Madagascar Saga Teases "African Solution"

By Cllr. Kabineh Muhammad Ja'neh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted August 21, 2002

Unfolding political saga in Africa's Island-State of Madagascar quizzes not only African leadership integrity. In addition, two-related issues are brought to sharp focus.

One of the twain questions is a natural spring from over-advertised slogan: "AFRICAN SOLUTION TO AFRICAN PROBLEM." The real ponder is: Is the African Solution merely an academic catch-word? Related thereto, one may ask: Does the dismal failure of the “African Solution” to the Madagascar saga consequential of the lack of true African cure to the continent’s multifarious difficulties?

Take a stock of recent historical events. Both Madagascar and Liberia make fitting cases for critical review.

Our analysis here is however limited largely to the Island-nation of Madagascar. In my opinion, the case of Madagascar presents the most immediate political attractions vis-à-vis “African Solution”.

Like a huge leakage with attendant embarrassment in the roof of a national pavilion, so to speak, Madagascar poses a daring political integrity test for African leadership.

“African Solution” works, we seem to boast quite habitually. No sooner this is said than a sharp contrast intervenes. For instance, the O.A.U. call for fresh presidential elections in Madagascar as “African Solution” is far from being successful. To say it mildly, the call seems rather un-African. A little review here could be useful.

Following last December (2001) Presidential elections, both the then incumbent Didier Ratsiraka and his Challenger Marc Ravalomanana, claimed victory. African leaders intervened to break the stalemate. The result was the Dakar Agreement signed by the adversary parties.

As agreed by the signatory parties, the December election results were reviewed. The results were subsequently certified and confirmed by Madagascar High Constitutional Court. Being the final legal arbiter in Madagascar, the High Court declared Marc Ravalomanana President in perfect consonance with the certified results.

Rejecting the Court’s decision, which, by law, is binding on the parties, Didier Ratsiraka argues Court’s bias. Didier Ratsiraka’s argument, which seeks to undermine judicial authority, was endorsed in effect by the O.A.U., as manifested in its declaration, viewed horrifically as “ African Solution”.

As a result, a few questions linger deserving some hard answers. In the first instance, why did Ratsiraka endorse and sign the Dakar Accord and agree to review the December election results? As a matter of fundamental legal principle, the contrary notwithstanding, was it not a full gone conclusion that the Dakar Accord could not, and did not divest Madagascar High Court of its constitutional function: to certify the election results and declare winner thereof? Why did Ratsiraka fail to raise in timely fashion, issue/s and reservations about the current membership composition of the High Court? And above all, and perhaps most important, what are the larger implications of the O.A.U. sanctioned disregard for the High Court’s decision in Madagascar constitutional democracy? Could such an O.A.U. solution, be regarded truly as “African solution?”

Brutally frankly, every litigation has got to end. At the judicial close of every case, an aggrieved party is bound to remain. Losing party is generally never short on list of reasons for grievances.

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court of the land remains the incontrovertible custodian and protector of legal rights and obligations in every democratic dispensation. All solutions “must seek to respect the exclusive prerogative of the Court to decide the ultimate winner in any such scenario. United States George W. Bush’s obtaining the Presidency was the decision of the United States Supreme Court. Least was the issue of “Bench Composition”. As a matter of fact, most of the sitting Justices of the US Supreme Court including the Chief Justice were appointed by G.O.P. (Republican) Presidents. Of course Al-Gore expressed public disagreement as loser - with the Court. Yet he accepted the finality of its decision. In my opinion, the Dakar Accord was a political instrument. It is therefore a colossal error to think, as in the instance of the OAU that Dakar

Agreement could have assumed or appropriated unto itself such constitutional functions. Its good intentions notwithstanding. For High Court’s constitutional prerogative as final arbiter is undelegable.

In substantive terms, indigenous African solutions are a reality. Not only this. Genuine African remedies feature inherent capabilities to restore political, economic and cultural sanity to the continent. These indigenous African solutions are a manifestation of the true popular will and aspirations of the African peoples. I propose that genuine African Solution is the embodiment of the real (not stage orchestrated) African convictions. It was the monumental African popular will - the true African Solution that ridded the continent of

colonialism. Certainly it was this popular African resolve, which successfully won political independence for Africa. Such a Solution is bound to succeed because it’s popular will-driven. In my view this can be the only way to progress and prosperity on the continent.

From this exposé, a clear lesson comes up. Any “Solution” which circumvents the popular will of the Madagascar people, irrespective of clever name tag, is un-African. Equally, those who seek to christen their product of political manipulations as African Solution are wanting in service to the continent. I sense that such people are truly qualified candidates who are likely guilty of gross disregard for a fundamental African culture and civilization held so sacred for centuries. In my view, that aged culture is the precedence of communal interest over and above all other considerations. In African context, this is referred to as popular will, or better still government of the people in modern politics.

Tragically, divorce from popular will and aspirations have been a common feature of African political leadership. Look at the better part of the last forty years. Once in power, African leaders constructed huge gulf between themselves and the genuine aspirations of the governed. As their self-isolationism deepened, all that mattered was protecting one another.

As a direct result, continental and regional bodies (defunct OAU and ever-kicking ECOWAS, etc) over the years have been used conveniently to stipulate and

guarantee comradeship protection undertakings. To achieve this selfish goal, democratic values are dismissed by African leaders in cynical preference to African Solution, whatever this supposed to mean.

I submit that indigenous African solution is inherently communal interest. It is people-centered. It is certainly the people’s crafted solution aimed at their collective advancement and prosperity.

Recognition by the US Government of the Marc Ravalomanana government in Madagascar was a foreign but truly indigenous African solution. It was an African solution reflecting the popular will of Madagascar African people to political change.

Unfortunately, the African Solution, this time around, was rescued and delivered through Western Midwifery. This tends to tease the essence of African solution. After all these years of political independence, this is the real tragedy.

About the author: Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh is a Counselor-at-Law .

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