Monday, March 23, 2009

Military and Civilian Coup or Constitution Change of Power? Madagascar

Madagascar's New Leader Stays Defiant
African Union Suspends Madagascar
Tanks Storm Madagascar Presidential Palace
Madagascar Scraps Daewoo Farm Deal

In an investiture ceremony on Saturday, Andry Rajoelina assumed the presidency of Madagascar capping off a tumultuous few months in the country. Madagascar has been in turmoil since December when mass protests against former president Marc Ravalomanana began. Thousands of poor and hungry Malagasy protestors rioted against Mr. Ravalomanana and the perception that he no longer represented his people. Recently, Mr. Ravlomanana purchased a $60 million private jet, used his power to further his dairy conglomerate, and offered to lease half of Madagascar’s arable land to South Korea at no charge, and these actions did not please citizens, many of whom earn less than $2 a day.

On March 16, Malagasy army tanks stormed the presidential palace, and although Mr. Ravlomanana was not in the palace, he ceded power of the country to the army. The army then appointed Mr. Rojoelina the president of Madagascar. This transition of power has been considered an unconstitutional coup by the majority of the international community. This may lead to a variety of repercussions for the new presidential administration and could effect development in the country.

First, the African Union has suspended Madagascar from participation in the Union. which could potentially lead to economic sanctions. Second, aid to the country has been frozen by many countries. The United States and Norway will stop all payments to Madagascar except for humanitarian aid. Finally, the recent actions of the Malagasy army and Mr. Rojoelina threatens the ability of Madagascar to raise foreign direct investment. Upon assuming the presidency, Mr. Rojoelina cancelled the land lease with Daewoo and South Korea. Though Madagascar was not to benefit financially from this deal, it has made other foreign investors nervous about putting money in the country. Madagascar has large reserves of titanium and bitumen, and they need large foreign investments to develop these industries.

Amid the international uproar, Mr. Rojoelina and his administration has remained steadfast in their claim that his presidency is legitimate. “What can they say about a fight for liberty and democracy? What crime has been committed? We will explain to the whole world our cause ... The people demanded liberty and the military rallied to the popular movement but it did not seize power ... We are confident the international community will understand,” said Roindefo Monja, the new prime minister.

1) Do you think the power shift was constitutional? Even if it was not constitutional, is it justified given the large public support for Mr. Rojoelina?
2) The land-lease deal with South Korea was probably not in Madagascar’s best interest, but it may have lead to some investment in infrastructure. Do you think Mr. Rojoelina will be able to find alternatives?
3) How will this transition affect perceptions of Africa as a whole for foreign investors? Recently, Africa has become much more stable politically. Does this change things?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1) Constitutional? - Yes
If it was not constitutional, it is justified for the land of Madagascar.
2) There are many alternatives.
3) No, not for the worse. Maybe for the better.