vendredi 2 avril 2010

A letter from a friend to the US

Calling on the USA to help restore democracy in Madagascar

As one Founding Father of America, Thomas Jefferson has left to posterity the fundamentals of democracy that it was “self-evident” that men had “unalienable rights” to freedom of expression, to “peaceably assemble” and “petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. That it was the purpose of government to “secure” these rights. That a government who failed to do so should not exercise political power.

Now, since March 2009, Madagascar has been enduring the “regimental” ruling of the self-styled “ High Authority for Transitional Government” (HATG). Now this is a government branded as illegal and illegitimate by the international community – including the United States - for it took power after a coup. Now this coup regime is reported repeatedly for gagging the press and proceeding to  ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ to stifle opposition. 
And more dramatically, supporters for the return of legitimate government are said to have been arrested for demonstrating their antagonism toward the regime ‘without due process of law’. Midi-Madagasikara, a local newspaper, has recently made known that 50 people have been in custody – some for 9 months - in the most inhumane and dreadful conditions. 50 detainees whose ages range from 18 to 50 including 5 women.

In addition, it is reported that Madagascar has been undergoing the most critical economic situation under the HATG. Whereas, under the 8-year governance of twice  democratically elected president Marc Ravalomanana– now forced into exile in South Africa – the country had started to emerge from the 30-year or so economic stagnation under the ‘socialist’ regime A regime which was eventually ousted out of power after a popular vote in 2002.

Along the African Union, the Southern African Development community, the United Nations and the European Union, the United States have vouched for HATG’s resolve to settle the political crisis in Madagascar through constitutional procedures after the Maputo agreement.

Interestingly, the forceful statement published by the government of Norway at the UPR Seventh Session held in Geneva February, 15, 2010 regarding the political situation in Madagascar seems to prove the HATG remains in and holds fast to some sort of “comfortable” ignorance for the efforts brought about by the international community to help Madagascar back to democracy. The statement translates deeper concern on the current lack and denial of basic human rights to the Malagasy people under the HATG regime as the following excerpts read: 
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states the fundamental principle that the authority of government shall be based on the will of the people expressed in genuine elections. We recommend that the transitional institutions foreseen in the Maputo agreement are put in place and that credible elections are held leading to the restoration of democracy and the rule of law. Norway is particularly concerned about the human rights impact of environmental degradation in Madagascar, including the ongoing plunder of biological treasures –recognized as World Heritage – which has escalated during the political crisis…..We note the focus on freedom of speech and the right of assembly in the report submitted but we remain concerned with the increased number of politicians and journalists that are reported arrested and imprisoned.  We recommend the immediate release of all political prisoners. Media is crucial for ensuring freedom of expression. We recommend that no restriction be put on the media so that it may operate freely. We recommend reform for the communications code.  We recommend Madagascar to adopt appropriate means to disseminate widely and ensure full observance of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. We recommend that crimes and violations against human rights defenders and journalists are effectively investigated and prosecuted and that those responsible are brought to justice…..We remain concerned about reports of lack of judicial independence and effectiveness.”

Johnnie Carson, US assistant secretary of state for Africa, in the February,28, 2010 interview he gave Reed Kramer «… about Africa’s prospects » said in answering the following question:
« Finally, the African Union has given the ‘de facto’ government in Madagascar headed by Andry Rajoelina until 16 March to implement the power-sharing arrangement that all parties have accepted. Does the United States support that action?

 “We’ve worked very closely with the AU and Jean Ping (president of the AU Commission). We share the same goals of the return to democracy in Madagascar. We believe very strongly that those who disrupt or violate authority shouldn’t choose the terms under which new democracy can be returned. We are going to continue playing a constructive role. Our position is not totally similar to the position of the UA, but our objectives are the same, and we will continue to work closely with them.”

It may be assumed that Mr Carson has read the Statement of the Government of Norway. It may be assumed that as US lead policymaker on Africa for the US administration Mr Carson knows about the HATG’s ceaseless dispossessing of their “unalienable rights” off the Malagasy people.

Now, it is still rumored that the coup regime will renew their opposition to a constitutional government despite their “call” for forthcoming democratic elections in the months to come. 

Thomas Jefferson’s forceful stance on democracy has been resounding across time and space and prompted countries and peoples denied their fundamental rights to look up to America for assistance.

Now, it is hoped that the USA will remain true to the fundamentals of democracy as construed in the First Amendment of the US Constitution as they are reflected on the Statement of the Government of Norway at the Geneva UPR Seventh Session on the political predicament of Madagascar.

Richard Randriambololona
e-mail: rirandri (at) neuf (point) fr