Mugabe pushing for SADC military attack on Madagascar

The organ known as the Troika, will meet on Thursday, a Mozambican foreign ministry official said.

A senior Zimbabwe government official said Robert Mugabe had already left Harare to attend the meeting. Mugabe is supposed to be on his annual leave.

"President Mugabe left this afternoon for Maputo to attend an extra-ordinary summit of SADC, which is expected to discuss the Zimbabwe situation and unfolding events in Madagascar," the official said in Harare, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The summit will take place following the swearing-in of Mozambican President Armando Guebuza to his second term in office.

Guebuza currently heads the Troika, which also includes Zambia and Swaziland. Zambian President Rupiah Banda will attend the summit, as will South African President Jacob Zuma, their offices said.

Last week SADC foreign ministers met in Maputo where they also discussed Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

The regional bloc has been due to review progress in Zimbabwe’s unity government after a special summit in November broke a deadlock that threatened to sink the deal.

South African mediators have since held talks in Harare among the rival Zimbabwe parties to settle a slate of differences between Mugabe and his partner in the unity government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman James Maridadi said that he did not know about the summit and that the prime minister would not attend.

"The prime minister is currently on leave, and he is not going to the summit. We are not aware of it," Maridadi said.

It was not immediately clear if Madagascar’s leaders would attend the summit, but sources said the Zimbabwean President crafting and urging regional leaders to launch a military attack on the Andry Rajoelina’s government.

The former DJ, Rajoelina, 35, tore up a series of internationally-brokered agreements shortly before Christmas and appointed a senior military officer as prime minister to govern the country, which is increasingly eyed by outsiders for its oil and minerals.

Opposition leaders recently boycotted a national workshop on preparations for parliamentary elections slated by Rajoelina for March 20 — just over a year after he spearheaded the overthrow of former President Marc Ravalomanana.

In 1999, assisted by the French and the Belgians, Robert Mugabe used the controversial SADC organ for Security and Politics to get involved in the Great Lakes wars which later spiralled into a major conflict, the largest war in modern African history.

The then South African President Nelson Mandela who was the SADC Chairman at the time, had his power usurped by the sly Zimbabwean dictator.

The SADC organ, or Troika has since been streamlined and politics removed from its functions, but Robert Mugabe continue to find loopholes to quench his thirst for blood, outflanked Botswana President Ian Khama from the SADC Organ.

Mugabe has mobilised other African rogue war mongers like the Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni who also played a key role in the DRC war.

Within SADC, Mugabe has dominated and bossed SADC leaders, many of whom are relatively new to the gravy African foreign polcies of the jungle and they are likely going to endorse a declaration of war on the oil and mineral rich island.

A source in the South African intelligence services revealed the plan but expressed hope that President Jacob Zuma would prevail in light of the FIFA 2010 World Cup tornament due to be held in June this year.

If the plan succeeds, SADC forces could be facing French mercenaries or even French government troops who are backing the current government.  

Disagreements between the island nation’s four main political groups have scuttled repeated efforts to end the impasse, with de facto leader Andry Rajoelina trampling on previous deals with rivals to form a unity government.

Madagascar’s government has said it will crack down on opposition leaders and their supporters, who reject plans for elections, if they provoke further civil unrest.

Prime Minister Colonel Camille Vital said anti-government protesters vandalised private property and disrupted traffic in the capital Antananarivo during clashes with security forces on Wednesday.

"It is unacceptable to take to the streets to disturb the public order and destroy the property of others," Vital said in a televised statement late on Wednesday.

"If this continues, we will take draconian measures on those who continue to go too far." 

International mediators last week called for elections in Madagascar to end the prolonged political crisis, after Rajoelina took power last year with the army’s blessing, following a wave of public protests.

Madagascar’s leader Andry Rajoelina and international mediators are reading from completely different scripts about how to end a year-long political crisis on the Indian Ocean island.

With tensions rising in the capital Antananarivo, here are some possible scenarios for the nation rich in oil and mineral reserves:


* Rajoelina has binned a string of power-sharing agreements and scheduled parliamentary elections for March 20. The instigator of last year’s coup says he cannot work with his rivals and the people will decide the country’s future.

* Elections followed by constitutional reform is the most likely scenario. Analysts say Rajoelina would have likely sought the military’s backing before announcing a poll.

* There appear few incentives for Rajoelina to continue negotiations. "Rajoelina’s position appears to be that there is little in it for him to remain part of the accords, but there is a significant reason to seek legitimacy at the ballot box," says Madagascar expert Professor Richard Marcus of the California State University.

* Marcus argues the deep popular will for the crisis to end would likely translate into a desire to accept the results, even if Rajoelina has an opportunity to influence the outcome.

* Donors have to decide whether they can accept a unilaterally organised process. The official line has been that they will not, but some observers suspect certain multilaterals like the European Union, which is heavily influenced by France on Malagasy affairs, might look for ways to resume aid flows.

* A new constitution is needed in part because under the old document, 35-year-old Rajoelina is five years too young to be president. No timetable has been set for a presidential vote since Rajoelina scrapped the power-sharing accords.


* The African Union (AU) and foreign powers have insisted that Rajoelina, a former DJ, return to the negotiating table to agree a consensus solution with his political rivals. They include the man he ousted, former President Marc Ravalomanana.

* AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping will visit Madagascar from Jan. 22-25 with a new compromise and give all parties two weeks to respond.

* France-based Lydie Boka is among analysts who say the island’s heavy budgetary reliance on donor aid still gives mediators a chance to haul Rajoelina back to talks. One analyst estimates that public spending has slumped to about half pre-crisis levels, compounded by a fall in tax revenues.

* But the government disagrees and has threatened to crack down heavily on opposition leaders and their supporters if they incite public disorder.


* In Antananarivo, people are weary and there is little appetite to challenge an administration that has already shown itself ready to take a tough line against dissenters.

* However, 2010 is likely to be an even harder year for the economy than last year, when Rajoelina’s administration could still live off the fat of 2008’s tax revenues and some existing aid projects were seen through.

* The United States’ termination of its AGOA trade deal with Madagascar will badly hurt the textiles sector — and could perhaps even precipitate its collapse. Textile factories directly employ around 100,000 people in the capital and indirectly provide a livelihood to half a million, about a quarter of the city’s population.

* Many local observers expect the opposition will look to galvanise an increasingly poor and disenchanted urban population — just as Rajoelina himself did this time a year ago.


* Another coup looks highly unlikely, especially with one of the army’s own now heading the government.

* Some argue that after toppling Ravalomanana, the military has shown impressive restraint by not grabbing power during the months of leadership squabbles.

* Others suggest that the armed forces, now led by those who backed Rajoelina’s coup, are more content to pull the strings from behind the scenes and keep in place a leader who owes them his loyalty.