Madagascar: Democracy Betrayed

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[Black Star News Editorial]

The saddest thing is that the Madagascar coup could have been halted if U.S. President Barack Obama had even merely sneezed and exclaimed "Madagascar!" instead of "ah-choo!"

The coup could have been pre-empted if President Obama, during a press conference, or on his way to board the Presidential helicopter to head to Camp David for a weekend, had said something like: "My daughters Sasha and Malia really loved the movie Madagascar."

That’s all it would have taken.

Not even a long speech; not even more than two words. Just the one word "Madagascar."

Instead, the United States said nothing for weeks as a reckless opportunist, Andry Rajoelina, who epitomizes selfishness, greed, and delusion, conducted a creeping coup on the island nation. He first "fired" the elected president twice, even though he was a mere mayor of the capital city, Antananarivo.

To his credit, the elected president, Marc Ravalomanana, did not try to mobilize any of the armed forces to his side in order to attempt to crush the soldiers who effectively mutinied and joined the mayor, who has now declared himself president.

Madagascar may not be geopolitically that important; it may not be that strategically important because it does not hold major oil fields or critical mineral resources; but still, its president was elected and by all accounts, had not committed any major transgression and had two years left on his term.

It would have been a good thing had the world’s principal democracy, the United States, ensured that the culture of democratic governance, rule by people who are elected, took root in Madagascar. The signal it sends is bad. If a coup d’état can stand in Madagascar, why not elsewhere in Africa?

This would take the continent to the bad old days of the 1960s and 1970s. It’s even much sadder that it comes after coup d’états in recent years in Africa, beginning with Mauritania, and in Guinea Conakry.

The world watched as the thuggish young politician pushed Madagascar to the brink of civil war. He could not wait for four more years before he would become eligible to run for the presidency; he’s 36 and the country’s Constitution mandates that the president be at least 40 years old.

Most Americans may not even know that Madagascar is actually a country, thinking it’s just a name of a movie. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew it was more than a movie. It's only after the coup that the U.S. announced a halt to foreign aid.

Why didn’t Clinton earlier say: "The United States will not recognize any illegitimate and unelected government in Madagascar"?

Why didn’t President Obama sneeze? That’s all it would have taken to save democracy in Madagascar.

Very sad. Very sad.

Editor's Note: Our original editorial erroneously stated Rajoelina's age as 36. The thug is actually 34 and could not wait for six, not four years.

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