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On Madagascar, Ban Ki-moon's UN Answers But Condones Censorship

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- You might think that the UN would have something to say when a country bans a political figure from “making any political statement or participating in any political rally” But you'd be wrong.

On April 26 at noon, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about Madagascar:

Inner City Press: About Lalao Ravalomanana, the wife of the Marc Ravalomanana, she returned to the country in March, apparently she was asked to commit to the Government of [Andry] Rajoelina that she wouldn’t make any political statements as a condition of returning and visiting her ailing mother. Now, she is announcing that she is going to run for President, so a lot of people saying, since the UN has had some involvement in this, what did the UN think of this condition on her return, and do they believe that she has an absolute right to make political statements and to run for office? What’s their position on this growing crisis as some call it?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I’ll check. I don’t think we have any immediate position on that, but I’ll certainly check for you, Matthew.

  Seventy two hours later there was no response. As noted, it wasn't that the Department of Political Affairs did not work -- as Inner City Press reported, DPA met on April 26 with the Western European and Other Group, which then met with Qatar about its Syria resolution. (Spoiler alert: WEOG sources tell Inner City Press they demanded changes to an Operative Paragraph.) But there no response from DPA or Ban's office.

  Until the afternoon of April 29. Then, the UN sent Inner City Press this response:

Subject: Your question on Madagascar
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 3:31 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question from last week on Madagascar: It is up to the Special Electoral Court, which is in charge of receiving electoral disputes and proclaiming the final results of the presidential and legislative elections, to decide on the validity and qualifications of all prospective candidates. The court has been established by the Malagasy authorities. The Court has been receiving candidatures for the forthcoming presidential elections since 8 April 2013 and the deadline for the submission of candidates expired on 28 April. The Malagasy authorities have been complying with the 2011 SADC Roadmap.

Tellingly, there is nothing on freedom of speech, of assembly or of expression. But as to the Special Electoral Court, which is slated on May 3 to decide on all 48 people who have submitted applications to be candidates for president.

The head of the Special Electoral Court, Jean-Michel Rajaonarivony, was head of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) when this court approved the power transfer to Andry Rajoelina in March 2009, thus officializing Rajoelina’s Coup d’Etat. We learn from Wikileaks that in officializing the transfer of power to Rajoelina, “The High Court (HCC) told SADC [Southern African Development Community] that it deliberately took a political decision … when it falsely declared the March 17 decrees to be constitutional”.

As head of the HCC, Jean-Michel Rajaonarivony also approved the constitution that was voted on in a referendum in November 2010 and put into practice in December 2010: “neither the opposition nor most of the international community recognized the constitution due to considerable irregularities both in its drafting and in the conduct of the referendum”

So in March 2009 Jean-Michel Rajaonarivony ignored his mandate to uphold the Constitution when he approved transferring power to Andry Rajoelina for political reasons. As for the November 2010 constitutional referendum, he decided that international standards for free and fair elections were not necessary in order to do what Rajoelina wanted. France, for its part, supported the 2010 constitution by saying it “is a political reality that the international community must take into consideration”

Lalao Ravalomanana and former president Didier Ratsiraka are two potential candidates for president who on the surface do not seem to meet the requirement that candidates reside in Madagascar for 6 months prior to the election. Lalao Ravalomanana is arguing that she returned in July 2012, but was kicked out manu-militari by the Rajoelina security forces in a way that violated her human right to return to her country. The UN condoned her forced exile by keeping silent about this incident.

What is the UN becoming? We'll have more on this.

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