Maputo — Contrary to the expectations of SADC (Southern African Development Community), Andry Rajoelina, the man who seized power in Madagascar in 2009 has not given any promise that he will not stand in this year’s presidential elections on the island.
Rajoelina, who now calls himself President of the Madagascar Transitional Authority, was invited to address a summit in Dar es Salaam on Friday of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, but it seems that he did not give SADC the assurances it was seeking.
An extraordinary SADC summit in December, also in Dar es Salaam, had decided that one possible solution to the Madagascar crisis would be for the country’s two main political rivals – Rajoelina, and the democratically elected president whom he overthrew, Marc Ravalomanana – to refrain from participating in the elections.
Ravalomanana, who is currently living in exile on South Africa, accepted this proposal, but so far Rajoelina has not replied. The SADC troika hoped to receive a clear answer from him on Friday – and they were disappointed.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the summit, SADC Executive Secretary, Tomas Salomao, said cautiously “there is progress in Madagascar”, and that the presence of Rajoelina at the summit “is encouraging”.
“His presence here was positive and welcome”, said Salomao. “The only thing I can say is that work is in progress”.
He admitted that SADC confronted Rajoelina with the December recommendation that he should not stand in the presidential election. But apparently Rajoelina has not yet made up his mind, for Salomao could say nothing about any final decision he may have taken.
Instead Salomao stressed the importance of implementing, in letter and in spirit, the SADC road map for Madagascar, on order for the country to emerge from its current crisis and international isolation. Rajoelina told the SADC troika that the Madagascan authorities remain committed to the road map.
Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi, speaking to reporters on behalf of President Armando Guebuza, who is the current SADC chairperson, thought “satisfactory progress” was being made in implementing the road map.
“The road map is being complied with, and if this difficulty is overcome, then the conditions are in place for the electoral cycle – presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections – to take place, opening the path for a return to constitutional normality in Madagascar”, said Baloi.
The troika also urged the political players in Zimbabwe to conclude the drafting of a new constitution so that democratic elections can be held later this year.
The SADC facilitator for Zimbabwe, South African President Jacob Zuma, reported on the progress in implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed in September 2008 by the three main Zimbabwean political forces – President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The GPA was supposed to solve the crisis following the victory of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of the 2008 presidential election, and the massive violence that forced Tsvangirai to drop out of the second round.
A key step on the road to new and credible elections in Zimbabwe is the adoption of a new constitution which must be submitted to a national referendum. This should have happened last year. A Constitution Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) produced an apparently consensual draft constitution in mid-2012 – but, much to the MDC’s annoyance, ZANU-PF then began demanding last minute amendments.
Salomao told reporters that the impasse over the constitution concerned such matters as the national prosecuting authority, dual nationality, the devolution of power to the provinces, and the simultaneous election of the President and Deputy President of the Republic. “These are technical questions which, from the Troika’s point of view, can, if there is commitment from the political parties, be solved as quickly as possible so that a referendum can be held, and the elections can take place in the spirit of the Global Political Agreement”, he said.
The Troika stressed that the elections must be held this year. Salomao said the summit decided that Zuma will go straight from Dar es Salaam to Zimbabwe to meet with the political actors “and transmit SADC’s message about this matter”.
As for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the troika praised the contributions of South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Tanzania to the deployment of a neutral intervention force in the eastern DRC, and urged SADC members who have not yet made any contribution to do so urgently.
The Troika expressed a wish to work with the United Nations in preparing a joint force, particularly in logistical and financial terms, and with the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in restoring normality to the DRC.