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January 20 2013

Why Rajoelina withdrew from another presidential bid in Madagascar

Andry Rajoelina annonce candidature

Andry Rajoelina sur wikipédia. License Creative Commons 3.0

[All links forward to french articles unless otherwise stated] 
With interim president Rajoelina announcing that he withdraws from a bid to run for the presidential elections following a similar announcement by former President Ravalomanana in December 2012,  Malagasy people are likely to have a new president in 2013, provided that elections take place as planned in the electoral agenda. Many of the observers are skeptical about the elections timeline in light of the statements of Rajoelina after his announcement and his wishes to change the electoral agenda.

After nearly four years of political crisis with the same political leaders changing positions repeatedly, observers wonder if yet another reversal is in the works.

Andry counts himself among the skeptics [en] :

Are we really sure… that he [Rajoelina]  will just sit and  admire the landscape? Even if he made an official declaration to the nation, to all the Malagasy people, what guarantee do we have that he will keep his words? It is not the first time that he denied his own [words].

Maurice Beranto, one of the candidates for the presidential elections, asks a similar question on his blog :

Beaucoup d’entre nous, et moi en premier, se sont toujours demandé pourquoi autant de tergiversations face à une évidence. Comment pouvait-on effectivement imaginer que le président de la transition  pouvait se présenter à une élection qui va sceller la fin de la transition qu’il préside ? [..] En second lieu, en estimant que les législatives devraient être organisées avant la présidentielle, Rajoelina montre qu’il n’a pas pris cette déclaration de non participation à la présidentielle de gaité de cœur. Au lieu de calmer le jeu définitivement,  il va continuer à mettre de l’huile sur le feu..

Many of us, including myself, have constantly wondered why so much procrastination for a decision that is self-evident. How can he truly believe that the interim president will be a candidate for an election that should officially seal the end of the transition he chairs? […] Secondly, by stating that legislative elections should take place prior to the presidential ones, Rajoelina shows that he really struggled with the decision to not run in the presidential elections. Rather than providing a calming influence to the nation, he only managed to add fuel onto the fire..

 Rabelazao also questions whether there are any hidden agenda with his wishes to switch to organising  legislative elections prior to presidential ones, despite the fact that the decision has already been taken several months ago by the Independent National Electoral Commission for Transition CENI-T. Rabelazao posted on twitter [mg]:

@Rabelazao@harinjaka kajy ankandrina daholo izany e! tsy hilatsaka ho fidiana ho prezida aho, de ahemotra aloha ny fifidianana prezida. fetsepr

@Rabelazao@harinjaka That's just a trick ! I am not running for president so I will push back the presidential elections. Slick..

Jack goes further in analysing the reasoning behind Rajoelina's persistence to hold legislative elections before presidential ones:

Si il réussi à faire passer les législatives en premier, et toujours président de la transition, celles-ci se dérouleront de la même façon que le référendum. Le TGV sera majoritaire et une session parlementaire exceptionnelle transformera dans les 8 jours la constitution en semi-présidentielle. Il sera désigné premier ministre.

If he succeeds in holding the legislative elections first while still the interim president, those elections will turn out like the referendum [in 2010, with suspicion of fraud]. TGV will hold the majority and a parliamentary session will change the constitution into a semi-presidential regime. He will then be appointed as prime minister.

Rajoelina himself responded to such an hypothesis in an interview for Radio RFI. He evoked a scenario similar to the one that occurred in Russia with V. Putin [when Putin became prime minister after being president] . Here are excerpts from the interview with Christophe Boisbouvier :

CB: Vous vous posez en homme d’Etat. Y a-t-il un homme dont vous vous êtes peut-être inspiré, avant de faire votre choix ?

AR: Il y a deux personnes, effectivement. Un homme qui a beaucoup souffert, mais qui a gagné son combat : Nelson Mandela. Et puis, du côté européen, pourquoi pas, je ne serais pas le de Gaulle malgache?

Que retenez-vous, justement, de de Gaulle ?

Prendre une décision de se retirer au moment voulu. Mais le peuple s’en souviendra. Et c’est le peuple même qui réclamera celui qui doit diriger son pays, au moment voulu.

[..] Est-ce que vous envisagez un scénario à la Poutine ? Votre candidat est élu, vous devenez son Premier ministre et vous revenez en 2018 ? 

Aujourd’hui, on n’a pas encore mis sur table de stratégie.

Donc, vous n’excluez pas ce scénario à la Poutine ?

Nous allons voir. Mais vous en serez beaucoup plus dans quelques semaines.

CB: You call yourself a statesman. Is there someone else that inspired you before making your decision?

AR: In fact, two leaders inspired me. One is a man who has been through much suffering, but eventually won his battle: Nelson Mandela. And, on the European side, why shouldn't I be the de Gaulle of Madagascar ?

What do you precisely remember of General de Gaulle's actions? 

People will remember him with his decision to retire on his own term. And that is also what the people will remember. And the same people will decide who should lead the country when the time comes.

[..] Do you envision a Putin type of scenario? Your candidate is elected, you become his prime minister and you return in 2018? 

At the moment, we have yet to decide on a strategy.

Therefore, you do not exclude this Putin-like scenario?

We shall see. You will find out more about that in the following weeks.

Patrick in the Madagascar Tribune details the hesitation before this announcement and explains that the legal risks surrounding Rajoelina have perhaps encouraged him to give up on his candidacy :

Le plus difficile avait bel et bien été obtenu avec le désistement de Marc Ravalomanana, car celui-ci avait toujours semblé plus rétif que son rival sur ce point. Toute résistance semblait désormais futile : au cas où la perspective de sanctions financières contre Madagascar n’avait pas été suffisamment dissuasive, il aurait par exemple suffi à la Justice française de se déclarer compétente vis-à-vis d’une plainte déposée en France par un binational franco-malgache pour mettre Andry Rajoelina et ses proches dans un sérieux embarras

The most difficult step was to get Marc Ravalomanana to withdraw from the race because he always appeared to be more reluctant than his rival on this issue. All resistance seems futile after that: sure, the prospect of financial sanctions imposed on Madagascar were not a sufficient deterrent.  But the prospect of an investigation by the French justice system following a complaint from a Franco-Malagasy bi-national that could put Andry Rajoelina and his family in serious embarrassment was seemingly sufficient.

Whatever the next turn of events are, the year 2013 promises to be a year full of surprises.  The plethora of candidates who remain will have some difficult tasks ahead. Rajoelina's desired electoral agenda notwithstanding, the preparation of the electoral process faces many obstacles, such as its financing. A report states that “13 million dollars  for financing the election set-up remain to be found”. However, the CENI-T adds that :

Le Ministère des Finances et du Budget a octroyé 3 milliards d’ariary de plus à la CENI-T la semaine dernière. Ces fonds feront partie du budget de fonctionnement interne de l’institution indépendante. L’Etat reste la principale source de financement pour le bon déroulement des activités dans le processus électoral

The Minister of Finances has allocated 3 billion Malagasy Ariary over to the CENI-T last week. These funds will become part of the operating budget of the independent institution. The state remains the main source of funding for the smooth running of the activities related to the electoral process.

The economic climate is still very tense in Madagascar. The latest report from the World Bank on poverty in Madagascar is at the very least alarming:

Selon ses prévisions, la pauvreté frapperait 84% de la population de Madagascar en 2013. En 2010, 77% des 20 millions d'habitants survivaient dans des conditions de vie difficile, avec 0,78 euro par jour [..] Chômage, inflation, baisse du pouvoir d'achat des ménages, tous les voyants sont au rouge.

