The political landscape in Madagascar is in turmoil as the Malagasy opposition has vocally denounced what they term an “institutional coup d’état” orchestrated by President Andry Rajoelina. This alleged maneuver follows a series of controversial court decisions that, according to the opposition, appear to favor the incumbent president’s bid for re-election in less than two months.
In a letter received on Tuesday by the electoral commission and reviewed by AFP, ten candidates running in the upcoming presidential election accuse President Rajoelina of manipulating key institutions to advance his candidacy for a second term at the helm of the Great Ocean Island Indian.
The electoral process is set to commence with the first round of voting on November 9, followed by a second round scheduled for December 20. Thirteen candidates are competing, including President Rajoelina, aged 49, who assumed power in 2009 through a coup d’état.
In their letter, the ten signatories declare, “The authorities carried out a genuine institutional coup d’état with the aim of placing the Prime Minister in control of the State during the presidential electoral period to manipulate the results in favor of their candidate.”
The opposition alleges that recent decisions by the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, have deliberately cleared the path for the incumbent president ahead of the election. On a pivotal Saturday, President Rajoelina formally relinquished power in accordance with the Constitution during the electoral period. However, the President of the Senate, who was expected to assume interim responsibilities, cited “personal reasons” for stepping aside, allowing a “collegial government” led by Prime Minister Christian Ntsay, a close ally of the president, to take control. The Constitutional Court subsequently validated this transition.
Furthermore, the Constitutional Court on the same day rejected three appeals calling for the invalidation of President Rajoelina’s candidacy, citing a “lack of Malagasy nationality.” These appeals, which had been filed in September by three opposition parties, were deemed “inadmissible.”
In late June, leaked information revealed that President Rajoelina had quietly acquired French nationality in 2014, sparking controversy in the country. According to the Malagasy nationality code, this acquisition should have resulted in the loss of his Malagasy nationality, rendering him ineligible to lead the country or run for office.
Opponent and Member of Parliament Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa has decried “irregularities committed by the institutions” and expressed his intention to challenge them, calling upon “intellectuals, observers, and, above all, existing institutions and the international community” to take heed of the opposition’s concerns.
Eléonore Johasy, who represents presidential candidate Auguste Paraina, criticized the timing of the decisions, characterizing them as “made at odd hours, leaving no opportunity for anyone to challenge them.” She explained to AFP, “It is true that trust is eroding, and these maneuvers and shenanigans do not inspire confidence in the various authorities.”
Under the Malagasy Constitution, the incumbent president running for re-election is required to resign from his post 60 days before the election date, with the President of the Senate poised to assume interim duties. However, there is no provision in the event of the President of the Senate’s refusal.
President of the Constitutional Court, Florent Rakotoarisoa, justified the President of the Senate’s refusal, stating, “We cannot compel him to assume power.” He emphasized that they have merely enforced the precautionary measures prescribed by the Constitution and assured that the judiciary is working to “ensure the continuity of the State.” According to the Constitution, a collegial government assumes interim responsibilities if the President of the Senate is also a presidential candidate.
The ten candidates opposing President Rajoelina in the election firmly believe that this series of decisions has been “dictated by those in power.” They accuse members of the Constitutional Court of “complicity in these maneuvers” and of having “validated this institutional state coup.” The situation remains highly contentious, with political tensions rising as the election date approaches.
As the nation watches, the outcome of these allegations and their potential impact on Madagascar’s political landscape remains uncertain, and international observers are closely monitoring the situation.