|Southern African News Features SANF 12 No 3, February 2012|
SADC urges speedy implementation of Madagascar roadmap
by Joseph Ngwawi
Southern African leaders have intervened to ease tensions in Madagascar, urging the main political players to speed up implementation of a roadmap intended to restore constitutional order in the country.
Concerned about the slow pace of movement to end the crisis in Madagascar as well as recent political developments in the country, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), through the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, has called on the parties to the conflict to find a consensual approach for implementation of the roadmap.
The Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO), which met in Pretoria and was attended by representatives of the three countries currently serving on the Organ troika -- South Africa, Zambia and the United Republic of Tanzania -- noted that while there has been some progress in the implementation of the roadmap, there are still some critical challenges to be resolved.
The committee emphasised the need to avoid the selective implementation of the roadmap.
“The Malagasy stakeholders are urged to expedite the process of implementing all the other outstanding articles of the roadmap especially those relating to confidence building measures,” it said in a communiqué issued after the meeting.
These include the enactment of amnesty legislation, release of political prisoners, the unconditional return of political exiles, and protection and promotion of human rights as they relate to the freedom of assembly, association and expression.
The ministers called for an immediate prioritisation of the enactment of the amnesty legislation by 29 February 2012 in order to facilitate implementation of outstanding matters as agreed under the roadmap.
The SADC Troika committee criticised the unilateral decision by exiled former president Marc Ravalomanana to return to the island on 21 January, describing his move as a major setback to the process to bring peace to the country.
A plane carrying Ravalomanana was barred from landing in Antananarivo on January 21 and forced to return to South Africa where he has lived in exile since a March 2009 military-backed coup that installed then opposition leader Andry Rajoelina as the new leader.
“The MCO Troika noted that this action by former president was unfortunate as it had the potential to jeopardise further implementation of the roadmap to which most political parties had agreed,” the communiqué said.
However, the committee noted that these actions could have been precipitated by the perception that the process to ensure the return of political exiles in terms of the roadmap had not been given sufficient attention.
In September 2011, political leaders in Madagascar agreed to a SADC-sponsored roadmap that seeks to re-establish democracy on the Indian Ocean island, leading to elections within a year. The plan, which was agreed by eight political parties, left Rajoelina in charge of a transitional authority until elections.
The roadmap requires Rajoelina to allow Ravalomanana and others in exile for political reasons to return to the country unconditionally but, at the same time, explained that SADC respects the decision of the Madagasy judiciary regarding those who return from political exile.
According to the roadmap, presidential and parliamentary elections should take place in October/November 2012, while a National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) should be reconstituted before the election dates.
The roadmap requires that a new consensus-based prime minister be appointed before 1 November 2011 while members of a transitional government were to be appointed before 17 November and a transitional parliament in place before 30 November 2011.
Rajoelina appointed Jean Omer Beriziky in October 2011 as a “consensus” prime minister to lead the transitional government. One of the conditions of the roadmap was that the prime minister would not belong to any grouping connected to Rajoelina.
The new Prime Minister, who once served as Madagascar’s ambassador to the European Union and Belgium between 1995 and 2006, has named a 32-member transitional cabinet, which will be responsible for facilitating preparations for internationally recognized elections.
The SADC ministerial committee stressed the urgency for the establishment of a credible and acceptable electoral body that will prepare and conduct elections that are reflect the views of the electorate. It also noted the positive progress in this regard, including the legislation recently passed by parliament.sardc.net Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.
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