A two-day national
conference is expected to alert Malagasies later
today when elections for a new president will take place. The meeting is aimed at finding a
solution to the island-nation's deep political crisis. The transitional
government under military-endorsed, self-declared President Andry Rajoelina
organized the summit that included participation by all political groups in the
country except for former President Marc Ravalomanana's party. Rajoelina vowed
to put together a new constitutional order in which all citizens have equal
opportunities and access to elected office. But supporters of the former
president dismissed the move as illegal and an affront to democracy. Malagasy
journalist Mialy Randriamampianina tells reporter Peter Clottey that the
political crisis summit has gained traction among ordinary Malagasies.
people think it is a really great conference since it is the first time in
Malagasy history that we have all of the political parties in Madagascar except
Marc Ravalomanana's party. We also have the participation of the civil society,
former politicians, lawyers and even members of the international community
were represented during this conference. This is really something new in
Malagasy's history," Randriamampianina
She said partisans of the
former ruling party refused to be part of the ongoing summit, claiming it was
illegal and biased.
"The aim of this conference
is to ensure there is a common solution to resolving the political crisis in
Madagascar. But Marc Ravalomanana's party refused to participate in the
conference. According to them, the conference is not objective because it is
Andry Rajoelina and Monja Roindefo's government which is organizing the
conference. And for sure they (opposition) are going to try and organize their
own, adding that only Andry Rajoelina and Monja Roindefo will benefit from the
conference, and so that is why they have decided to organize their own
conference which begins today (Friday)," she said.
Randriamampianina said it is
unclear who would be part of the conference being organized today by supporters
of the former president.
"We still don't know who
would be part of this conference. But one can say that the aim of those two
conferences is the same, which is to find a lasting solution to the ongoing
political crisis in this country," Randriamampianina pointed out.
She said Friday's conference
of Ravalomanana supporters is not gaining enough credibility among ordinary
"The Marc Ravalomanana
conference is not all that popular and the people are not worried about it.
People are really impressed about the conference organized by Andry Rajoelina,
and it is just amazing to see all those people talking together even when those
political parties do not share the same ideology. So for the first time,
everybody is in the conference together, and we are seeing some form of unity
and the need to find solutions to the political crisis," she said.
Randriamampianina said there
are high expectations about the final decision of the Rajoelina conference,
which ends Friday.
"Most of the Malagasy people
are waiting for something good to come out of this conference organized by the
transitional government led by Andry Rajoelina. The expectations are that they
would come up with a solution to the political crisis and we are also waiting
for the changes in the Malagasy constitution. And we are also waiting for the
date of the presidential election, and we are hopeful that we will have the
information today," Randriamampianina pointed out.
The former opposition leader, who was sworn in as president
March 21, told the meeting on Thursday that he was confident that participants
would be in line with the ambitions of the Madagascan transitional government.
But Ravalomanana supporters
described the meeting as a sham, saying their party would not attend the
conference unless it was organized by the United Nations.
In contrast, President Rajoelina called the summit a significant
milestone in the political history of Madagascar, noting that participants had
achieved democratization and profound change and had transformed political
power in the country.
are expected to make suggestions on the date of a next national conference, the
duration of a transitional period, and the days on which to prepare new
constitutional and legislative texts. The participants will also
determine a date for a national referendum on a new constitution.
Ravalomanana has been quiet after he was forced to resign due to almost daily
opposition protests. He recently told a
press conference that he would establish an autonomous province, rather than
endorsing a so-called Rajoelina transitional government. Ravalomanana
claims the only reason he agreed to relinquish power was because he was staring
down the barrel of a gun. He made the
revelation at a closed door meeting with leaders of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) at an extraordinary summit that ended earlier this