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On Madagascar, Feltman Says UN Only Favors Voting Change If By Consensus

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 8 -- Days after the UN refused Inner City Press' request for a read-out of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's February 4 meeting with Madagascar's Andrei Rajoelina (click here for photo op video), Ban's political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman held a press conference.

  Inner City Press asked Feltman what the UN thought of Rajoelina moving the presidential election back, seemingly into July, and perhaps running to hold the prime minister spot until re-running for president in 2018. Video here from Minute 40:16.

  Feltman replied that it's “important that any change in the current arrangement be done by consensus...We in the UN have stated we want to see elections take place on time. There was a generally accepted order for those election to take place, that's the way to go, unless there is a clear consensus to change that." Video here, from Minute 42:43.

  So is that what Ban Ki-moon told Rajoelina in the meeting? Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press there would be no read-out, and not to read into that. How not?

 Inner City Press asked Nesirky:

Question:  Yeah, Madagascar, I wanted to ask, I, probably I should have asked this before, but it seems like a good day to ask it, is the current president, Rajoelina, he blocked the wife of the former deposed president, [Marc] Ravalomanana, from coming back and, and that was something that she seemed to have a right to come back, many people say it may be an attempt by the current transitional president to remain on either as a prime minister or otherwise.  So, I wanted to know, without pre-judging what will be said this afternoon, what is the UN’s position on the blocking of the wife of the deposed president from returning to the country, and to the possible switch in 8 May* elections from presidential to parliamentary?

Spokesperson Martin Nesriky:  I think we’d have to wait to see what comes out of the meeting to be able to brief you on what happens in that meeting, which is later this afternoon.  I don’t have anything specific on the return question; I’d have to check further.

   But four days after the meeting, no read-out has been issued. Nor any any answer been given on "the return question" or the other questions set out in Inner City Press February 3 piece on Madagasar.

  Back in May 2012, the UN was partnering with Rajoelina's Ministry of Communication to celebrate World Press Freedom Day in Madagascar. On this same day Reporters without Borders directly criticized the Minister of Communication for threatening to shut down Radio Free FM and for his part in the detention of 2 Free FM journalists.

  Then after evidence of abuse including gang rape and the burning of twenty-some villages in southern Madagascar emerged, the transitional prime minister -- whose place Rajoelina now reportedly seeks to take until he runs again in 2018 -- said an investigation would be launched. But has it?

  Sources tell Inner City Press that Rajoelina's agenda may be to seek Ban's support to change the order of elections to have legislative elections happen on May 8 rather than presidential elections.

  Now that Rajoelina has given in to pressure and declared himself out of the running for president, there is public speculation that he wants to set up a stand-in to run for president in 2013 with Rajoelina as Prime Minister, then Rajoelina runs for president in 2018. Rajoelina has already declared his candidacy for 2018.

   France has publicly stated that it may support a candidate in Madagascar’s upcoming presidential election ("si nous encourageons une candidature, ce sera aussi discrètement que possible").

  Perhaps as part of this support, the new French ambassador recently declared that ousted-president Ravalomanana should not be allowed to return to his country before the election.

  So France favors forced exile counter to Article 20 of the SADC roadmap for a way out of the crisis which states that Ravalomanana should be allowed to return to his country unconditionally. Vive la France. Regardez cette site.

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