It should be a bombastic investigation

Shocked …. the Malagasy were left on 25 January following the inaugurals.

The new president Hery Rajaonarimapianina was welcomed by a scandal. One that claimed the life of an innocent two years old and injured 37 other from a grenade explosion at a bus stop. It was reportedly initiated by a white man in a 4×4 or on foot. The facts are unclear. It happened 200 yards from the swearing in ceremony. Immediately following the blast it was still too early and too sensitive to jump into conclusion. However, with a few days to gain some perspective it is time to question, set the facts straight and investigate.

The innocent victims were rushed to the emergency.
Flowers were left in remembrance. Buzzes were launched in social media such as facebook and twitter. Eager to find out more, we have been closely monitoring the media. Surprisingly the news did not make the headlines the next day. Information are trickling down but nothing sufficiently clear to draw any conclusion. Needless to say such crime cannot be left unpunished. As it stand a serious investigation should be carried out. In fact it is an opportunity for the new government to demonstrate its commitment to end impunity. The media is already using powerful terms such as "Terrorism." Isn’t that too extreme without clear investigation? Terrorism is defined as "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes." Thus a political element must be proven. If it is politically related, one can only wonder what the verdict would be.

The press reported a 4×4 driven by military personnel visiting Antanimora, the capital’s prison, to free theirs friends. When asked whether they had a decision issued by the tribunal that would allow their action, they were unable to produce one. The situation was so confusing that following an emergency meeting chaired by the leaders in the military a number of military personnel and civilians were thrown back into prison. They were freed again later during the week. Apparently they negotiated between themselves so as to avoid any escalation of violence. Between the uncertainty of the investigation, the shock of the loss of a two year old’s life, the too many victims fighting for survival, the tragedy and the story continues to unfold with pieces of information in the media.

Whether politically motivated or other these victims deserve more than just flowers. The population need to be reassured that their newly elected President is truly committed to ending impunity for such crimes. Ceasing political episode which was led by savages abusing power and authority. Time ! It is time for real change. Where art thou Mr President ? Rendering justice to innocents is your first test.

Michaella

Merry Crisemafy !

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Photo source: AFP

I am the winner 

Madagascar’s historically awaited 20th of december election day took place in a calm atmosphere. It was the day of the run off between the two candidates, Hery Rajaonarimampianina and Jean Louis Robinson. They are backed by the two titans of Malagasy politics President Andry Rajoelina and ousted former President Marc Ravalomanana.

There were reports of violence in the South, namely in Ikalamavony, Betroka and Midongy Atsimo. Dahalo, bandits, threatened a member of the CENIT and destroyed ballot boxes. Apart from a few incidents of violence the rest of the island was peaceful. The streets of the capital was deserted as citizens walked to their election point to cast their votes. In the evening, both candidates celebrated early victory when the first results were announced.

The suicidal debate

The last day of campaigning was concluded by a heated debate between the two candidates. At the time, Robinson was ahead by a few percentage not much but still ahead. Sadly, for Robinson he was attacked by a question leading him to reveal that he is a Free Mason. Thus committing political suicide. The majority of Malagasy have an unforgiving policy toward Freemasonry. The end of the debate left many focused on that one and only slip up, especially since Robinson benefited from a strong christian support. Many share the view that it was a setup. A fact we cannot confirm but only suspect.

The day following the elections were still peaceful, though presence of police and gendarme noticeably increased. International observers report a transparent elections yet rumors of pre-ticked ballots for the candidate Hery Rajaonarimanpianina worry many voters.

 In the name of transparency

 At present the real results of the presidential run-off remain unknown. Those of the legislatives are slowly revealed. The atmosphere remain calm but somewhat tense. Four days following the elections, Robinson, the candidate backed up by ousted former President Ravalomanana complained of election fraud. According to him and his political party they have won approximately 60%. A result he claims he can prove. He warned against illegal acts perpetrated by incumbent President Andry Rajoelina to influence the polls. He announced that they are manipulating the choice of the Malagasy people.

 The Independent National Electoral Commission of the Transition, CENIT, which is an independent electoral body funded by the United Nations supervised the 20 115 polling stations in the country. The Southern African Development Community, SADC deployed 256 observers dispatched in 22 regions of Madagascar. The EU Election Observation Mission, UE-EOM deployed 42 long-term observers and sent teams composed of their observers and national observers covering several regions including remote areas of the country.

