Pray for Peace, Reconciliation and Democracy in Madagascar
The Christian Council of Churches in Madagascar (FFKM) has launched a process of broad-based national reconciliation to enable the Malagasy people to find a way out of the political crisis that has gripped the nation for more than four years.
Representatives of more than 200 political parties and civil society organizations met in Antananarivo, the capital, May 3 to 5 to seek consensus on a way forward. Please support this initiative by praying for:
- A continued sense of cooperation and goodwill among all of the participants;
- Humility for Madagascar’s past and present political leaders, that they may acknowledge and confess past wrongdoing frankly, repent sincerely, and reconcile visibly and meaningfully;
- A spirit of forgiveness, graciousness and unity among the Malagasy people;
- Wisdom and insight for the participants in the talks that they may identify fresh and creative ways of responding to the crisis that will enable all of Madagascar’s people to feel that their voices can be heard in democratic institutions; and
- A spirit of mutual understanding between the FFKM and the international community for the good of the Malagasy people.
Please pray also that any forthcoming elections in Madagascar will be seen to be free, fair, inclusive and credible—a valid expression of the will of the people and a firm foundation on which to build a prosperous and equitable nation. Pray specifically for institutions such as Madagascar’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI-T), the transitional government, the Council of Churches, and the Southern African Development Community and United Nations officials in Madagascar to help facilitate the implementation of the country’s peace plan and any electoral process. And pray that the FFKM reconciliation initiative and any forthcoming elections will work together to create a society in which all may know the fullness of life promised in Jesus Christ.
On March 17, 2009, the democratically elected President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, was deposed by a coup d’état. At the same time, Pastor Lala Rasendrahasina, the President of the Presbyterian Church (U.SA.)’s partner, the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), was seized and detained briefly by the military as he and other church leaders sought to broker a settlement between the nation’s president and his political opponents.
Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, had enjoyed gradual but steady economic growth between 2002 and 2008. Since the unconstitutional change of government in 2009, however, Madagascar’s fragile economy has collapsed and many of the country’s 20 million people have been plunged more deeply into poverty. At one point in the crisis, Madagascar was cited as one of the 10 most food-insecure nations in the world.
The military coup disrupted the reconciliation process being led by the Christian Council of Churches of Madagascar (FFKM). In late 2011, following the signing of a plan (known as a “roadmap”) for the restoration of democratic rule negotiated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the FFKM launched a new initiative to foster national reconciliation and to break the cycle of recurring political crises that has gripped Madagascar since its independence in 1960. Throughout the next year FFKM representatives received input from more than 130 political and civil society organizations around the country and gathered a wide range of opinions on how to resolve the nation’s political crisis and build a sense of national unity and common purpose. The process was consistent with the SADC roadmap, which aims to promote inter-Malagasy dialogue and national reconciliation and which names the FFKM as one of the social actors responsible for facilitating implementation of the roadmap and restoration of stable democratic institutions.
On April 18, 2013, the FFKM convened a meeting of more than 600 people representing more than 170 organizations and groups—a broad cross-section of Malagasy society. The meeting was not intended to endorse any FFKM agenda or plan. Instead, it simply provided a platform for the sharing of views and the discussion of options. The meeting divided into six “commissions” to maximize opportunities for participation. Each of the commissions discussed three questions: “How do we achieve national reconciliation?” “What is the way out of the present crisis?” and “How do we break the cycle of recurring political crises?” The FFKM had identified four biblical concepts to frame its efforts to bring opposing factions together to discuss ways of resolving Madagascar’s socio-political crisis: Confession, Repentance, Truth and Reconciliation. These principles guided participants in the group discussions.
Overwhelmingly participants called for measures to ensure the full implementation and enforcement of neglected roadmap provisions requiring respect for freedoms of expression and association, the release of political prisoners and the abandonment of political trials, and the right of return for all exiles (including former President Ravalomanana). Many also called for the de facto President of the transition, Andry Rajoelina, to step aside to allow the consensus Prime Minister, Omer Beriziky, to administer the state in a neutral fashion in the run-up to the election, the first round of which is presently scheduled for 24 July.
The FFKM is currently holding meetings around the country with church and civil society leaders in each of the Council’s 33 regions to share the contents of the discussions at the 18 April meeting and solicit further feedback. The perspectives and ideas gathered will feed into a second three-day meeting, May 3 to 5. The first day of that meeting will again be focused on sharing and listening. The latter two days will be devoted to formulating recommendations emerging from this broad-based consultation. It is hoped that these will reflect the attitudes and perceptions of a people reconciled to its past, to its leaders, and, especially, to one another.
Please pray vigorously for the success of the FFKM initiative, for national reconciliation, and for a prosperous future for all of Madagascar’s people.