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Growing Military Repression in Madagascar

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, Politics, War & Conflict

While more protests have erupted in Madagascar and were repressed severely by armed forces [1], 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 [2]. The recent reversal of the high constitutional court (HCC) decision on the illegitimacy of the power transfer [3] (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 [4].

Representatives of the UN security council and the African Union are meeting for a “Madagascar contact group” in Addis Ababa [5]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 [6] that they had representatives present at the meeting, it turns out that none of the opposition parties were present [7] 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 [8], 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 [9]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 [10] and wonders whether the military thinks that this arrest will put an end to the movement.

Avylavitra posts the video of the arrest [11] on his blog:

Jentilisa describes and transcribes what is happening on the video [12]:

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 [13]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 [14].

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 [15] standing outside the car window following a military truck full of armed soldiers.

Vola [16], 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 [17] [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 [18]. A petition [19] 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