 CENIT is in it

Robinson denounces that the CENIT is involved in the fraud and that he has proof of his victory. He threatens criminal prosecution of those who perpetrated the fraud. He requests the resignation of Beatrice Attalah head of the CENIT. In the alternative that she be assisted by a “co-head”. As for the rest of Robinson’s political party, they refuse to be inactive. Their headquarter continued to receive minutes of the results. On the 24th they reported 57,37 % to Robinson and 42,65% to Rajaonarimampianina. That been said the official results will be that communicated and counted by the CENIT to be validated by Madagascar’s Electoral Court, CES.

 The battle of the numbers continues. Once again the population feels manipulated by their own leaders. The elections were meant to be an exit, an end of political crisis not the spark of another one. Where are we heading if our next President comes to power through a malicious process?

In the hope that the choice of the people will be respected, that there were no such massive electoral fraud. The people voted, let their voices be seen through the true results. In spite of these rumours and worries; knowing the Malagasy population, christmas is a day of celebration and fihavanana.

 Merry Christmas and not Crisemafy Malagasy brothers and sisters ! 

 Michaella

One nation, one people, one vote, one day … Who?

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Who?

A day to make history
Rare are countries that decide to hold the elections of deputies and the president on the same day. Especially elections which will surely shape the future of Madagascar lost in a state of despair. The 20 th of december is that chosen day. A momentous day awaits the country which has been experiencing endless crisis on all fronts; political, social and economic. It will be a day when we are given an opportunity for change.

A broken Madagascar
It has long been a victim of a plague of self interested and power hungry leaders. Malagasy disappointed by unfulfilled promises. Moral values once cherished and respected are now out the window. Values held by the citizens and the authorities. All you need is to walk the streets of the capital filled with rubbish. The authorities did not clean up, but neither did we.

A new beginning
Years went on, the youth took the street promising better lives. Yet the results were an erosion of democracy while corruption flourished. Madagascar is in desperate need of healing. A beginning of an end to poverty. The Millennium Development Goals we are to work towards should neither halt nor slow down. We have until 2015, a fast approaching deadline. If the elected are truly determined to set aside their greed Madagascar has a chance to renewal.

With great power comes great responsibilities
The heightened hype, excitement and desire to assume the everest of responsibilities that awaits these candidates is puzzling. The road ahead is undoubtedly treacherous as every aspect of a Malagasy citizen’s life is in need of a reform. In the hope that the repetitive destructive scenario of leaders motivated by personal gain through abuse of power will lessen or even end.

Vote wisely
Campaigns that inundate the capital praise for the survival of the most popular not the most competent. In the elections of deputies we should aim to be represented by those willing to work toward progress. As for the presidential, it is certainly our strongest tool to influence the development of Madagascar.
Let us not fall in the same trap as before. Just because one is young and dynamic does not mean one is the leader Madagascar needs. Popularity does not necessarily rhyme with ability. Knowledge and skills are qualities essential for leadership not artistic charisma only.

As citizens voting is an essential opportunity to contribute to the development of Madagascar. Before the 20th we must make every effort to know what these candidates really stand for. When you cast your vote don’t chose competence and integrity over popularity.

Vote wisely
Michaella

A new beginning ?

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Photo courtesy: The Associated Press

Here we are at the early aftermath of a long awaited election day. The 25th of october 2013 regardless of the results was a momentous day for Madagascar. 7,8 million Malagasy citizens to elect their new President amongst 33 candidates. The elections went on smoothly without any major incidents other than disturbance caused by the infamous cattle robbers. Particularly, one attack in the South Ranotsara in the district of Benenitra which temporarily disrupted the elections. But order was quickly restored according to reports by the independent national electoral commission (CENIT).

The CENIT announced the latest results at At 5 45 am: Ravalisaona Zafisolo first in line, Rajaonarimapianina Hery Martial runner up and Rabeharison Roland Dieu Donné (Vahombey) third.

Many, but not all believed an election was a way out of the bitter 4 years of transitional government. Still on the eve of the elections Andry Rajoelina, President of the transitional government, in a poised and calculated manner reminded the country of the importance of a devoted leader to Madagascar. Ironic, when the last 4 years led to a rapid economic downturn result of an endless struggle for power between opportunistic political leaders.

Will this be the end?

 End of a transitional government perhaps. Unfortunately, it was marked by greedy, selfish leaders who damaged the political, economic and cultural state of the country. Malagasy people have been denied their basic economic, social and cultural rights.

Needless to say, the new President will be faced with a population anxious and impatient for change. Change in almost every aspect of their lives.