According to estimates, 84% of Madagascar's population will be below the poverty line in 2013. In 2010, 77% out of the 20 million inhabitants lived  in these tenuous conditions with an income of 0,78 Euros/day […] All the main indicators such as unemployment, inflation, declining purchasing power per household, are in the red.

October 29 2012

Madagascar: How Much Does a Political Crisis Cost?

Since 2009, an additional 4 millions people now earn less than $1.25/day, 500,000 more children have dropped out of school and 336,000 jobs were lost because of the prolonged political crisis.

Blogger Razoky summarizes [fr] the latest economic report on Madagascar.

October 23 2012

Madagascar: Preserving National Heritage with Video Archiving

A Civil Society Initiative has been set up to preserve the ‘collective memory’ of Madagascar by digitally archiving videos detailing its, often controversial, history. Reasons for controversy include disagreement over the tragedy of the 1947 Malagasy Uprising, a perspective limited by language, as well as destruction of historical archives during political crises.

The Fl@H Association [fr] was set up to preserve Madagascar’s audiovideo heritage and aims to be a force for the preservation of the country’s history. AudioVideo professional members have set a target of digitising approximately 600 hours of film on Madagascar and can already point to several achievements. Monique Razafy Rahajarizafy gave details of these [fr] on website No Comment:

Près de 1 400 bobines de films, représentant 600 heures d’images en formats 16 et 35 mm, sont actuellement restaurées, regroupées et numérisées [..] Un travail de longue haleine, commencé en 2007, et pour lequel Fl@h s’est vu décerner à Dublin, en 2010, le prix du Meilleur projet de sauvegarde d'archives audiovisuelles, décerné par la Fédération internationale des archives de télévision. À son actif, la réhabilitation des Actualités de Madagascar, des films jadis diffusées en avant-programme dans les cinémas et couvrant toutes les années cinquante jusqu’à la proclamation de l’indépendance. Un capital inestimable, faisant de Madagascar l’un des rares pays africains à avoir encore les images de son indépendance…

Almost 1,400 reels of film, representing 600 hours of footage in 16 and 35 mm formats, are currently being restored, gathered together and digitised. A long term project, begun in 2007, and for which Fl@h was awarded in Dublin, in 2010, the prize of the Best Video Archiving Project, by the International Federation of television archives. It has restored the News of Madagascar newsreels which used to be shown before the main feature in cinemas, and which cover the 1950’s right up to the Declaration of Independence. A priceless treasure, making Madagascar one of the few African countries to have images of its independence…
March for the independence of Madagascar in 1960 by Polaert from wikipedia CC license-NC-BY-2.0

March for the independence of Madagascar in 1960 by Polaert from Wikipedia CC license-NC-BY-2.0

A film of the Declaration of Independence of Madagascar [fr] in 1960 was presented by Tsilavina Ralaindimby in Paris on its anniversary (proclamation of the Republic on October 14)

At a TEDx event in the largest city in Madagascar, one of the members of the Fl@H Association spoke about why these archives are so important, highlighting the “common good” and the need to make people aware of their responsibilities [fr]:

However, the project risks a period of prolonged inactivity due to lack of finance. The Fl@H Association functions thanks to the financial and technical support of foundations and donors. Monique Razafy Rahajarizafy of No Comment detailed [fr]:

Grâce à l’appui financier de la Coopération française, on a pu s’en procurer une d’occasion à 20 000 euros et on a également bénéficié du soutien technique de l’Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA) pour la formation de nos techniciens

Thanks to the financial support from the French Cooperation, we were able to get a used one (digital converter) machine of 20,000 euros and we have also benefited from the technical support of the French National Audiovisual Institute, INA, with the training of our technicians.

To find solutions which will allow them to continue without relying on external funding, the Fl@H Association presented their work to the International Federation of Television Archives at a British Library conference held from September 28 to October 1, 2012.

Patrick Sweeney reminded attendees that October 27, 2012 is the UNESCO supported World Day for AudioVisual Heritage, stating that:

This is your opportunity to draw attention to the importance and significance of your archive, the work you do and the issues you want to promote. The 2012 theme draws particular attention to the crisis of time for archives worldwide to save and preserve this precious heritage. Tell the world what you are doing on this day to raise awareness and promote your archive.

This UNESCO video shows archive footage of historic events over the last 50 years:

October 18 2012

Zambia: Ministers Caught Browsing ‘Zambia's WikiLeaks'

On October 2 2012, Zambia's Finance Deputy Minister Miles Sampa and Minister in Charge of Chiefs Nkandu Luo were caught on camera during a Lusaka Council meeting browsing the online news website Zambian Watchdog. The online publication, known for its investigative reporting, was this month threatened with de-registration by the Registrar of Societies.

Several high ranking government officials including President Michael Sata, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba, Defence Minister Goeffrey Bwalya Mwamba and Foreign Minister Given Lubinda have openly called for it to be taken offline.

Reporting about the incident, Kabwe wrote:

The PF government is relentlessly fighting online media but its top members are key followers of major websites reporting on Zambian politics.

On Tuesday, finance deputy minister Miles Sampa – President Sata’s nephew – and minister in charge of chiefs Nkandu Luo, were caught on camera during a Lusaka council meeting keenly browsing the Zambian Watchdog as deliberations were underway.

This was on Monday during a full council meeting which was also attended by Vice-President Guy Scott who is Lusaka Central MP, Mandevu MP Jean Kapata, Matero MP Miles Sampa, Kabwata MP Given Lubinda and Chawama MP Edgar Lungu.

After watching the video, Zambian netizens reacted as follows [*the site does not have permanent links for individual comments]:

Anonymous said:

In case you are under rating the substance and existance of the watchdog. Some of us we start with the watchdog then proceed to the office read a borrowed post newspaper just to check chocklet’s catoon. I may buy the daily mail [goverment owned daily paper] for adverts. But I don’t forget to re-check the watchdog just incase of any breaking news. Even before going to bed, I check the breaking news. Keep it up ZWD [Zambian Watchdog].

A screenshot from the video showing Zambian Watchdog on Deputy Minister Miles Sampa's tablet during a council meeting.


Socrates asked:

Interesting… If they could read like that in public, what do they do in private at the office?

Rick Bobby supported the ministers:

That’s the way to go Miles. I respect a man who takes his time to know what the critics are saying. And I will defend the rights of those critics to continue saying what they’re saying.

Another reader did not see anything wrong but thought the timing was bad:

Basic rule know who you are up against.cant blem them,only bad timing to surf

Another netizen called the publication “the door of hope”:

Let the pathetic fellow ministers read the ZWD – the door of hope…

Mambamba Musaama loves the “craziness” of Zambian Watchdog:

This site is simply addictive, it carters for both crazy and sane pipo which is the very axis of life. It has given us a fresh breath amidst the boring govt mouth pieces- ZNBC, POST, Times & Daily. Social networking has come to stay, just enjoy it bane, no need to threaten to close these sites coz you also have an opportunity to air your views,it even allows you to insult, I mean where do you get such opportunities to distress apart from ZWD? Viva ZWD, I love the craziness………

A screenshot of the video showing Minister Nkandu Luo and Deputy Minister Miles Sampa during the meeting.



