"On the anniversary of the coup d'etat of March 17, 2009 in Madagascar, individual sanctions are about to be imposed upon the current leaders of Madagascar for not respecting the resolutions of Maputo that were previously agreed upon by all participants. This decision come after a warning a month earlier from the African Union and the International Contact Group and follow several annulments of international trade accords that have affected the local industries. They also come on the heel of reports by Amnesty International and the US State Department that document multiple human rights violations and ongoing illegal international trafficking of precious rosewood from Madagascar rain forests. According to a Malagasy insider, the individual sanctions would result in a freeze of the financial assets of the people present in the list and possible arrest if they travel outside Madagascar (fr).
The government remains defiant in the face of the impending sanctions, arguing that only national elections will provide an effective exit to the crisis. The organization and monitoring of these elections are not clearly defined yet and parliamentary elections have already been postponed from the initial proposed schedule.
The political deadlock is compounded by humanitarian concerns caused by Tropical Storm Hubert that killed 14 and left 37,891 homeless after making landfall earlier in the week.
(Photo credit: Global Green Grants Fund)
Coincidentally, the France-based project Survie, that monitors corruption in Africa , has also published a series of articles reporting on how oil magnate Total got a foot hold on crude sand oil resources in Madagascar and how it might affect the environment. Their reports indicate that the current director of Total in Madagascar, Mr Lionel Lehva has already been arrested along with 15 others in december 2008 for alleged corruption charges in Italy when he was the director of Total Italy (source: Le Monde).
I am guessing that the incoming list of people sanctioned in Madagascar might include Mr Lionel Lehva and his associates in Madagascar.
It would also make sense that the perpetrators of the ongoing illegal rosewood trafficking in the rain forest of Madagascar are to be included in the list.
It certainly looks like such measures by the international community are more reasonable that general sanctions directed towards the whole country that always end up penalizing the everyday citizens more than the perpetrators. Still, one can't help but wonder how effective such measures would be in the absence of a credible court of law within the country. At the end of the day, if the perpetrators of the illegal logging of rosewood were able to pursue their traffic unchallenged, it is a strong indication that the Rule of Law is close to inexistent at it stands right now. As a result, the people on the list can still just give a smirk about being on the list and continue whatever they were doing within the country. There is not much one can do about that absent removing them by force. And let's make it clear here once again, as much as I am disappointed with the current government, that is one option that should NEVER ever be considered, no matter how bad things get.
Still, the fact that the economy of Madagascar is highly dependent on international transactions surely helped in trying to steer the country back onto the path of constitutionality. It is a long-winded process and it is far from being a success but the coup leaders certainly did not feel like they had free reign after taking power; mostly because the rest of the world asked: "what is going on over here?"
I wish that Malagasy people alone could have managed to put a halt to the all the abuse of power we have observed for a while now (i.e handle our own business internally without forcing an international mediation) Unfortunately our democracy is not mature enough yet to handle it and is still too often resort to armed violence to resolve tensions.
So score one point (or half a point) in this case for the benefit of an increased globalization worldwide. Not only was the rest of the world better aware of the ongoing mischiefs in Madagascar (despite the media efforts of the government to try to conceal some of them), the ROW was also able to put some pressure on the current leaders to force them to into considering a dialog with former foes in spite of their obvious reluctance to share power. It is a somewhat of a victory for transparency and accountability, albeit a very small one. The people who lost their jobs during the crisis and the caretakers of rain forest of Madagascar probably think that this is too little too late. But it is still better than total impunity that we have witnessed previously in other part of the world, isn't it ?
It will be interesting to see how things develop after March 17, in the Red Island.