Madagascar’s political life is undergoing another turning point, dragging along with it hopeful Malagasy. Anticipating for brighter days to follow. Wondering whether this is the beginning of a constitutional order.

Michaella

Le rôle du journalisme citoyen et de son impact, à travers l’utilisation de la nouvelle Technologie de l’Information et de la Communication, avant, pendant et après les élections

Avec internet, qui fait partie intégrante de la nouvelle Technologie de l’Information et de la Communication. Cette plate-forme qui consiste a augmenter, l’adrénaline du citoyen lambda, en matière de partage de nouvelle, est en pleine effervescence (web2.0 + web3.0). La suivie des élections mérite notre attention à tous!

Depuis quelques années, j’ai assisté, animé, organisé pas mal de débat et de conférence sur le rôle du journalisme citoyen, tant sur le plan national qu’international. Pour la bonne marche de la démocratie et de la liberté d’expression.

Toujours est il que, la nation malgache est un vrai cimetière de projet dans tous les domaines. A chaque fois, qu’il y a un événement marquant qui se déroule au pays. Tout le monde a envie de se démarquer et se prend pour le bon samaritain.

Avec une simple volonté, passer à l’acte est un problème, en sachant pertinemment, le contexte économique du pays. Il n’est pas toujours évident, de viser le long terme. Même avec de grandes idées, sans les supports techniques nécessaires, pour la mise en place d’une valeur ajoutée (informations produites par les simples citoyens).

Pour la génération future, usons de toutes nos forces pour dénoncer les anomalies durant ce processus électoral ( avant, pendant, après). Afin que, le monde entier sache qu’à ce niveau d’organisation, il est impossible que ces élections atteignent la transparence.

“SLACKTIVISM”- The other art of activism

Don’t hold on to the climate

The recent political turmoil and manipulation experienced in Madagascar led many of the ever so opinionated Malagasy to fear reprisal if they were to take on the streets and protest. Here is a valued aspect of advocacy and activism – there are many alternatives. One of which is slacktivism.

It has been repeatedly said around tables at home, in cafés and restaurants that “something” must be done for one cause or another. Poverty? Injustice? Political manipulation? Involvement of the international community in our politics?

Indeed, in the midst of this political unpredictability we must be careful not to contribute to the confusion. Yet, standing aside and leaving causes worth fighting for be reported to a later time is not an option. At a time when the majority of the population is attentive to Madagascar’s well being one must act, that time is now ! Manifest into actions those never ending criticisms. Enough heard already. Do something!

The-rise-of-the-Slacktivist


What is slacktivism?

Slacker ? Activist? Well guess what you can be both and still make an impact. If you don’t want to take the streets for whatever reason then be a slacktivist, it is ok !

Slacker and activism are the two little words to brand a new age “feel-good” measure of making an impact in your world. Slacktivism has become somewhat of a buzzword when it comes to demeaning the electronic versions of participation, may it be political of otherwise. Slacktivist activities include signing internet petitions, joining a community organization, copying and pasting of social network statuses or messages.

You are not a lonely bowler

Skeptics have raised valuable arguments opposing this approach to advocacy. Namely the view that internet activities are ineffective, or that they lessen real life political participation or other forms of civic engagement. Robert Putnam, a political scientist and Harvard professor has argued that citizens are becoming “lonely bowlers” who no longer interact socially. As a result they are no longer willing to take part in political matters. May be so, but the beauty of the social dynamics of Madagascar renders it an ideal breeding ground for a mixture of both.

 The willingness is there, unfortunately so is the fear, the hesitation. Those who are well ingrained in their causes willing to lead should go ahead and do so. Giving others the opportunity to follow and support. Malagasy, we think we are lonely bowlers but give us an opportunity to gather and we will. This is when slacktivism comes into play. There are already some precedence: “liking” an NGO’s status, signing petitions to strengthen conservation projects, paypal donations to so and so charities. Let take it a step further !

Tools you need for your slacktivism

Social media and new technology are your essential tools. These are extremely versatile and adaptable means for civic engagement in the 21st century. They can be used for any purpose: to seem “cool”, to develop a business and lately for social change. Hence, it can be used to destroy or build depending on the purpose of its user.

Make sure your message is well researched, informative and tailored to your audience. That been said, I can already hear the typical excuse: “not all Malagasy have access to the internet”. Guess what? There are always alternatives: your mobile phones. Ilay foza-oran’e !

 In 2009, there were 4 835 000 mobile phone users hence 25 % of the Malagasy population. In fact, this number doubled in 2011 to 43% hence 8 665 000. Seen as at least 20% of us are literate, logically if you can read you are most likely to own a mobile phone.