Zed Patriot told the ministers not to kill the messenger:

Honourables Sampa & Luo, since you read the watchdog I advise you to prevail over you colleagues who are against the publiction to back off. Instead of killing the messenger, use ZWD to help you plan how to fulfill the needs of Zambians.

James did not see anything wrong with the ministers reading it:

What’s wrong with that. As a leader you have to read all papers in order to be in touch with what’s on like it or not.

Another reader who claims to be addicted to the site noted that it updates him constantly:

Zambian watch dog is the best.Its the only web that updates me every day where ever i am.Even at 01hrs when i wake up for a pee;i check the watchdog coz it is always updated with latest news.Am addicted to Watchdog.

Commenting on YouTube, user lightonphiri simply wondered:

ha ha ha… classic! I mean who doesn't read zambianwatchdog?

Zambian Watchdog reported in May this year that its website was the target of a denial of service (DDoS) attack, allegedly by the government.

October 15 2012

October 01 2012

September 04 2012

Madagascar: Electricity Supplier Office Vandalized by Residents over Frequent Outage

L'express de Madagascar reports on twitter [mg] that citizens of Farafangana  (SE of Madagascar) got frustrated with the frequency of power outage ( 6h/day) in the city [fr]. Some residents vandalized the local electrical supplier office to express their anger.

May 20 2012

Science Blogging in Sub-Saharan Africa

Blogging has become an integral part of popular culture in Sub-Saharan Africa but blogging about science is still lagging behind. Many initiatives have been launched to increase the culture of sharing in the African scientific world, yet African science blogs, particularly about research, are still few and far between.

Lack of public interest?

The reason for this dearth of science blogging may be related to the uneven development of scientific research on the continent; the need for more research is well-known. B. Ruelle explains on his blog [fr]:

Le niveau de développement atteint par l’Asie du Sud-Est devrait pousser les Africains à investir dans la science et la technologie ; la science et la technologie représentent la seule voie d’évitement de la perpétuation de la faiblesse de l’Afrique dans le commerce international ; c’est aussi, dans un monde inégalitaire où racisme et xénophobie perdurent, la condition de l’affirmation de la part des Africains dans l’un des phares de la connaissance humaine.

The level of development reached by Southeast Asia should push African nations to invest into science and technology; science and technology are the only way to avoid the enduring shortcomings of Africa in international trade; it is also the only way to prevent racism and xenophobia in this increasingly inegalitarian world; the one remedy to assert African contribution to the global human knowledge pool.
University of Cheik Anta Diop in Dakar Senegal by Myriam Louviot (CC-License-BY).

University of Cheik Anta Diop in Dakar Senegal by Myriam Louviot (CC-License-BY).

The continent is not short on talented scientists. Bernard Kom lists a few of the mosts prominent African scientists [fr] right now, and some of them are also active on the web.

Jacques Bonjawo is a Cameroonian engineer who chairs the Board of Directors of the African Virtual University (AVU). He explains the objectives of the institution [fr]:

L’UVA a été conçue comme un système d’éducation à distance à travers Internet dont la mission est précisément de former une masse critique d’africains à des coûts faibles, grâce à des économies d’échelle ; une formation moderne et de qualité au terme de laquelle l’étudiant devient immédiatement opérationnel sur le marché de l’emploi.

The AVU was conceived as a complete remote online teaching institute whose mission is to train a critical mass of Africans at low cost through economy of scale. We provide a modern quality curriculum that aims to make the student immediately operational for the job market.

Mzamose Gondwe from Malawi recognizes the need to promote more African engagement with science. That is the objective of her blog, African Science Heroes. She explains what she aims to accomplish:

 I documented in print, exhibition and film African Science Heroes, Afrrican scientists who have made considerable contributions to science. In this way I hope to generate a sense of pride in our African science accomplishments and promote public engagement with science.

African research pigeonholed? 

When scientific news from Africa makes it to mainstream media platforms, it is usually related to environmental programmes, public health or research on exotic animals. A typical story that was shared many times on various online media was the recent research publication of the mating habits of the female gray mouse lemur in Madagascar. The title itself, “Costly sex under female control in a promiscuous primate”, was bound to draw quite a bit of interest from the non-scientific community.

As it turned out, the study draws interesting conclusion about strategy for the survival of the species as Sara Reardon from Science NOW explains:

Either a polygamous lifestyle confers some unknown evolutionary advantage for females, the team concludes, or girls really do just want to have fun.

African science and engineering has much to offer in other areas as well. The blog Afrigadget highlights innovative engineering projects aiming at solving specific problems. One of these projects is biogas installations in Kenya.

Paula Kahumbu explains how piki piki (motor bikes in Kiswhahili) can help distribute dung more efficiently:

The problem I face is common to many folks around here, we rent houses but we don’t have livestock. But there are huge cattle farms around us. So Dominic came up with a solution that creates jobs and moves poop quickly and efficiently. So we went to the local juakali welder on the roadside to create a dungmobile ..a trailer designed specially for cow dung!

The Africamaat project aims to document the full history of African science and its inventors. More precisely, it adds [fr]:

Notre démarche vise donc essentiellement à démontrer qu’il est profondément arbitraire d’exclure systématiquement l’Afrique noire de l’historiographie universelle lorsqu’il est question des sciences

Our approach aims to demonstrate that it is deeply arbitrary to systematically exclude black Africa from the universal history of science.

In this video, YouTube user White African showcases an invention by Killian Deku, a Ghanaian engineer that came up with a device to dose the amount of chlorine to add to water:

Open access to publications 

Madagascar is accustomed to have its lemur population draw more headlines that its people. However, it should not go unnoticed that the scientific blogging community there is starting to emerge. Several projects aim to collect and make available to the public all the scientific resources about the country.

Ange Rakotomalala describes the objectives of website Thèses Malgaches en ligne [mg]:

Ho hitanao eto ireo vokam-pikarohana tontosa teto amin'ny firenentsika nanomboka tamin'ny taona 2002.

On this website, you will be able to find all the theses and dissertations published since 2002

The scientific community blog MyScienceWork aims to promote the culture of sharing among scientists [fr]:

Pour construire la culture scientifique de demain, la science doit devenir toujours plus multidisciplinaire. Elle doit s’adresser aux amateurs de science, au public, aux professionnels de la recherche [..] En 2011, nous avons publié les textes d’étudiants en informatique des pays d’Afrique du Nord, de chercheurs en communication d’université belge, de doctorants en neurosciences, en agronomie, d’exobiologistes de renom [..] Parce que nous croyons que la culture générale doit inclure les savoirs scientifiques, nous vous remercions chaleureusement. Faites passer le message : « partager c’est vivre ».

To build the necessary scientific culture of tomorrow, science must strive to become more multidisciplinary. It must be accessible to science amateurs, the general public, the research scientists [..] In 2011, we published articles on IT from countries in Northern Africa, in communication with renowned Belgian researchers, and in neuroscience, agronomy and exobiology from PhD students [..] We did so because we believe that general knowledge ought to include science and we thank you for reading us. Please pass along this message: “sharing is living”.

The final words on science in Africa belong to Cheikh Anta Diop, one of the most prominent scientists in Africa, as posted by Africamaat [fr]:

En attendant, les spécialistes africains doivent prendre des mesures conservatoires. Il s’agit d’être apte à découvrir une vérité scientifique par ses propres moyens en se passant de l’approbation d’autrui, de savoir conserver son autonomie intellectuelle

Meanwhile, the African specialists must take prudent measures. It must be about being able to discover a scientific fact by our own means and without the approval of anyone else, about keeping our intellectual autonomy

January 24 2012

Madagascar: What Next, After Former President Is Denied Entry?

