Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Rasputin of Madagascar

March 26th, 2009 · 2 Comments

didierratsirakaThe story out of Madagascar continues to both stymie and amaze: A 34-year-old DJ-turned-mayor suddenly becomes president of a nation of 20 million, in one of the murkiest fashions possible. Microkhan has previously guessed that a shady Korean land deal played a role in bringing Rajoelina to power—along with the ongoing mismanagement of the deposed Marc Ravalomanana, who apparently did little to lift Madagascar out of poverty.

But a friend of Microkhan with Madagascar connections has offered a different theory: Rajoelina’s coup was made possible by the covert of support of Didier Ratsiraka, Madagascar’s longtime strongman now living in exile in France. Ratsiraka was convicted in absentia for fraud, and so would have been sent to prison for ten years had he returned during Ravalomanana’s reign. But early signs point to Rajoelina being the more forgiving sort: he has pardoned all political prisoners, and counts several Ratsiraka advisers among his closest staffers. Then there’s this, from the Indian Ocean Newsletter (subscription only):

The former mayor of Toamasina, Roland Ratsiraka (the nephew of ex-President Didier Ratsiraka) coordinated from the wings the fight against President Marc Ravalomanana in the East of Madagascar, his family’s traditional stronghold. He was also the person who had persuaded several officers in the Malagasy army to rally behind Andry Rajoelina. Roland Ratsiraka will now try to regain his place as the political leader in the East of the country. A place that Ravalomanana had done all he could to oust him, not without some success.

There are already rumblings that Ratsiraka is contemplating a trip home. Will he become the aged power behind the throne?

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