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Cablegate: Opposition Rejects New Pm, Plans Parallel Government

VZCZCXRO3459
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAN #0872 3551833
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (TREAT AS ORIGINAL-695)
R 211833Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ANTANANARIVO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ANTANANARIVO 000872

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E MARIA BEYZEROV
PARIS FOR WALLACE BAIN
LONDON FOR PETER LORD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MA SF
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION REJECTS NEW PM, PLANS PARALLEL GOVERNMENT

REF: A) 09 ANTANANARIVO 868,
B) 09 ANTANANARIVO 870,
C) 09 ANTANANARIVO 858

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Andry "TGV" Rajoelina has removed all of the
opposition leaders from positions held under the failed Maputo
process, and named a retired army colonel, Albert Camille Vital, as
his new prime minister. The opposition movements announced they
would continue implementing the Maputo Charter of the Transition
without Rajoelina, essentially by forming a parallel government.
Plans to "intensify" protests in Antananarivo have not yet resulted
in any action, and it appeared on December 21 that Rajoelina and his
new PM may attempt to arrest opposition leaders before renewed
street protests gain any momentum. While most Malagasy desperately
hope that calm will prevail over the holiday season, Rajoelina's
call for a "holiday truce" appears ever less likely to succeed. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Shortly after permitting the Maputo III participants to
return to Madagascar on December 18 (reftel C), Rajoelina issued a
decree (2009/1385) abrogating the nomination of consensus Prime
Minister Euguene Mangalaza, effective immediately. He then
nominated Vice Prime Minister for the Interior Cecile Manorohanta as
interim Prime Minister, effectively delivering on his mid-week
statements indicating that he would no longer cooperate with
Madagascar's other political movements.

3. (SBU) Opposition leaders were quick to respond, with a press
conference of their own at 20:00 that same night. Former President
Albert Zafy, along with Transition Co-President Fetison Rakoto
Andrianirina and President of the Congress Mamy Rakotoarivelo (both
representing Former President Marc Ravalomanana), reaffirmed their
support for Mangalaza, and denounced Rajoelina's statements from his
December 16 televised speech. They opposed his plan to unilaterally
organize elections in March 2010, and stated that they would instead
continue implementing the Transition Charter, as agreed in Maputo
and Addis Ababa from August to November. Zafy called on the
military to remain neutral and stay in their barracks, to avoid
conflict as the three movements sought to "install" their new
government in the coming days.

4. (SBU) On December 18, Rajoelina also released an ordinance
(2009/12) abrogating the Charter of the Transition (from Maputo) and
the Additional Act (from Addis Ababa), thus rendering (in his view)
the positions of Co-President, President of the Congress, and
President of the National Reconciliation Council "null and void",
despite opposition claims to the contrary. He also indicated that
there may be legal consequences for the December 18 press
conference; on December 21, it was widely reported that Mamy
Rakotoarivelo had been called into court for questioning, and rumors
of arrest warrants for several opposition leaders began circulation
again.

5. (SBU) On December 20, Rajoelina named Colonel Albert Camille
Vital as Prime Minister. Vital is relatively unknown, and claims to
have not met Rajoelina prior to December 20. As a member of the
Vezo ethnic group, from Tulear, he may satisfy those in the
south-west who were incensed over the October sacking of PM Roindefo
Monja (also from Tulear), but his appointment has little other
immediate benefit. Vital holds a degree in civil engineering from
the USSR, and twice studied in French military schools, in 1991 and
2001. His highest military assignment was as Chef de Corps of the
First Regiment Fifth Military in Tulear from 1998 to 2001. He left
the military in 2007 to launch a private security company in Tulear,
and has been President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in
Tulear since 2008. He has ties to both the Ratsiraka and Rajoelina
political factions, but has little experience in politics. Vital is
rumored to have been Rajoelina's third choice, after Rear Admiral
Hyppolite Ramaroson and General Ismael Mounibou.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Consensus Prime Minister Mangalaza has thus far
refused to step down, stating that he is the "prime minister
accepted by the international community" - although that claim is
unlikely to help his cause among Rajoelina's movement. Opposition
leaders have announced plans to intensify their rallies at Magro (on
the north side of the city) to protest Rajoelina's recent moves, and
leaders at today's rally reportedly announced plans to "install" 156
members of the transition congress on December 22 at the building of
the former National Assembly in Tsimbazaza, in Antananarivo. The
next 24 hours will provide either an opportunity for the opposition
to show its support, or for Rajoelina to steamroller their plans in
the name of a one-sided "holiday truce". END COMMENT.
MARQUARDT

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