Former President Marc Ravalomanana attempted for the second time to return to Madagascar last Saturday 21 January, 2012. Malagasy citizens anxiously witnessed his attempt at returning home after three years in exile. But as reported by Niren Tolsi in the Mail and Guardian:

Ravalomanana's attempt to set foot on Malagasy soil was thwarted an hour before it was due to happen. According to the airline's security chief, the pilot had been informed by ground control at Ivato International Airport that it had been closed due to “security concerns”.

News filtering through suggested that large crowds — estimated between 20 000 and 30 000 — had gathered at Ivato in expectation of Ravalomanana. No one would say who had given the order to close the airport down, but Ravalomanana's aides suggested that it must have been an executive order from someone in the government of Andry Rajoelina (who had deposed Ravalomanana's democratically elected government in a 2009 coup).

Video of the attempted return uploaded by Jentilisa to YouTube on January 21:

Citoyenne Malgache, a local blogger reports emotionally on the bitter sweet feelings of his supporters [fr, mg] who came in great numbers to welcome him:

Et aujourd’hui quand tu es rentré chez toi le cœur triste de ne pas  avoir retrouvé celui que tu es venu accueillir,  tu te consoles : nous sommes venus nombreux, c’est notre victoire. Tu t’encourages : Andrasanay na amin’ny valo alina aza… Et tu sais que tu reviendras encore au prochain appel.
que deviendras-tu si tu te sens vaincu ? Tu n’es peut-être pas LE peuple mais tu en fais partie, et on n’a pas le droit de t’ignorer. Mais n’oublie pas que personne ne prendra soin de toi, sauf toi-même. Des gens se moqueront de toi : tsy ho avy eo izany ny dadanareo… Pour d’autres, tu n’es qu’objet d’analyse et de reportage. Certains se serviront sûrement de toi. Mais défends ton choix et assume le reste.

And today, you went back home with a heavy heart, you have not met who you came to welcome, but you [can] console yourself: we came numerous, that is our victory. You get courage: We will wait until 8 pm… And you know you will come back at the next call. What will you become if you feel vanquished? You may not be THE people, but you are part of it, and there is no right to ignore you. But do not forget that nobody will take care of you. Some will laugh at you : your father will not come… For others, you are a subject of analysis and reporting. Others will use you. But defend your choice and accept the rest.
Malagasy crowd at Ivato airport on January 21. Image by Jentilisa, used with permission.

Malagasy crowd at Ivato airport on January 21. Image by Jentilisa, used with permission.

Apparent dissent amongst Rajoelina's transitional government was pointed out by bloggers, as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Communications openly contradicted themselves regarding who issued the NOTAMs ('Notices to Airmen'), the government or Rajoelina himself, or even if NOTAMs were issued, and whether Ravalomanana was going to be arrested, or not.

Prime Minister Omer Beriziky, a moderate politician, as interviewed on RFI [fr]:

Je peux vous assurer que le gouvernement, à aucun moment, n’avait donné l’ordre de fermer les aéroports à Madagascar. Le retour de l’ex-président était possible. Cependant, j’aurais souhaité que le retour de Marc Ravalomanana se fasse dans d’autres conditions. Je pensais qu’il était possible d’arriver à une solution consensuelle, c’est-à-dire que toutes les parties prenantes de la feuille de route puissent trouver ensemble une manière consensuelle de faire revenir le président dans sa patrie.

I can assure you that the government never ordered the closure of the airports in Madagascar. The return of the former president was possible. However, I would have preferred that he returns under different conditions. I thought it would be possible to come to a consensus, that all protagonists of the roadmap could find together a consensual way to return the president to his home country.
Crowd facing police forces in Madagascar by Mamysou. Used with permission.

Crowd facing police forces in Madagascar by Mamysou. Used with permission.

The transitional government did not have a coherent strategy to deal with the crisis, as summarized by VANF on his weekly column for Express de Madagascar [fr]:

Le ministre de la Défense dit s'en tenir au maintien de l'ordre, le chef de l'état-major mixte opérationnel (EMMO-Reg) d'Analamanga prétend appliquer un mandat d'arrêt contre Marc Ravalomanana, la ministre de la Justice préfère ne pas en rajouter, le Premier Ministre aurait assuré Marc Ravalomanana qu'il ne voyait aucun inconvénient à son retour à Madagascar.

The Defence Minister said he would ensure that order be maintained, the Chief of the Army in Analamanga pretends to use a warrant arrest against Ravalomanana, the Justice Minister stays mum [quiet], the Prime Minister would have assured Marc Ravalomanana that he saw no argument against his return to Madagascar.

Incredibly, the Minister of Communications, Rolly Mercia, denied that NOTAMs were ever issued [fr], despite evidence to the contrary. VANF adds [fr]:

Alors qu’il se répandait en interviews sur les médias pour déclarer qu’il n’y avait jamais eu de NOTAM, les copies des cinq NOTAM ordonnés par le P.T. lui- même étaient affichées sur le site internet de l’ASECNA, et partagées sur Twitter et Facebook. Grotesque ! Que faut-il en conclure : incohérence, incompétence ou stalinisme chronique ?

While he went from interview to interview in the media to declare that there never were any NOTAMs, copies of the five NOTAMs ordered by the president himself were posted on the ASECNA website, shared on Twitter and Facebook. Ridiculous! What should one conclude: incoherence, incompetence or chronic stanilism?

On Twitter, some users deny that Madagascar skies were completely closed, and suggest that Ravalomanana's plane would have been able to land at Morondava airport, nevertheless where there was no welcoming crowd, and the president would have been easily apprehended:

@hdleague: Alors, il est incorrecte de dire que R8 était interdit de revenir à Mada. Il était permit d'aterrir à Morondava pour être arrêter. #M21112

@hdleague: It is incorrect to state that Ravalomanana was prohibited to return to Madagascar. He was permitted to land in Morondava to be arrested. #M21112

On ‘Madagate', Jeannot Ramambazafy [fr] acknowledges Ravalomanana's right to enter Madagascar, but also defends Malagasy rights to judge Ravalomanana, who was condemned for allegedly ordering his presidential guard to fire on demonstrators in February 2009:

Ainsi, s'il a été demandé au pilote -qui a refusé- d'aller atterrir à Morondava, c'était pour mettre en application cette note et pour sécuriser l'intégrité physique même de Marc Ravalomanana qui a, bien sûr, le droit de rentrer, mais… Au nom de l'indépendance de la Justice malgache, le mandat d'arrêt émis à l'encontre de Ravalomanana, depuis 2009, sera exécuté.

The reason why the pilot - who refused - was asked to land in Morondava was to apply the law and to ensure the physical security of Marc Ravalomanana, who evidently, has the right to return, but… in the name of the independence of Malagasy justice, the arrest warrant issued against Ravalomanana since 2009, will be used.

Marc Harmelle [fr], a commenter on Fijery blog, expresses doubts on Ravalomanana's motives:

je m’interroge ce soir quand a ses motivations de convoquer une telle foule ; est ce pour avoir un bouclier humain ou est ce par pure folie des grandeurs souci d’etre acclamé , ovationné par un peuple misérable ? La première solution est dégueulasse et lâche , la seconde démontre que ces 3 ans ne l’ont pas mûris *Dernièrement a mon sens rentrer discrètement en se remettant entre les mains de la justice aurait été judicieux ; il était impossible de lui refuser ce retour , impossible de le malmener et je gage qu’il n’aurait au pire fait que quelques jours de geôle ; la pression internationale et nationale aurait pu pleinement s’exercer et quelle aura politique !!!