 Social media is also on the rise. The facebook, twitter, instagram and you-tube fever continues. If you have not heard about one of these you may have lived in a cave for the past decade. The Malagasy’s limitless curiosity will only strengthen our internet presence. These are the tools you need for your slacktivism. Bear in mind the importance of being well informed so as to reinforce your impact.

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 Civic engagement through slacktivism, why not?

Noticing, an increasing number of groups using new technology and social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective actions in Madagascar is a breath of fresh air. We must continue opening up to the World. Continue informing our distant neighbors about Madagascar. Please let us talk about other topics and not just “the unique fauna and flora”. How cliché ! It is not the only cause that needs collective participation. How about: Political crisis? Democracy? Transparency? Upcoming elections? Or even our colonial history? And finally ! the ever growing consciousness and reactions on the manipulation of the “international community”.

We cannot all be chiefs

If we are so fearful to taken on the streets, then let’s be slackers. Instead share powerful messages, petitions or join organizations that stand up for our principles. See ! we cannot all be leaders. It is just the way it is. There will always be some chiefs and more indians.

If we were all intending to be chiefs of within a household, at church or for a social change organization, nothing will be achieved. Chiefs, elaborate that researched and targeted cause and spread it. Followers, show your support in a concerted effort.

We can criticize and moan all we want on national radio and we should, but let us aim for an even larger impact: the international community itself. The citizens of those countries who only view Malagasy as confused, powerless, manipulated population. Show them how mistaken they have been. I have never experienced such an opinionated and passionate population! We know it, but do others know?

 Andao ary i-slacktivist e!

Activism has taken on a new route and we, Malagasy cannot and should not fall behind, use it to our advantage. Let us be opportunistic. I have witnessed first hand the firing dedication inside us when it comes to our own politics. A spoken desire for change but also an apparent hesitation.

Well, social media and new technology is there as your companion. It can shield you from the prejudice of others and that “gaz lacrimogène” you so fear of. No one is judging you so long as you do something within your capacity.

 So fellow Malagasy once again here is a call to use the digital tool of today to shape your future. For those with an internet presence, use it ! Reach beyond borders and please enough talks about that one endemic flower. It is time to explain clearly, share information abroad so as to strengthen your initiative for change on the Malagasy territory.

Remember we can be supporters, faces and ambassadors to shape Madagascar’s new future as slacktivists.

The motto is : samy mitondra ny anjara birikiny e !

 

Reporting from London

Michaella 

Bosco Ntaganda – The Terminator

Source: The cartoon movement http://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/9655

Source: The cartoon movement http://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/9655

In the words of Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Ntaganda’s expected trial will underscore the importance of the ICC in providing accountability for the world’s worst crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling to deliver justice.”

Bosco Ntaganda, a.k.a "The Terminator" faced a highly attentive Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court, ICC, on 26 March 2013, the day of his first appearance. He humbly pleaded “not guilty” before being cut off by Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova and reminded that he did not have to enter a plea.

The Terminator’s behavior has certainly been unpredictable since his inexplicable voluntary surrender on 18 March at the US embassy in Kigali, Rwanda. Another of Africa’s most feared warlords landed in the famous capital for international justice on 22 March 2013. We are scheduled to see the charges against him being confirmed or dismissed in hearings due to commence on 10 February 2014.

The Untouchable

Without fear of arrest, Ntaganda lived openly in the town of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, dinning at luxurious restaurants and spotted playing tennis at the courtyard of Karibu Hotel. Meanwhile civilians were allegedly massacred by the Force Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo, FPLC, troops under his command as chief of military operations. The FPLC is a military wing of the Union Patriotic Congolaise, UPC, an armed group known for its brutality in perpetrating serious human rights abuses, namely ethnic based massacre, torture, rape, pillage, abduction and use children as soldiers. The UPC was led by another warlord, a familiarly known as Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment for the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under age 15 as soldiers and using them as active participants in hostilities in 2002-2003 was the President of the UPC.

Deadliest Conflict since World War II

While, DRC conflict by reason of its historical importance and complexity cannot be summarised in a few words it cannot be separated from the Ntaganda’s journey to the ICC. Approximately 3 to 6 million have lost their lives since 1998. Victimization range from sexual violence, recruitment and use of children under the age of 15 as soldiers. Scars of the DRC conflict cannot be ignored.

