Year After Coup, Madagascar's Leaders Face Sanctions

On the anniversary of the coup d'etat of March 17,  2009  in Madagascar, individual sanctions are about to be imposed upon the current leaders of Madagascar for not respecting the resolutions of Maputo that were previously agreed upon  by all participants.  This decision come after a warning a month earlier from the African Union and the International Contact Group and follow several annulments of international trade accords that have affected the local industries. They also come on the heel of reports by Amnesty International and the US State Department that document multiple human rights violations and ongoing illegal international trafficking of precious rosewood from Madagascar rain forests. According to a Malagasy insider, the individual sanctions would result in a freeze of the financial assets of the people present in the list and possible arrest if they travel outside Madagascar (fr).

The  government remains defiant in the face of the impending sanctions, arguing that only national elections will provide an effective exit to the crisis.  The organization and monitoring of these elections are not clearly defined yet and parliamentary elections have already been postponed from the initial proposed schedule.

The political deadlock  is compounded by humanitarian concerns caused by  Tropical Storm Hubert that killed 14 and left 37,891 homeless after making landfall earlier in the week.

Flooding caused by Storm Hubert via Global Green grants Fund
Flooding caused by Tropical Storm Hubert in South East Madagascar

(Photo credit: Global Green Grants Fund)

Reflecting upon the upcoming sanctions on national Malagasy leaders,  Citoyenne Malgache, a blogger based in Madagascar, has mixed feelings about the possible consequences for the everyday Malagasy citizens. She is torn between satisfaction and fear (fr):

Contente ? Si l’Union Africaine ne se contente pas de sortir sa liste des sanctionnées, mais présente aussi au peuple malgache (celui de 19 millions et pas celui de 912 personnes) les actions concrètes et immédiates pour la mise en œuvre des accords de Maputo [..] Worried ? En réaction à ce que l’Union Africaine dira ou fera, la troupe à Rajoelina et leurs bandes armées pourraient faire de la résistance[..] Ce 17 mars, je me demande quel monde je trouverais à mon réveil

Satisfied? Only If the African Union is not just posting the list of the penalized perpetrators but also presents concrete and immediate actions to the Malagasy people for the implementation of the Maputo agreement[..] Worried ? Depending on what the AU will decide to say or do, Rajoelina's group and their armed forces may provide resistance [..] On March 17, I wonder in what world I will wake up to

Madagoravox is also dreaming of a country with different standards so that it won't have to go through this cycle of crisis ever again (fr):

On pourrait aussi rêver d’une action politique qui ne serait le fruit ni de rencontres occasionnelles, ni d’un calcul personnel, ni d’une ambition partisane, mais le fruit d’une morale, d’une éthique qui engagerait pleinement chacun

One can dream of politics that would not come from sporadic meetings, personal agenda, or partisan ambition, but politics that would be the fruit of commitment to personal morals and ethics.

Ndimby thinks that a true exit to the crisis can only be reached through an in-depth dialog between former foes and not the make-believe meetings that both parties held earlier and that were consensual only on the surface (fr):

L’unilatéralisme ne réside pas dans l’absence ou la présence de débats mais dans le fait que le cadre du débat est déjà dès le départ tellement orienté, qu’il a empêché de parler sérieusement des choses essentielles, et de réunir les personnes qui comptent vraiment dans la résolution de crise

Unilateralism is not about whether there was a debate or not but it comes from the fact that the bases of the debate were already so skewed that it prevented a conversation on important subjects and to rally the leaders who can truly bring a resolution to the crisis.

An initiative called “Mitsangana” (Stand Up in Malagasy) to get politicians from all parties to respond to question from Malagasy citizens has been created on Facebook.

While the crisis perseveres, the social toll is gradually increasing. Health workers and physicians were on strike for months and  factory workers were seen gathering outside a factory that plans to let them go in April.

Unemployed protesting outside a factory in Antananarivo

Workers protesting outside a factory in Antananarivo

(Photo credit: “Mitsangana” facebook group)

As is often the case,  rural communities are often more dramatically affected by poverty.  Louise, from Southern Madagascar, tells her story of hardship and explains that the many changes over the years have depleted her region of land resources and fish species:

People in Ilafitsignana are now deprived of their farmland… As a result, there are many more people living off fishing, and resources are no longer enough… Ambatsy and sâro are almost non-existent. fiambazahaare still around but not as many…angora lo and varavarà were so easy to catch in the past but are almost non-existent now… tofoky are also hard to find (author's note: names in italics are species of fish in Malagasy)

According to the World Bank, the struggle of the  Malagasy economy has already forced the government to slash $200 million USD for the public service from their national budget.   Achille52 explains that the educational system is the first to suffer and that this budget cut will have dire consequences on the future of the nation (fr):

C’est le manque de financement qui est la plaie de l’enseignement publique, les enseignants ne sont pas motivés à cause de leur salaire minable, et les enfants issus de la classe défavorisé ne sont pas assez concentrés. Et si on supprime les aides qui subsistent, où va-t-on ?

Lack of funding is the main problem for public schools. Teachers are not motivated enough because of their miserable salaries and the children of the disenfranchised classes are not focused on school work anymore. If we cancel subsidies now, where are we headed to?

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