I wonder tonight what his motivations were to call such a crowd; was it to get himself a human shield or pure delusions of greatness, to receive an ovation from miserable people? The first hypothesis is disgusting and cowardly, the second would demonstrate that three years have not matured him. In my opinion, coming home discreetly and putting himself in the hands of justice would have been judicious; it would be impossible to refuse him this return, impossible to torture him, and I bet he would have only spent a few days in jail, in the worst case; the international and national pressure would have applied and what a political aura it would have lent him!!!

Rovahiga's post title ‘Rajoelina marque contre son camp' (Rajoelina shoots himself in the foot) suggests that Ravalomanana's entry denial was a loss for Rajoelina's camp.

The US Embassy, which has been actively following the events on Twitter, disavowed a CNN reporting story that hinted that the US did not agree with Ravalomanana's return:

@USMadagascar: US regrets the circulation of a story by CNN that incorrectly reflects our official position on the return of Ravalomanana to #Madagascar

Fijery [fr] doubts of any real repercussions after Saturday's debacle, especially coming from the international community, which has failed to advance the concrete applications of the roadmap to bring peace to Madagascar:

ce retour en plein ciel à quelques miles d’Antananarivo devant des journalistes internationaux ridiculise, si besoin était encore, un régime hâtif marqué par l’amateurisme. […] En parallèle, cette décision montre à la Communauté internationale à quel point Andry Rajoelina et la clique qui l’entoure sont peu désireux de réconciliation et d’apaisement. Ceci étant dit, je ne crois pas que cela aura beaucoup d’impact. Quand on a vu avec quel empressement l’ambassadeur de l’ Union européenne et le Coordonateur des Nations unies sont allés se défroquer devant Monsieur Rajoelina, sans tenir compte des violations de la démocratie et des droits de l’homme, on peut se dire raisonnablement que ce n’est pas un dérapage de plus qui va émouvoir la communauté internationale, prête à gober les couleuvres hâtives.

The inflight U-turn a few miles from Antananarivo in front of international journalists ridicules, if more ridicule were needed, a transitional government marked by amateurism. […] This decision demonstrates to the international community how little Andry Rajoelina and his clique actually want reconciliation and appeasement. This said, I do not think this last event will have much impact. When we saw how eagerly the European Ambassador and the United Nations coordinator renounced themselves in front of Mr Rajoelina, without holding into account the many violations of democracy and human rights, we can reasonably say that another derailment will fail to move the international community, ready to swallow any dubious HAT lies.

Since Saturday, Malagasy protagonists have been urgently summoned in Johannesburg [fr] today to meet with the SADC (Southern African Development Community). Madagascar's transitional Prime Minister, Omer Beriziky, has been reported as attending.

November 21 2011

Madagascar: Population Grows Tired of Power Outage

For the past week, Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, has experienced scheduled daily  power outages [fr]  that lasted on average 2h and 30 minutes in the evening and it seems that it could get worse [fr].  Several bloggers have expressed [fr] increased frustration [mg] with the ongoing situation that was also reflected on many twitter updates.

October 28 2011

Madagascar: New Prime Minister Omer Beriziky Arrival Tweeted Live

Twitter users in Madagascar followed  the announcement of the new prime minister and reported it live.  Avylavitra wrote succintly [mg] : “Omer Beriziky is the new PM in #Madagascar.”

October 17 2011

Poetry Slam Activism in Francophone Africa

In the past 10 months social movements have sprung around the world at an impressive pace. It all started with an act of despair in the town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, and has now spread across 87 countries and 951 cities around the world according to the organizers of the United for #GlobalChange (October 15) Movement.

Demonstrating outside institutions is one way of expressing a desire for change in a society.  However, other forms of activism have existed for a while now and are now rekindled all around the world as a show of protest against the status-quo. Poetry slam is a well-known channel of expression for many activists in North America but the rest of the world has now embraced this unique blend of poetry and rhythmic oral story telling.

Many have found it difficult at times to relate to a form of expression that is often wrongly perceived as limited to the urban youth of North America. Poetry slam is however now firmly entrenched in the culture of many countries, especially in Africa because it incorporates the African tradition of oral story telling. Here are a few examples of poetry slam across the African continent and the context in which they were expressed.

The Arab revolution

King Bobo on UniversalSlam wrote a tribute to the youth of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya entitled ‘Liberté chérie j’écris ton nom‘ ( Beloved freedom, I write thy name) [fr]:

Liberté chérie j’écris ton nom
Ecoutez ce vent de liberté qui souffle dans toutes les langues
La jeunesse tunisienne s’exprime sur les murs
Avec des slogans tracés à la peinture
Liberté, liberté, liberté
La jeunesse égyptienne grave sur les sépultures
Des hiéroglyphes modernes inscrits pour le futur
La jeunesse syrienne ne voit que des balles perdues
Qui ricochent un peu partout et qui tracent sur les murs
Les poètes libyens de Benghazi murmurent
Des poèmes satiriques comme des caricatures

Beloved Freedom, I write thy name
Listen to the wind of liberty that blows in all languages
Tunisian youth write on the walls
With slogans drawn as paintings
Freedom, freedom, freedom
Egyptian youth etch on the graves
Modern hieroglyphics inscribed for the future
Syrian youth only see stray bullets
That ricochet around and leave marks on the walls
Libyan poets in Benghazi murmur
Satirical poems as caricatures

Algeria

Fodil Belhadj, an Algerian author, poet and blogger on Regards Africains (African eyes) [fr], slams about the promise of Algeria's independence [fr] and makes an analogy with his own story and his exile from his homeland [fr]

Fodil Belhadj also posts on his blog an open letter to the Algerian army [fr] :

.. Cela s’appelle l’autodétermination Chère Armée Algérienne. L’aurais-tu par je ne sais quel crime oublié ? Ah oui j’avais oublié que les Algériens s’étaient « trompés » en mandatant 188 députés du Front islamique du salut. Oui c’est vrai z’avaient qu’à pas voter pour de méchants islamistes, alors que toi tu es tellement, tellement sympathique. Chère Armée Algérienne. C’est tout ce que tu as trouvé comme argument spécieux, s’il en est, pour écraser ton propre peuple et rassurer « ta » communauté internationale…!
Sache donc grande muette puisque tu feins de ne point le comprendre, et à défaut de l’admettre, que démocratie signifie : Se soumettre au verdict des urnes.

