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Growing Military Repression in Madagascar

While more protests have erupted in Madagascar and were repressed severely by armed forces, the members of the transitional government of Madagascar have been hard at work explaining the circumstances of their rise to power to the international community. The recent reversal of the high constitutional court (HCC) decision on the illegitimacy of the power transfer (fr) seems to have caught the transitional government by surprise and was what most likely led to the arrest of the head of security at the HCC.

Representatives of the UN security council and the African Union are meeting for a “Madagascar contact group” in Addis Ababa to ensure that the nations take a common position in pushing for a return to constitutional order in Madagascar. Although each Malagasy political party announced that they had representatives present at the meeting, it turns out that none of the opposition parties were present during the decision-making process meeting.

In the meantime, former president Marc Ravalomanana, in exile in South Africa, appointed a new prime minister, Mandandafy Rakotonirina, to form a new government, in effect disputing the legitimacy of the transitional government. A few days after Rakotonirina listed the new members of his cabinet, he and his acquaintances were arrested by the security forces on charges of “illegally declaring himself as prime minister, vandalism & possessing weapons”.

Malagasy bloggers were quick to react news of the arrest:

Rakotonirina arrested by Commander Andrianasoavina via andrydago.wordpress.com

Rakotonirina arrested by Commander Andrianasoavina via andrydago.wordpress.com

Malagasy blogger, andrydago posts photos and describes the circumstances of the arrest of Rakotonirina in details and wonders whether the military thinks that this arrest will put an end to the movement.

Avylavitra posts the video of the arrest on his blog:

Jentilisa describes and transcribes what is happening on the video:

Efa tsy zoviana intsony fa ny Komandà Charles Randrianasoavina no nitarika ny miaramila hisambotra ireto mpitari-tolona ireto. Io Komand io no nitazona tamin'ny vozon'akanjony ny praiminisitra Manandafy sady niedinedina hatrany niteny hoe : “Ahy ialahy manomboka androany! Ahy ialahy manomboka androany!”.

Commander Charles Randrianasoavina is the one who leads the arrest. You can see him grabbing the shirt of prime minister Manandafy and boasts to say: “you are mine starting today ! You are mine starting today”

The transitional government justifies the arrest by saying that Manandafy Rakotinirina is charged with illegitimately declaring himself prime minister, instigating the destruction of property and illegal possession of firearms.

A video taken the day after shows an assigned to residence Rakotonirina with bruises on his face.

The instances of dubious actions by the military forces are not limited to the excessive use of force during arrest. Many bloggers report that armed personnel are roaming around in the city in 4X4 vehicles and shooting in the air to intimidate passersby. Solofo posts photos of a vehicle showing a man with a rifle standing outside the car window following a military truck full of armed soldiers.

Vola, in the comment section of the post, writes that the head of the army explains thusly the cause of death of 2 protesters:

… ils se sont cognés avec des véhicules dans la mêlée [..] il est comique Noël Rakotonandrasana sur ce coup là quand même. Ecoutez l'interview [RFI] à la fin

They got hit by cars during the skirmish [..] this Noel Rakotonandrasana has got some sense of humor, doesn't he ? Listen to the end of the [RFI] interview

Another instance of abuse of power by the military can be found in the ongoing case of Razily. Razily is the young man who marched towards the armed forces carrying a flag and who was arrested on the spot for flag theft. Ethan Zuckerman explains the background behind Razily ‘s story. A petition has been created to demand that the armed forces provide updates on the status of Razily and a time frame for his trial date. The petition has already gathered a few signatures and has been relayed by a few twitter users:

twitter users concerned about Razily's fate

twitter users concerned about Razily's fate

7 comments

  • JoAnn Pavletich

    It is a sad day when a young, tough military man has to drag an old man from his bed in order to feel powerful. Fihavanana seems to be nothing but an illusion.

  • Moncef

    This is very troubling – but I wonder why there is not more discussion about the other aspects of the transition including the decision to suspend a very promising education reform in the country. What will happen to the 370000 children that started the new school year in 2008 with a new curriculum. I think more people from Madagascar should speak out.

  • […] Global Voices […]

  • Har

    It’s really sad that innocents children and Malagasy youth have to suffer from the political trouble. Education had always been the theater eternal changes depending on politicians’ mood. For the first time Madagascar has a real development plan for education for all, politicians came and put everything upside down. That’s not really fair. Our children deserve more than that. It’s high time for us to raise our voice!

  • Landy

    I agree with you Moncef. In fact nobody cares about the future of the Malagasy children. What are the alternatives then? Should the teachers go on with the new curricula or not? They are completely lost!!
    Moreover how about the children who began the new curricula this year ? Will they continue the 2nd year with another new approach? Poor kids!!

  • Ralie

    The malagasy education reform is a pack which includes not only the change of the structure 5 to 7 with a new curriculum but also the improvement of parent teachers career. 36000 teachers hope to benefit from this programme and have a secured and better paid job. The decision to suspend the reform means half of the primary schools will be shut down because the parent teachers will leave to find other jobs.

  • […] on April 23rd, 2009 it turned speculation into truth. This was only highlighted by the fact that  HCC was subsequently stormed by the military on April 27th, 2009 to arrest the head of security accused of “destabilizing the […]

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