In a nutshell, the DRC gained independence from Belgium in 1960 and fell in the hands of 32 years of oppressive Mobutu rule. This was followed by a spill-over of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide which fueled the initial turmoils when Rwandan and Burundian refugees invaded into the Eastern part of the DRC. The refugees set up camp which became a defacto military base. Mobutu was destabilised by Laurent Kabila with support from Rwanda and Sudan. Mobutu was later overthrown with additional military support of troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

While the DRC was freed from bitter Mobutu years, the second Congolese war broke out in 1998, lasting 5 years. Violence escalated, and multiple actors became even more involved, namely: Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia and Zimbabwe and 25 ethnic militias. Needless to say, the DRC has been dragged from one chain of turmoil to another.

At present the on-going conflict is exacerbated by the DRC armed forces failing to operate under the full control of the central government and targeting the trying to control of the trade in minerals and gold for their own personal benefit. DRC’s future looks bleak as the involvement of several multinational corporation in the scramble for natural resources and funding armed groups by conducting business with them. Needless to say, the DRC has been dragged from one chain of turmoil to another with ruthless and violent actors involved.

Quest for Peace

In an attempt to transition into peace, the Lusaka Peace Accord was signed in 1999. At the same time, the Security Council established the United Nations Organization Mission, MONUSCO, to observe the ceasefire and disengagement of forces and maintain the cooperation of the signatories of the Peace Accord. In 2002 Laurent Kabila was murdered succeeded by his son who became a valiant negotiator. He partly succeeded at negotiating the withdrawal of the Rwandan forces. All the while, crimes against humanity and war crimes continued to be were perpetrated between September 2002 until September 2003 by the FPLC allegedly led by Ntaganda.

In 2009 an armed group led an insurgence in eastern DRC. The group is formed by Tutsi rebels. The government and the Tutsi rebels signed a peace agreement to integrated the rebels into the Congolese military, but in 2012 they defected and formed an armed group called M23. Ntaganda initially lead a mutiny, and he and his forces joined with other rebels to form this new armed group, M23, which battled Congolese and UN troops in eastern Congo. We now hear of the M23 operating essentially for the government however they have been accounts of them committing acts of violence as well. To make matters worse it is not the only military group, the multiplicity of actors have not been solved.

In February of this year, 11 African countries signed the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework in which they agreed to cease interference in the territory of the DRC and commit to a monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance with the peace deal. The impact and implementation of this latest agreement remains uncertain. Is this another make believe attempt to transition to peace? The agreed ceasefire between the Congolese arm and M23 has only lasted approximately two months, and on July 14 residents in the East of the DRC report abuse, rape and killings allegdly being perpetrated by M23 force with Rwandan support.

Road to the International Criminal Court

The Prosecutor of the ICC initiated an investigation in the DRC in 2004. 6 accused are indicted, one of which, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo has been sentenced to 12 years. Recently Ntaganda surrendered himself into ICC custody. Also known as one of Africa’s most notorious warlords, the privileged fugitive, was once wanted by the ICC in a first warrant of arrest in 2006 followed by a second one in 2012. From accounts that he was terrorizing innocents, he referred to himself a simple soldier during his initial appearance before the ICC. General Bosco Ntaganda’s command for over 10 years, he is wanted since 2006 for allegedly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in northeastern Congo in 2002 and 2003, including recruiting and using child soldiers, murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution.

Ntaganda at the ICC – What does this mean?

The ICC is burdened with great expectations. Too often it is expected to provide healing for all wounds caused in conflicts. Though international in nature, the ICC was never intended to be the “World’s” criminal court. Indeed, the Rome Statute which is its primary legal instrument, negotiated and ratified mainly by states does not provide for primary jurisdiction over Genocide, Crimes against Humanity or War Crimes. Its existence is entrenched under the principle of complementarity, which essentially means that the ICC is to “complement” national judicial systems retain their responsibility for trying perpetrators of crimes. Therefore, it remains the duty of every nation to prosecute perpetrators of those grave crimes. Nevertheless the significance of cases such as that of Ntaganda is not negligible. It reinforces the principle that no crime should go unpunished and hierarchy is not a bar to prosecution.

The ICC’ s Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda when welcoming Ntaganda’s transfer declared: "Today those who have long suffered at the hands of Bosco Ntaganda can look forward to the future and the prospect of justice secured." Rightly so, the function of the ICC is to bring justice though limited it may be. The ICC through the cases and situations it investigates demonstrate that it remains dedicated to victims of conflicts and seeks to establish the truth when it can.

Michaella

Reporting from Cambridge University