.. it's called self-determination, my dear Algerian army. How could you possibly forget? That's right, I forgot that Algerian “made a mistake” by voting for 188 MPs [Members of Parliament] of the Islamic Front (FIS). It's true that they should not have voted for the bad, mean Islamists and that you are so much more sympathetic. My dear Algerian army. Is that all the argument you have left to keep oppressing your people and reassure “your” international community.. ?
You ought to know, oh great silent one [nickname given to the army in many francophone nations], even if you pretend not to get it, that democracy means accepting the verdict of the voting poll

Republic of Congo

Abd al Malik is a well-known singer and poet who grew up in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Socially and politically engaged, most notably on the perception of Islam in France, he created with other artists the group ‘New African Poets' (NAP) [fr]. In his poem, ‘Soldat de plomb' (Toy soldier), Malik describes the struggle of a disaffected youth trying to fit in:

Soldat de plomb, soldat de plomb
Bien sûr qu'un sourire nous aurait fait plaisir,
Juste un peu d'attention et peut-être ça aurait été autrement.
Nous aurions été des enfants normaux et pas des enfants soldats,

Toy soldier, toy soldier
Of course a smile would have been nice,
A little bit of attention and maybe things have gone differently
We could have been normal children instead of child soldiers

Morocco

In Morocco, the independent news portal Mamfakinch described how the February 20 movement voiced their desire for change a few months ago in a different manner [fr]:

Nous sommes jeunes, nous sommes capables d’innovation ! Pour ne pas tomber dans la banalisation de nos formes de protestation, et au vu de l’essoufflement que peuvent ressentir nos concitoyens et principalement les jeunes par les sit-in répétitifs, la coordination de Rabat des jeunes du 20 févier a décidé de diversifier ses formes des contestations.
C’est dans cet esprit nous avons choisi, après un long débat, de faire un Flash-mob: Plus précisément, un Freeze ( on explique plus bas le principe) et un petit concert de musique et poèmes contestataires.

We are young and we are capable of innovating! For the protests not to grow stale, and since we've seen citizen movement, especially the youngsters grow tired by the repeated sit-ins, the coordination committee decided to diversify its way of protesting.
After a lengthy debate, we chose to do a flash-mob, more precisely a freeze, a small concert and some activist poetry.

Here is a video of part of the protest:

Madagascar

Some may argue that the original seeds of peotry slam were sowed in Madagascar. Malagasy culture has always incorporated Hainteny (Malagasy for “knowledge of words”), a traditional form of Malagasy oral literature and poetry involving heavy use of metaphor.

Kabary is the the spoken public discourse of the Hainteny and the earlier form of Kabary dates back to the 18th century. Kabary are often used during social gathering such as engagement parties or wedding where the speaker for each family would engage in verbal jousting. Usually declined by men, here is a rare instance of a Kabary spoken by Malagasy women [mg]:

Mauritius

Poetry slam has also taken a foothold on the island of Mauritius. Stefan Hart de Keating also known as StefH2K is one of the pioneer of poetry slam in the Indian Ocean. StefH2K explains that the presence during the slam is just as important as the quality of the text.

Fictif discusses the identity crisis that the Asian minority can sometimes feel in Mauritius [fr, kr]:

LE Sino-Mauricien

Aujourd’hui
Je veux slamer
Pour tous ceux
Qui comme moi en ont marre
D’être mis à l’écart
Car je ne suis pas qu’un petit Chinois
Mais un Mauricien
Comme toi… comme toi… comme toi
Oublie mon accent chinois
Ma langue maternelle, c’est le créole
Ki to ti kroir toi ? Mo pa konn koz kréol ?
Même si je regarde Jackie Chan à la télé
Ou pratique le kung-fu
Fou, hein ?
Ma danse préférée reste le séga

The Chinese-Mauritian

I want to slam
For those like me
Who are tired
Of being ostracized
Because I am not only a small Chinese guy
I am also a Mauritian
Like you, like you, like you
Forget my Chinese accent for a minute
My mother tongue is Creole
What did you think? That I cannot speak Creole?
Even if I watch Jackie Chan on TV
Or practice Kung-fu
Fooled you huh?
My favorite dance is still séga

There are many causes for which people protests in the streets or engage in political discourse. What has come to fruition is that the manner in which we do so tend to feed into one another more rapidly. Similarily, poetry slam has moved beyond borders to reach as a unique channel for self-expression and social activism. In fact, the rise of social media probably played a role in the quicker dissemination of poetry slam as a universal voice for the oppressed.

September 26 2011

Protecting African Forests: Wangari Maathai's Legacy

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

Wangari Maathai, a prominent Kenyan environmental and political activist and 2004 Nobel prize winner passed away on September 25, 2011. She was the first African woman to be awarded the prize and is recognized worldwide as the leading figure in the environmental fight to protect the environment through sustainable actions on African continent. She was also part of the jury at the World Future Council Award this past week.

Wangari Maathai. Image under CC License from Wikipedia.

Wangari Maathai. Image under CC License from Wikipedia.

The council has selected Rwanda and Gambia as the winners of an award for best forest policies in 2011. The awards also highlighted the US Lacey Act amendment of 2008 which prohibits all trade in wood and plant products that are knowingly illegally sourced. The Lacey Act has already had a major impact in curbing down the illegal logging of rosewood from Madagascar's rainforests.

Other African nations have also done remarkably well in protecting their environment in the face of increasing threats from climate change.

Rwanda

Rwanda was awarded the prize for their continued effort in reversal in the trend of declining forest cover. The philosophy behind the prioritizing of reforestation is explained as follows [fr] on afrik.com:

Les experts disent que le transfert de propriété des terres et des ressources aux communautés locales est un moyen de sortir de la tragédie des biens communs, [..]  Le gouvernement est actuellement en train de mettre en oeuvre une stratégie de développement économique et de réduction de la pauvreté qui considère l’inversion de la déforestation comme un facteur crucial dans la réduction de la pauvreté, et a fixé l’objectif d’augmenter la couverture forestière du pays de 30 pour cent d’ici à 2020. La couverture forestière a déjà augmenté de 37 pour cent depuis 1990.

Experts argue that the transfer of land properties and resources to local communities is an important channel to exit the tragedy of commons […] the government is currently putting in place a strategy for economic development and poverty reduction that regards reforestation as crucial factor in poverty reduction and sets as a goal to increase the forest area of the country by 30% from now to 2020. The forest cover has already increased by 37% since 1990.

Gambia

Tree in Gambia by Guillaume Colin on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Tree in Gambia by Guillaume Colin on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy is the other African nation recipient of the first Silver award. Eduardo Rojas Briales, assistant director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, explains:

The success of the Gambia's Community Forest Policy proves that even in the world's poorest countries, with the right policies and adequate legislation in place rural populations can benefit economically and significantly improve their food security. In Gambia the innovative policy included forest tenure transition from state ownership to management by local communities, which enabled them to reduce illegal logging and benefit from using the forest products.[..] Gambia has managed to buck a strong deforestation trend in Africa with over 350 villages managing twelve percent of the country’s forests, with a net increase in forest cover of 8.5 percent over the last two decades.

Madagascar

The institutional measures with the most successful impact with protecting the endangered rain forest of Madagascar can be credited to the US Lacey Act amendment of 2008 which prohibits all trade in wood and plant products that are knowingly illegally sourced.

Illegal logging of Madagascar rosewood has plagued conservation effort for several years. This trafficking has increased at an alarming rate since the political crisis of 2009, as explained previously on in these interviews and in this report.

Why is the Lacey Act effective in having an impact across borders ? Tewolde Berhan Egziabher, director general of Environmental Protection Authority in Ethiopia explains:

The strength of the Act lies in its ability to target and place responsibility on every stage of the timber supply chain. It has forced importers to take responsibility for their wood products and has already produced positive results in increasing due diligence assessments and demand for certified wood products.

This Act  has also been critical in protecting the endangered species of lemurs in the the Malagasy rain forest, most notably the silky Sifaka:

Trouble in Lemur Land from Erik R Patel on Vimeo.

