News of a mutiny at one of Antananarivo's most important barracks stunned Madagascar yesterday. The mutiny has since spread to other barracks and Madagascar's Defence Minister, Vice-Admiral Mamy Ranaivoniarivo, has resigned.
Ranaivoniarivo was appointed to the post only a few weeks ago, after Cecile Manorohanta resigned following the bloodshed of February 7th, when opposition protesters led by Andry TGV Rajoelina attempted to march on a Presidential palace, and were fired upon by the Presidential Guard.
There were reports that Vice-Admiral Mamy Ranaivoniarivo resigned under duress, as some mutinous soldiers held him prisoner, then made him write a letter which he read during a press conference. The BBC reports:
“He read out a brief letter of resignation to reporters, but later suggested he may have been under pressure to leave his post.
“Perhaps I resigned under threat. I do not like it that Malagasy people are killing each other,” he said.”
Jentilisa comments on the resignation :
“Nandritra ny tontolo maraina izy no nohidiana birao, sady nohidiana rahateo vavahady fidirana ao amin'ny minisitera tsy nahafahany mivoaka. Efa karazana “gadra” izy izany raha tsy “takalon'aina”. Mampalahelo ny mahita fa ny ambany grady indray no mibaiko ny manamboninahitra jeneraly, ary nisy aza ny nandrahona azy, ka teo anatrehan'ny mpanao gazety no nanatanterahana izany fandrahonana izany indray (ankoatra izay tany amin'ny birao any). Maty hasina ny sata repoblikana, mitamberina an-tsaina ihany koa ny fanaon'ny mpampihorohoro any amin'ireny sarimihetsika ireny.”
After this resignation, the Army Chief issued an ultimatum:
“We implore all political players, civil society organisations and other parties to reunite immediately to find a solution within the next 72 hours to help the nation out of the current crisis,” said Gen Rasolomahandry.”
“Col. Andre Ndrianarijaona told reporters Wednesday the army'shad agreed to hand over his post to him.
Ndrianarijaona said Gen. Edmond Rasolomahandry had agreed to the change after less than an hour of discussion at the‘s offices. Rasolomahandry left without comment.
There was no immediate comment from President Marc Ravalomanana, who appointed Rasolomahandry last month.
Ndrianarijaona leads a group of soldiers who announced over the weekend they would no longer take orders from the president. Ndrianarijaona said Wednesday the army was united behind him.”
Soldiers were seen blocking streets, and twitterers reported rumors of Pro-TGV supporters going to invade ministries. The saddest part was the sight of Malagasy civilians fighting each other in the streets, fifteen were reportedly injured. Pakysse posts pictures.
More than ever, Malagasy bloggers are worried about the turn of events.
Tahina worries that civil war is looming, if it isn't here already:
“It’s no more safe to talk politics in a public area (buses included) because you don’t know who’s listening to you and on which side this one is. A simple rumour about you can harm you or your relatives. While I’m writing this post lootings are keeping up, SFOI Tanjombato is now among the victims.
Some friends and I talked to a foreigner who’s been in Madagascar for about 8 years now and raised the term “Civil War”. He said that Malagasy people are too peaceful and it’s hard to think of such a thing here. I do hope he’s right.”
Rado reports with pictures on yesterday's events.
On Malagasy Miray, a post fumes at what Malagasies are doing to their country:
“Voalaza mantsy fa hendry ramalagasy, voalaza fa mandala ny fihavanana sy ny firaisan-kina. Kanefa inona ny nitranga? Ny andaniny mitady an’i Andry Rajoelina any amin’ny masoivoho frantsay, ny ankilany hanenjika ny PDS Guy Rivo eny Ampasapito sy ny manodidina rehefa tsy nahazo ny zanany teny Ambatobe tao amin’ny sekoly frantsay. Ny miaramila mihoko sy mitokona tsy handray baiko intsony fa hanao “V” amin’ny ratsan-tànana. Ny mpandroba maneho eo anoloan’ny fianakaviambe iraisam-pirenena fa mahantra sy noana ka solosaina sy fahitalavitra no angalarina. Maratra, voa mafy misy koa ny maty. Haringana ve ny firenena? Hahetry ve ny toe-tsaina malagasy sy ireo soa toavina nolalain’ny razana?Inona re ity nataonao raMalagasy ô?! Mahamenatra sy marary toy ny tongo-bakivaky.”
Jentilisa tried to take some distance from the current crisis and asks if things are not larger than a Ravalomanana vs Rajoelina fight. What are we relinquishing here? Why are the soldiers mutining? He looks at history and sees parallels with the Merina army's disengagement during the Malagasy-French war of 1885, at the end of which the Malagasy were defeated, and Madagascar became a protectorate, then a colony.
