The Herald (Harare)

21 May 2013

Zimbabwe: Troika Oversteps Mandate in Madagascar

MADAGASCAR has defied Sadc's demands that three politicians in that country - Andry Rajoelina, former President Didier Ratsiraka and ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana's wife, Lalao - should not contest presidential elections this year.

Sadc's announcement, which was made despite the fact that the people of Madagascar and the national constitution did not disqualify the trio from participating in polls, violated the regional bloc's principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of member-states except by invitation.

The Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation expressed dismay at the three leaders' decision to defy it during the Troika Summit that was held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa, last weekend.

Madagascar's transitional government led by Mr Rajoelina, had agreed to implement a host of Sadc-prescribed reforms that the region claimed would eventually see the Indian ocean island state electing a new leader.

However, the Troika accused Mr Rajoelina of reneging on most of the issues that were agreed on and endorsed by the region.

Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, who is the Sadc mediator, is leading the talks.

The island state plunged into chaos after polls pitting former leader Mr Ratsiraka and ousted president Mr Ravalomanana were disputed.

Although Mr Ravalomanana claims that he won the poll in 2002, he was ousted by Mr Rajoelina, who was backed by the military.

However, Troika chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, said the Troika was disturbed by the developments in Madagascar.

The Troika met to discuss the situation in the DRC, Madagascar and Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the WEF in Cape Town.

After the Summit, the Troika produced a communiqué condemning developments in Madagascar.

"Summit expressed grave concern on the decision of the Special Electoral Court to endorse illegitimate candidatures for the forthcoming Presidential elections in violation of the Malagasy Constitution and the Electoral Law.

"Summit also expressed its displeasure on the decision of H.E. Rajoelina to renege on his earlier undertaking not to stand in the forthcoming Presidential election as reflected in the Sadc Dar es Salaam Declaration of 16 January 2013."

Although former leader Mr Ravalomanana had indicated to the region that he was not going to contest the elections, it region was shocked to note that he forwarded his wife Lalao Ravalomanana to contest the post of president.

"Summit further expressed its disappointment with the unwise decision of (Mr) Mouvance (Marc) Ravalomanana to present Madam Lalao Ravalomanana, former First Lady of the Republic of Madagascar as a presidential candidate.

"Summit urged H.E. Rajoelina, former President Didier Ratsiraka and Madam Lalao Ravalomanana to consider withdrawing their candidatures to ensure peaceful conduct of elections and stability in Madagascar."

The summit urged all parties in Madagascar to respect the Election Calendar as issued by the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI-T) and endorsed by the United Nations.

"In view of the recent development in Madagascar, Summit invites the UN to supervise the elections in Madagascar in collaboration with the AU. Summit committed to continue to be seized with the developments in Madagascar," reads the communiqué in part.

A Sadc diplomat who declined to be named told the Herald yesterday that it was unheard of that outsiders would determine who should and should not participate in national election of a sovereign state.

"It is unprecedented for Sadc to get involved in internal politics of a sovereign state as suggested by the Sadc Troika. It is not surprising that this resolution which did not have full Sadc summit backing was rejected by the three. Their national constitution allows them to contest, but as a Troika you are saying they should not. The Troika undermined its neutrality, authority, credibility and its persuasive capacity by becoming a player and it leaves itself to ridicule. There is a danger that the African voice will not carry the weight that it needs and the foreigners will end up coming into push their interests," said the diplomat.

Sadc executive secretary Mr Tomaz Salamo could not reached on his phone yesterday.

South Africa's International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim torched a storm recently after trying to drive the MDC-T agenda of pressing for security sector reforms as a condition for the party to contest the harmonised elections scheduled for this year.

"There have to be certain reforms that need to be speeded up. If Zanu-PF says they [polls] should be held in June or July, that is probably playing politics. All parties should agree that the time is ripe for an election," he said.

Deputy Minister Ebrahim said a regional election monitoring group should be deployed to Zimbabwe before the elections.

Mr Ebrahim, however, received widespread condemnation with Zanu-PF attacking the minister, urging South Africa to leave Zimbabwe to run its internal affairs without interference.

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