The Lacey Act has also indirectly created a small diplomatic incident between France and the United States, when the First Lady Michelle Obama gifted a Gibson guitar to the model/singer and France's first lady Carla Bruni [fr]. Malagasy blogger Avylavitra explains the incident [mg]:

Fa ny tena anton-dresaka eto dia ny fanomezana nomen’ny vadin’ny filoha Amerikana, Michelle Obama ho an’i Carla Bruni, vadin’ny filoha frantsay Sarkozy, nandritra ny vovonan’ny OTAN tany Strasbourg tamin’ny taona 2009. Gitara Gibson no natolony tamin’izay fotoana izay, vita avy amin’ny hazo Andramena, hazo sarobidy voarara ny famoahana azy avy aty Madagasikara,

What really got people talking was the fact that the gift that American first lady Michelle Obama gave Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni at the NATO meeting in Strasbourg, France in 2009. The Gibson guitar is made of rosewood, a type of precious wood that is protected from commercial endeavors in Madagascar.

Senegal

Route of the Great Green Wall

Protecting forests also means fighting back the desertification across the African continent due to climate change. The Green Great Wall (GGW) initiative is a transcontinental project, under the umbrella of Community of the Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and the African Union that strives to be a multi-species vegetal belt 15 km wide that will link Dakar and Djibouti and stretch over a distance of about 7000 km.

The Sécheresse/Désertification blog explains in further detail the implications of project [fr]:

Entre 2006 et 2007, quatre mille hectares soit environ sept kilomètres d’arbres ont déjà été plantés sur le tracé sénégalais de la Grande Muraille Verte. en 2008, l’Etat plantera des arbres sur une superficie de deux mille hectares dans la région de Louga. Ces végétaux sélectionés et adaptés au territoire, seront boisés en bloc contrairement aux plantations déjà existantes qui sont cultivées de façon discontinue [..] La muraille traversera le Sénégal, la Mauritanie, le Mali, le Burkina Faso, le Niger, le Nigeria, le Soudan, l’Erythrée et finira à Djibouti [..] Le professeur Dia a annoncé que la désertification a fait perdre au Sénégal près de deux millions d’hectares de terres arables.

In 2006-07, 4000 hectares, i.e 7 kilometers of trees were planted on the Senegalese trace of the Great Green Wall. In 2008, the State will also plant 2,000 hectares in the Louga region. The selected plants are adapted to the territory and will be grown in block as opposed to the existing parsimonious vegetation [..] The Wall will cross Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea and will end in Djibouti [..] Professor Dia states that desertification has already caused the loss of 2 millions hectares of arable lands in Senegal

The legacy of Wangari Maathai will live on with all the measures taken by each African nation. Her message to the world was that we collectively need to make sure that the challenge of desertification is being met heads on and to realize that local communities must be an integral part of this challenge.

This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon.

September 17 2011

September 04 2011

African Women Striving to be Heads of State

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf paved the way in 2006 when she was elected President of Liberia and became the first African woman to reach the top level position. Since then, several other African women have decided to run for the Presidency, most recently in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger. The outcomes of their campaigns have had various degrees of success so far and not many expect them to follow in the footsteps of Johnson-Sirleaf just yet. Yet many African countries are scheduled for elections in 2011-12 [fr] and the increase in female candidates is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for a continent that still struggles at times with fair representation of minorities in their political systems.

Clarisse Juompan-Yakam wrote an in-depth article [fr] on the subject where she notes that the candidates share many similar traits: they are often highly educated, tenacious politicians who first got involved in the public debate as civil rights activists.

Niger

Juompan-Yakam writes that Mariama Bayard Gamatié, who lost in the recent Presidential elections in Niger, was unhappy with the lack of media coverage her campaign received [fr]:

Première Nigérienne à briguer la magistrature suprême, cette fonctionnaire des Nations unies attribue en partie à l’indifférence des médias sa contre-performance à la présidentielle de janvier dernier : 0,38 % des voix au premier tour, le pire score du scrutin.

First Nigerienne women to run for commander in chief, this United Nations staffer believes that her low score in the January Presidential elections (0.38% of votes, lowest of all candidates) is due to the lack of media coverage.

Gamatié views her candidacy as a stepping stone for other women in the region to follow.

Bénin

Marie-elise Gbedo, presidential candidate in Bénin via Benin-diaspora.com

One of them was Marie-Élise Akouavi Gbèdo in Bénin whom Mrs Gamatié joined on the campaign trail earlier this year to show her support. Mrs Akouavi Gbèdo did not win the election but she is now Minister of Justice. She helped make polygamy unlawful in Bénin.

Madagascar

In Madagascar, the actual date for the Presidential elections is not yet set. However, Mrs Saraha Georget Rabeharisoa is one of the first to submit her candidacy. Mrs Rabeharisoa is the head of the Green Party in Madagascar. The uncertainty about the electoral calendar does not agree with her [fr]:

L’Etat a fait des dépenses faramineuses pour les membres du gouvernement qui étaient descendus sur le terrain pour sensibiliser les gens à s’inscrire dans les listes électorales… Si actuellement, on décide de ne pas procéder aux élections pour permettre aux citoyens d’exprimer leur choix, on a fait des dépenses pour rien.

The government is currently spending a great deal of money for the members of the government to ask people to register for the elections… If we finally decide not to have elections for the people to express themselves, then we would have spent the money for nothing.

Saraha Georget Rabeharisoa, head of the Green Party in Madagascar via http://hasinimadagasikara.mg

The environment, evidently one of the main themes for her political party, is one of the main headlines in Madagascar because of the infamous illegal logging of rosewood from the rain forests. Mrs Rabearisoa weighs in on the scandal [mg]:

Tsy ekena ny fitrandrahana tsy manara-dalàna rehetra eto madagasikara. Mikasika ny fitrandrahana ny andramena, dia efa nanomboka ny taona 2001 no nisian’izany voalohany. Tokony hisy hatrany ny fandraisana andraikitra manoloana izany

All the illegal traffic that is going on in Madagascar is not acceptable. About the rosewood logging, it had already started back in 2001. It's high time we put measures in place to deal with this

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angèle Makombo-Eboum is running for the Presidential elections of November 2011. She explains that if a woman is good enough to run a household, she ought to be good enough to run the country.[fr] She also can brag about her level of education with a Master of Law from La Sorbonne.

Pourquoi le Congo ne ferait-elle comme le Liberia, la Thaïlande, le Brésil ou l'Allemagne où le pouvoir d'Etat est exercé des femmes. Les femmes sont capables de changement . La vie à Kinshasa donne bien l'illustration la plus patente…Ce sont les femmes qui nourrissent les familles. Elles font étudier les enfants.

Why can't Congo go the way of Liberia, Thailand, Brazil or Germany, countries where women are at the highest level of power. Women are capable of bringing change. Life in Kinshasa is the best example of that.. It is the women who feed the families. They also make sure that the children get an education.

Cameroon

Cameroonian Édith Kah Walla believes women have to overcome higher hurdles to convince their countrymen that they are competent for the job. Owona Nguini agrees with her [fr] but he also thinks that being a woman can be an important asset:

Le fait que Mme Kah Walla soit une femme peut jouer dans les deux sens..parce que c’est la première fois qu’une femme se présente et c’est rare d’aller jusqu’au bout de la compétition électorale. Ça peut aussi être un handicap compte tenu de la prévalence d’un certain machisme politique qui fait que la grande partie de la société ne voit pas nécessairement une femme à sa tête.

