Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Madagascar: A Cosmetic End to Madagascar’s Crisis?

Source: International Crisis Group

Madagascar’s recent elections marked an ostensible return to democracy, but unless the new government works hard to implement meaningful political, economic and social reforms, the prospect of further crisis is just a matter of time.

The 2009 coup led to five years of isolation for Madagascar, which a highly contested but credible election in late 2013 looks set to reverse. The new president and government are internationally accepted and domestically legitimate. Yet, the primary obstacle to sustained recovery remains a dysfunctional political system amid deteriorating social and economic conditions. In its latest report, A Cosmetic End to Madagascar’s Crisis?, the International Crisis Group outlines the immediate and long-term changes necessary to underwrite a much-needed revival, with an emphasis on building institutional capacity and credibility, political reconciliation and fending off military interference.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
  • Madagascar’s new president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, must navigate powerful competing interests. Since his inauguration in January, he has distanced himself from the former coup regime and formed a de facto government of national unity with an emphasis on technical capacity. He must now prove that he is willing to tackle substantial reform, build institutional viability and devise a realistic action plan for recovery.
  • The government must take urgent action to avert military incursions into political life. It must stop manipulation of military career advancement; reaffirm its international commitment to rejecting coup regimes; clearly condemn forced political exile; and expedite the reform, resourcing and professionalisation of the security services
  • Reconciliation is crucial to resolve long-standing political disagreements that have so impeded democratic progress. The process initiated during the transition must be taken forward and nationwide efforts should be replicated at the regional, district and local levels. The exiled former president, Marc Ravalomanana, should be allowed to return home provided he accepts the election results.
  • Members of the International Support Group (ISG-M) – the African Union, the Southern African De-velopment Community and other multilateral institutions – should monitor adherence to the rule of law and democratic practices; provide continued backing for reconciliation; and support efforts to tackle corruption and build institutional integrity.
“The new government faces immense challenges” says Piers Pigou, Southern Africa Project Director. “Madagascar is a divided, impoverished, broken democracy. Its future will depend on a critical mass of politicians placing national interests above their own, under the close watch of international friends and supporters”.

“There are opportunities to keep the country on its democratic course”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “But unless there is a fundamental transformation that addresses the structural challenges, the current period will be little more than the calm before the next inevitable storm”.