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In Madagascar, Rajoelina's Run Violates Road Map, UN Merely Watching

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 3 -- Following up on its previous questions about Madagascar and the UN's seeming lack of concern about restrictions on political speech and failure to comply with the SADC "road map," Inner City Press on May 3 asked the UN:

Inner City Press: Today was the deadline for candidates to step forward in the elections. It turns out Mr. [Andry] Rajoelina has announced that he is running, which breaks a promise and, some say, breaks the road map. He has also denounced the candidacy of Lalao Ravalomanana. So, I am wondering: is the UN following this, as the last response you sent me said that the road map is being complied with, that there are, there are various ways, including Mr. Rajoelina expressing an opinion and now running, that the road map is not being followed; it seems to, some is not being followed. Is there any response from the UN today?

Spokesperson: We’ll check with DPA, with the Department of Political Affairs.

Some nine hours later, the UN sent Inner City Press this response:

Subject: Your question on Madagascar
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Fri, May 3, 2013 at 9:16 P
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

We can say the following in response to your question at the noon briefing:

The United Nations has learned today of Mr. Rajoelina's intention to run in the election. We are following developments in Madagascar very closely and are concerned about any action that could derail the progress made in the efforts to conduct peaceful and credible elections in the country. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is in the lead and their mediation team is currently in Madagascar. The United Nations will continue to work with the regional leaders and the African Union to help Madagascar address whatever problems may emerge.

  But even before Rajoelina made his move, here were some of the problems:

  First, on April 29, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky wrote to Inner City Press that “The Malagasy authorities have been complying with the 2011 SADC Road map”. However, there are many ways that the Road map has not been complied with.

  The most obvious is the conditions that were put on Mrs. Lalao Ravalomanana in order for her to be able to return to her country. According to the agreement, Lalao Ravalomanana was forced to “refrain from making political statements and organize political rallies” in exchange for being allowed to return to her country to see her mother in hospital. This is proof that Transitional president Andry Rajoelina is not complying with Article 20 of the roadmap which states that political exiles will be allowed to return home unconditionally...

  The UN has a record of support for Rajoelina dating back to before the Rajoelina’s coup d’état was finalized. While the coup was in progress, the UN special envoy publicly voiced support for the provision of diplomatic protection for Rajoelina. Just a year ago, the UN collaborated with Rajoelina’s minister of communication to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, even as the minister was criticized for detaining journalists.

Ah, World Press Freedom Day at the UN... We'll have more on this.

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