That Mrs Kah Walla is a woman can work both ways… it would be a first that a woman runs and goes all the way to election day. It can also be a handicap because there is still a certain machismo in the political field that makes an important part of the society not picture a woman at the top of the nation just yet.

August 28 2011

Madagascar: Minister of Population Ramaroson and 10 others Drown in a Boat Accident

Minister of Population and Social Affairs Nadine Ramaroson and 10 other people died on Sunday in a boat accident near the island of Saint-Marie (North East of Madagascar) during a whale watching event. Although not always in agreement with her political stand, Blogger Aryel Elyah pays tribute to Mrs Ramaroson's work and dedication [fr].

February 20 2011

Madagascar: Reactions to Ousted President Ravalomanana Attempting to Return

Written by Avylavitra

Tropical storm Binziga  has just hit Madagascar, having killed killed six people and leaving about 7,500 without adequate shelter. Yet  the attention is focused on the return of the Ousted Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana, who issued a statement and spoke at a news conference in Johannesburg on  Thursday Feb. 17, 2011. He says he will return from his exile in South Africa.  Ravalomanana was forced to flee on 2009 and despite facing a life sentence in prison, has decided to return to Madagascar. His attempt at coming back on February 18th was rebuked by the air traffic authority of Madagascar who issued a persona non grata notice on the ousted president.


( Ravalomanana's reaction at press conference after being refused to board on the plane)

(thousands of people gathering at the airport to welcome the ousted president)

Here are some reactions on Twitter as news of his attempt at returning home  surfaced:

[ Editor's note: it is important to note that there was a high volume of twitter updates about this subject that were not confirmed or verified as the situation is still very fluid. For instance, many users posted that Ravalomanana was already on the plane when he was still only attempting to board]

To mavana
tomavana To mavana
[Coïncidence?] annonce retour Ravalomanana #Madagascar & enquête parquet Sud-Af ‘tentative de recruter des mercenaires' http://bit.ly/hP5Fzk
[Coincidence?] announcement return Ravalomanana #Madagascar & South Af'  investigation prosecutors on attempt to recruit mercenaries' http://bit.ly/hP5Fzk
To mavana
tomavana To mavana

'sûr et certain #Ravalomanana sera de retour à #Madagascar ce samedi 19.02′~sénatrice Naika Eliane au téléphone avec @NRakotoarson

'sure and certain #Ravalomanana will be back #Madagascar this Saturday  19.02′~senator Naika Eliane on the phone with @NRakotoarson

hery
hery hery

[blaogy.com] Raha hody Ravalo: IZay izany no vaovao farany tamin'ity herinandro ity dia ny… http://goo.gl/fb/QXuzy

[blaogy.com] if Ravalo decide to return:  the latest news of this week will be… http://goo.gl/fb/QXuzy

tananews

tananews tananews

par hery

Vidéo de la conférence de presse de Marc Ravalomanana http://www.tananews.com/?p=14799

conférence live of  Marc Ravalomanana http://www.tananews.com/?p=14799

ICE Club Madagascar
iceclubmada ICE Club Madagascar
[ICE member blog] Marc Ravalomanana will come home on Saturday: The ousted president Marc Ravalomanana did today… http://bit.ly/eDtjrB
To mavana
tomavana To mavana

‘Ravalomanana return to #Madagascar is the last roll of the dice of a desperate man'~Thomas Wilson, #Africa analyst http://bit.ly/hhDYao

TopMada.com
topmada TopMada.com

Retour Ravalomanana Conférence Live + Video sur http://www.topmada.com/ ou http://www.livestream.com/madagascardemocracy #madagascar

Ravalomanana return - Conférence Live + Video on http://www.topmada.com/ or  http://www.livestream.com/madagascardemocracy #madagascar

To mavana
tomavana To mavana

No ultimatum had been given to former Malagasy prez Ravalomanana to leave #SouthAfrica http://bit.ly/epZfC0 #Madagascar http://ff.im/y8vzO

GTT International
GTTIntl GTT International
Le plan de retour de #Ravalomanana a #Madagascar est ficelé, wait and see
GTTIntl GTT International
Return plan tied for #Ravalomanana #Madagascar , wait and see
GTT International
GTTIntl GTT International
Kung-Fu, réservistes, volontaires , militaires, la sécurité de #Ravalomanana sera assuré samedi
Kung-Fu, reservists, volunteers, military, #Ravalomanana
security will be assured next Saturday
To mavana
tomavana To mavana
‘emboldened by pro- #democracy demonstrations in the world' ousted leader Ravalomanana ‘to return' to #Madagascar http://bbc.in/gZvLQ2
Jérôme
Ratsara Jérôme

#Wikileaks 2010-02-11 : Gompertz (..) #Madagascar was “obviously a very embarrassing subject” for France http://bit.ly/gM4ZT8

Thierry Andriamirado

tandriamirado Thierry Andriamirado

par barijaona
Vrai, ambassade? RT @streetrover: Midi #Madagascar : l’ambassade @USMadagascar félicite la décision de Marc Ravalomanana http://ow.ly/1s3wlg ( ed's note: This information is not verified and did not appear in the posted link)
hery
hery hery
#Madagascar Primature bloquer les pistes d'aerodromes locaux avec des futs remplis d'eau http://www.madatimes.com/images//1communication.pdf
hery
hery hery
La primature invite ses siens à bloquer la piste d'Ivato avec des futs remplis d'eau http://www.madatimes.com/images//1communication.pdf
To mavana
tomavana To mavana
Joaquim Chissano endosse la ‘feuille de route' de sortie de crise #Madagascar du Dr Leonardo Simão, au nom de la #SADC http://bit.ly/dROVNs
hery
hery hery
Hmmm ezahina hosakanna hono ny fiaramanidina avy any Afrika atsimo amin'ny asabotsy? Ka raha tsy avy any izy no miditra loll
Hmmm, all  flights from South Africa not allowed to land Saturday?. And what if  he doesn't fly in  from that country loll
GTT International
GTTIntl GTT International
Si vous ne pouvez pas accueillir le Président #Ravalomanana, signez cette pétition http://bit.ly/f6jB2l pour le soutenir dans son action
If you cannot welcome the President Ravalomanana #, sign this online petitionhttp://bit.ly/f6jB2l to support him in his action
Sensing a need for Malagasy citizens to get involved in the democratic process,  the US Embassy in Madagascar asks on twitter:
USEmbassy-Madagascar

USMadagascar USEmbassy-Madagascar

How can you promote democratic change on an individual level? ahoan ny fampiroborobon n fiovana/fanovan demokratika eo @ tsi1/1?

November 30 2010

October 28 2010

Madagascar: Village Burned Down by Highwaymen during Cattle Robbery

By Lova Rakotomalala

The villages of Ampasimbe and Ankaenihenibe in Madagascar were attacked by gangs of highwaymen [Fr] (Dahalo in Malagasy) that made away with 18 and 15 zebus respectively. As the Ampasimbe villagers retaliated against the robbers, their village was burned down entirely, partly because of the powerful wind guts at the time.

October 19 2010

Madagascar: Citizens Reporting of the Latest Clash Between Armed Forces and Protesters.

By Lova Rakotomalala

Blogger Jentilisa gives a detailed eyewitness account [mg] of the latest acts of violence [fr] between security forces and protesters on October 18th in Antananarivo, Madagascar.  An estimated 1,500 people protested in front of the court where members of the opposition were to appear. Here is  a citizen video of the protest before the clash.

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