Monday, February 23, 2009

Madagascar: Crisis Resolution Through Learning History's Lessons

Vondrona Miralenta ho an'ny Fampandrosoana - All Africa - 20 February 2009

In the wake of Madagascar's political crisis, Vondrona Miralenta ho an'ny Fampandrosoana (VMLF) calls for a coalition of interests to transcend party differences for the greater good of the stability of the country and the livelihoods of its population. Pointing the finger of blame at all those fighting over previous weeks, the organisation calls upon political parties to renounce false, self-aggrandising declarations and work towards achieving the effective decentralisation of power and preparations for future municipal and presidential elections.

We, members of the Vondrona Miralenta ho an'ny Fampandrosoana (VMLF) association working to promote women's increased political participation in Madagascar, are outraged and grieving because our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends have been slaughtered.

We express our deepest sorrow and concern about the loss of human lives and the deadlock in the life of our nation. In the face of this tragic bloodshed, we affirm that it is utterly inappropriate to take sides with any particular force, and we call on all stakeholders to uphold the nation's interest over any party consideration.

Therefore, to the best of our knowledge and belief, and with as much serenity as possible, we declare that the forces which had been fighting over the last few weeks share the responsibility for the present disaster.

The recent history of Madagascar has demonstrated that political practices characterised by power struggles among politicians, a democratic deficit, corrupted governance, social injustice, the protection of private interests at the expense of public interest, and the instrumentalisation of the population through demagogic propositions have led our country into successive crises. It is the same process which brought about the political crises of 1972, 1991, 2002, and the current crisis.

We are determined to contribute to change in political practices and governance in Madagascar, and we affirm that the following principles must be the minimum basis for the code of conduct of political leaders, whether they are in power or in the opposition:

- Renounce declarations that provide false information and create confusion, fear or unreasoned hatred among the population

- Listen to the minority(ies), out of respect for the freedom of opinion, even if one has been elected by a majority (which always remains relative anyway)

- Respect the separation between the management of public affairs and religious and private economic activities.

The resolution of the present crisis requires the immediate creation of a totally neutral and independent body that will be tasked with the establishment of a transitional institution that will be in charge of:

- Undertaking the necessary reforms of the constitution and electoral code

- Designing mechanisms that can guarantee the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers in order to prevent attempts to accumulate power in the hands of a single individual or party

- Ensuring the effectiveness of the decentralisation process, by sharing responsibilities with each and every decentralised entity and providing them with the means to discharge these responsibilities

- Preparing and organising elections, which will start as soon as feasible at the municipal level and end with the presidential elections

- Ensuring gender equality, that is an equitable and balanced representation of women and men in decision making at all levels, in order to compensate for our slow progress (Madagascar ranks at the bottom end of SADC figures in terms of the percentage of women in parliament).

For all these deaths not to have been in vain, we must adopt sound political practices and we must change in order to move towards a society that is more progressive, more tolerant and more equitable.