allowed to run. Why ?
Let's see the argument for each of our protagonist, first Rajoelina:
- I have been critical of Rajoelina's actions and here is why:
- 1) his reasons for starting the power struggle and the way he went about fixing an injustice were all wrong: Firstly, he went full force in the crisis because his TV station was shut down. There are a myriad of reason to start a struggle (poverty, monopoly and staple products, poor terms of land deal etc...), the closing of his TV station is not one of them.
- 2) the crisis has now caused 200 deaths and the loss of investors confidence in Madagascar that has plunged into the abyss of a recession. Was it all worth it ? Wasn't it an option to start campaigning for the election planned in 2012 and build a case for a change of regime ? What was all the rush about ?
- Yet I support an exception for his candidacy. His approval rate may be at all time low now, but he was willing to be the voice of dissonance when things looked fishy in Madagascar and no one said anything. And that alone gives him the right to carry those voices further. Rajoelina's delusion of grandeur has been well documented and he might be flawed but he represented the hope of many when things were going astray. Had he not commandeer the coup, maybe his popularity would be higher.
- A lot has been said about Ravalomanana's mistakes but a shortcoming that has been not enough emphasized is his inability to listen to his critics and dismiss them without hesitation. His contempt for academicians, former foes and contrary point of view is indisputable. He now accuses France of supporting the "coup, and a band of bandits and wanting Madagascar to return as a colony". I am aware of where he comes from on this statement but more than anything, this statement shows me that he is still not admitting his own wrongdoing and suggests that he is not willing to find a consensus with all the parties involved.
- Still, he is the current elected president and it is clear that he has a legitimate mandate as the legal leader of Madagascar and the support of a substantial part of the population. No elections would make sense without him in Madagascar and that's a fact.
Both politicians have failed their people in many ways. Yet, one cannot forget that they both shoulder enormous pressure and that their (similar) flaws as leaders might be a byproduct of the strain of the job. One wish that they both would be more open to discussion but how many presidents in other places can say that they have the true pulse of their nations ? That is why elections would go a long way towards helping them listen to their constituents, explain what they want for their country and how they plan to do it. Elections are far from the perfect solution but they would show that both sides are willing to listen to the other side's point of view and more importantly to the silent majority.
They lost a lot of credential in the eyes of many. It is time they both earn them back. I hope they both still can, for everyone's sake.