The Madagascar Test

Rajoelina’s decision to contest elections puts island nation on edge
The candidacy of Madagascar's President of Transition Andry Rajoelina, who was surprisingly selected among the 41 candidates in the July Presidential election, calls into question the credibility of the electoral special court (CES).
“I thought it was a free election, so why I will run also. Now the CES has validated the candidacy of everyone. So let the Malagasy people to choose who will lead the destiny of Madagascar. I decided to be candidate not for me but the high interest of the country,” Rajoelina explained on May 4 following his return from Tanzania.
Some months before, Rajoelina vowed not to be a candidate. But seeing the candidacy of ex-First Lady Lalao Ravalomanana, he became angry and made a surprise change.
The situation has put to test the credibility of the CES.
Suspecting that Rajoelina submitted his application after the deadline of April 28, most of candidates are demanding the CES members be sacked. They fear that the CES has already rigged the election.
A candidate in the Presidential election, Voninahitsy Jean Eugene, said Rajoelina has not complied with the law in force in Madagascar. This decision calls into question the credibility of the electoral special court.
“We ask to change the composition of the CES because they did not respect the law,” another candidate Rolland Ratsiraka said.
Candidate Monja Roindefo also said the CES is not credible by accepting the candidature of Rajoelina.
Another candidate Rajemison Rakotomaharo said, “This is a total confusion for me. This scares me that there will be no credible, fair, just and transparent election.”
The minister of agriculture, Rolland Ravatomaga, who supports Former President Marc Ravalomanana, said Ravalomanana's camp has no comment. “We respect the decision of the CES. Our candidate is ready for the election.”
But most of Ravalomanana's supporters believe Rajoelina will win the Presidential election in the first round if the CES members are not changed.
Former President of Mozambique Joachim Chissano, mediator of SADC in Madagascar, has refused to comment, saying he is going to report the situation to the regional bloc.
Magistrate Maharante Jean de Dieu, advisor to Rajoelina, argued that the CES members were elected by all magistrates in the Indian Ocean island country because of their experience and good standing. “It is a special court to avoid post-electoral crisis and to resume appeasement in the country.”
“According to the law, Lalao Ravalomanana and the Former President Didier Ratsiraka had no right to be candidates because they did not live physically in the country six months in Madagascar before their application.
“All Malagasy people know it. If we compare, the moment that Lalao Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka Didier did not live here is longest than the delay that Rajoelina was late in his application. But because it is a special court, its members can take any disposition to resume appeasement in the country,” he said.
“When Rajoelina met Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is the chairman of SADC Troika (Organ on Politics, Defence and Security) he did not have any objection to Rajoelina's candidacy, so I do not see any problem with it,” the Presidential Advisor added.
Rajoelina's former Minister of Communications, Gilbert Raharizatovo, who is also a political analyst, said Rajoelina's candidacy “is only to upset the elections”.
“It's just to sabotage the event because he wants to follow the scheme prepared by the churches council. This is just to stop the roadmap and to follow the pattern of churches council,” he said.
The Churches Council, which is influential in Madagascar, was expected to issue a resolution on the matter this past week.
According to participants, the candidacy of Rajoelina may force them to set up a new transition of 18 months, which will be led by Rajoelina and the three former presidents, Didier Ratsiraka, Marc Ravalomanana and Albert Zafy.
The council also proposes to postpone this year's Presidential election by holding a referendum, which will change the constitution adopted in December 2010.
According to the official agenda, Madagascar will hold the first round of presidential election on July 24 and the second round alongside the legislative vote on September 25.
Madagascar plunged into a political crisis in late 2008. In March 2009, Rajoelina replaced Ravalomanana with the backing of the military.
The takeover was seen as a coup. The SADC roadmap is the latest effort to restore democracy and constitutional rule in the country. –

May 2013
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