24 December 2012

Tanzania: SADC Still Holds Hope in Madagascar's Pledge to End Crisis

Photo: L'Express
Madagascar's leader, Andry Rajoelina (file photo).

The last few weeks have seen Tanzania's rightful place in resolving regional conflicts play out significantly when it hosted three respected Madagascar leaders at different moments.

It first hosted Madagascar's former Prime Minister Monja Roindefo at the invitation of Minister for foreign Affairs and International cooperation Bernard Membe. Subsequently, former Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana was in the country and pledged not to stand in his country's 2013 General Elections.

This was wrapped up by Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina, who agreed to a final round of talks mediated by President Jakaya Kikwete to resolve the country's almost four-year political crisis before the end of this month. President Kikwete, who is the Chairman of SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, agreed with President Andry Rajoelina to a final round of talks.

The subsequent announcement made in a joint statement released after the leaders met Dec. 14-15 in Dar es Salaam noted . "Significant progress has been made," according to the statement. "The two leaders agreed to have further consultations with relevant stakeholders prior to meeting again before the end of this month to conclude on the matter." Rajoelina, supported by the Madagascan military, ousted elected President Marc Ravalomanana in March 2009 following a series of protests, sparking a political crisis.

The Indian Ocean-island nation is the world's largest vanilla grower. The move by Former Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana to announce in Dar es salaam that he would not contest next year's presidential election following a request by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) was one of the highlights Mr Ravalomanana, who currently lives in exile in South Africa, said in Dar es Salaam his intention was to see Madagascar return to normalcy after a three-year political crisis.

"What I want is to go back to Madagascar to continue, peacefully, with my business activities and help rebuild the country, together with my fellow countrymen and all wellwishers," Mr Ravalomanana, who turned 63 two weeks ago said. The Sadc Extraordinary Summit in Dar es Salaam a week earlier had resolved to request both Mr Ravalomanana and the incumbent Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina not to contest the presidential election scheduled for next May.

"We resolve that as part of the solution to the current problems in Madagascar both President Rajoelina and Mr Ravalomanana should not contest the next election. This should reduce, if not end, the animosity, bitterness and tensions in the political atmosphere of that country," President Kikwete said. President Kikwete added that Mr Ravalomanana's acceptance of Sadc's request would pave the way for his return home because his political enemies in Madagascar were initially apprehensive about his imminent return to power and an eventual settling of scores.

"When they finally accepted that he goes back to Madagascar they gave conditions that he should only do so after the May election. This means they feared he would contest," President Kikwete noted. He urged the Madagascar government to respect Sadc's call to allow the unconditional return of Mr Ravalomanana. Mr Ravalomanana's wife, Lalao, returned to Madagascar in July after a face-to-face request by Mr Ravalomanana to President Rajoelina in Seychelles. President Kikwete also said the Madagascar government should guarantee the security of Mr Ravalomanana upon his return.

If it fails then Sadc will take Mr Ravalomanana's security matters upon its own hands when he goes back to his country. Mr Ravalomanana was a prominent businessman before he entered politics. He founded a vast dairy conglomerate, TIKO, later launching successful wholesaler MAGRO and several additional companies. After founding the Tiako Iarivo political party he successfully ran for the position of mayor of the capital city, Antananarivo, holding the position from 1999 to 2001.

In August 2001 he announced his candidacy as an independent in the December 2001 presidential election. He then took office as President in 2002 amidst a dispute over the results of the election in which he successfully pressed his claim to have won a majority in the first round. Under the leadership of Jacques Sylla, Ravalomanana's Prime Minister from 2002 to 2007, the political party Tiako iMadagasikara was founded in 2002 to support Ravalomanana's presidency and came to dominate legislative and local elections. He was re-elected in December 2006, again with a majority in the first round.

Below are resolutions in verbatim on Madagascar made by SADC Leaders who attended the Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) from 7 - 8 December 2012. 8.1 Summit commended: (i) His Excellency Joachim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique and the SADC Mediator on the political conflict in Madagascar for his efforts towards restoring the constitutional normalcy in the country;

(ii) His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and the Outgoing Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for his contribution in resolving the crisis in the country; (iii) His Excellency James Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles for his contribution in assisting the Malagasy towards finding a lasting solution to the political situation in their country. 8.2 Summit endorsed the report of the SADC Mediator and:

(i) urged the Malagasy political stakeholders to fully implement the Madagascar Roadmap in the letter and spirit; (ii) urged that the dates of 8 May 2013 for Presidential Elections and 25 July 2013 for Parliamentary Elections be respected by all parties concerned; (iii) Summit took note of, and undertook to give serious consideration to the request to SADC to contribute 10 million U$ to the Malagasy elections of 2013. In this regard, the Summit urged SADC Member States to make timely voluntary contributions. Summit also directed the Secretariat to mobilise financial and logistical support from the international community. 8.3 Summit reiterated its decision that former President Mr. Marc Ravalomanana should return to Madagascar unconditionally.

8.4 Summit reemphasized that the two candidates, Mr Marc Ravalomanana and Mr. Andry Rajoelina, should be persuaded not to stand in the forthcoming general elections as a way forward towards resolving this crisis. 8.5 Summit reiterated its position that the Amnesty Law be implemented in order to create conducive conditions for the return of the political exiles including Mr. Ravalomanana.

8.6 Summit urged the political stakeholders to develop legislation before the May 2013 elections that would guarantee the privileges of the former Heads of State. 8.7 Summit urged the Transitional Government to repeal the legislations intended to exclude its citizens from participating in the coming elections.

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