Cablegate: Icg Fails to Deliver for Madagascar

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O 070840Z JAN 10 ZDK




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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On January 6, the African Union (AU) convened a
meeting of members of the International Contact Group on Madagascar
(ICG-M) in Addis Ababa to discuss the country's ongoing political
crisis, and develop a common position towards regime leader Andry
"TGV" Rajoelina's recent unilateral departure from the negotiation
process. While there was consensus on the ultimate need for free
and fair elections to bring an end to this crisis, members were
divided on several key issues, including the possibility for a
return to the framework reached during talks in Maputo and Addis
Ababa from August to November 2009, the utility of targeted
sanctions to bring political actors back to the negotiating table,
and the likely success or failure of elections held in the current
political climate. The U.S. delegation, led by Ambassador Phillip
Carter, was in the majority in supporting a return to dialogue under
renewed international mediation with a more focused mandate.
France, represented by Secretary of State for Cooperation and the
Francophonie Alain Joyandet, strongly supported a move to elections
as soon as possible, declaring the Maputo/Addis agreements
unworkable and deflecting blame from Rajoelina for their failure.
The resulting communique is weak, unclear, and leaves much to be
resolved. AU Chairperson Jean Ping has inserted himself into the
mediation, and appears to be personally taking the reins from
current senior Southern African Development Community (SADC)
mediator Joaquim Chissano; his planned trip to Madagascar in the
near future is unlikely to resolve an impasse that he clearly
underestimates, and the ICG's punt on sanctions will necessitate
further dialogue once he fails to deliver. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) To all in the ICG, the status quo is considered
unsustainable and will likely lead to further instability and
political unrest in Madagascar. There was general agreement that
Malagasy parties need to be held accountable should they continue to
pose obstacles to credible elections. This view was vocally
supported by delegations from Uganda and Nigeria, and the EU
delegation confirmed that their current deliberations under Article
96 of the Cotonou treaty would result in a termination of foreign
assistance by late February 2010 if the status quo persisted.

3. (SBU) Furthermore, ICG members unanimously supported free and
fair elections as the only real solution to Madagascar's ongoing
political crisis, despite differences on the timeline and conditions
under which they could be held. There was broad agreement as well
that the ICG should avoid assigning blame for the recent breakdown
of negotiations, and seek only to condemn unilateral moves from any
party; the standard language of "consensus and inclusivity"
permeated the discussion. Similarly, the members agreed on the need
to apply pressure on all parties in Madagascar, and ensure that the
three former presidents too understood the need for flexibility on
their part in developing a durable solution. Seeking to identify
the international community's own role in the failure of
negotiations, all parties agreed that the mediation effort under
Chissano had suffered from an unclear structure, and would benefit
from a clearer mandate that resolved any real or perceived conflicts
between SADC and the AU.

4. (SBU) There was fundamental disagreement on a number of issues
that was not resolved by the end of the day; chief among them was
the question of how and when to hold elections. In line with recent
statements from Paris, the French delegation advocated conditional
support for Rajoelina's election plan, stating that it was a
positive development that should be applauded, despite its
unilateral origins. They were joined by the delegations of the
Francophonie (OIF) and the Indian Ocean Commission (COI) in their
regret that the ICG had failed thus far to resolve the crisis or
present plausible alternatives, and stated that the ICG should
accept that elections are the only way forward, and use our
influence to ensure that a transparent and credible process unfolds
to facilitate them.

5. (SBU) The rest of the ICG disagreed, some forcefully. The United
States was joined by the European Union, Britain, Japan, Uganda,
Nigeria, COMESA, Russia and China in expressing the need for a
return to inclusive dialogue before any election plans can be
discussed. Ambassador Carter raised concerns about the transition
government's ability to maintain order, rein in human rights abuses
and attacks against the media, and provide even a minimum of
political space for opposition politicians given their track record
over the last year. The Japanese delegation proposed that the ICG
announce publicly that it would not support such elections, and if
they are held, that the results would not be recognized. Among

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others, the Ugandan and Nigerian delegations made similar
statements, all focusing on the need to condemn Rajoelina's
unilateral actions and return to negotiations before any discussion
of elections.

6. (SBU) This division, which isolated France and its francophone
allies, repeated itself in two other key issues: the possibility of
reviving the Maputo and Addis accords, and the utility of imposing
sanctions against Rajoelina and his regime. Andre Parant, Africa
advisor in the French Presidency, asserted privately that "Maputo is
dead", summing up the root of the intra-ICG conflict: most members
consider the Maputo and Addis accords a plausible base that the
Malagasy parties simply failed to implement in good faith. The
French delegation believes that its death was a predictable
consequence of a flawed process, and that it should be left in the
past. French delegates on several occasions contradicted Chissano's
assertion that the controversial "Maputo III" resolutions, drawn up
by the three opposition movements in early December, were nothing
more than positions for further negotiation; Joyandet himself made
clear his belief that they represented a move no less unilateral
than Rajoelina's own withdrawal from talks the following week. For
the rest of the ICG members, these agreements - which represent four
months of negotiations - should serve as the framework for renewed

7. (SBU) On the topic of sanctions, most ICG participants seemed to
believe that sticks and carrots may be useful and necessary tools in
the effort to return Madagascar to constitutional order. The
Ugandan representative stated his position explicitly, saying there
should be "selective sanctions against deviant parties who do not
cooperate in the restoration of a constitutional government."
France, however, continued to oppose sanctions, calling them
counterproductive and more likely to be interpreted as the result of
blame against one party or another - something to be studiously
avoided at this time.

8. (SBU) Despite general agreement that the mediation team needed to
be restructured and empowered with a solid AU mandate, this issue
remained unresolved by the end of the day. It is unclear whether
Chissano will retain his position, and in any case he leaves this
meeting with a very unclear mandate, and no apparent guidance from
the ICG. AU Chairperson Jean Ping further muddied the waters by
suggesting that he would make a personal trip to Madagascar in the
next week, and would make recommendations to the Malagasy parties on
how to unblock the situation; they would be given two weeks to
respond to the ICG in writing - although there is no mention in the
communique of penalties for non-compliance. The tacit understanding
appears to be that the ICG could then take up discussion of
sanctions, but it is unclear why the French/OIF/COI position would
change as a result.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: The final communique, released at the end of the
day on January 6 and likely to be widely distributed in Madagascar
on January 7, will not please any parties, nor provide comfort to
the Malagasy people, who had put great store in the ICG to deliver a
clearer path forward. The United States stood firmly in support of
consensus and inclusivity, inserted human rights and political
freedom into the dialogue, and offered language on accountability
and negotiations that would have represented progress, but French
positions ensured that the final wording was weak and unclear,
leaving the heavy lifting for another day. For the majority of the
ICG, unilateral actions taken by Rajoelina are at the crux of the
stalled mediation process. There are deep concerns about the
credibility of the regime's proposed legislative elections slated
for March 20. Ping may have to fail in his upcoming mission to
Madagascar before the ICG can reasonably discuss what measures can
be taken to press the four Malagasy movements back to the
negotiation tables and to reestablish a credible electoral process.
In all likelihood, the ICG will reconvene on the margins of the AU
Summit within the next month in order to grapple once again with the
question of restoring democratic rule in Madagascar. END COMMENT.

10. (U) This cable was cleared by Ambassador Carter.


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