Madagascar Roadmap Needs Serious Revision

1.     Please pray for the people of Madagascar, for wisdom and insight for political leaders, and for a just and peaceful resolution of Madagascar’s political crisis

2.     Please call or write the following officials to urge the US government to work for revisions to the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) roadmap that ensure a truly consensual transitional government and do not reward leaders who seize power by force:

a.     The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Amb. Johnnie Carson, US Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, tel. (202) 647-2530;

b.     Rep. Chris Smith, Chair, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, 2373 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515; Aide: Mark Kearney; tel. (202) 225-3765

c.      Sen. Christopher Coons, Chair, Subcommittee on African Affairs, 383 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20510, tel. (202) 224-5042.

Why you should take action:

On March 31st, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will review the latest plan for ending the political and humanitarian crisis in Madagascar that began two years ago when Andry Rajoelina deposed the democratically-elected president and seized power in a military-backed coup d’état. The “roadmap,” which emerged from SADC-mediated talks, is being presented as a framework for a government of national unity that can hold free and fair legislative and presidential elections.  However, in its current form, the roadmap legitimizes Rajoelina’s presidency, entrenches many of his unilateral and unconstitutional actions, and grants him extraordinary powers as the head of a transitional government. It authorizes him to appoint the new government’s ministers, members of Parliament, and members of the electoral commission.  It validates Mr. Rajoelina’s abolition of the democratic Parliament and its replacement with an appointed body.  In violation of the pre-coup constitution, the plan permits Mr. Rajoelina to run for president. In short, it is, in its current form, a dangerous recipe for prolonged conflict and injustice that threatens to deepen the misery of Madagascar’s people and obstruct the restoration of genuine democracy.  It also sets a dangerous precedent, rewarding the beneficiaries of a forceful seizure of power.

Although SADC and other members of the international community have yet to review the details of the roadmap, the Rajoelina regime has begun to selectively implement its provisions.  Within days, Rajoelina reappointed his Prime Minister, Camille Vital, despite the objections of the three main opposition groups who claimed that Rajoelina’s “closest political ally” did not meet the roadmap’s criteria for a “consensus” candidate.  At the same time, however, the acting government arrested Mamy Rakotoarivelo, the chief negotiator for supporters of the deposed president, Marc Ravalomanana, ignoring the roadmap’s ban on the pursuit of individuals for perceived political crimes.

Madagascar’s political crisis has imposed further suffering on the people of a nation already among the most impoverished in the world. Recent statistics indicate that, since the coup d’état, poverty has increased by about 9 percent, resulting in roughly 1.8 million newly-poor people.  Government funding for health dropped from $8 per person in 2008 to $2 per person in 2010. Furthermore, the Rajoelina regime has suppressed a wide range of freedoms, including the rights of free expression and assembly.

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