“Toa tsy niraharaha ny ady loatra ny mpitari-tafika Malagasy, indrindra fa tamin’ireo Jeneraly efa nananan’ny Malagasy ihany koa. Teo Andriba ihany no mba nisy karazana ady mafana teo amin’ny Malagasy, fa ny ankoatra izany dia tena tsy nisy na inona na inona nataon’ireo tafika mihitsy. Inona no antony? Ela nitondrana loatra manko ny praiminisitra Rainilaiarivony ka efa bebe ihany ireo tsy tia azy. Ny andaniny efa mpankasitraka ny Frantsay koa faly kokoa mahita an’i Rainilaiarivony fa jamba teo amin’ny fijerena ny hoe ho lasan’ny Frantsay anie i Madagasikara fa sombintsombiny ihany no omeny anao izay faly tsy mahita fa ny fiandrianam-pirenena Malagasy no rava fa tsy hoe Rainilaiarivony ihany no miongana”.
Tomavana also finds lessons in history and the role that the army should play :
“As the days pass, the list of deaths related to clashes in Madagascar continues to lengthen. In Geneva also the army formerly fired at demonstrators. The difference is that the people of Geneva has learned their lessons from history: the army is not trained to maintain public order, the army is shaped to defend a territory in the war.”
Meanwhile the opposition leader Andry TGV was reported to be under UN protection by the UN envoy, but then the UN Headquarters denied the information and said that Andry TGV was under French protection, then French Embassy officials said that Andry TGV was now in the hands of the Catholic church, but other reports say he is in an unspecified location for his own security. But now apparently he is back safe and sound in his house in Ambatobe, protected by mutineers, and is refusing to participate in the national talks that the United Nations and Western powers insisted to keep him safe and sound for !
The presidentially-appointed new mayor of Antananarivo has lost his home in burnings and lootings by a mob of TGV supporters. And Ravalomanana was said to be blocked by the army from accessing the presidential plane, allegedly to flee the country. The French Embassy saw Ravalomanana supporters protesting French meddling into Malagasy affairs.
Solofo wonders if the UN and France's protection of Andry means they are now supporting coups:
“Ainsi Andry s'est fait exfiltré à la Résidence de l'Ambassadeur de France et ceci sous la ‘protection’ de l'ONU; du jamais vu dans la gestion des différents crises politiques dans le monde d'autant plus que l'ONU et les autres organisations internationales comme l'OUA ont toujours prôné pour le respect des Institutions comme principe de base.
Est-ce un signal officiel de soutien à l'insurrection et au Coup d'état en cours à Madagascar par l'ONU?…Cette ‘protection’ ne constitue pas un support officiel au Coup d'état mais un moyen de pousser tout le monde à s'entendre pour esquisser ensemble une ‘cohabitation’ à tous les étages (au gouvernement, au Sénat et dans des instances de contrôle ad-hoc qui seront créés pour prendre en compte les révendications de l'Opposition), et ceci tout en respectant la Constitution et les échéances éléctorales.”
Solofo also regrets that Ravalomanana, who has publicly apologized for the mistakes he made during his seven years as president, has taken so long to recognize his wrongs:
” Cette solution a été et reste la seule voie raisonnable et bénéfique pour le pays d'autant plus qu'apparemment Ravalomanana a finalement décidé de faire son auto-critique en public aujourd'hui. Bien entendu, il faut le voir en action dans les jours et mois à venir mais je trouve dommage qu'il ait mis tant de temps avant de muer. “
Jentilisa reacts strongly at the news that the French Embassy was harbored by the French Embassy :
“Raha niainga ny mpiaro ny ara-dalàna teny Mahamasina dia ny hitaky ny hanalana an'i Andry TGV any amin'ny Ambasady Frantsay no antony, sy ny tsy hitsabahan'i Frantsa amin'ny raharahan-tokantranon'i Madagasikara. Mampihomehy indrindra manko raha olona “nialokaloka” teo alohaloha teo no afaka mandehandeha soa aman-tsara eto Madagasikara, afaka mikabary amin'ny famoriana olona eto Madagasikara, nefa mody any amin'ny masoivoho Frantsay rehefa avy eo. Tsy nitsipaka ny vaovao rahateo moa ny fitondrana Frantsay fa dia nilaza ny hanalana azy fotsiny avy eo. Dia io fa feno miaramila mpioko io manodidina ny tranony eny Ambatobe amin'izao fotoana izao.”
“When legalists left the meeting in Mahamasina, it was to demand Andry TGV's removal from the French Embassy and for France to stop meddling in Malagasy affairs. It is ridiculous if a “protected” person can now move freely here in Madagascar, make speeches, then go home safely to the French Embassy. The French government did not refute the news, but simply said that TGV was not in French compounds anymore. Now there are mutined soldiers all around his house in Ambatobe.”
Eight months ago, Ravalomanana had rejected Gildas Le Lidec's appointment as French ambassador. He thought he was “bad luck”, due to his propensity to be present in African countries where coups and assassinations happen…