Rajoelina forges ahead

2010-09-24 18:00

Antananarivo - Eighteen months after seizing power with the army's backing, Madagascar's leader Andry Rajoelina is doggedly forging ahead with his own roadmap in the face of foreign and domestic criticism.

Since the failure in May of the latest internationally brokered talks with the camps of the island's three former presidents Marc Ravalomanana, Albert Zafy et Didier Ratsiraka, Rajoelina has been positioning himself.

After signing a political agreement including several dozen political parties on August 13, Rajoelina last week assembled several thousand people for a conference that was supposed to lay the foundations for a Fourth Republic.

Rajoelina's regime has come up with a calendar providing for a constitutional referendum on November 17 followed by presidential elections in May 2011. Local elections have been set for December 20.

For political analyst Franck Ramarosaona, Rajoelina's manoeuvring is just a ploy to stay in power.

Opportunities for fraud

"If they can organise local elections, what stops them organising presidential elections before the end of the year, a promise they've made so many times," he said.

"They are determined to prolong the transition and all the opportunities for fraud that go with it," he said.

Ramarasaona was also convinced that when the presidential election was held, Rajoelina would run, despite a commitment he made in May not to do so.

"He feels betrayed by a lot of people and indeed by the international community so he feels under no obligation to respect his commitments," Ramarasaona said.

The international conference criticised this month's conference, organised by an association close to Rajoelina, as being "not impartial and consensual enough". The opposition criticised what it called the conference's "tailor-made resolutions".

For them, the most flagrant example was the lowering of the minimum age for being president from 40 to 35. That would mean that Rajoelina, who is 36, would be eligible to stand.

"We were only invited for the form," said Emmanuel Rakotovahiny, from the Zafy camp who boycotted the event.

"What happens next is still rather vague," said a diplomat who asked not to be named.

"The constitutional referendum could actually take place since the regime says it has the means to do that. But then it's likely to be criticised as a unilateral measure and it'll have a credibility problem."

Equal blame

Madagascar has been mired in a political crisis since the end of 2008. In March 2009 the crisis worsened when President Ravalomanana was removed and replaced by Rajoelina, then mayor of Antananarivo.

"There's a lot of posturing and somewhere the three camps are guilty of conniving in that," Ramarasaona said.

As far as he was concerned, all four parties were equally to blame for the country's political deadlock.

Rather than either Rajoelina or his three rivals, Ramarasaona believed in the emergence of a "third force": a transitional government of technocrats, as proposed by Raymond Ranjeva.

Ranjeva has served both as a judge and also as vice-president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. He is also a former director of Antananarivo University.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, Ranjeva's proposal has not found favour with Madagascar's political classes.