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Madagascar: Fear of More Strife After President's Resignation

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, Citizen Media, Governance, Politics, Protest, War & Conflict

And then there was one [1].

The power struggle [2] that has plagued Madagascar since January may have come to an end.  Yesterday, after attempts by Andry Rajoelina supporters to remove President Marc Ravalomanana [3] from office, the army, which has now sided with Rajoelina, took control of the presidential palace in Ambotsirohatra [4].

A few hours later, Ravalomanana officially resigned [5] and transferred power to a military committee [6] (mg/fr) composed of four army generals loyal to him. Rajoelina refused to accept the handover, and the generals were arrested by soldiers loyal to Rajoelina, along with a pastor assisting with the mediation [7] (mg). The pastor was also later found beaten by civilians [8].

Footage of the abusive treatment of the army generals [9]by former mutineers were a reminder that violence might still be erupting in a divided country.

There were many celebrations in the streets [10]of Antananarivo following the news that Ravalomanana resigned.

However, Ravalomanana supporters are said to plan be planning a rally for Wednesday in Mahamasina stadium to protest [11]what they consider a “coup d'etat”.

Malagasy soldiers in Antananarivo

Malagasy soldiers in Antananarivo

[Photo credit to Foko-Madagascar [12] on Foko-Madagascar on Flickr [13]]

Desepite this major turning point, the simmering tension and division among Malagasy bloggers who are afraid of what tomorrow may bring, was palpable.

Journalist/Blogger Mialy Randriamampianina [14] talked to Voice of America about what the people fear [11]:

There is great confusion among the people because up to now we don't really have any information about what the rally is going to be about and what they are going to do. And again, we are worried about trouble in terms of clashes between supporters of Marc Ravalomanana and the supporters of Andry Rajoelina. There was an event just over a week ago where there were some confrontations and violence between the two camps. So, that kind of rally always creates trouble and we are worried about violence in this country

Blogger Lomelle [15] echoes that statement in her interview with Le Monde [16] even though she is “glad” Ravalomanana resigned (fr):

…on ne sait pas vraiment ce que veut faire l'opposition. Je crains le pire. Rajoelina n'a pas l'étoffe d'un président. Il est trop jeune et manque d'expérience. Je doute de sa capacité à mener le pays

We don't really know what the opposition wants to do. I fear the worst. Rajoelina does not have what it takes to be a president. He is too young and lacks experience. I doubt his ability to lead the country.

Madagate is thrilled that Ravaloamana is out [17] and that Rajoelina is in charge of the HAT (the transition government) (fr):

Marc Ravalomanana, le petit laitier d’Imerikasinina, a été renié par ceux à qui il venait de remettre les pleins pouvoirs. Ils n’ont pas voulu vendre leur âme au diable. Les carottes sont cuites pour ce président qui a montré son véritable visage. A force de jouer avec le feu et les idoles, on se brûle. Ce fut vraiment le combat de la lumière et des ténèbres.

Marc Ravalomanana, the little milk man from Imerikasinina, was rejected by the very ones he gave power to. They did not want to sell their soul to the devil. The deed is done for this president who showed his real face. When you play with fire and idols, you get burnt. It was truly the victory of light over darkness.

Jentilisa has a different take [18](mg):

Manahy dia manahy aho raha ny zavatra hita androany no ijerena ny ampitso fa dia tena faneriterena tsy misy toy izany no hihatra amin'ny tsirairay hanatanterahana ny sitrapon'ny mpitondra vaovaon'ny firenena izay lazaiko sahady fa tsy ekeko satria an-terisetra no nanaovany ny zavatra rehetra.

I am concerned. If what I saw today is indicative of the future, we will live with very strict restrictions on individual freedom to please this new leader. I don't recognize his authority because it was obtained by brute force

Hery thinks that peace still won't settle soon in Madagascar [19]despite this change (mg):

Tsy resy lahatra aho amin'ny hilaminan'ny politika ao Madagasikara ao anatin'ny 2 taona farafahakeliny raha mandray fitondrana ny TGV [..] Hafa ny mitolona, ary hafa ny mitondra firenena.

Politics will not stop erupting in Madagascar for the next 2 years if Rajoelina takes power [..] Fighting [those in] power is different from governing the country.