Quiet anticipation

The political climate in Madagascar has been more or less calm during the past month. Resulting from the SADC June 11-12 summit, the SADC finally announced a single amendment to the Road Map requiring the return of exiled political leaders. While Rajoelina has accepted the return of Didier Ratsiraka, he continues to insist on previous, and recently renewed, court verdicts dictating lifetime hard labor for Ravalomanana’s involvement in the shooting at the presidential palace on 7 February 2009. Upon SADC’s original announcement that urged that Malagasy political leaders be allowed to return unconditionally, not only did Rajoelina balk, but a group of military leaders also convened to officially declare their opinion that Ravalomanana not be allowed to return, “in the name of maintaining domestic stability.” Since then, business seems to have gone on as usual.

Talk has turned to the contraband rose wood market that has been recently spotlighted due to a shipment that was stopped in Mauritius and connected to people in high places. Following the transitional government’s announcement that it would henceforth seize and sell all illegally obtained rosewood, the US government announced that it would not participate in the $52 million UN sponsored financial assistance for reforestation. The US statement said the regime’s selling of rosewood would legitimize its export as well as expressed concern that there was no guarantee that the de facto regime wouldn’t redirect those funds away from reforestation to compensate for reduced funding in light of international sanctions.

Election preparations have gone on and seem to be making good progress, although, an official election date has yet to be announced. It is thus far uncertain if Rajoelina intends to submit or shun international standards that have been set forth requiring at least nine months time be allowed for proper election preparation. It may be that Rajoelina simply wants to surprise his opposition by announcing an election suddenly or it may be that he wants to take the time to be in accordance with international standards without openly admitting that he is giving in to international pressure. However, Rajoelina has recently convened a special session of the senate in order to discuss electoral laws in which amnesty for political actors is speculated to play a part. Meanwhile, the African Union summit in Addis Ababa has approved the SADC amended version of the Road Map and again urged that political leaders in exile be unconditionally allowed to return.

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~ by Abraham on 19 July 2011.

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