In Madagascar, President Andry Rajoelina’s government has announced it will hold a two-day national workshop Wednesday in preparation for a scheduled March 20 general election.
Independent journalist Guilo Ramilison says an estimated 450 representatives from 22 regions will be participating in the workshop.
“The government wants to show both for outside (and) especially to the citizens that the country is now moving towards a different way, and in a democratic way. That is why they want to organize the election this coming March, not as government monitoring the whole thing, but to have an independent institution called National Independent Electoral Committee (to organize the election),” he said.
Opposition parties have often criticized the transitional administration for failing to consult them before making decisions.
But Ramilison said opponents are yet to voice their opposition to the workshop.
"Up until now, nobody is really criticizing that workshop in the sense that they shouldn’t do it because everybody is sort of saying that that is a good idea. But I would say the opposition parties at the moment are sort of pushing to the world the fact that they didn’t expect that the president was announcing it in, I would say, a very democratic way,” Ramilison said.
President Rajoelina recently named an army colonel as his new prime minister following months of power-sharing talks with the opposition.
The opposition rejected the new prime minister, saying it was against the spirit of the recent peace talks.
Backed by the African Union, the negotiations were geared towards ending nearly a year of Madagascar’s political instability.
Ramilison said the government has called on the opposition to participate in the election workshop as well as the upcoming vote.
“The government announced last December that everybody should take part in this election… and they are asking all political parties to take part in this workshop,” Ramilison said.
The two-day election workshop scheduled for Wednesday and Friday will be held at the International Conference Center in the capital, Antananarivo.