Madagascar: “Unmitigated Disaster”

( Soldiers in burned block by Mehmoud Karim) )

After two days of upheaval that resulted in an estimated death toll at 80 nationally, and the looting of dozens of stores, a day of relative calm greeted a stunned nation.

Soldiers are now patrolling Antananarivo, and both parties have called for supporters to stand down. The mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, called for a “ghost town” operation in the capital today, January 29th, urging supporters to stay at home, but attend an organized public demonstration on Saturday, January 31st. President Ravalomanana met with his executive cabinet as well as religious leaders to find a solution to the current instability. Many foreign embassies have issued alerts to their citizens about carefully considering traveling to Madagascar.

Bloggers reflect on what many locally called “Black Monday” as confusion and anger prevail.

Mialisoa Randriamampianina writes that both sides should take responsibility for this “unmitigated disaster”(fr):

Marc Ravalomanana et Andry Rajoelina se défendent de toute responsabilité face à cette incroyable débandade : cela ne les dédouanera pas d’avoir allumé la mèche sur une poudrière. En même temps, l’audace de se croire «innocents» devant ce chaos général relève d’une impressionnante mauvaise foi

Marc Ravalomanana et Andry Rajoelina both absolve themselves of any responsibility in this incredible disaster: that won't take away the fact that they both produced the spark that led to the explosion. Moreover, the audacity of making us believe that they are “innocents” in the face of such generalized chaos is an impressive act of bad faith

( Photo of fire and car destroyed by Jentilisa )

A journalist blogging under the acronym POV explains that the animosity between the two politicians is rooted in personal rivalry but is also stoked by the agenda of former leaders (fr):

Les observateurs estiment que le jeune maire ne serait pas aussi téméraire sans être « appuyé ». Histoire de dire que toute cette manœuvre est soutenue par des hommes de l’ombre [..] A en juger par les milliards que Andry Rajoelina dilapide dans cette guéguerre, l’on estime qu’il jouit d’un puissant sponsor. Personne n’ose le dire, mais beaucoup le pensent…tout bas : les caciques de l’ancien régime.

Observers estimate that the young mayor would not be as courageous if he was not “pushed”. Story goes that all this maneuvering is supported by people behind the curtain. […] Going by the billions Andry Rajoelinais spending in this “battle”, one can assume he benefits from a powerful sponsor. Nobody will say it out loud but everyone whispers it: it's the former administration's clique at it again

Whatever of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the people are left contemplating images of burn bodies, stores broken open and general desolation. Groups on Facebook are calling for a return to peace in Madagascar and a show of love for the country regardless of political affiliation and gathered hundreds of members in a few days. Passionate conversations are taking place (fr):

On the forum, ” Ras le bol de l'instabilité politique à Madagascar“, Mandy says (fr):

je souhaite dire stop à ces politiciens qui ne pensent qu'à leurs gueules: Laissons les urnes s'exprimer.

I'd like to tell all the politicians who only think of their own interests: let the elections decide.

Another group named “TSIA, tsy isan'ireo izay manakorontana” calls for unity:

Conscient que malgrès la difficulté, nous saurons relever la tete
-Conscient que la victoire ne peut s'obtenir que par l'unité
-Conscient que le patriotisme ne rime pas avec extremisme,

(we) vouch that in spite of the difficult times, we will keep our head up.
-conscious that unity is the only way to victory
– conscious that patriotism does not rhyme with extremism.

Finally, a group of Peace Corps Volunteers, disappointed by the lack of information in the US mainstream media, created a group to gather updates related to the crisis and the whereabouts of their colleagues all over Madagascar. John Elliot posted the following update:

Yesterday the U.S. ambassador met with Ravolamanana to try and talk sense to him, but bore little fruit. His car was attacked/rocked by a mob after leaving the meeting. Now the economic impact is more threatening than the violence. Gas prices have skyrocketed, food will soon follow. Gas stations are like parking lots, lines around the block, and most are out of gas.


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